Humble Worship

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September 29, 2019

Isaiah 66:1-6

Allen Burns

Humble Worship

Everyone knows God is love. However, everyone has a different opinion of how God should demonstrate His love.

Some people believe it is unloving for God to restrict their lifestyle. They believe the most loving thing God may do is to let them live life as they want. They believe it is unloving for God to interfere in their lives.

Some measure the love of God on answers to prayer. They pray for specific requests. Often, their prayers are for the good of others. When their prayers are not answered, we might hear them say, “God doesn’t love me. He didn’t answer my prayers.”

When bad things happen, some believe God’s love fails. The degree of God’s love is based upon what happens in the world. If God doesn’t restrain evil or allows a natural disaster to occur, they believe God fails to love. People say things such as, “How can a loving God allow evil and death to take place?”

What is the most loving thing God can do for us? Is answering all our prayers the most loving thing God can do? Is holding back evil the most loving act? We can certainly argue that saving us from sin and taking our punishment is very loving; however, is there more God can do to show His love?

There is another profound way in which God shows His love, but most people don’t think of it as loving.

Behold, God!

Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.” (Isaiah 66:1)

When we hear God declare these words, what do we think?

Do we think of God as arrogant? It sounds a bit pompous. “There He goes again, bragging about how big He is telling us the earth is His footstool.”

Do we think of God as a big mean bully? “God is putting us in our place. He wants to know we are tiny little creatures in His universe. We better obey Him or He will swat us like flies.”

Why do we suppose God says such a statement as, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool”?

Obviously, God is using a metaphor. We don’t venture to the North Pole looking for God’s feet resting on the footstool of the earth.

Why did God put this verse in the Bible? What is His intent? Let’s think in relation to the love of God. If God is love, how is this a loving word to people?

Then the answer is simple. God’s revelation of Himself is a very loving thing to do. God makes Himself known so we may enjoy Him to the greatest possible extent. God wants us to know He is worthy of our trust. He is able to save us. If we want a big strong Savior, God says, trust Me because I am bigger than you think.

It is arrogant if I say, “Put your trust in Me because I can provide all your needs.” There is no way people in this world can find all their needs met in me. It is arrogant and deceitful for me to tell people I can provide everything for them.

Imagine being thirsty. It is an act of love for someone to tell you where you may find a drink for your thirst. God makes Himself known to us and reveals His glory so that we may find satisfaction in Him. God knows our needs. God knows He alone may satisfy our needs to the fullest possible extent. God knows that there is nothing else in the universe that comes close. If God does not make Himself known, He is unloving.

At the same time, God reveals how big He is, He is letting us know how small we are. We are not as big, strong, smart, and capable as we think.

If a three-year-old thinks they are big enough to fight a lion, it is unloving for the parent to allow the child to go to the zoo and climb into the lion cage. A loving parent helps the child understand the difference between a lion and the child.

This verse reveals a specific truth about God that God lovingly reveals. God is putting us in our place. God tells us He is enormous. And in doing so, God tells us that we are very small. For God to allow us to think He is small and we are big, is unloving. Too often, people see themselves as being very capable and independent. We are not. We are dependent. God is cautioning us against pride.

We do God no favors

As God reveals to us that He is big, and we are small, He focuses on a specific area of interest, and that is the works of our hands. God asks a question that causes us to think about things we are able to accomplish. He asks about a simple task of building a house.

“Where then is a house you could build for Me?
And where is a place that I may rest?
For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 66:1-2)

When we consider the truth that heaven is God’s throne, and the earth is His footstool, the question God asks is very relevant. It is comical for us to think we might build a house for God. If we think of the earth as the size of the footstool, imagine how big God’s chair might be and how big the room is which holds the chair.

Besides, God made all the building materials in the first place. Imagine me going to Bob Bartlett’s farm to pick a few ears of corn, and then I hand the corn to Bob and say, “Look, Bob, I have corn for you.” Bob would say, “Isn’t that nice.”

God reminds us that anything we use to create a house or a place of rest for Him consists of materials of His own making. It is foolish of us to take apart what God makes, rearrange the materials, assemble them, and then say to God, look what I made for you.

God has no need

But, isn’t that what we do sometimes? “Look, God, we built a beautiful church for You.” Or, “Look, God, I told someone about Jesus for You.”

We hear people say, “I worked all day for God, and this is what He does for me?” How does God benefit from our work? How is it possible that you or I may improve upon God’s state of being or His universe? We cannot.

The Apostle Paul says it well when he addresses the philosophers in Athens. He tells them, "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things …” (Act 17:24-25).

