We continue this morning with our mini-series on the topic of worship. Last Sunday, we studied Psalm 135 and saw God’s revelation for worship. God revealed Himself to us, and our healthy response is deep reverence for God.
We saw that God is good in His choice and care for us, and that He is great in his creation and control of all. We concluded that if you come to church in response to anything other than to God’s goodness and God’s greatness, you’ve come to church. But if you’ve come to church in response to God’s goodness and to His greatness, you’ve come to worship. There’s a huge difference between coming to church and coming to worship.
We worship God, first of all, because of who God is, His nature, character and power. To take off on Ben Patterson’s quote about prayer, "The best thing about prayer is God," I would say, "The best thing about worship is God." In our worship of God, we grow to know, not just information, but in relationship to, our Creator.
God created us to worship Him, and when we don’t worship God, we don’t cease to worship. We simply worship someone or something else. And worshipping anything or anyone other than our Creator distorts our perspectives and values in life.
If we worship possessions, we measure the value of a person based on how much he or she owns. If we worship our work, we measure the value of a person based on his or her abilities. If we worship ourselves, we measure the value of another based on our perception of ourselves.
In America, instead of worshipping the Creator, many worship money, prestige, celebrities, power and self. In other countries, instead of worshipping the Creator, many worship what are created, such as spirits, ancestors, parents, animals, and man-made statues or images. In so doing, we wrongly increase the worth of created objects and decrease the honor of the Creator.
Maybe the term "worship" is new to you, but all of us have been worshipping someone or something all of our life. To worship is to revere, to honor or to value ultimately someone or something.
This morning we will learn the three attitudes needed to worship our Creator and to restore a right relationship with God. Let me read Isaiah 6:1-8 for us.
Since we will be looking at the attitudes of worship, let me define what attitudes are. Attitudes are the habits of thinking that eventually direct our words and actions. If we have a positive attitude, we are in the habit of thinking positively, and our words and actions will show this optimism.
There are three necessary attitudes of worship exhibited in the eight verses from this morning’s text. Let’s look together.
The first attitude of worship is the lordship of God. We see this in verses 1-4.
You need to know that Isaiah served as a prophet of God for sometime before he saw this vision from God. I believe the reason why Isaiah didn’t see God’s majesty and glory before this time was because Isaiah wrongly placed his confidence and allegiance in King Uzziah’s reign. But now the human king is dead.
Let me give you some background. King Uzziah ruled Judah with great prosperity and victory for 52 years. He began his reign humbly and earnestly seeking God, but as time went on, King Uzziah became prideful. His arrogance led to a final act of disregard for God’s order. And God struck Uzziah with leprosy, ending his reign. You can read about this in 2 Chronicles 26.
Now, I can identify with Isaiah’s misplaced trust. Even though I’ve placed my trust in Jesus Christ to be my Savior and Lord for 15 years, I find my trust placed in my own abilities, in books, in the people I know, in technology and in medical advances.
The problem with putting our trust in things or people is that we become blind to God’s majesty, glory, power, wisdom and resources that are infinitely more valuable and pure. And when we don’t see God as He is, we won’t worship Him as He deserves.
In order to worship God as He deserves, we need to possess the attitude of the lordship of God. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money (or materialism).
The one who controls our thoughts, emotions, actions and our time is our lord and the one we worship. If God is not the Lord of all, He is not the Lord at all.
Who controls your time? Do television programs control your time? Does sleep control your time? Do hobbies control your time? Do your fears control your time? Ephesians 5:15 says, "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity...."
I was talking with Bill and Connie, and I commented that they don’t skip church very much. Their reply was that they try to schedule their vacations so that they come back home by Sunday. This way, if God brings someone new to the church, they will have the opportunity to meet and encourage any new comers.
Now I’m not suggesting that what Bill and Connie do in this regard is God’s instruction for everyone or even God’s instruction for them in the future. What I am suggesting is that God should have His rightful control over our lives, whether the scheduling of vacations, the use of money, what we do and think in private, and how we choose to respond to others.
I know some of us will scream out against the lordship of God in our lives. You don’t want God telling you what to do. You want to be your own boss. You want to blend into the American lifestyle. You may be coming to church, but you are not coming to worship unless you have the habit of giving control of your life to God.
The first attitude of worship is the lordship of God; the second attitude of worship is the humility of mankind. We see this in verses 5-7.
When Isaiah saw God, he not only recognized that God was the true Ruler of his life, but he also recognized his own sinfulness and the sinfulness of the people. Humility is the ability to see ourselves as God sees us. Let me say it again, "Humility is the ability to see ourselves as God sees us."
The self-esteem movement has wrongly reacted against the Bible’s evaluation of mankind. This movement claims that the Bible’s evaluation of mankind as sinful decreases the worth of human beings. That’s not true.
