In worship, a multiplicity of emotions are always present.
Some Come to Worship to Give Thanks to God
A. Psalm 103 is a good example. It is pure thanksgiving.
1. The psalmist asks God for nothing.
2. Instead, he counts his blessings: Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy . . . For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:1-4; 11,12
B. Sometimes we come to worship to give thanks to God.
1. Yet, not all come to celebrate.
2. They have other reasons.
Some Come to Worship Seeking Forgiveness
A. Like David did in Psalm 51.
1. This psalm was written after Nathan said to David, You are the man!
2nd Samuel 12:7
2. David yearns for forgiveness, restoration, and, acceptance in worship.
B. Perhaps guilt is tearing you apart this morning. You need to know that God will receive you back. Yet, you need to know how you can be restored:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy steadfast love; according to Thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psalm 51:1-3; 10-12
SOME COME TO WORSHIP BECAUSE THEY ARE DISCOURAGED
A. Psalm 42 & 43 illustrate this.
These two psalms go together. The psalmist expresses discouragement in three ways:
1. He is depressed because he feels that God is far away.
2. He is despondent because problems have flooded his life.
3. He feels helpless because enemies have brought false accusations against him, but he cannot prove the accusations are false:
As a deer pants for the water, so my soul longs for Thee, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and
behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night,
while men say to me continually, Where is your God? Why are you
cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my help and my God.
A. Perhaps you are here this morning because you are discouraged.
SOME COME TO WORSHIP BECAUSE THEY ARE LONELY
David once wrote, No one cares for my soul (Psalm 142:4).
A. In Psalm 88 it was the writers friends & family who had let him down.
1. Few things are worse than feeling lonely.
2. Our worship services need to supply a practical expression of the fellowship we have in God & in Christ:
O Lord, my God, I call for help by day; I cry out in the night before Thee.
Let my prayer come before Thee, incline Thy ear to my cry! Thou hast caused my companions to shun me . . . I am shut in so that I cannot escape. Psalm 88:1,2,8
SOME COME TO WORSHIP BECAUSE THEY ARE STRUGGLING WITH BITTERNESS
A. Perhaps even with thoughts of vengeance in their hearts: The wicked go astray from the womb, they err from their birth, speaking lies. They have venom like the venom of a serpent, like the deaf adder that stops its ear . . .
O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!
A. Perhaps you are bitter . . . you want to personally retaliate against another. Youre here this morning because you are struggling with that bitterness.
1.The writer expressed a lesson we need to learn: Leave matters in the hands of the One who said, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (Romans 12:19).
2. Our services need to reaffirm that God is in control.
B. There are a number of reasons why some come to worship.
1. Why are you here this morning?
2. For whatever reason, were glad you are here.
3. *Perhaps no particular emotion has led you here today.
4. *Perhaps you didnt even want to be here.
5. How do you create a worship-hungry heart?
6. *A heart that yearns to be in the presence of our holy, mighty God.
7. *Perhaps you are here for that very reason.
8. You want to come into the presence of the Almighty.
A worship-hungry heart.
TURN IN YOUR BIBLES TO MATTHEW 17
The Bible speaks of a day when Jesus stood with friends in the presence of God. Lets read about the day when Jesus went to worship:
Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John, the brother of James,
up on a high mountain by themselves. While they watched, Jesus appearance was changed; His face became bright like the sun, and His clothes became white as light. Then Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, Lord it is good that we are here. If you want, I will put up three tents here one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While Peter was talking, a bright cloud covered them. A voice came from the cloud and said, This is My Son, whom I love; and I am very pleased with Him. Listen to Him!
A. The words of Matthew presuppose a decision on the part of Jesus to stand in the presence of God.
1. The simple fact that He chose His companions & went up on the mountain suggests this was no spur of the moment action.
2. He didnt awaken one morning, look at the calendar & then at His watch, and say, Oops, today is the day we go to the mountain.
No, He had preparations to make. Ministry to people was suspended so ministry to His heart could occur.
