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Monday, March 4, 2013

Prepare Your Heart for Worship


Job 11:13 (ESV)
13 “If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him.

Some people come to church totally unprepared to worship. They have gotten out of bed within twenty minutes of their arrival. This is not only true of those who are attenders only. Those who teach Sunday School, preach, lead worship, greet, usher and lead in prayer during worship are often just as guilty. It is no wonder that worship rarely occurs for most people.

Preparing the heart does not mean making sure that the heart is perfectly pure. It means to direct the heart. It is set on a path like a toy car is pushed by a child. It will go where it has been pushed. The heart needs to be set on the right direction and given the impetus to get there. This means that the heart is set on the path toward God.

However, most people wait to see what happens. They come without an expectation or having set their hearts. Thus, they are waiting for someone or something to thrill them. They want to hear a certain person sing their favorite song, they want to hear a good joke from the pastor, they want to sing the song that has moved them in the past. Their hope is that they will be emotionally moved but never changed.

Change does not require a prepared heart but a prepared heart ensures change. Often people did not see God coming but experienced Him anyway. One of the more famous of these encounters was Moses and the burning bush. But I don't think that believers should attend worship and expect God to perform. I believe we, as believers, should prepare to worship with the expectation that God will meet us in that worship. We are the performers in worship. 

God sees right through our unprepared hearts. He knows what we are thinking and how we are concentrating on what we are doing rather on Him. He knows we are looking for the approval of others rather than Him. He knows that we have not set our hearts toward Him. This doesn't guarantee that we will never see Him. It makes it a matter of chance, at worst and requires God to bring us to worship, at best.

So, I believe that we should arise early before worship on Sundays. We should spend whatever time it takes to set our hearts toward Him. Then, when we should worship wholeheartedly and wait in wonder with expectation in what He will do.

Can you imagine what worship would be like in a congregation with their hearts set toward God before arrival? We will simply keep on imagining without realizing if we don't set our own hearts for worship.

This next Sunday is time change Sunday. You will lose an hour of sleep. Go to bed early Saturday night and so you can arise to set your heart toward Him. Prepare your hearts and you will reach out to Him. He will meet you and your worship will fill you.

4 comments:

high-expressions.blogspot.com said...

I take it that we are referring to praise and worship aspect of worship, for the fullness of worship includes more than that.  

In most churches or church services, this aspect included singing with music accompaniment.  Some more open churches may have dancing some of the time, others, may at times, include flagging; a few, at times, have prophetic paintings being done in full view of the congregation, on the stage. Mass participation aspect, generally is confined to singing along with the worship team leading the praise and worship.  In charismatic services, masses' hand gesturing and even leg movements accompanying the singing are not uncommon.

People are not "into praise and worship", for various "reasons":

1. First, we must grasp that praise and worship is desired by God.  If you don't believe this is desired by God, you may not want to do such a thing.  The attitude adopted by such, may be, "ok-lo, those who love singing, let them sing-lo, singing is not my cup of tea, and so, it is alright, I don't sing to the Lord; worshipping of God can done through more serious stuff-lo, like what I do,  this thing, that thing and that .....  But I will mouth a little here and little there, just to appear, I too, am praising and worshiping God-lo!"

2. I can believe God may like that, praise and worship, but I am not good at it; it is embarrassing to sing with people around.

3. I don't feel like it, surely the Lord can accept that; Scripture said God loves a cheerful giver, right?!

4. What is important is the sermon part, to feed on the Word, the rest are secondary!

5. To praise and worship, I have to effort, for I am not naturally gifted in singing; now I heard the mega churches now teach not to try to do, saying that, such would be works, not living true to grace!  I will praise and worship when I automatically feel like it-lo!

6.  I am very self-conscious-le, and so, I don't feel like singing-le!

7. Surely, I am not to do all things, right; after all, not everyone teaches at Sunday school-what, or prays for the sick, or serves as ushers, or serves in the church's community outreach program, etc, etc; why can't I not do this, join the congregation to sing.