We do nothing without God’s help. Everything we do, we do because God gives us a body to live in, air to breathe, and food to eat. God made us.  

We can get confused because the Bible calls us God’s servants. We think of a servant as people who make life better for us. They work instead of us. They do things we need to be done, but don’t want to do or don’t have the time to do. God is not like us. If He needs something done, He speaks and it is done. He has all the time because He lives outside of time.

When we serve God, we are not fetching God food and water or a blanket to keep Him warm. We are God’s servants when we obey His commands. We are God’s servants when we do what God tells us to do.

Jesus is a Servant of God by doing the Father’s will. The Father’s will is to seek and to save the lost. The Father does not benefit from the work of the Servant. God does not need to be saved. We need to be saved. Jesus work benefits us, not God.

The amazing truth is that God’s commands are for our good. God doesn’t give us commands to improve His life. He gives us commands because He loves us, and wants us to find joy. Unfortunately, many people think God’s commands are not for their good, and so they choose to disobey God. And, they are miserable.

Recognize that serving God is really serving ourselves. We obey Him for our joy, not His. Jesus obeys God for the joy set before Him. Jesus says He teaches us so that His joy may be in us, and that our joy may be full (John 15:11).

Don’t serve God thinking you are meeting His needs. It’s insulting to God. And, it is very prideful.

Attract the eyes of God

God wants us to know that our view of Him and our view of who we are in comparison to Him, is very important. Our view of the person and nature of God is to shape our lives.

When we see God rightly, we become different people. No longer do we think of ourselves as big and God as small, but we see ourselves honestly and truthfully.

“But to this one, I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

God encourages us to be humble and contrite and to obey His word because God loves us. God wants us to see He is the perfect Provider of everything we need, and we need Him for everything.

Think of the person who fits the opposite description of this verse. Imagine a person who is proud and thinks much of themselves. Imagine a person who reads God’s word and thinks it is a joke or a lie. It would be unloving for God to allow them to continue with their thinking. God ignores the proud because it is for their good. If God says they are okay, He is lying. The proud, who think they don’t need God, is not okay, they are destined for corruption.

God does not want people to fall into deception. God does not desire for people to ignore His commands and find themselves forever destroyed. It is wrong for God to allow people to think they are good without Him.

The minute we think we don’t need God, and that we may live independently of Him, is the minute we are in the Garden of Eden, listening to Satan, and eating the forbidden fruit.

God calls us to humble ourselves, admit our need for Him, and to admit that His commands are for our good. We need to tremble at His word with fright because to do anything but, only leads to eternal damnation. We are to tremble at His word as though we are walking across a plank that stretches over a fire-filled precipice. His word is guiding our steps to safely cross to the other side.

It’s like being lost in a jungle and you find a fragile map. Your hand trembles as you protect the piece of paper that will lead you to safety. Tremble at God’s word, because if you don’t you will die.

Abominable worship

God describes how people think their acts of religion are good, but they are in fact an abomination in His eyes.

But he who kills an ox is like one who slays a man;
He who sacrifices a lamb is like the one who breaks a dog’s neck;
He who offers a grain offering is like one who offers swine’s blood;
He who burns incense is like the one who blesses an idol.
As they have chosen their own ways,
And their soul delights in their abominations,
So I will choose their punishments
And will bring on them what they dread.
Because I called, but no one answered;
I spoke, but they did not listen.
And they did evil in My sight
And chose that in which I did not delight.” (Isaiah 66:3-4)

We think we are doing God a favor with our acts of religion. It’s the same as thinking we can build a house for God. We do God no favors with our worship.

If we think giving to the church is giving God a handout, we might as well offer God a cup of pig’s blood. If we think help God by speaking many prayers, we might as well pray to an idol. Think of all the things we do thinking we are doing God a favor, and just throw all of that in the garbage. Our so-called righteous deeds are as filthy rags.

If we give to God thinking that He owes us a favor in return, we might as well give our money to Buddha. If we think teaching Sunday school or cleaning the toilets at church earns us bonus points, we are wrong.

God calls, and God speaks. God says we need a Savior and we cannot save ourselves. We think we please God by saving ourselves. What pleases God is that Jesus is a guilt offering for sin. God takes pleasure in the work of Jesus.

What pleases God is putting faith in Christ. Anything else is an abomination in the eyes of God.

Trust God’s Word

God gives those who tremble at His word a warning about those who are proud and self-righteous.

Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at His word: “Your brothers who hate you, who exclude you for My name’s sake, have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy.’ But they will be put to shame. A voice of uproar from the city, a voice from the temple, the voice of the Lord who is rendering recompense to His enemies. (Isaiah 66:5-6)

God is saying, don’t worry about them. They mock your humility. And, when we are humble before God, those who are not humble will hate us. Humility is convicting. God will render judgment on those who deny they need Jesus for their salvation. A mighty sound will come from God’s temple and God’s voice will render them condemned. God speaks creation into existence and God rains down His judgment with the same voice.

We need to keep trembling at God’s word.

Examine Yourself

The eyes of God continually scan the earth. Nothing escapes God’s notice, but one thing attracts His eyes. When God sees a humble person, completely dependent upon Him, looking to God for mercy and grace, God’s eyes stop. He is glorified.

God’s not looking for people who think they are great and can build Him a house. God is looking for people who humbly look to God, and ask, “Have mercy on me.” And, those who cry out to God for mercy, point to God so others can find mercy.

When we are self-righteous, we throw mud on God’s glory. When we exalt ourselves, we encourage others to look at us as good. We are not good. Only God is good. When we exalt God, we give Him the glory.

We need to examine ourselves to see if our worship attracts the eyes of God.

Pride test

Here is a simple test to see if we need help with our pride. Let’s ask ourselves some questions.

I like to tell others about my good works. “Sorry, I didn’t go play golf with you yesterday, I was helping Troy stack wood.” “When we go on vacation, we always make sure we go to church.

I say things like, “In my Bible reading this morning …” or, “While I was praying …” or, “I was witnessing to a guy yesterday, and …”?

I lie or bend the truth, so I look like a better Christian to others. (thinking to self, oh look, here comes Rick, “God help Rick”) “Hi, Rick. I’ve been praying for you!

I measure my Christianity by comparing myself to others. “I go to church more than him. I can’t believe they would do that. I would never do that.”

I talk about other Christians or how some churches get it “wrong”. “They only sing hymns. They baptize babies. Their worship looks like a concert. He uses the Message.”

I get jealous when others are serving and being recognized for their service but nobody seems to see what I am doing. “I cleaned the bathroom for seven weeks straight, and all he did was empty the trash once and someone tells him, thanks for serving.

I think I am doing just fine, and I don’t find myself trembling at God’s word?

Putting on the Humility of Christ

Pride is an abomination to God. We need to align ourselves with God’s war on pride. But how?

Philippians 2:1-11 is a great passage to help us fight pride.

Step 1) Acknowledge the work of Christ in your life

Recognize that without Christ, you are nothing. Recognize that we must be like Him (Phil. 2:5).

Step 2) Strive for Unity

Being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. (Phil. 2:2)

Jesus prays to His Father that we are unified. He asks,

… that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20-21)

Independence is the enemy of unity. Our culture promotes being independent. Be strong. Have it your way. Be a good ‘ole Yankee. Do what you want.

It is one thing to attend church; it is another thing to be in unity with the church. An independently acting person does not want to be held accountable for fulfilling God’s purpose for the church, they want the church to meet their needs.

Step 3) Deny yourself

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit (Phil. 2:3)

If Jesus did not deny Himself, there would be no salvation. Jesus took His feet of the footstool of the earth, stood up from His throne in heaven, and left behind His rights and privileges. He demonstrated for us what it means to serve and obey God by denying Himself.

Jesus says, deny yourself, and pick up your cross daily.

Step 4) Promote the good of others

But with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil. 2:3)

Jesus didn’t have a home. He denied Himself the joy of having a family. Jesus knew that God’s love is directed toward our well-being. So, Jesus gave His life for our well-being. He suffered to the point of death, obeying God as a Servant, so we may be free from sin and death. 

Looking after the interests of others is open-ended. We are to look after “your own something,” and “the other people’s something.” The verse could read: “don’t just work toward your interests; but look to the financial affairs, property, family, health, education, success, and happiness of others.”

We are to promote, in every way possible, the good of everyone in the church. If they go astray, we are to bring them back; if they are in error, we are to instruct them; if they are in trouble, we are to help them, if they cry we are to hold them and console them. 

We are to pray with and for one another. Encourage one another. Love one another. We are a body, and when one in the body is not doing well, we all suffer.

Jesus came to serve, and we are not above Him.

If we have gifts, God gave them to us so we may serve others and give God glory. We have nothing to brag about since which one us willed to be born with certain intelligence, skills, height or genetics. We need to be humble. God gives us life, breath, and all things. We are foolish to brag about how special we are when God is the source of our talents, strength, and ability.

The eyes of God continually scan the earth. We need to attract the eyes of God so that He stops and looks. His eyes scan, but His eyes also stop and look at what God finds attractive.

Nothing escapes God’s notice, but one thing attracts His eyes. Those who are humble, contrite in spirit, and who tremble at His word.