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A Christian’s Heart
“A Worship-Filled Heart”
Watch on YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVxbexDKb_Q
In the early to mid 1900’s, pastor, author, and counselor, AW Tozer, who had written 12 books, including the Christian classic, “The Pursuit of God,” said that worship is the missing jewel of modern evangelism. And, it is with this in mind that I’d like to continue our series on the heart of a Christian.
As we began our time of praise and worship we sang, “The Heart of Worship,” which says, “I’ll sing You more than a song, for a song in itself is not what you have required.”
What these words point to is the fact that our worship of God is very broad and takes in not only what we say and sing unto the Lord, but also in what we do and how we do it. In other words, our worship of God covers everything we do and say, and that everything we do and say should be an extension of our worship of God.
Seeing that worship is such a broad topic, I’d like to look at worship through the lens of the prophet Isaiah’s encounter with God before His heavenly throne.
But let me start by telling you a story.
One Sunday, a pastor stood before those of his congregation that came on Super Bowl Sunday, all four of them: three women and one young man.
The pastor began his sermon by saying, “I give thanks to God that there are at least a handful who have made the effort to come and worship the Lord, to feed on God’s word, and who don’t believe that God is less important than the Super Bowl game on TV.”
Immediately the young man jumped up and said, “Oh my goodness, I forgot about the game,” and ran out of the sanctuary.
This got me wondering, is there something better to do than to gather as a church family and worship the Lord? Aren’t there chores to do, books to read, movies to see, games to watch, and web sites to surf, and outdoor outings to take? I mean, what motivates us to abandon our TV sets, computer screens and golf clubs to come to a Sunday morning worship service?
For some people coming to a Sunday morning service is a habit, which isn’t a bad thing. Some habits are good. You have study habits, and exercise routines. Therefore, attending a worship service, in my opinion, is a good spiritual habit to also have.
But something seems to be lacking if it is just another habit out of so many. Instead, it should be because coming to worship God with other Christians should be something we want to do and looked forward to with great anticipation and expectation.
For King David, this was the delight of his life.
He said, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1 NKJV)
Others, come to church because they’re struggling. They’re grieving, hurt, lost, or lonely, and attending church is part of their search for answers. And it is an excellent place to start finding answers , because such a search should always lead to, and end with, Jesus Christ the author and perfecter of our faith.
For some, coming to church is a bargaining chip they play with God. They’ll come and see if God will help them find a job or a spouse. And so, they come and bargain with God, saying, “Lord, if you just give me a job, or a spouse, then I’ll come every week.” The only problem is that once they get what they want, or they don’t get what they wanted, they stop coming. It’s all about what God can do for them.
Still others come to church against their will. They come because their parents or spouse make them come, and if they want life to go smoothly the following week, they come.
There is a story about a man who was enjoying a pleasant sleep on Sunday morning when his wife suddenly yanked off the covers and announced, “Time to get up and get ready to go to church.”
Meekly the man said, “I don’t wanna go to church today. Just let me stay here and sleep in this one Sunday, and besides, the sermons are boring, and everyone hates me.”
Without the slightest bit of compassion, she looked at him and said, “You have to go to church, you’re the pastor.”
By the way, this is not an autobiographical story.
Now, as we look at a worship-filled heart, I’d like for us to look at an incident in the prophet Isaiah’s life where he is given a vision of God’s throne room.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’ And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.’ Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! send me.’” (Isaiah 6:1-8 NKJV)
From this encounter with God, I’d like to share several aspects about worship so hopefully we can understand our worship of the Lord a little bit better.
Worship is not an escape from the realities of life. Rather, it is what we need to do amid life’s realities. Isaiah begins this passage with an interesting statement.
He said, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord.” (Isaiah 6:1a NKJV)
This is like saying, “In the year the Twin Towers came down, I found Jesus.” Or “In the year of Hurricane Katrina, I started worshiping God.”
Whenever we come to the Lord, a worship-filled heart understands that our worship can never be oblivious to what is happening in our lives or in the world around us. The prophet Jeremiah understood this, in that while desolation was the order of the day, there would again be heard the voice of joy and gladness.
