In three days, I will gather with my church family of friends for Sunday worship.
As a pastor, I had better be ready. When I stand to preach, there are many people who will expect that I have prepared. They want to hear a fresh word from the Lord from the Bible and they have every reason to expect that I am prepared to deliver it.
But there is another level of preparation that everyone must make, including me, if we are to get the most out of the worship service. If we are to have any expectation at all that God will speak to us and meet us in our deepest need, we must get our hearts ready before the service begins.
Here are the Big Rock items:
ACKNOWLEDGE OUR SINS AND STOP THEM. If we have held a grudge against someone during the week, we’d better try to work it out before church. If we have hurt someone with our gossiping tongue, we must stop it and make it right. If we have taken something that doesn’t belong to us, we had better return it. Etc., etc., etc.
REPENT OF OUR SIN AND RECEIVE FORGIVENESS. No matter what sin(s) we committed and who was affected by them, our sin problem is ultimately against a holy God. So, we have to make it right with Him. We must spend time in repentance (agreeing with God about the offensiveness of our sin and turning our back on it not to do it again). But, it is possible to plead with God for forgiveness and never consciously receive it. We must accept the cleansing that God is willingly offering to us.
SUIT UP IN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST. We must realize that what makes us fully pleasing to God is not our good deeds. It is the righteous garments that Jesus gave us when we were saved. We shouldn’t go to church feeling like we’ve measured up to God’s standard (pride) but realizing that Jesus is the One who makes us acceptable to God (humility).
Then, when we have made to spiritual preparations for worship it is quite possible that God will speak to us and meet us in our deepest need as we gather to worship Him together.
“So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.'”
Don’t just whimsically show up for church. Prepare for worship! One is a dry, boring religious practice. The other can satisfy our deepest longings.