3. Since His chosen place of worship was some distance away, He had to select the right path & stay on the right road.
4. By the time He was on the mountain, His heart was ready. Jesus was prepared to worship.
B. A question to ask yourself is this, Do you do the same? Do you prepare for worship? What paths do you take to lead you up the mountain?
1. The question may seem strange, but I imagine many of us simply wake up & show up.
2. Were sadly casual when it comes to meeting God.
Would we be so lackadaisical with, oh, lets say, the president?
3. Suppose you were granted a Sunday morning breakfast at the White House?
*How would you spend Saturday night?
*Would you get ready? Would you collect your thoughts?
*Would you think about your questions & requests?
4. Should we prepare any less for an encounter with the Holy God?
C. Let me urge you to come to worship prepared to worship.
1.Pray before you come so you will be ready to pray when you arrive.
2.Sleep before you come so youll stay alert when you arrive.
3.Read the Word before you come so your heart will be soft when you worship.
*Come expecting God to speak through His Word.
A. As you do, youll discover the purpose of worship . . . to change the face of the worshiper.
1. This is exactly what happened to Jesus on the mountain. His appearance was changed: His face became bright like the sun (Matthew 17:2).
2. The connection between the face & worship is more than coincidental. Our face is the most public part of our bodies.
3. It is also the most recognizable part of our bodies. We dont fill a school annual with photos of peoples feet but rather with photos of faces.
4. God desires to take your face, this exposed & memorable part of your body, and use it to reflect His goodness.
Our faces, then, are not covered. We all show the Lords glory, and we are being changed to be like Him. This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2nd Corinthians 3:18
B. God invites us to see His face so He can change ours.
1. He uses our uncovered faces to display His glory. The transformation isnt easy. The sculptor of Mount Rushmore faced a lesser challenge than does God.
2. But our Lord is up to the task. He loves to change the faces of His children.
*By His fingers, wrinkles of worry are rubbed away.
*Shadows of shame & doubt become portraits of grace & trust.
*He relaxes clenched jaws.
*His touch can remove the bags of exhaustion from beneath the eyes & turn tears of despair into tears of peace.
1. How? Through worship. He changes our faces through worship.
A. Exactly what is worship? I like Davids definition:
Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
A. Worship is the act of magnifying God.
1. Enlarging our vision of Him.
2. Its similar to stepping into the cockpit of a plane to see where the pilot sits and observe how he works.
3. As we draw nearer to God, our perception of Him changes.
He seems larger. Isnt that what we need?
*A big view of God. Dont we have big problems, big worries, big questions?
Of course we do. So, we need a big view of God.
B. Psalm 136 was often used in early worship services.
1. The worship leader would read the first part of each verse,
illustrating great things God has done in their life.
2. The congregation would recite back the second part of each verse, which is the same thing: for His steadfast love endures forever.
3. If you were to write your own psalm, illustrating great things God has done in your life, what would you write?
4. In what ways has God shown His steadfast love to you?
C. Worship offers a big view of God.
1. How can we sing Holy, Holy, Holy and not have our vision expanded?
2. Or what about the lines from It Is Well With My Soul?
My sin O the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
3. Can we sing those words and not have our countenance illuminated?
4. A vibrant, shining face is the mark of one who has stood in Gods presence.
*After speaking to God, Moses had to cover his face with a veil
*After seeing heaven, Stephens face glowed like that of an angel
(Acts 6:15; 7:55-56).
D. God is in the business of changing the face of the world.
1. This change is His job, not ours.
2. Our goal is not to make our faces radiant.
*******A. Matthew says, Jesus appearance was changed not Jesus changed His appearance.
1. Moses didnt even know his face was shining (Exodus 34:29).
2. Our goal is not to conjure up some fake, frozen expression.
3. Our goal is simply to stand before God with a prepared & willing heart, and, then let God do His work.
B. And He does.He wipes away the tears. He softens our furrowed brows.
1. He touches our cheeks.
2. He changes our faces as we worship.
C. But theres more.
1. Not only does God change the face of those who worship, He changes those who watch us worship.
2. Paul told the Corinthian church to worship in such a way that if an unbeliever entered: He would find . . . the secrets of his heart revealed; and . . . would fall down on his face and worship God, declaring that God is indeed among you1st Corinthians 14:24-25
D. David cites the evangelistic power of honest worship:
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many people will see this and worship Him. Then they will trust the Lord.
