Active Worship

Obviously, worshiping requires action. We physically get into our car and go to church. We physically fold our hands and pray, we physically sing out loud, we physically put money into the offering, and we physically sit and listen to the sermon. But are our hearts and minds working as well?

When we enter the Lord’s house every Sunday the first words that come out of our Pastor’s mouth is the “call to worship.” We hear God calling us to come and worship Him! When we sit down in church the familiar Bible passage, it quite often reaches our ears and goes no further. Maybe because we haven’t quite settled down and gotten our minds focused yet. Or maybe it’s because we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s the same every Sunday… we’ve heard it once and don’t need to hear it again.  As our ears physically hear these words, so must our heart, mind, and soul.

“O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Ps. 95:6-7).

Active worshipers hear the call to worship and obey that call. They receive the votum and salutation, and they sing with their hearts the song of praise! They confess the Apostles Creed, instead of reciting it. They hear and understand the law, seeing how they have broken it the past week and are pricked in their hearts because of their sins. During the congregational prayer, they hear every word of their pastor. The words from his lips enter their mind, and they earnestly pray for the members of their congregation and the mission fields. As the Scripture is read and the sermon is preached, they eagerly hear the Word. They apply it to their heart, and use the knowledge to praise and serve the Lord throughout their life. They give their offerings with a purpose, and can sing the doxology and receive the benediction with a soul that has been fed!

A passive worshiper uses this time to think about the past or coming week. They tire at hearing the same law, and only sing joyful if it’s a “song they like.” They wonder why they never “get anything from the sermon,” and pine for another pastor who will grab their attention more quickly. The seeds that their pastor plants fall upon stony places, and then wither in the sun. They enter the sanctuary expecting to receive, but not interested in giving.

On this Saturday, take thought of the parable of the sower. Take the time to ask the Lord to prepare your heart, soul, and mind into good ground. Enter the house of the Lord, and actively praise and worship him!

“But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirty fold. Who hath hears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 13: 8-9).

Averly Kikkert

Awake out of Sleep

And that, knowing the times, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. –Romans 13:11,12

Tomorrow is the Lord’s Day. Will you go into the house of the Lord seeking Him, thirsting for Him? Or will you be distracted by the thoughts running through your mind or by the fatigue of a long and busy week? It is so easy to lose our focus, to become lazy in our attention. But yet Paul reminds us to “awake out of sleep” and “put on the armour of light.”

Satan tempts us in so many ways. He preys on the Church to destroy her and will do anything to separate her from her Bridegroom. He does this in obvious ways, such as tempting us with the “rioting and drunkenness” of the world around us. But He also does this in subtle ways. He is good at keeping us busy, keeping us concerned with the stressors of our lives. When we are so caught up with the demands, stressors, and the entertainments of everyday life, the harder it is to make time and attention for God’s Word. The more focused we become on everything we are involved with on this earth, the easier it can be to lose our focus on Who put us on this earth and to what purpose. And even when our spirit is willing, our flesh is so often weak, and fatigue and weariness can sap our attention.

However, this pilgrimage is “but for a moment” (2 Corinthians 4:17) and the weight of glory awaiting us is so much greater than the things we focus on in this life. And that day is fast approaching. “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” God gives us only so many moments here on earth, and with every passing minute we are one step closer to the end of our pilgrimage here. Our salvation is near. May we not waste a second!

God is the purpose of your life, now and forever. Put on your spiritual armor! Don’t let Satan’s temptations to tune God out win. As you enter the house of worship tomorrow, pay attention. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14) that you may walk in the light and by grace experience the righteousness, peace, and joy of fellowship with our Lord (Rom.14:17).

Abby Huizing

 

Why We Go To Church

A few months ago Joel Osteen’s wife Victoria made the following statement: “when you go to church, you’re not doing it for God, you’re doing it for yourself.” The problem with her comment is not the idea that we benefit from going to church (we certainly do!), but her assertion that the reason we should go to church is mainly, if not exclusively, for ourselves. In other words, we go to church so that we can look good in the eyes of parents, friends, coworkers and others we come into contact with. More to the point, Osteen’s statement means that we go to church because God’s chief purpose and desire for us is our personal happiness. This idea, however, is entirely opposed to Scripture and the Confessions. The Westminster Confession, for example, states that the “chief end of man… is to glorify and praise God forever.” We go to church because we can’t find our salvation anywhere else than in God. “Then Simon Peter answered and said unto him, Lord to whom shall we go? for thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). The apostles further established this when they refused to stop preaching Jesus after the Pharisees told them to stop their preaching. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We do derive blessings from church, but they are spiritual rather than earthly in nature. God admonishes, strengthens and comforts us through the preaching of His word and confirms our faith through the use of the sacraments.  We also strengthen and confirm each other’s faith by interacting with each other as friends  and in Bible studies. We do go to church for our own benefit and profit, but not in the way that Joel and Victoria Osteen think. God’s goal is not our happiness, but His glory. Our goal too should be God’s glory. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:20). May God grant that this be the case!

Kevin Rau