May
5
2019

Is Our Worship of God Transforming Us?

Is Our Worship of God Transforming Us? Isaiah 6 May 5, 2019
 
Opening Video: Psalm 34 by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir Video Questions • Point out the vision – young, old, multi-racial, neither rock-in nor high church – very eclectic • I wonder what you thought of the reaction of the congregation – was the praise only motivated by the excellence of the music and vocals? • And I wonder about the long-lasting impact of that worship service. I mean are people hitting the restaurants after that service and being snotty with the waitress and not leaving a tip?
 
We’re going to look at the topic of worship over the next few weeks, except next week we’ll take a break for Mother’s Day.  However, there can be a variety of descriptions of what is worship and how God moves in worship.  
 
Introduction The Christian Post reported about a pastor from the western part of the U.S. that is endorsing the use of Cannabis to help people worship.  He said that he was raised Southern Baptist and never put his hands in the air as an act of worship.  But since he started using medical marijuana for physical pain, he has even been in the bathroom and has lifted his hands in the air as an act of worship.  
 
I don’t believe his view stacks up consistently to the teaching of scripture.  What we find in the passages from Genesis to Revelation is the power of God that transcends everything that can help us to engage God as God acts upon us.  
 
Don’t get me wrong, there can be things we do to help us focus on God but at the end of the day, God needs no props, no candles, no soft music or pump them up type of music to reveal himself to us.
 
Pastor Steve Sjogren has said that “Worship is a time not for us to become great worshippers of God but to experience the great God of those who worship him.”  (Worship Evangelism, Morgenthaler, p.201 My hope today is to use a story about the presence of God that moved as someone sought God’s hope and comfort.
 
Context Let’s look at a well-known prophet of God from the Old Testament named Isaiah.  I believe out of all the prophets, Jesus quoted Isaiah the most.  And one of the teachings Jesus used from Isaiah’s prophecy was to warn about false and empty worship of God.  Listen to these words from Jesus from Mark 7:6-8. (read text) Jesus taught often about worship of God that was mot genuine, and just going through the motions.
 
Now to be fair, I am not claiming that what we are about to hear happened to Isaiah as he was leading a worship service or a part of any type of worship.  
 
However, the story takes place in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem where God was worshipped.  It is true we cannot be sure whether actual worship by many was taking place or that Isaiah was there by himself seeking God in a time of grief.  But to be in the temple with all of its rich symbols of faith about God no doubt put Isaiah in a frame of mind where he began to seek the presence of God and that is what we gather to do when we worship.
 
It is fitting to use this story because when God encounters us, we will be different whether the encounter takes place in worship or another setting.
 
Read Isaiah 6:1-8
 Presence – of God vs.1-4
 
Isaiah describes this vision of seeing “God on a throne, high and lofty…”   His description matters.  Let’s remind ourselves about who sits on a throne.   • Thrones were made for kings.   • Thrones were made for those who rule.   • Thrones are for those who have power and authority.  
 
Isaiah had this moment when the power and majesty of God was being revealed.   Isaiah saw God sitting on his throne and the position matters as well.  Isaiah said he saw God high and lifted up.   • God’s position was above everything else.   • God was not being affected by what happens on earth.   • The political discord, the world powerbrokers, a 200 point-drop in the Dow nor anything else rattle’s God and have heaven in confusion.  God is high and lifted up.
 
So, in that very one verse there is an incredible amount being said.  In that one verse it is being affirmed God rules all of life and despite what was going on in the world God is still God.  Robert Wolegmuth wrote a book entitled, 7 Things You Better Have Nailed Down Before All Hell Breaks Loose.  He states, “A compelling story like Isaiah’s reminds us at the top of our decision list needs to be who we understand God to be in all seasons of life.”
 
If Isaiah was standing here today, he would tell us he had been a priest for years, but he never anticipated an experience like this.  
 
PRACTIAL APPLICATION
How often do we in the midst of worship or after leaving say to ourselves, wow I didn’t see that one coming? I didn’t expect that moment of insight, a sense of strengthening or nudge of direction; but God provided.
 
The purpose in the title of the sermon that ask whether our worship of God is transforming us is to prevent us from treating worship like a spiritual vending machine and we gather to receive our selections from God and only what we expect.
 
Isaiah’s story reminds stay alert as we worship for what God has to reveal to us.    Predicament – of humankind v.5 Isaiah’s reaction to what he saw led to an assessment about himself and his people.   God’s presence helped Isaiah to see Isaiah and his people in deeper, truer ways.  As Isaiah sees God’s majesty, Isaiah sees his own sinfulness.  He describes himself as a “man of unclean lips.” V.5 
 
Pastor Timothy Keller writes Isaiah realizes, “God has everything and needs nothing, and Isaiah is nothing and needs everything.”  Timothy Keller
 
Let me ask you, has it become uncouth, outdated, old fashioned to experience what Isaiah experienced?
 
We might not like to admit we can be sinful and spiritually dark.  
 
Someone said, “Exposing your dark side doesn’t frighten me, hiding it does.”
 
Does worship help us cover or discover who we really are?  Isaiah is not alone.  We all have it.
 
Illustration: Zacharias’ story about the sheriff and the bank robber.  
 
Once seeing the glory of God, this moment prepares for Isaiah later saying that his righteousness is like filthy rags.  Don’t the headlines teach us it is only a matter of time before even people with power, talent, prestige and money have their dark side exposed, their filthy rags of righteousness exposed.   Protestant and Catholic scandals of clergy sex abuse. Politicians from both parties disappoint. Entertainers, CEO’s  involved in schemes to get their kids in the best schools. 
 
If worship is going to be part of the way God transforms us, worship will help us see the bad news about ourselves before we see the good news of God.  
 
A healthy experience in worship is to have insight that helps us see our imperfections, the spiritual darkness that needs the light of God’s truth.    
 
Purity – through gift of grace vs.6-7
 
God’s presence revealed Isaiah’s sinfulness; but God’s presence also provided grace and purification.  Isaiah described in his vision an angel like creature called a seraph taking a coal from the altar in heaven and using that to purify Isaiah.  The coal applied to the tongue was grace and purification provided by God. Grace was God’s forgiveness for Isaiah to leave his past. Purification was God’s provision for Isaiah to discover his future.
 
Whether our moment of worship is individual/personal time, or as we gather here, a story like Isaiah’s reminds us God’s character desires to love, forgive and transform us.  Verse 7 the seraph tells Isaiah “your guilt has departed from you and your sin has been blotted out.”  Scripture like this should remind us there is no need to try and
skirt away from facing the truth about who we are and what our lives are like that is unpleasant.  God is able to move us beyond our imperfections and less than godly ways.
 
 
Purpose – drawn by his will v.8 God’s action used worship to move Isaiah to a cause greater than himself.  God asked a question, “Who will go for us?”  We have free will.  We have a choice.  Isaiah said, “Here am I send me.”   
 
Worship professor and author, Sally Morgenthaler writes that there are three basic words for worship and one of the three means to serve.  Is our worship of God transforming us to serve God by serving others?  
 
Isaiah went to the temple to mourn; God gave him a mission.   Isaiah went to the temple to find comfort; God gave him a calling.  Isaiah went to the temple to take care of himself – God reminded him there were others who share his condition.
 
God encounter Isaiah and he was transformed, may our worship desire the same.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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