“The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say: ‘Praise the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for His mercy endures forever,” and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 33:11 NKJV)
Even though we face devastating circumstances in our lives and in this world, when we take time to worship the Lord, we find His peace and joy, because true worship restores souls that have been embittered and beaten up by life.
Bringing our concerns to the Lord is a natural part of worship.
King David said, “Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me.” (Psalm 86:6-7 NKJV)
Therefore, as we gather this morning as part of our worship of the Lord we bring our fears, worries, and concerns, and lift them to God who is our ever-present help in times of trouble. Look how David finished this Psalm. He said, “You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.” (Psalm 86:17b NKJV)
And so, we come into God’s house with worship-filled hearts, bringing with us the cares and concerns of life to help us find God’s comfort and peace. So, having a worship-filled heart doesn’t escape the realities so life, but brings us hope in the midst of these realities.
A worship-filled heart needs to be entirely focused upon the Lord. Now, while that seems like a no-brainer, most people wrongly assume that worship focuses on themselves. I’ve heard many people say, “I’m just not being fed,” or “I’m not getting anything out of worship.”
And that is a concern, because if reflects the condition of our hearts, because worship isn’t about us, but it’s about God. You know what I rarely hear is anyone saying whether God was blessed in our time of worship of Him.
Generally, our worship tends to be whether we are getting something out of the experience, and my hope and prayer is that everyone experiences the Lord when we come together, and that we leave a little more like Christ. But our worship isn’t about us; rather it’s about God. We worship the Lord, not to get something out of Him, but rather to bless Him.
And here’s my thought, and that is, until God gets something out of our worship, then we will never get anything out of it either.
Look at Isaiah’s encounter with the Lord.
“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6: 1b NKJV)
The very first thing that Isaiah saw was the Lord. And His throne was high and lifted up, which means God was exalted above everything else. And the train of His robe filled the entire temple.
Some of you may remember the wedding of Princess Diana to Prince Charles. The train on her wedding dress was 25 feet long. Now, the train on a wedding dress in years past was a symbol of royalty.
And so, with the train of the Lord’s robe filling the entire temple, it means that God’s royalty far surpasses anything we have ever known or could ever possibly imagine.
Isaiah then saw seraphim, angels created by God, surrounding God’s throne doing nothing else but worshiping Him.
“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’ And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.” (Isaiah 6:3-4 NKJV)
They praised the Lord calling Him holy three times. Now, besides confirming the doctrine of the Trinity, they declared God to be supremely holy, and the shaking of the doorposts adds to the sense of God’s awesome power when He is worshiped.
We see this same kind of shaking when the church gathered after Peter and John were released, and they worshiped the Lord.
“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31 NKJV)
And so, worship begins when we stop and grasp the wonder, power, and the greatness of God. Worship begins when we take the focus off ourselves and place it upon the Lord and catch a glimpse of His holiness.
This leads me to the next point.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3 NKJV)
Our worship should always begin with an awareness of God’s holiness. Now, the word “holy” means to be set apart, and so these angelic beings are saying that God is holy, that is, God is set apart from everything else, and that there is nothing and no one who is comparable to the Lord, who Himself is the very definition of righteousness.
Our coming together to worship the Lord in His house, or even on our own, should always be done worshipfully and reverently. We should enter the presence of God with awe and wonder, because He is the one we’ve gathered together to meet.
In the law of sacrifice the Lord said, “I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44a NKJV)
We are to prepare ourselves and live a life that is pleasing to God and to Him alone, which is what it means too consecrate. To be holy means we are to set ourselves apart for His good pleasure, not our own.
The person who understands the holiness of God is then constantly being changed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. In other words, we cannot be like the rest of the world and presume that we are God’s people.
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” (Ephesians 5:3 NIV)
If we are going to be followers of Jesus Christ, then we must be serious about our pursuit of holiness. Therefore, we worship God because He is holy, and His holiness demands our complete attention. That is what a worship-filled heart does, its aware of the holiness of God but it is also aware of our unworthiness which is the next point.
St. Augustine said, “Before God can deliver us from ourselves, we must undeceive ourselves.”
