TEXT: Revelation 5:11-14
I once read the story of Fritz Kreisler, the master violinist, who discovered that an Englishman had acquired a rare Stradivarius violin. After a long search for the man, he traveled to his home and offered to buy the instrument. However, the Englishman told Kreisler that the instrument was not for sale and sent him away. But Kreisler was not to be discouraged, and decided to go back one more time and ask the man if he could at least see the magnificent instrument. The Englishman respected Kreisler’s talent enough to allow him to come into his home and hold the violin. Kreisler picked up the rare instrument, and with the Englishman’s permission, placed it carefully under his chin and masterfully drew the bow across the strings. As Kreisler played, the Englishman felt as though he heard wind blowing through the trees, the laughter of little children, birds singing, and angels lifting their voices in a chorus of praise. After 20 minutes, Kreisler saw that the Englishman was weeping. He stopped playing and said, “I’m sorry, if I have upset you, but this is such a beautiful instrument. I only wish I could buy it.” The Englishman said, “It’s not for sale, but it is yours. You may have it! It belongs to you. You are the master. You alone are worthy of it.”
Today as we talk about experiencing worship, the story of Fritz Kreisler helps us to understand what worship is all about. God steps up to this world, which we are used to thinking of as our own, and begins to play upon it. We are stunned by what he is able to do. All of life becomes beautiful as he plays his music and brings out the beauty of the world. At last we say, “This world belongs to you! You are the Master! You alone are worthy of it!” And then we place our lives in his hands as well, and ask that he bring out the music in our lives. We want him to bring out the beauty in us which only he can do. We want our lives to vibrate with his life.
This is the essence of worship. The word “worship” comes from the Old English meaning “worthy.” To worship God means to recognize his “worthship.” We worship when WE RECOGNIZE HE IS WORTHY OF OUR PRAISE. There are several things we could say about worship, but the first which we will mention today is:
We experience worship by:
1. HAVING A CLEAR VISION OF WHO GOD IS.
When I say vision, I don’t mean an ecstatic vision in an out-of-body experience.
- All you need is the understanding of who God is and his unsurpassed greatness.
- All you have to do is read the Bible and discover there how powerful and majestic our great God is.
Read the book of Revelation, as we have done this morning, and hear what those who surround the throne say about him and how they worship him. Catch the swell of emotion as the host of heaven adore the One who sits upon heaven’s throne.
If you want to get in touch with who God is, all you have to do is take a vacation in the mountains, or just walk around in a park. Look up into the night sky, or watch an ant at work. As you look around you become amazed at God’s creativity and power. Christians understand that the world did not evolve. The world, and we who are in it, did not just happen by chance. The theory of evolution is wrong because it misses the God who has caused the existence of the world. He spoke the world into existence and is responsible for everything that is. If we fail to understand this, then we cannot truly worship.
- If God is just an idea, then he does not deserve our worship.
- If you believe that God is merely the product of human imagination, because we wanted something to believe in, then you are wasting our time here today.
But if you understand that the God we serve is the one who not only created the earth, but every star and planet in the farthest reaches of space, then you are ready to worship. There is not one atom in all the cosmos which God did not create — whether that is the cosmos which we already know about, or the vast parts that we have yet to discover.
This is why we worship God, because he is the Creator of our lives. He is literally our Father, for He brought each of us into existence.
The philosophy of Secularism says that there is nothing outside of the material realm to give meaning and virtue to life. In essence, we are alone. There is no cause to the world’s existence, and no purpose or point to life. We are merely here as the result of an accident of chance which took billions of years. There is nothing beyond the material universe to give it significance. There is no design and no Designer. There is no plan for the world or the people who are in it.
But we have come here today to acknowledge the presence of God in the cosmos. Far from the world being secular, we understand that the world is not profane, it is sacred, and so is the life upon it.
The world belongs to God, and He not only exists, he saturates the world with his presence. In fact, we are here to celebrate his Presence right in this very room.
- He is not only here, he is personal and lives within us to give our lives value and meaning.
- He has made life beautiful, pleasurable and rewarding.
- He loves to bless us and be near us.
- We thank him for his love, which has transformed us and made our lives new.
In the book of Revelation we hear the host of heaven praising God and saying: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11). We respond with the same words as we worship our loving Creator.
- He is full of divine holiness, and yet forgives our sins.
- He is complete power, and yet is kind and compassionate toward us.
- He is perfect in wisdom and knowledge, and yet he puts up with our foolishness.
- He lives in the farthest reaches of space, and yet he lives in our hearts.
Isaiah the prophet wrote: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom” (Isaiah 40:28).
