Lesson 5 A Correct View of God

MAIN IDEA: True worship requires that we understand who God is and who we are in comparison.

So far in our study together we have developed two basic points: 1. Worship is our response to God’s revelation of who He is and what He has done. 2. Our worship provides a place of meeting, a habitation for God’s presence.

Worship is really fairly simple: God initiates and we respond. Yet as we respond, it is crucial that we understand who God is, who we are in relation to Him, how we should respond, and what we can expect. The prophet Isaiah provided us with a clear understanding of each of these points.

Isaiah’s Revelation
Isaiah was called by God to prophesy to the nation of Israel from 739–686 B.C. It was a very dark period for Israel. Although Isaiah knew from the beginning that his ministry would be one of fruitless warning and exhortation, he responded. However, Isaiah’s words burned brightly for the early church, which is evidenced by the fact that Isaiah is quoted over 65 different times in the New Testament.

Isaiah’s words provide clear understanding for believers today as well. His vision of the throne of God, in particular, clarifies who God is, who we are, how we should respond, and what we can expect. Isaiah recorded:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth. The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke. Then I said: “Woe is me, for I am ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, and your sin is atoned for.” Isaiah 6:1-7 1

What is your immediate response to this passage? Do you identify with Isaiah’s feelings of being unclean?

Isaiah’s view is indeed the correct view of God. He alone is high and lifted up. He alone is worthy, and the whole earth is filled with His glory — even when it doesn’t look that way to us. That is who God is, no matter what circumstances we may face. Unclean — apart from the grace of God in Jesus Christ — that is who we are. When we understand exactly what God accomplished for us when Jesus paid the price of our sin, worship is our only reasonable response. And as we worship, we can expect His presence.

Grace — Our Only Hope
No matter how holy or righteous we may think we are, we are not worthy of God’s presence in our own power and strength. The only hope we have is that mercy will descend from God’s throne and, by grace, touch our “unclean lips.” Only then will we be able to stand in God’s presence and present our praise.

The Father we worship is the same God Abraham worshiped. He is the One who provided the lamb of sacrifice on Mount Moriah. He is the same God who met with Jacob and the same God who revealed Himself to Moses and delivered the Israelites from slavery. He is the same God who chose Mary and Joseph and the One the apostle Paul honored, worshiped, and served.

As we have seen, Jesus is the express image of God. He is the incarnation of Truth, and thus anything that contradicts who He is (His character) or what He has said is not truth.

Love came down to us in Christ Jesus. We didn’t deserve that kind of grace. We are indeed recipients of God’s unmerited favor — grace that is everlasting. God’s grace is not dependent upon ritual or tradition, performance or precision. It is always dependent, however, upon our submission to the Truth, Jesus — the revelation of who God really is. As we believe in the revelation of God expressed through His Son, we receive the gift of His grace: life!

“God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not judged, but anyone who does not believe is already judged, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.” John 3:16-18

How do you “see” God? Think about the ways you have “seen” God in your own life:

• Your peace
• Lord/Master
• Savior/Redeemer
• Counselor
• Friend
• Healer
• Protector
• Father

How do you “see” yourself?
• Sinner
• Forgiven
• Worthless
• Worthy
• Forgotten/Overlooked
• Chosen
• Unwanted
• Adopted

How many positive attributes do you “see” for yourself? This is how God sees you: forgiven, worthy, chosen, and adopted — just to name a few.

Grace determines how God “sees” His children. Without grace, we could never worship God. Entering His presence would surely condemn us to death. But, praise His holy name, His grace is sufficient! God so loved the world that He gave and He gave and He gave … and He continues to give today. The word of worship in this class was “grace.” Write a prayer to God thanking Him for His grace in your life.

Points to Ponder
• Entering God’s presence requires grace that only He can provide.
• God’s grace comes to us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
• Salvation is a matter of accepting God’s gift of grace by faith.
• True worship is expressed through spirit and truth—our spirit surrendered to God’s truth.
• True worship requires that we understand who God is and who we are in comparison.

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Resources used for this class:
• Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England, eds., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 678–79.
• John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), 1449.
• “Amazing Grace.” Words by John Newton. Public domain.
• “implant.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, 2008, Merriam-Webster Online (accessed 21 August 2008). Available from the Internet: www.merriam-webster.com.

Lesson 4 Revelation is Essential to Worship

MAIN IDEA: Spending time with God to gain revelation is essential for worship.

