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

Excitement for the Lord’s House

He can’t contain himself – as it gets closer and closer, that’s all he can talk about. Friends exchange knowing glances when the occasion comes up, knowing that just the mention of it will cause a huge smile to break out on his face, and his words will trip over themselves as he gushes about what he expects and looks forward to on that day. What is this man looking forward to? It must be a pretty big event – it seems to be taking up his whole mind. Maybe his wedding, or the vacation he’s been planning for months? No, what this man is looking forward to is worshipping His God on the Sabbath.

This man is the psalmist in Psalm 84 – he starts out his song by shouting out “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!” His joy in coming to the Lord’s house can’t wait another minute – it’s been on his mind and he must express it right away. He loves to be there, loves to “behold the beauty of the LORD” (Psalm 27:4).

In fact, this man loves the house of the Lord so much, the once or twice weekly visit is not enough for him. Psalm 42 compares this longing to that of a deer for water. A deer’s most innate instinct is to find water – it can’t survive without it. This man knows that what water is to a deer, fellowship with the Lord is to him. Personal devotions during the week satisfy him somewhat, but by Saturday, he finds himself weak, needing replenishment from the preaching on Sunday.

I think we can all confess our emotions and thoughts on Saturday night and Sunday morning aren’t always quite in line with the man described here. Saturdays are full of housework and chores, piles of homework, and then maybe hanging out with our friends at night. We head to bed and fall asleep as soon as we hit the pillow. Sunday morning comes and we wake up as late as we can while still getting to church on time and looking decent. We don’t wake up with smiles on our face that today is the day we can worship our Lord in His house. But how can we make our attitudes line up with the psalmist’s?

A great place to start is consciousness. It’s easy to go through our normal Sunday activities without thinking – after all, most of us have been doing the same types of things each Sunday since we were children. It’s a comfortable routine. But I encourage you to look at it with new eyes. When we go to our respective churches each Sunday, it’s more than just a routine – we are entering in to the very house of God. The almighty, omnipotent God, Creator of heaven and earth, the One who planned your whole life before time began, allows us into His house, the place in which He dwells. This isn’t any grudging invitation either – He chose each of us specifically to come to His house. If it was up to us, we would be running the opposite way. But by His grace, we can confess with the psalmist of Psalm 65, “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts.”

So tonight, when you set your alarm for the morning – probably earlier than you would like – think about where exactly you’re going tomorrow. Meditate on the words of Psalm 84. Mark the bulwarks of your church as the psalmist does in Psalm 48. Ask God to give you the same joy and longing expressed in so many Psalms, overflowing joy and thankfulness to be able to worship at His house.

Kenzie Kuiper

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