Thursday, October 20, 2011

PURE PRAISE -  Week Three - Worship is Conversion

Jasper Speaks:

I am learning a lot about worship in our latest study, Pure Praise. Here is what we talked about last night:

We are in week three of a series we are calling Pure Praise. We are looking into God’s Word to see what it says about worship. We’ve talked about how worship is a lot more than singing. The first week we said that worship is knowing God. We said that in order to really worship Him, you have to know Him.

Last week Jeff talked about worship being praising God.

Tonight I want to talk to you about where worship comes from. How it can be real and not inauthentic. Last week Jeff talked about how praise is an outward thing. How people see it when you are doing it and that is really true. Praise is the outward response to what God is doing. Tonight I want to build off what Jeff said last week and help you see how to prepare yourself for real, true worship what should come from your worship.

Worship begins INSIDE
True worship comes from within us Worship is a heart issue. To genuinely worship God, I believe your heart haws to be right with God. Last week Jeff talked about how praise comes from the overflow of the heart. I believe that worship begins inside us. Look with me at what Psalm 51 says:
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. Psalm 51:10-13

In order for us to worship God in spirit and in truth like we talked about two weeks ago, we have to make sure that we are right inside. We have to be equipped to worship.

Before we can really worship we have to prepare ourselves. If praise is really the overflow of our hearts then our hearts need to be right to worship. Once that happens we can take the steps of worship. Worship on its own is so much more than praise. It should move us to change. Worship is conversion.

As I thought about what that might look like I was drawn to one of my favorite passages in the Bible. Isaiah chapter 6. I think as we look at Isaiah’s experience here we will see path of preparing our hearts for real worship.

Isaiah is possibly the most famous Old Testament prophets. His book is 66 chapters long like the Bible is 66 books long. The first five chapters of Isaiah deal with a vision God gave Isaiah about Judah and Israel and God’s judgment.

Then we get to chapter 6 and Isaiah and he records the extraordinary experience he had. To understand this chapter we have to recognize Isaiah’s state of mind. His friend (and probably cousin) the King, Uzziah had died and Isaiah was mourning. Isaiah is reaching out to God in his time of mourning. In the midst of this hard time God speaks into his life and changes it.

I like to call this the “C” chapter. I think we see Isaiah’s heart being prepared for worship in a series of happenings that all start with the letter C.
Fist is the act of:

It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. Isaiah 6:1-4

The dictionary says that to consecrate means to to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity: 

And that is what happens here.

The seraphim cry out Holy holy holy!

Isaiah realizes God is different. He consecrates.God is greater. Holy different. Our worship begins with recognizing that.

So the first C is Consecration the next is

Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed … Isaiah 6:5a

When we see how different God is we immediately see how sinful we are.

We are separated from God.

We see that more when God is consecrated. When we worship God starts to shine his flashlight on our hearts and we see where we fall short.

Once we have consecrated God and seen how different he is and our sin is made known to us this requires a response on our part. That response is:

… for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Isaiah 6:5b

Isaiah consecrated God and immediately saw his own sin. But he didn’t  just see his sin he responded to being in God’s presence. He saw his own sin and confessed it. If you want to really worship God in spirit and truth you need to confess the sin in your life before him. You need to get things right with God. I would even go as far as to say if you are in a worship service and you are singing and you are consecrating God and you are convicted of your sin before him (as should happen most of the time of our worship) you should stop right then and there and confess. Why? Because that sin is going to keep you from truth. Sin is the opposite of worship. You have to confess it to really be able to let yourself worship God with your whole spirit.

Sin is the exact opposite of worship. Worship is about God, sin is all about us. Really worshiping in Spirit and Truth cannot happen if you have unconfessed sin on your heart.

Then God does something in the worship. The next C is for

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” Isaiah 6:6-7

When you consecrate, are convicted and confess, God is going to cleanse.

Why did the seraphim put the coal on Isaiah’s lips? That was where his confesses sin was.

God will go to exactly what you confess. He will cleanse it.

Once you are cleansed you are at a point where you can worship God unhindered. It is at that time that you can achieve the last step of worship

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”  I said, “Here I am. Send me.” Isaiah 6:8

Isaiah came to the temple that day because he needed God. When we are worshipping him we are saying God I need you. Is Consecrated, was convicted, confessed, God cleansed him and then --- then he was able to hear God’s call. Worship is about giving back to God but it is when we are iving back to him that he can move the most in our lives. It is when he gives back to us. Is worshipped and God spoke.

You should expect to hear God’s call every time you worship.

This shouldn’t be a one time thing. You see


Let’s go back to where we started in Psalm 51.

You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:16-17

God doesn’t want our works
God wants our real worship
In order to really worship we have to have all thse Cs.

When we have them, God will not reject us. He will speak to us. Then our real act of worship continues when we answer the call to consecrated holy living.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Life is Hard 

Jasper Speaks:

Life is Hard … But God is Good

Life is hard but God is good. This phrase has been running through my mind of late. I have had a difficult few weeks and I keep telling myself that even in the darkest hours, God is good.

When was the last time you really contemplated the goodness of God? We are so blessed. I heard someone say the other day, “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday”. It made me think. I have much for which to be thankful. I have an amazing wife. I have a wonderful son. My extended family loves me. I have close friends.I have a caring church family. I get to spend every day “working” in a job that is my passion. I have a nice home. I have two cars. I have not gone hungry. I realize that I don’t thank God enough for what I have.

God’s Word speaks of the goodness of God often. I think that God understands that we all have difficult times. Our sinful nature enables us to be selfish and look at our current circumstances and neglect all God has done for us. So, God, in his infinite wisdom, reminds us of His goodness when we open His Word. Even in the times we feel abandoned, God’s goodness still surrounds us. Psalm 31 says:

Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence From the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. 

God knew life would be hard. Sin complicates everything. It keeps our focus off God and all he has given us. Still, in our darkest hour, God does not leave us alone. His goodness still prevails. We may not understand why He allows the darkness to over shadow us but we can have confidence that His goodness will continue to shine down. Part of the goodness of God is that He promises that all things will work to our good. Life deals us so many difficult times but God is greater than our difficulties. Satan’s lies are defeated when we stop dwelling on the darkness and begin to return to a list of the things for which we are thankful to God in His goodness.

If you are dealing with a difficult time, I challenge you to sit down and list the ways that you see God’s goodness at work in your life. It will change your perspective. It will defeat the enemy as he tries to deceive you into believing God has left you all alone. Life is hard but God is good. May we all remember that even in our toughest times.