The story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 gives us a firsthand look at worship in response to God’s revelation. Abraham had a lifetime of interaction with God, and he had seen God’s intervention in his life repeatedly. When it came time for the “ultimate act of worship,” Abraham was ready to respond. Abraham had a clear revelation of God; he knew who was the greater and who was the lesser in the relationship because he had spent a great deal of time in God’s presence. Abraham had a correct view of God, and so must we as we worship.

Having a Correct View of God
When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, He made a very clear statement about His requirement for worship. Number one on God’s list was a clear understanding of His position as the one and only true God:

“Do not have other gods besides Me. Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them or worship them.” Exodus 20:3-5

By His grace and mercy, God had delivered His people from Egyptian slavery. They hadn’t earned that deliverance; He had chosen them. God had called them to Himself, and now He was telling them how they were to live within the freedom He had given them. They were created for God’s purpose — to worship Him and dwell in His presence forever — and so are we.

However, God was dealing with a people who consistently complained about His intervention in their lives. God’s response was to write the Ten Commandments on tablets so there would be no doubt about His will for them. Just before God burned His commands into stone, He made this proclamation:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.” Exodus 20:2

God wanted to remind His people who He was and who they were to worship.

Having a correct view of God is essential to worship. Without a clear understanding of God’s nature and supernatural power in relationship to our own human limitations, we simply can’t worship with our whole hearts. We must understand that we desperately need God and that He is willing and able to intervene in our lives here and now.

Although God had proven His faithfulness to the Israelites repeatedly, they didn’t get it. God had to make the statement “I am the Lord your God” many times throughout the days of the Old Testament because His people were distracted by other things, which would become the gods they worshiped.

We still need to be reminded today that God is “the Lord our God” because we, too, face so many distractions. The allure of other gods is all around us. Every form of communication and entertainment is calling us to worship something or someone other than the true King of kings.

Spending Time in God’s Presence
Our worship must always be in response to God’s revelation, and the only way to understand who God is and what He has done is to spend time in His presence. We must be intentional about spending time with God and keeping our focus on Him. Unless we position ourselves to hear from God, we can receive no revelation from Him. And without revelation, our worship will be hindered.

In the Book of Hebrews, we read this about Abraham’s faith:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; he who had received the promises was offering up his unique son, about whom it had been said, “In Isaac your seed will be called.” He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, from which he also got him back as an illustration. Hebrews 11:17-19

Did Abraham have any proof God could raise someone from the dead? What does that say about his faith? How did Abraham develop that kind of faith? By spending time in God’s presence! Abraham had a clear revelation of who God is and what He had done in his life. He believed that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead, and he knew God would respond to his expression of worship. Abraham was a successful man with a large family and many possessions, yet he didn’t allow the encumbrances of life to interfere with his personal relationship with God.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines encumbrance as “someone or something that weighs down or burdens an individual.” Encumbrances also include things and activities that distract us from our focus on God. Encumbrances restrict us from the abundant life that Jesus promised in John 10:10: “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.”

Take a look at this list of potential distractions we all face. Which are a significant part of your life? If you were to trade just one of these time-users for time spent with God Himself, which one would you choose?
• Entertainment
• Books
• Debts
• Career obsession
• Material gain
• Competition with others

Hebrews 12:1 instructs us to lay aside our sins and encumbrances. Is there anything that keeps you from doing this?
• People
• Habits
• Fears and doubts
• Possessions
• Things from my past

Are you ready to hand any encumbrances you have over to God?

Since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us. Hebrews 12:1

Spending time with God on a regular basis requires intentional action on our part. The process of life is filled with responsibilities, and many are good and necessary. However, no good or necessary part of life can replace the deep need we have to spend time in the presence of God Almighty.

It is in God’s presence that we really come to know Him — and ourselves. God makes many precious promises to His children throughout Scripture, and their value to our lives is based on our ability to believe all He has promised. But how can we believe One we do not know? It’s simply not possible!

Spending time in God’s presence — getting to know Him in the most intimate parts of our heart and soul — gives us the foundation to believe all He has planned for those of us who love Him. There is no substitute for time spent in God’s presence. It is always time well spent.

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?

Lesson 2 God’s Revelation and Our Response

MAIN IDEA: Worship is our only reasonable response to God’s revelation.

In Experiencing God, Blackaby and King suggest there are seven realities in the process of experiencing God:
• God is always at work around you.
• God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
• God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
• God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
• God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
• You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
• You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.

If you have chosen to join God as He is working around and through you, then you know what experiencing God is all about. The message of Experiencing God is not just a good idea. It is a powerful guideline for believers. God wants to reach you and use you to impact those around you. And as I have discovered in my own life, worship is an integral part of this process.

