Living over in England, slowly migrating back towards “life prior to heart surgery” is my good friend, David Price. David’s was the first blog I had ever read several years ago as he journaled his experience of caring for his late wife, Sue, as she battled cancer. It was from David’s blogs that I first saw the potential to glorify God through writing online and I owe him a debt of gratitude for, among many other things, showing me how to serve others through blogging. Today he writes a guest post which has us think carefully about this coming Sunday.
If we were to try and describe the Christian life in terms of formulae, we might smile at snapshots such as “Suit + scowl = super spiritual”, or “More noise + more repetitions = more entertainment”. We might also be able to appreciate “Humbled heart + holy awe = heavenly usefulness” or “No love + no light = no life”; and our own experience will tell us that “Pathetic relationship + perfunctory worship = passive witness” while on the other hand “Satisfying walk + stimulating worship = successful witness”.
But as we prepare for Sunday, let me share two more “mathematical” equations with you :
Ill-considered preparation + inadequate worship = imperceptible profit
Cold hearts + empty words = pointless meeting
I know that the adversary of souls loves to keep us busy at home on Saturday when we have been busy at work all week. I know he has many ways of giving us an excuse for not getting to church (illness, weather, emergencies of various kinds, family problems). He also seeks to prevent our getting to church in a right frame of mind with other distractions, so we get there angry or worried or resentful or preoccupied. Either way, we are hindered in our preparation for worshiping our King & Saviour. “What?” you say … “Prepare? … But I’m only going to church?” For many friends, sadly, the very idea of heart-preparation is a foreign concept. Many people will turn up expecting to see well-oiled presentations from “them-up-front”; they go to be entertained and then go home (or go out), and there is no participation. Many have a “just-in-time” arrival, and a “just-about-awake” awareness of what’s going on, and a “just-let-me-out-it’s-meal-time/game-time” attitude when their clock says it’s time to go.
Can such attitudes really expect a blessing from the Lord Almighty? Have they given Him the adoration and thanks that should be WHY they are there? Is He “fooled” by empty words? Or is “church” just a respectable social club, where just attending is enough to quieten the conscience – if indeed the church-attendance habit even merits any thought at all. The sad fact is that many who attend church have an inadequate view of God, so they offer an inadequate travesty of worship, based on an inadequate view of the gospel because they have an inadequate view of their sinfulness. The result of “just going to church” is not growth in grace but a gradual hardening of the heart as they become increasingly blind and increasingly deaf to the wonder of redemption and salvation.
What if we could break the habit of “being happy in our social club” and instead become prostrate before the throne of the living God, “lost in wonder, love and praise”? What if we could make time on Saturday to pause and wonder at the amazing grace and mercy of God in saving anybody, let alone you and I? What if we could stop and think about God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit – Who they are, and what we are in comparison?
What if we took time before going to church to reflect on the goodness of God in providing our daily needs, and the love of the Saviour in loving us and giving Himself for us, and the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit in giving us another opportunity to meet with the family of God, as well as giving us the Bible that tells us so much about God’s dealings with his people down the years and into eternity? What if we could think about the services, and who will be leading, and who will be sitting next to us and around us, and pray for them? What if we could seek to prepare ourselves so we can go with “clean hands and a pure heart” to worship the thrice-Holy God? What if we could go with hungry hearts to hear the message the preacher has been given by the King to bring to us? Can you imagine the impact if EVERYONE who attends a God-honouring, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled worship service was blessed in the depth of their souls this Sunday because the preached word of God fell not on the path, or on stony ground, or weed-choked ground, but on good prepared soil?
I’ll close with one more:
Prepared to meet the King + prepared to hear His word = prepared to face the world