A woman visited a church one Sunday. As the pastor preached, she was so caught up in his message that she exclaimed “Praise the Lord.” The person next to her leaned over and whispered, “Excuse me, but we don’t ‘praise the Lord’ in this church.” A man down the pew corrected him – “Yes we do; it’s on page 19 in the hymnal.”
Have you ever felt like that at church? Have you ever gone to the ‘house of God’ and did everything but worship Him. It is easy to think that just going to church is worship. But just going to a restaurant is not eating. Just visiting a gym is not exercise. And going to church is not worship.
Depending on your religious background, you may need to expand your definition of worship. You may think worship is singing, praying, and listening to a sermon. Or you may think worship is ceremonies, candles, and communion. Worship can include these elements, but worship is far more than these expressions.
For many people, worship is just a synonym for music. They say, ‘At our church, we have worship first, and then the teaching.’ Worship is often used as a particular style of music – We sing praise and worship songs, then we sing a couple of hymns.’ Worship has nothing to do with the style, volume, or speed of a song. Frankly, the music style you like best says more about you than it does about God.
In reality, worship is not for our benefit. When we worship, our goal is to please God, not ourselves. If you have ever said, “I didn’t get anything out of worship today” you worshiped for the wrong reason. Worship isn’t for you. It’s for God. Yes there are benefits of worship. But we don’t worship to please ourselves.
One definition of worship is: “An active response to God whereby we declare His worth.”
So let’s look at the foundational passage about the worship of God – Isaiah 6. This will help you ‘Focus on Worship.’
1- Isaiah saw the Lord (Isaiah 6:1-4)
Isaiah saw the Lord lifted high. What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. Is your idea of God actually worthy of God? Or have you tried to bring God down to your level?
Isaiah saw the holy Lord. An angelic being in Heaven, called seraphim, repeated ‘holy, holy, holy’. This is the only time an attribute of God is mentioned three times. The Lord’s Prayer begins, ‘hallowed be thy name.’ The meaning of holy is ‘separate.’ It comes from a word that means ‘to cut’ or ‘to separate.’ When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally different from us. Our modern worship tries to bring God down to our level. But God is high and holy.
Isaiah saw the Lord still on the Throne. Though the good king Uzziah died, God was still on the throne. When troubles come, look up. From heaven’s point of view the ‘earth is full of His glory.’ No reason to panic when God is on the throne.
2 – He saw himself (Isaiah 6:5-7)
After seeing the Lord, Isaiah recognized how sinful he was. Compared to a holy God, all are sinners. You cannot be in God’s presence without an awareness of your sinfulness.
Though a prophet and spokesman for God, he was still a sinner. He recognized he had ‘unclean lips’. Unclean lips are caused by an unclean heart.
Have you recognized and admitted your faults, failings, sins, and shortcoming? All are sinners. But all do not see how horrible their sin really is. True worship not only sees God, but it also see ourself in need of what God can provide.
God provided the cure for Isaiah’s sinfulness. The coal taken from the altar cleansed His sin. The altar was the place of sacrifice. Only the sacrifice provided by Jesus on the cross can remove our sin.
3 – He saw the need (Isaiah 6:8)
Isaiah was not the only one who needed to worship God. “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6). Others needed the Lord. And when God questions who would go tell others, Isaiah volunteered to go. That day he became God’s mouthpiece to the nation. It all began with an encounter with seeing God for who He really is.
Never underestimate what one person can do. D. L. Moody once said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do by the grace of God, I will.”
Real worship begins with seeing God’s majesty. It then proceeds to experiencing God’s mercy. It ends up involved in God’s ministry. But it begins with God. God must be first. Everything will fall into place if the Lord is put in His proper place. Focus on Worship.
Bobby Bowden was the Florida State football coach. In preseason training, he would often refer to a time when he played college baseball. He had never hit a home run. But one day he hit a ball went long into right field. He rounded the bases and his coach sent him home. As he entered the dugout his teammates gave him high 5s. But when the pitcher got the ball, he threw to first base and the umpire called him out. He missed first base. Bowden often said, “If you don’t take care of first base, it doesn’t matter what you do. If you don’t honor the Lord first, it doesn’t matter what else you do.”