Paul, the apostle, wrote that the sin of the world consists in this: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. . . . They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:25). We do well to heed the warning of Job, when he said, “His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?” (Job 9:4). We have come here today to celebrate the greatness of God our Creator who made the heavens and the earth. He is our God and King. He is also our Savior and loving heavenly Father. The hymn writer put this important truth into poetry when he said,
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.
And so we say with the Psalmist: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit” (Psalm 147:5).
Secondly, we experience worship by
2. SEEING DEEPLY WHO WE ARE.
It was Isaiah who saw the Lord high and lifted up in his vision of heaven. He heard the angels of God crying to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). But Isaiah’s vision was not without consequence to himself. When he saw God, he cried out in despair, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5). WHEN WE COME INTO CONTACT WITH GOD, WE GAIN A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF OURSELVES.
- When we see his holiness, we understand our wretchedness.
- When we behold his power, we understand our weakness.
- When we see his omniscience, we understand our foolishness.
- When we see his greatness, we understand our insignificance.
In short, when we understand that we are not God. If Isaiah could speak to us today, he would say, “I have seen God, and you are not him.” The reason so many people cannot worship today is that they are not ready to give up being the “god” of their own lives.
The Psalmist wrote, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:13).
- When we worship we understand that God is the Shepherd, and we are his sheep.
- He is the Creator, and we are his creation.
When we understand who we are in relation to God, we say with the Psalmist: “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Psalm 95:6).
We are here today to acknowledge that there is someone here greater than ourselves, and say to God, “Father, without you we would not exist, and if we could somehow exist, our lives would mean nothing and count for nothing. But because you have made us and declared us valuable in your site, and blessed us with your divine purpose, our lives have meaning and are filled with joy because your Presence lives within us. We understand that you are above us, and that we are accountable to you. We are not in charge of the world, or even our individual lives. We worship you as the Lord of all life, including our own. We worship you with our lives by serving you. We worship you by accepting your will for us. We worship you by living for you rather than ourselves.”
This is true worship. Jesus said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23). God is seeking worshipers who understand who he is and who they are in relationship to him.
The third point is: We experience worship by
3. LEARNING TO LOVE GOD EVEN MORE.
True worship involves the emotion of love. It is not a dry recital of words and the spiritless singing of hymns. REAL WORSHIP INVOLVES REAL EMOTION.
- Worship should make us laugh with joy at times.
- It ought to move us to tears as our hearts are touched by God’s love and presence.
- Sometimes we want to shout to God, and at other times we want to wait in silence.
But emotion is always involved, because we worship God with every part of our being. Warren Wiersbe has written: “Worship is the believer’s response with all that he is –– mind, emotions, will and body –– to all that God is and says and does.”
Worship puts us in touch with the love of God — His love for us and our love for him. Worship initiates, sustains and enhances our relationship with God. It is in worship that we experience God’s forgiveness and the lifting of the burden of sin in our lives. The Bible says, “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness” (Psalm 130:34). We celebrate the freedom and joy that God has given us. The world parties for the sake of partying, but worship is a party with a purpose. The purpose is to give honor and glory to God who is worthy of our praise. We point to him as our Creator and Savior.
It was September 30, 1989, and the Colorado University football team was playing the University of Washington. Sal Aunese, the star quarterback for the Buffaloes during the previous season, had just lost a six month battle with stomach cancer a week before the game. The Colorado team had dedicated the entire season to Aunese, who had led them to victory so many times before. Bill McCartney, the founder of Promise Keepers, was Colorado’s coach at the time, and had led Aunese to Christ that year. Colorado’s match-up against Washington on that day is one of the most memorable games ever played. Before the kickoff, the players on Colorado’s team knelt near midfield and pointed skyward with their left arms — the ones closest to their hearts — in a poignant tribute to Aunese. Colorado beat Washington that day 45-28 on Washington’s home turf in Husky Stadium. Sal’s memory carried the Buffaloes to an undefeated regular season that year, and ended up winning the Big Eight title, as well as ranking number one in the national polls.
At the end of the game with Washington, Sal’s former roommate, who had made the final touchdown of the game, rather than taking credit for his part in winning the game, fell to his knees and pointed to heaven. The camera caught him kneeling on the field, giving credit where credit was due. He pointed to the sky and cried out at the top of his voice: “It’s you! It’s you! It’s you!”
In worship we point to heaven and give the credit to God. We say, “It’s you! It’s you! It’s you!” In fact, that is exactly what will happen when the world is over, for the Bible says that on that final day, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
If you really understand who God is, and who you are in relationship to him — if you love him with all of your heart, then you are ready to worship.
- Edward Gay
- Brian Bill
- Book of Illustrations
- Rodney J. Buchanan