Last week we began our discussion trying to really understand worship. We began to appreciate who God is, who we are, the infinite difference, and why that should get us into a worshipful attitude.
Pastor John guided us further in trying to appreciate what worship is supposed to be this last Lord's Day. He began as you each will remember by reading Isaiah 6:1-8, and showing us how this sums up the “what” and the "why" of worship:
First, worship happens when we clearly see the holiness of God. We read Isaiah 6:3 – “And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” If nothing else, do you fellows remember the photos of the galaxy and of the microbiota last week in the chatroom. Surely these dazzling photos help point to the infinite wonders of God. This is what “awesome” really means, right? We know that God is infinitely mighty, and also totally perfect. In other words, He is holy!
Then, worship happens when we clearly see our own sin. We read Isaiah 6:5 – “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for 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!” Each of us is grown up enough to know that we are all very imperfect, in enormous contrast to perfect God. Each of us by nature is most definitely not holy.
Finally, worship happens when we receive amazing grace. And again, Isaiah 6:8 – “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
Having begun with this outline, Pastor John then read to us a quote from William Temple. This fellow was an English churchman who spoke up for persecuted people in the 1930s and 40s until he died in 1944. He also had a pretty good picture of what worship is:
"Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose—all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.”
Worship begins with remembering:
We remember God’s faithfulness in the past. When we read Psalm 42:3-5 “My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Lamentations 3:20-24 – 20 My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. 21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Pastor John also read to us a much more recent poem that celebrates the faithfulness of God. That poem is called “Footprints”. I first heard this poem when I was about your ages. As decades of my life have gone by and I have gone through this and that, it is ever more meaningful to me:
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."
Worship continues with trusting: we trust in God’s promise for our future. We read Psalm 102:12 – But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. We remember this when we are confronted with hardship. We push through the pain we feel to the point of praising eternal God: He is still on the throne, still in control, still my God, still caring for me, still there for me!
There may be sickness in my family BUT YOU GOD – You can do all things
I feel rejected, BUT YOU GOD – You will never forsake me
My family is financially struggling, BUT YOU GOD – You are my provider
I have medical problems, BUT YOU GOD – You are my healer
I fear for my future – about this or that scary thing that may happen, BUT YOU GOD - You do not let me be frozen in fear or worry, but instead You give me a bright future and a hope for a share of your glory!
In reading our Bible verses we know that God has never lost a battle, and He is for us - His children – who totally TRUST in Him, because He is good and He is worthy
Suddenly our PAIN in whatever we are going through turns into PRAISE for our loving righteous Father.
So then, fellows: we throw ourselves into WORSHIP by remembering God’s faithfulness in the past and trusting in God’s promise for the future.