Are You Ready?

Saturday night. Picture for a moment what you would typically be doing during that time. What are you doing? Most likely, you are either unwinding or catching up on work. If you are a sports fan, there is often a good football, basketball, baseball, or hockey game on television. Or maybe you are watching a movie, perhaps with a friend or loved one, happy to forget about life temporarily after a long, busy work week. Perhaps you are a college student and are still not done with work for the week due to other commitments on weekdays, so you are using that time to catch up on that homework assignment or class project which you have not started on. Regardless of what you picture yourself doing, ask yourself this question: on a Saturday night, how often does the thought of going to church tomorrow morning cross your mind? And if it does, are you joyful about this opportunity or do you begrudge it, perhaps even taking it for granted?

Oftentimes, you might find yourself guilty of not thinking about church until you are on your way there on Sunday morning. And sometimes, your heart may not even be joyful when you walk through the doors and sit in the pews for the church services. There can be many reasons why this is the case. Your heart may be overburdened by a trial or temptation God has chosen to place you in. Your mind might be looking ahead to the mountain of tasks that needs to be accomplished during the upcoming work week. You might feel tempted to use Sunday as an additional day for recreation. Whatever the reason may be, the biggest reason that connects all the previously mentioned reasons is distraction. Your heart is distracted, perhaps even bored. You think of church as a ritual, as simply something that you must engage in because you are commanded to do so by God’s Word.

What can prevent thinking this way? The answer lies within your heart! Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” If your heart is neither prepared nor joyful about worshipping God on the Sabbath Day, your mind soon follows. So how can you properly prepare your heart, especially on Saturday night, to worship God on the Sabbath day? Two things cross my mind on how to answer this question, and I hope that these thoughts can encourage you in your preparation for Sunday worship.

First, I can think of no better human example in the Bible than David in terms of having a joyful heart about worshipping God on the Sabbath Day. He says, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:14). David says in Psalm 100:3 that the reason for the joy in his heart for praising God on the Lord’s day is because, “It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves.” You also ought to be joyful because, as David mentions in that same verse, “We are [God’s] people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Why are you joyful? Because “this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death” (Psalm 48:14).

Second, think about what God has done for you in your life. Has He provided for your needs in an unexpected way? Has He lifted you up out of a fiery trial or temptation with which you thought was too heavy to bear? Or perhaps think more simply. Has God given you food to eat, clothes to wear, and a bed to sleep on every night? And even if you could not answer yes to any of those questions, did God not send His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for all your sins?

May you use these Biblical questions and meditations to prepare your heart for Sunday worship, especially on Saturday, the day before the Lord’s Day. It is only when your heart is prepared to worship God that you can truly say as you go to church on Sunday morning, “I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows. Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul” (Psalm 66:13, 16).

Jonathan Lee

Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord

“All men on earth that live,

To God all glory give,

Praise ye the Lord;

His lovingkindness bless.

His constant faithfulness

And changeless truth confess;

Praise ye the Lord.

Here are the lyrics from Psalter #316, the shortest song in the Psalter. It makes sense that this is the shortest song in the Psalter since it’s taken from Psalm 117, which we all know is the shortest chapter in the bible. We used this Psalter number for a period of time as a doxology at our church here in Wingham, and it was very wonderful to be able to sing these words together as a congregation. Singing is enjoyable. People all around the world use singing as entertainment and it plays a significant part of our lives. We Christians have been given singing as a gift. Not just any gift, but a special gift from the Lord. Tomorrow is Sunday, and once again we will find ourselves in the house of the Lord using our gift of song to sing praises to him.

Singing shows and expresses the joy in our hearts. Hearts that sing are joyful! Singing also spreads joy. Think back to a time where you spent an evening singing to those in hospitals or retirement homes. Those times were times well spent. Although perhaps somewhat awkward to a group of teenagers at the time, I’m sure we all underestimate the amount of joy that the audience received. The blend of the holy words and the beautiful melodies is sure to arouse and spread joy! Joyful hearts sing. Singing gives birth to joy, and joy gives birth to singing.

“Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms” (Js. 5:13).

Singing is a good thing! David speaks about singing several times in the Psalms, and he repeatedly expresses that he will sing praises to his Lord. We do well to follow in David’s footsteps and dedicated times in our lives to lift up our voices towards heaven. “Sing aloud unto God our strength.” “I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee.” These familiar passages should always be a reminder to us of the importance of act of worship.

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto they name, O most High…” (Ps. 92:1).

Why did Paul and Silas sing? They sang for strength while they were afflicted. Perhaps a time will come when we are afflicted. Will we remember the songs we sang from our youth every Sunday during worship? Singing is not filler during a worship service. It is not something used to break up the time of sitting in silence. God commands us to sing, and we must use this precious gift of congregation singing and hold it dear to our hearts. We don’t use singing as a mean to impress God. We also don’t use singing as a way to express our emotions and feelings. The wonderful songs that we sing every Sunday are sure to be a comfort to our souls, but more importantly, they should be sang wholeheartedly as giving glory to God. How beautiful it must be to God’s “ears” to hear his chosen people join together in song, singing of his glory. When we raise our voices together as a congregation on Sunday morning, we’re joining our voices with Christians all over the world. It’s not just our voices echoing around the walls of our sanctuary, but voices echoing across the world making a joyful noise to our Lord and King.