1. Your heartfelt worship is a missionary appeal.
2. Let the unbeliever hear the passion of your voice or see the sincerity in your face, and they may be changed.
3. Peter was. He referred to this event many years later when he wrote his 2nd letter (2 Peter 1:17). When Peter saw the worship of Jesus, he said: Lord, it is good that we are here. If you want, I will put up three tents here one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah (Matthew 17:4).
*Mark says Peter spoke out of fear (Mark 9:6). *Luke says Peter spoke out of ignorance (Luke 9:33). But at least Peter spoke! He wanted to do something for God. Why? Because he saw the transfigured face of Christ!
A. The same thing happens in churches today.
1. When people see us giving heartfelt praise to God, when they hear our worship . . . they are intrigued.
2. They want to see the pilot!
B. Seekers may not understand all that happens in our worship.
1. They may not understand the meaning of a song or the significance of the communion, but they know joy when they see it.
2. And when they see your face changed, they may want to see Gods face.
C. Of course the opposite is equally true.
1. What happens when a seeker sees boredom on someones face?
2. Others are worshiping and you are scowling?
3. Others are seeking Gods face while someone is seeking the face of their wristwatch?
C. As parents, we ask ourselves a personal question:
What are our children learning from mom & dads worship?
1. Do they see the same excitement as when we go to a basketball game?
2. Do they see us prepare for worship as we do for a vacation?
*Do they see us hungry to arrive, seeking the face of the Father?
*Or do they see us content to leave the way we came?
3. They are watching, arent they?
D. Do you come to worship with a worship-hungry heart? Our Savior did.
1. Thats our goal . . . to be like Jesus.
2. Prepare your heart for worship.
*Let God change your face through worship.
*Demonstrate the power of worship.
3. Above all, seek the face of the pilot . . . seek the face of God.
A man was working at his desk at home, when his little daughter came in & said, Daddy, can we play? He answered, Im awfully sorry, Sweetheart, but Im right in the middle of preparing this paper. In about an hour I can play. She said, O.K., when youre finished, Daddy, Im going to give you a big hug. She went to the door & then she did a U-turn and came back & gave him a big hug. The man responded, You said you were going to give me a hug after I finished. She answered, Daddy, I just wanted you to know what you have to look forward to!
God wants us to know how much we have to look forward to when we get Home.
A. The writer of Hebrews describes the mountaintop of Zion.
He says when we reach the mountain we will have come to:
The city of the living God . . . To thousands of angels gathered together with joy . . . To the meeting of Gods firstborn children whose names are written in heaven . . . To God, the judge of all people, . . . And to the spirits of good people who have been made perfect . . . To Jesus, the One who brought the new agreement from God to His people . . . To the sprinkled blood that has a better message than the blood of Abel.
A. What a mountain! Wont it be great to see the angels?
1. Imagine seeing God. To feel the Fathers gaze upon you. Neither will ever cease. Imagine the meeting of the firstborn. A gathering of all Gods children.
2. Jesus will be there.
The One who shows us how to have a worship-hungry heart.
A. Imagine the meeting of the firstborn.
1. No jealousy, competition, division. No hurry.
2. We will be perfect, sinless. No more stumbles.
Gossip will be silenced. Grudges forever removed.
3. Together, we will worship.
A. We wont be worshiping because were discouraged.
*Not because were sad or lonely.
*Not because were struggling with bitterness.
1.We will worship because we are in the presence of God.
2.What a mountain!
*It will be worth it.
*No cost is too high.
*No sacrifice too much to get there.
B. One view of the peak will justify the pain of the path.
1. After all, Jesus knows whats like to climb a mountain.
2. He climbed one for us.