What I’ve discovered is that those in the self-esteem movement have a low self-esteem, while those who are willing to accept the Bible’s evaluation of mankind have a healthy self-esteem. Only a person with a low self-esteem would be unable to accept constructive criticism. Those who have a healthy self-esteem are able to receive constructive criticism and respond by seeking the solution.
Isaiah had a healthy self-esteem. After king Uzziah died, Isaiah saw God, and he realized he made a tragic mistake by praising Uzziah instead of praising God and by placing his trust in Uzziah instead of in God. So Isaiah confessed his sin and received God’s solution, the live coal to cleanse his lips, remove his guilt and atone for his sin.
Without humility, mankind lives in denial of our own sinfulness. Or mankind would live with useless attempts to salvage our own sinfulness. Only with humility can we admit our sinfulness and receive God’s solution.
How does humility tie into the worship of God?
Did you know that the religions of the world are not really a worship of other gods? Religions of the world are really a worship of self-effort to please or to appease fears, guilt and maybe God. Christianity, on the other hand, requires humility to confess our inability to salvage ourselves, so we receive God’s solution in Jesus’ death on the cross.
Earlier this week, I met with Pastor Winsome for lunch, and we began to talk about a particular characteristic of God. We found ourselves debating and proving our different view. We continued our debate as we walked out to his car. Then Pastor Winsome said something that transformed our debate into a time of worship.
Pastor Winsome said, "You know, I could be wrong." Right away, I was convicted of my pride. And I said, "You know, I could be wrong also." Our focus turned from wanting to be right to wanting to worship a God who is greater than our finite minds can understand.
The humility of mankind allows the rightful Ruler, God, to take His place. Arrogance hinders the worship of God. Humility fosters the worship of God.
The first attitude of worship is the lordship of God; the second attitude of worship is the humility of mankind, and the third attitude of worship is the servanthood of worshippers. We see this in verses 2-3 and 8.
While Isaiah and the seraphs are quite different, the things that are in common are their worship of God and their servanthood to God. Seraphs are angelic beings that have six wings. As with all angelic beings, their purposes are to worship and serve God.
The similarities between Isaiah and the seraphs are quite astonishing. As with Isaiah’s servant response, we see the seraph’s servant response follow only after their reverence for God and their humility before God.
The two wings that cover their faces demonstrate reverence for God. The two wings that cover their feet demonstrate humility before God. With the two remaining wings, the seraphs carried out the orders of God.
Someone had said, "If God gave human beings six wings, we would use them all in service for God, because six wings can fly faster than two." But God is not looking for fast service.
Mankind’s service to God without first possessing the lordship of God and the humility of mankind will always be colored by selfish ambitions. Paul Rader noted, "Why does God want to humble a man or a woman? Nobody can work for God until humility has taken hold of his life. Otherwise, he magnifies himself out of all proportion to God."
Let me illustrate how the servanthood attitude ties into worship. Whether in your own time of reading the Bible and prayer or in our Sunday gathering, come with the habit of thought that God is Lord. Shake off other things and people from their influence on you.
Say to yourself and to God, "God, You are my Lord. You give the orders. I won’t let the philosophies from our culture, I won’t let my fears, I won’t let my lusts for things set my priorities. You are my Lord. You tell me. I am Your servant, Lord. I will obey."
When you enter God’s presence with the attitudes of the lordship of God, the humility of mankind, and the servanthood of a worshipper, God will show Himself to you and speak to you with such clarity that you will be able to identify with Isaiah’s vision. And you too will be given the opportunity to respond in service to God.
In Joseph Carroll’s book, How to Worship Jesus Christ, he explains why God used Hudson Taylor significantly in China. Carroll writes, "In the evangelical missionary world, there is no name more revered than that of Hudson Taylor. Hudson Taylor, a remarkable man, was the father of modern faith missions.... What was it that made Hudson Taylor the man he became and was, right to the end?"
"His son and daughter-in-law, who traveled constantly with [Taylor] in his later years, testify that often they would be traveling over a hard cobblestone road for many hours in a springless cart. Arriving in a Chinese inn late at night, they would endeavor to obtain a little corner in a room for their father, Hudson Taylor; for usually in those inns there was just one large room where everybody slept."
"[Taylor] was now an [old] man; but without fail, every morning just before dawn there would be the scratching of a match and the lighting of a candle, and Hudson Taylor would worship God. This was the key to his life. It was said that ever before the sun rose on China, Hudson Taylor was worshipping God."
Before we can truly be God’s servants, we must humbly choose God to be our Master.
The attitudes of the lordship of God, the humility of mankind and the servanthood of worshippers are not chosen once or on Sundays only. This choice must be made morning after morning until it becomes the habit of our thinking, our three most important attitudes in life.