Summary: How do we experience real worship and what do we take away from the experience?
One Sunday a woman came to the pastor and thanked him for the sermon he had preached. He said, "Don't thank me, thank God." She said, "Well, I thought of that, but it wasn't quite that good."
Too often we approach the worship service with our eyes on the preacher, the worship leader, the choir, or one another. If the preacher, worship leader, choir or fellow worshipers please us, we think we've worshipped. But real worship is experienced only when we come away with a fresh awareness of the greatness of God. And that happens only when He is the One on whom we are focused when we gather.
That was Isaiah's experience. His awareness of God's greatness was heightened as a result of experience of Real Worship. Real Worship that he experienced because he can with a desire to seek God.
Likewise, Real Worship can change our lives by giving us a fresh awareness of God's greatness. But it will only be used of God to do that if we gather with God's people to worship with our focus being on God.
"You will seek me and find me when you seek mewith all your heart." - Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)
When we gather focused on God, we experience Real Worship which will bring to us . . .
1. A renewed awareness of God's presence - v. 1
When we read about heroes of faith in the Bible, what strengthened and sustained them? Take Moses. What sustained him during his difficult years as leader of the nation of Israel? It was a promise:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
When Joshua took over, God gave him the same sustaining promise:
"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." - Joshua l:5 (NIV)
Moses needed the promise to carry burdens and Joshua, to fight battles! We too have burdens to carry & battles to fight; and the same promise:
"God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" - Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)
Our Lord's last words to His disciples were "surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age," (Matthew 28:20 NIV).
Christians are never alone. No matter what burdens we must carry or battles we must fight, God is at our side.
But sometimes, we have difficulty recognizing His presence. It's then that we need to come away, lift our eyes toward His throne, and recognize afresh that He is with us! That's what worship with God's people is designed to do for us.
"I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from GOD, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep. GOD’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you - Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moonstroke. GOD guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always." - Psalm 121:1-8 (The Message)
"We need to recover today in our evangelical, Bible-believing churches the sense of reverence that ought to characterize those who gather in the holy presence of the living God. In many churches the fellowship is warm and the Bible teaching is faithful. But each week the people file in and out of what is labeled a “worship service”
without ever coming close to sensing the holy presence of God. It’s easy to fall into the disease of “playing church,” of going through the motions of worship without encountering God. But worship should be a reverent response to God’s holy presence." - Pastor Steven J. Cole
Real Worship requires concentration. As I focus on God, I'm reminded of and refreshed by His presence. And I will be able to look past the allurements, troubles, and distractions of this world to recognize and be sustained by His presence daily. As I focus on God's presence when we gather, I'll be better able to recognize God presence when we scatter! To experience Real Worship, we must concentrate on God's presence.
But an experience of Real Worship will also bring . . .
2. A renewed awareness of God's power - v. 4
Isaiah gained a fresh realization of God's power through this experience of worship and so should we. Real Worship requires contemplation. Contemplation of God's power.
"Come and see what the Lord has done . . . He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.' The LORD Almighty is with us . . ." - Psalm 46:8a; 10-11a (NIV)