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Bowing in Submission

For those of you who missed last week, or for those who have a terrible memory, last week we started talking about engaging with God. And the primary way that we do that is through worship. And we’re not just talking about worship music, although that is certainly a part of it. Worship in it’s simplest form, is just saying thanks to God. It’s about acknowledging who God is and what He’s done and continually having an attitude of thankfulness because of that. So, if you want to begin to engage with God – to really connect with Him, start saying thanks. And that’s where our list of “100 things to be thankful for” came in.

Now this morning, we’re going to continue exploring how to engage with God. And I think it’s important for us to remember who God is. If we’re going to engage with God, we have to realize that God is not just another person. We tend to try to bring God down to our level. To think of Him almost as an equal.

But that’s not the case. Yes, we are created in His image, but He is so infinitely more in every way than we are. So to help us keep perspective as we endeavor to engage with God, let’s just look at some of the ways the Bible describes God for us.

Jeremiah 51:15-19 (New Living Translation)

15 The Lord made the earth by his power,
and he preserves it by his wisdom.
With his own understanding
he stretched out the heavens.
16 When he speaks in the thunder,
the heavens are filled with water.
He causes the clouds to rise over the earth.
He sends the lightning with the rain
and releases the wind from his storehouses.
17 The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power. 18 Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies! On the day of reckoning they will all be destroyed. 19 But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists,  including his people, his own special possession.  The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!

Isaiah 40:12-26 (New Living Translation)

12 Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
13 Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord?
Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
14 Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?
Does he need instruction about what is good?
Did someone teach him what is right
or show him the path of justice?
15 No, for all the nations of the world?  are but a drop in the bucket.  They are nothing more than dust on the scales.  He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand. 16 All the wood in Lebanon’s forests and all Lebanon’s animals would not be enough to make a burnt offering worthy of our God. 17 The nations of the world are worth nothing to him.  In his eyes they count for less than nothing— mere emptiness and froth.
18 To whom can you compare God? What image can you find to resemble him? 19 Can he be compared to an idol formed in a mold,  overlaid with gold, and decorated with silver chains? 20 Or if people are too poor for that, they might at least choose wood that won’t decay and a skilled craftsman to carve an image that won’t fall down!
21 Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand?  Are you deaf to the words of God—the words he gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant? 22 God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them. 23 He judges the great people of the world  and brings them all to nothing. 24 They hardly get started, barely taking root, when he blows on them and they wither. The wind carries them off like chaff.
25 “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.
26 Look up into the heavens.  Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another,  calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.

Romans 11:33-36 (New Living Translation)

33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
34 For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? 35 And who has given him so much? that he needs to pay it back?
36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

That’s our God. That’s the God that we worship. That’s the God who wants to engage with us.

The awesomeness of our God is mind-blowing! He is so far off our radar that we can’t even begin to comprehend how great He is. And yet He wants to engage with us. How do we approach a God like that? How do we connect with that kind of a God?

Throughout the Scriptures it seems that there is really is only one way to approach God.  Let’s look at a couple of verses:

Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble,
but he keeps his distance from the proud. Psalm 138:6

He cares for the humble, but keeps his distance from the proud. What does that tell us about how we should approach God? We must come humbly. We cannot engage with God if we refuse to humble ourselves before Him. It says “He keeps his distance from the proud.” Do you ever feel like God is distant and far away… perhaps that’s the reason?

This principle of humbly approaching God can be found throughout the Scriptures. Let me give you just one quick example: God tells Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14 ….

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

God wants to engage with us. He wants to connect with us. But we must come to him humbly. This is why last week we said that worship in it’s most basic form is just saying thanks to God. It’s acknowledging God for who He is and what He’s done. And when we do that, that really puts in perspective who we are. When we start thanking God for everything He is and for everything He’s done, suddenly – we’re not quite as awesome as we sometimes think we are. We realize how small we are compared to God and how great He is compared to us. And that creates the perfect conditions for us to worship Him.

Over the past couple of weeks as I’ve been preparing for this series, I’ve noticed a common practice in many different places in the Bible used by people who wish to humbly engage with God. From Solomon to Ezra, From Daniel to Peter – whenever people earnestly want to meet with God – to engage with Him in a deep, significant way – they did one thing.

They got down on their knees in prayer. Kneeling before God is a simple but powerful act of worship.

Psalm 95:6 says…

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Why? Because kneeling, bowing down is an outward sign of inward submission. It is physically showing that we recognize God’s authority over us and that we humbly submit to that authority.

King Solomon, perhaps one of the most powerful kings of Israel got on his knees before God. 1 Kings 8:54…

When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the LORD, he rose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven.

Daniel was on his knees three times a day before God. Daniel 6:10…

Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

And Peter, when he prayer that God bring back to life Tabitha who had died, prayed on his knees. Acts 9:40…

Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.

When I was kid I grew up in a little country church very much like this one. And one thing that I remember about that church was that, when we had Wednesday night prayer time, every person in that church – no matter how old or young they were, got down on their knees to pray. You don’t see that very much in churches anymore – but I think it’s an important practice.

Not that the action of kneeling is anything special. Praying on our knees does not give our prayers special power or extra influence over God. But what it does, is it reminds us who God is and who we are and it prompts us to engage with Him with an attitude of submission.

And it’s that attitude of submission that will transform the way you worship – the way you engage with God. In fact, when you approach God with an attitude of humble submission, everything you do becomes an act of worship.

Singing is worship as you praise the Almighty God.
Prayer is worship as you bring your cares and confessions to your Creator.
Listening to a sermon is worship as you submit your life under the authority of Scripture.
Giving in the offering is worship as you give back to the giver of every good gift.
Communion is worship as you declare God’s completed work on the cross.

But it all must be done with an attitude of humble submission to God. So this morning, as we continue worshiping God through sharing communion together, I’m not going to ask you get down on your knees as we pray – though I would certainly recommend that you do that at least once this week in your personal prayer time. But for now, I just want you to take a moment to examine your attitude right now. Are you approaching God with an attitude of humble submission? Are you willing to submit every area of your life to his authority? Are you willing to get on your knees before Him? Because that’s what it takes to engage with God.

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