by: Gracepoint Church
People on a plane and people on a pew have a lot in common. All are on a journey. Most are well-behaved and presentable. Some doze, and others gaze out the window. Most, if not all, are satisfied with a predictable experience. For many, the mark of a good flight and the mark of a good worship service are the same. “Nice,” we like to say. “It was a nice flight/It was a nice worship service.” We exit the same way we enter, and we’re happy to return next time.
The story is told of a mother and her son getting on a plane. It was the little boy’s first time to fly. As he entered the plane, he asked the attendant, “will they really let me meet the pilot?” The question was heard in the cockpit and the Pilot stuck his head out and said, someone looking for me? The little boy’s hand shot up and he said, “I Am” The pilot said, Come on in. With a nod from his mom he entered and was amazed at all the gauges and levers. When he emerged from the cockpit he exclaimed Wow, I am really glad to be on this plane.
No one else’s face showed such wonder, because it was old hat to many of the flyers. Most of them were just glad to be out of the airport and in their seat, ready to go to their destination.
A few were excited to be going on vacation. The fellow across the aisle, in the blue suit wasn’t so content. He opened his laptop and scowled at the screen the entire trip. Most were happy , content with a predictable, uneventful flight. Content with a “nice” flight.
Do you see why I say that people on a plane and people on a pew have a lot in common? Enter a church sanctuary and look at the faces. A few are giggly, a couple are cranky, but by and large we are content. Content to be there. Content to sit and look straight ahead and leave when the service is over. Content to enjoy an assembly with no surprises or turbulence. Content with a “nice” service. “Seek and you will find,” Jesus promised.1And since a nice service is what we seek, a nice service is usually what we find.
A few, however, seek more. A few come with the childlike enthusiasm of the boy. And those few leave as he did, wide-eyed with the wonder of having stood in the presence of the pilot himself.
Do you have a worship hungry heart?
If you do, the first thing you do is, come asking!
The same thing happened to Jesus. The day Jesus went to worship, his very face was changed
“You’re telling me that Jesus went to worship?”
Yes, the Bible speaks of a day when Jesus took time to stand with friends in the presence of God. Let’s read about the day Jesus went to worship:
at 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
Mat 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Mat 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
Mat 17:4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
Mat 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
The words of Matthew presuppose a decision on the part of Jesus to stand in the presence of God. The simple fact that he chose his companions and went up on a mountain suggests this was no spur-of-the-moment action. He didn’t awaken one morning, look at the calendar and 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. Since his chosen place of worship was some distance away, he had to select the right path and stay on the right road. By the time he was on the mountain, his heart was ready. Jesus prepared for worship.
Let me ask you, do you do the same? Do you prepare for worship? What paths do you take to lead you up the mountain? The question may seem foreign, but my hunch is, many of us simply wake up and show up. We’re sadly casual when it comes to meeting God.
Would we be so lackadaisical with, oh, let’s say, the president? 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 and requests? Of course you would. Should we prepare any less for an encounter with the Holy God?
Let me urge you to come to worship prepared to worship. Pray before you come so you will be ready to pray when you arrive. Sleep before you come so you’ll stay alert when you arrive. Read the Word before you come so your heart will be soft when you worship. Come hungry. Come willing. Come expecting God to speak. Come asking, even as you walk through the door, “Can I see the pilot today?”
As you do, you’ll discover the purpose of worship—to change the face of the worshiper. This is exactly what happened to Christ on the mountain. Jesus’ appearance was changed: “His face became bright like the sun” (Matt. 17:2).
The connection between the face and worship is more than coincidental. Our face is the most public part of our bodies, covered less than any other area. It is also the most recognizable part of our bodies. We don’t fill a school annual with photos of people’s feet but rather with photos of faces. God desires to
take our faces, this exposed and memorable part of our bodies, and use them to reflect his goodness.
Paul writes: But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Co 3:18 Our faces, then, are not covered. We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him.
God invites us to see his face so he can change ours. He uses our uncovered faces to display his glory. The transformation isn’t easy. The sculptor of Mount Rushmore faced a lesser challenge than does God. 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 and doubt become portraits of grace and trust. He relaxes clenched jaws and smoothes furrowed brows. His touch can remove the bags of exhaustion from beneath the eyes and turn tears of despair into tears of peace.