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord; all the earth; make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise” (Ps. 98:4).

Singing has a special way of bringing the heart, soul, mind, and congregation together. May we all be blessed tomorrow with the preaching of thy word, and thy wonderful gift of song. Singing matters, and it matters that we do it together.

Averly Kikkert

The Command to Delight Ourselves in God

Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. – Psalm 37:4

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. – Psalm 84:2

I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. – Psalm 122:1

Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. – Isaiah 26:8

I have my moments throughout the week, but these are not thoughts that take up a lot of my brain space, sadly. My Saturday nights are too often spent staying up too late with all the things I’m so busy with, setting my alarm, and getting disappointed at the amount of sleep I’ll get before I have to wake up. Very few Saturday nights or even Sunday mornings are filled with these thoughts of delight, desire, joy, and longing.

Why don’t our lives overflow with these thoughts? Our lives have undergone incredible transformation through Christ, and we exist every moment only by his sovereign, life-giving power. He gives us life and breath, but He also gives us hope and a future because we are His children. That’s kind of a big deal and deserves some ponder time!

That’s a really big deal, actually, and I think we so easily lose sight of the awesomeness of God and the gift of salvation. There are a lot of ways we can remind ourselves of how amazing God is.

One way that I put myself and my life into perspective compared to God is by considering the magnitude of the universe and remembering that it is a creation of the God who calls me His child. It’s worth remembering how big God is compared to us. Look at a diagram of the universe and comparisons of earth to our sun and our sun to other stars. We are nothing in comparison to the vast cosmos! Take some time to watch Louie Giglio’s How Great is our God speech on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAzCP8SEKwc&feature=youtu.be). It’s not a short video, but it’s the most worthwhile 40 minutes I’ve probably ever spent on YouTube. I’ve watched the video probably ten times, and each time, I’m left speechless and in awe.

What makes your jaw drop in awe of who God is? Maybe it isn’t astronomy or science. Maybe looking back through history and seeing His faithfulness in preserving His church leaves you speechless. Maybe it’s the beauty of language that reminds you of the intricacies and beauty of the God we serve. Maybe, if you’re anything like me, it’s numbers and math that repeatedly show you how incredible God is. e^(i*pi) anyone? Whatever it is, take some time to think on those things, and make of habit of seeing God in the beautiful and complex things of the world.

Another way we can delight ourselves in God is to consider what God has done in our own lives in the last year, month, or week. Recently, I was prompted to consider what God has done in my life in past year. Taking the time to do that, I was completely overwhelmed by the goodness of God and the beautiful story He was writing in my life. We sometimes marvel at the testimonies of others and at the amazing things God has done in other people’s lives, but we understand so much more intimately what God has done when we look in our own lives. My story might not seem to be so amazing to others, but when I consider my story, I know exactly where I was, what I’ve come through, and how I’ve been held by God the entire way through.

History is filled with stories besides our own that can leave us longing for our Lord. It’s good to consider the stories of martyrs and church fathers, and once in a while, we should try to read the stories in the Bible as if we had never heard them before. I can so easily read the Bible stories I heard as a child and forget the wonder because I’ve heard it so many times. We serve an awesome God, though!

Another story I hear often that should leave me longing after, desiring, and joying in God is the gospel. This, too, I have heard repeatedly. I know the story, but often I forget the wonder. What could leave me longing after the house of the Lord than remembering what He gave for me to have restored fellowship with Him? In whom could I delight any more than in the One who saved my soul from the depths of hell? I can recite the gospel story so easily it makes me wonder sometimes if I really know what I’m saying. The Son of God, being fully and completely God, was willing to leave heaven’s throne to come and suffer for the same people that would spit, mock, ridicule, and crucify Him on a cross. That God of unfathomable magnitude came down to earth to take our punishment for sin. That’s love, completely undeserved. That’s grace. That’s amazing grace.

The psalmist in Psalm 37 says to delight yourself in God the LORD. That’s a command. This command is surrounded by other commands: fret not, trust in God, commit your way unto him, rest in him, cease from anger, and forsake wrath. We aren’t supposed to feel delighted in him once in a while or when circumstances are right, but we have to make ourselves delighted in him, no matter what. With all God has done for us, we have every reason in the world to be delighted in God. Why am I visibly and physically excited to see my friends, for this film to come out, or to do whatever other thing for my entertainment, but I’m not thrilled on Saturday night or Sunday morning to be going to the house of God to worship him?

Let’s take time today, tonight, or tomorrow morning to delight ourselves in the LORD. Let’s talk to God, listen through his Word, and reflect on what He’s done and who He is. Let’s fill our thoughts with these amazing things so that, like the Psalmist says, our hearts and souls long to be near and to worship God as a hart pants for water. Let’s start our Sabbath rest by putting our hearts in a state of worship and awe for the Lord our God.

Kelsey Kuiper