This weekend we kick off a new sermon series titled F1rst: Putting God first in my life. In this series, Pastor Tim and Pastor Phil will share with us their hearts on why Jesus should reign supreme in our priorities and values. Over the course of the next 5 weeks we will have a fruitful discussion regarding worship, giving, sharing our faith, commitment and the vision God has given us as a church.
I sure hope as we engage 2016 we come to a space where we release our failures and missteps in 2015 and embrace a deeper connection to our God. This weekend Tim is going to share his thoughts on worship being one of the central priorities in our lives. For me this raises a real simple question:
Are We Expectant when we come into Worship?
The first 15min of each of our worship services are pretty amazing. Pews/chairs are relatively empty; but without fail, slowly but surely there is a trickle of humanity that steadily comes in and by the 3rd or 4th worship song the place is usually filled. Its quite the transformation!
Now I am certainly appreciative of anyone who makes space for God in their life, and I know that puts a smile on God’s face as well. But it does raise the question in my own heart: are we missing the point of worship all together?
Are we there to just check the box that we actually attended church this week? Are we there to simply soothe our conscience? Or are we there to express our thankfulness and gratitude to the King who gave so much?
I know this sounds like a first rate guilt trip from a pastor telling you to get your butt to church on time – but the truth is I often have to check my own heart on these issues as well. When I feel rushed to get into worship or have a million other things on mind, I have to stop and remind myself of why I am even here in the first place. Not surprisingly, the scriptures help us find a proper perspective regarding our attitude towards worship, consider Psalm 122:1-3
1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” 2 Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. 3 Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together. 4 To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
Eugene Peterson says of this verse, “This command, to give thanks, runs right down the center of all Christian worship. A decree. A word telling us what we ought to do, and that what we ought to do is praise…. But very often we don’t feel like it and so we say, ‘It would be dishonest for me to go worship and praise God when I don’t feel like it. I would be a hypocrite.’ The psalm says, I don’t care if you feel like it or not: as was decreed, ‘give thanks to the name of the Lord.’” Long Obedience in the Same Direction p.53-54.
That word from Mr. Peterson is a nice slap in the face to wake me up to the purpose of worship and develops an expectancy in my heart for it. Quite simply, as much as we are drawn into worship by our gracious God, we have much to learn about the obedience of simply choosing to do it. Simple obedience. On my best days I come to worship in anticipation to meet the One who not only created me but also rescued me from the darkness of my own heart and the brokenness of this world. I need worship to remind me of all that I might have forgotten throughout the week. But it is just as important to worship when I am not “feeling it.” I need choose to fix my eyes on Jesus; and when I do, He usually takes care of the rest.
So this weekend as you prepare to worship God with us, ask yourself the question why am I here? And if you don’t like your answer – go anyways. Simple obedience goes a long ways.