How? Through worship.
We’d expect something more complicated, more demanding. A forty-day fast or the memorization of Leviticus perhaps. No. God’s plan is simpler. He changes our faces through worship.
So what is worship? King David’s definition is, “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.” Psalms 34:3 so worship is the act of magnifying God.
Worship offers that. How can we sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy” and not have our vision expanded? 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!2
Can we sing those words and not have our countenance illuminated?
God is in the business of changing the face of the world
A vibrant, shining face is the mark of one who has stood in God’s presence. After speaking to God, Moses had to cover his face with a veil (Exod. 34:33–35). After seeing heaven, Stephen’s face glowed like that of an angel (Acts 6:15; 7:55–56).
Let me be very clear. This change is his job, not ours. Our goal is not to make our faces radiant. Not even Jesus did that. Matthew says, “Jesus’ appearance was changed” not “Jesus changed his appearance.” Moses didn’t even know his face was shining (Exod. 34:29). Our goal is not to conjure up some fake, frozen expression. Our goal is simply to stand before God with a prepared and willing heart and then let God do his work.
And he does. He wipes away the tears. He mops away the perspiration. He softens our furrowed brows. He touches our cheeks. He changes our faces as we worship.
But there’s more. Not only does God change the face of those who worship, he changes those who watch us worship.
Remember the boy who went to see the pilot? His passion should stir us. I wanted to see the pilot too.
The same dynamic occurs when we come to worship with a heart of worship. Paul told the Corinthian church to worship in such a clear way that if an unbeliever entered, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
1Co 14:25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
David cites the evangelistic power of honest worship: And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:3
Your heartfelt worship is a missionary appeal. Let unbelievers hear the passion of your voice or see the sincerity in your face, and they may be changed. Peter was. When Peter saw the worship of Jesus, he said, Mat 17:4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
Mark says Peter spoke out of fear (9:6). Luke says Peter spoke out of ignorance (9:33). But whatever the reason, at least Peter spoke. He wanted to do something for God. He didn’t understand that God wants hearts and not tents, but at least he was moved to give something.
Why? Because he saw the transfigured face of Christ. The same happens in churches today. When people see us giving heartfelt praise to God—when they hear our worship—they are intrigued. They want to see the pilot! Sparks from our fire tend to ignite dry hearts.
Seekers may not understand all that happens in a house of worship. They may not understand the meaning of a song or the significance of the communion, but they know joy when they see it. And when they see your face changed, they may want to see God’s face.
By the way, wouldn’t the opposite be equally true? What happens when a seeker sees boredom on your face? Others are worshiping and you are scowling? Others are in his presence, but you are in your own little world? Others are seeking God’s face while you are seeking the face of your wrist watch?
As long as I’m getting personal, may I come a step closer? Parents, what are your children learning from your worship? Do they see the same excitement as when you go to a basketball game? Do they see you prepare for worship as you do for a vacation? Do they see you hungry to arrive, seeking the face of the Father? Or do they see you content to leave the way you came?
They are watching. Believe me. They are watching.
Do you come to church with a worship-hungry heart? Our Savior did.
Let me encourage you to Prepare your heart for worship. Let God change your face through worship. Demonstrate the power of worship. Above all, seek the face of the pilot. The boy did. Because he sought the pilot, he left with a changed face and a set of wings. The same can happen to you.
Next Saturday night if you would go to bed to get a good night’s rest, instead of partying til all hours, making you have a mental fatigue on Sunday morning so that it is hard for you to pay attention or join in the songs.
Spend time praying that God would move in the service, use the music to prepare your heart for the message and pray that God would speak to your heart through Pastor Jim.
Let me urge you to come to worship prepared to worship. Pray before you come so you will be ready to pray when you arrive. Sleep before you come so you’ll stay alert when you arrive. Read the Word before you come so your heart will be soft when you worship. Come hungry. Come willing. Come expecting God to speak. Come asking, even as you walk through the door, “Can I see the Lord today?”