Worship helps us understand that we are sinners, and of our need to seek God’s forgiveness. In Isaiah’s vision, after the angels’ proclamation of God’s holiness and His almighty power, Isaiah cries out in confession.
“Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5 NKJV)
We cannot come into the presence of God without first becoming aware of His holiness, and then of our own unworthiness. Paul reveals this reality.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NKJV)
As people with a fallen and corrupt nature, and who have fallen short of God’s glory, that is, short of God’s holy and righteous standard for life, it’s impossible for us to approach God’s presence without being aware of our own sinfulness.
Our problem is that we compare ourselves to others, and usually with those we consider to be worse than we are. But when we compare ourselves to the holiness of God, then the wall of self-deception comes crumbling down.
And when this happens, we need to confess our sins so that God can forgive us. This is seen in what happens next after Isaiah’s confession.
“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged’” (Isaiah 6:6-7 NKJV)
Talking about our sinful condition, the Apostle John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9 NKJV)
Concerning his encounter with Jesus, Samuel Brengle, a commissioner with the Salvation Army, wrote, “I saw the humility of Jesus, and my pride; the meekness of Jesus, and my temper, the lowliness of Jesus, and my ambition; the faithfulness of Jesus, and the deceitfulness of my heart; the unselfishness of Jesus, and my selfishness; the trust and faith of Jesus, and my doubts and unbelief.”
Therefore, when we have that encounter with God, it should never lead to a feeling of spiritual superiority, but rather it should lead to humility, where like Isaiah we gladly receive God’s forgiveness, and God’s cleansing touch.
After logging many miles in a blizzard to check on potential avalanches, John Elliot, a forest ranger, found himself at a small cabin. He was so exhausted, however, that he just huddled on the cabin floor without removing his wet cloths and lighting a fire.
He was freezing to death, and began to sink into oblivion, paralyzed by the cold.
Suddenly his dog sprang into action, with barks and whines and nudges trying to get his master to move. Elliot credits his dog for saving his life. He said, “When you’re freezing to death you actually feel warm all over, and don’t wake up because it feels too good.”
This is a powerful story and illustration of the deceptiveness of sin. We will never be able to rouse ourselves out of our sin because we are paralyzed by its pleasure. Therefore, we need a dramatic encounter with the holiness of God before it is too late.
And finally, a worship-filled heart moves us to serve.
Our worship of God challenges us to fulfill God’s Great Commission to share the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone.
In our passage, the prophet Isaiah hears God’s call of service in the midst of worship.
“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me’” (Isaiah 6:8 NKJV)
Worship always results in service. The Lord was looking for a messenger. And Isaiah, who is now forgiven and cleansed, volunteers.
Notice something, Isaiah didn’t say, “Here I am,” which would denote his position or location; rather he said, “Here am I.” This is a subtle change of vocabulary, but one that means everything. What it signifies that He is offering himself for service. He is offering himself as that living sacrifice that the Bible speaks about.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1 NKJV)
In other versions it reads, “which is your reasonable act of worship.”
Isaiah was willing to serve, not out of obligation, but out of a desire to exalt God’s glory. That’s a worship-filled heart. He’s been transformed by grace and made alive by God’s mercy, and so Isaiah wants the whole world to know the wonder and the awesomeness of God.
Everything else in Isaiah’s life is now secondary.
And so, to have a worship-filled heart is to worship the Lord God and to experience the life He has for us. How? It’s by allowing Him to cleanse us from our sins through Jesus’s sacrifice upon the cross, which should then lead us to willingly serve Him and His Kingdom purposes.
The word, “worship,” has its roots in the old English, or Anglo-Saxon vocabulary. And in the Old English vocabulary the word literally means “Worthship.” That is, we worship God because He is worthy of our adoration and praise.
Worship means to come and lift up the name of the Lord and to exalt Him while at the same time bowing ourselves in humility and submission, seeing our unworthiness in light of His holiness.
Today, where do you stand before a holy and righteous God?
When we come into His house and worship Him, there is no room for us to stand in our own righteousness because we have none. Instead we are to humbly bow ourselves before Him in worship.
And so, again I ask, “Where do you stand before a holy and righteous God?”
Wednesday Evening Bible Study