A Personal “Experiencing God” Story
My journey to become Director of the Worship Department at LifeWay Christian Resources is a good example of the link between worship and experiencing God. Just a few years ago, I was the music minister at First Baptist Church in Carrollton, Texas. My wife, Teresa, and I were so happy there; the friends and church family God gave us in Texas had become home for us and our three children. My role at the church was fulfilling in every way.

“But God …!” Have you ever encountered those two words in your own life? We truly loved our time in Texas. It was a great place to live, and we were surrounded by some of the most wonderful people God ever created. But God began to invite me to join Him in a new work at LifeWay. I still remember the day He made His invitation completely clear.

I had arrived at the LifeWay Conference Center in Ridgecrest, North Carolina, for my final round of interviews with LifeWay leadership. In the midst of the first evening there, I found myself wandering through the empty 2,000-seat auditorium—just me and God in a darkened sanctuary that had been home to the heartfelt sounds of worship for so many over the years.

As I walked across the stage, it occurred to me that I had been on that very stage 27 years earlier when, as a 16-year-old boy, I had been invited to Ridgecrest to perform one of the first songs I had written. Although I hadn’t been back to that auditorium in all those years, I vividly remembered the excitement and anxiety of that moment years ago. And I realized that God had been with me all along the way, guiding my life all the years since, leading me to this very opportunity to join Him in a new ministry effort!

God was there on the stage that night, just as He had been with me in that very spot 27 years earlier. The frightened 16-year-old child had become a grown man who was still filled with childlike excitement and anxiety at the possibility of leading my denomination’s worship efforts.

At that moment, I knew. I had a clear revelation of God’s desire for me to step out of my comfort zone in Carrollton and join Him as He impacts the worship life of congregations and His dear children across the globe. I surrendered to God’s call and began to weep as I sang:
If You can use anything, Lord, You can use me,
If You can use anything, Lord, You can use me.

On that cool April evening in Ridgecrest, I sensed God’s presence so strongly. God’s invitation to join Him at LifeWay was real and personal. As I sang, I clearly experienced God in worship.

My journey to serve at LifeWay had begun. Over the next few weeks, my wife, Teresa, and I worked through the inevitable crisis of belief that always comes as we respond to God’s invitation—when doubts and questions creep in and we must make some adjustments in our lives in order to be obedient to God. We planned our move and put our faith in His call into action. God had revealed Himself and directed our steps once again!

Do you have an “Experiencing God” story to tell—a story of a time when you experienced God’s presence and call to join Him in His work? Think about how the work God invited you to join Him in accomplishing. What adjustments were required of you to join God in His work? What was the result of your willingness to obey God and join Him as He worked through you?

If you don’t have an “experiencing God” story yet, don’t be discouraged. Just spend time asking God to show you how He is at work around you, and He will. God deeply desires to reveal more of Himself and His activities to you because He loves you. God wants a real and personal relationship with you above all else. And He wants to reveal Himself to you in very tangible ways.

He is the great King of kings. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. He is our Provider, our Salvation, our Strength. He is our All in All. And He is waiting for you to respond to who He is and what He has done!

As we continue our study together, we will see that worship is our only reasonable and adequate response to God’s revelation. Regardless of our current or past circumstances, we have so many compelling reasons to set aside all else and worship Him. Your “experiencing God” story is on the way!

Take a few minutes to contemplate each of the following descriptions about God and His activities in your life. You may go directly to the Scriptures referenced to confirm what God’s Word says about His character and His actions. Verbally thank Him for each one.

Who God Is:
Almighty God (Gen. 17:1)
Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6)
King of kings (Rev. 19:16)
Lord of all (Acts 10:36)
Savior (1 Tim. 4:10)
Redeemer (Titus 2:14)
Counselor (John 14:26)
Friend (Jas. 2:23)
Healer (Isa. 53:4-5)
Comforter (2 Cor. 1:3)

What God Has Done:
Created the earth and everything in it (Gen. 1)
Overcame the Enemy (Col. 2:15)
Died for our faults and sins (Rom. 8:3-4)
Chose to dwell with us and in us (John 16:7; 1 Cor. 6:19)
Loved us with an everlasting love (John 3:16)
Justified us (Rom. 5:18)
Called us children/heirs (Rom. 8:16-17)
Gave us new life (Rom. 6:4)
Set us free (Heb. 2:14-15)
Forgave us (1 John 1:9)

Remember, God loves to hear your voice of thanksgiving and praise!

• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?