8. Ai-yah! There are few hundred people-what, surely I won't be missed; after all, I don't sing well-what; more likely I will spoil it when I sing, better not sing!

9. Not my type of songs or tempo of music-le!

10. I want to sleep a little longer on weekend, to catch up on my sleep. Surely, God can understand, I just make sure I make it in time before sermon begins.

Cont...

high-expressions.blogspot.com said...

Cont. From above

Unless people understand the importance of praise and worship, they will come up with any of the above excuses and more, and will not effort in preparing for worship, and to do it, in spirit and in truth.  The very phrase, "in spirit and in truth" got to be explained and understood by people.  Some people teach that efforting is not consistent with the call to worship in spirit and in truth. 

I can rebut on the excuses above, but I will not, but I just want to say a little more about the error of thinking efforting is inconsistent with the call to worship in spirit and in truth, by way of an illustration - the driving of a car.  When we have got the "hang of it",  we don't think much or hesitate in the various steps in motoring, changing gears, pressing the brakes, slowing down to turn a corner, etc, etc - all seem so automatic and effortless!  It is so, so automatic and effortless, but it was not like that, until you got the hang of it, so to speak. Until you reach that stage, you have to effort, and work at it, your driving. As a metaphor, it means we too, need to effort and work at our praise and worship, before it reach the "so automatic and effortless" stage.  

Now, if we look at the preparation before worship, we again, can learn from the driving metaphor - don't we prepare before we drive? Yes, we do.  Don't say, you don't.  You do; at the least, you check to see if there is enough fuel in the fuel tank before you drive.  If you at times, do not check the petrol gauge, it is because you are sure there is much petrol in there. If you travelled away from your usual routes, your fuel may run low, and you need to check.  If you go here, a little and go there, a little, your fuel will decrease; even when you just stop somewhere and leave the engine and air-con on, for a long period of time, although mileage travelled does not change, fuel is still consumed.  Likewise, we also got to check our spiritual gauge, and prepare before we worship.

Cont...

high-expressions.blogspot.com said...

Cont. From above

My own testimony is that our heart-condition must be right, and we got to want to praise and worship God, and we got to want to develop, and we make effort, and then God may come and help us, even endows us with skill and ability, we previously did not have.  Even what seems impossible can be made possible by God.  I was tone-deaf, and was an awful singer, but today, I can pick up a new song, introduced in a church service, faster than most people, and sing aloud a completely new song introduced, like I have practiced the song before.  Although, I am still not a fantastic singer in church services, my singing is "decent" enough, and my confidence in singing, is like I have the gift of faith, of exceptional faith.

I am quite an old man, but when I worship the Lord in a service, except from being mindful of the need to be orderly, and taking cue from the worship team on the stage, I am quite lost in my worship of my Lord.  I have efforted to please and honor my God, and I still do, and God has helped me along and granted me favor.  I am thankful to my God for the decency of my singing in English; over and on top of that, God has gifted me with the gift of singing in tongue years back, when hardly anyone, in Singapore sang in tongue (I only knew of 2 others, then), of which I am eternally grateful.  I dare say, the fullness of this singing in tongue has broken levels after levels, that there are very few who can sing to the level matching that of mine (Lord, you know the intent is not to boast of what I can do, but to tell of your grace and your goodness in recognition of one who couldn't but wanted very much to worship you to please you, and to encourage others).  

I even imagined, perhaps, when I get to Heaven, I would be in the choir of the Lord; for someone who used to be unable to sing, that is big deal.  Thank you, Lord.  And Lord, I am still holding onto the possibility that I will be the singing healer for you, in this life!

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - Lord, it is so good to dream with you. Amen.

high-expressions.blogspot.com said...

Cont. From above

My own testimony is that our heart-condition must be right, and we got to want to praise and worship God, and we got to want to develop, and we make effort, and then God may come and help us, even endows us with skill and ability, we previously did not have.  Even what seems impossible can be made possible by God.  I was tone-deaf, and was an awful singer, but today, I can pick up a new song, introduced in a church service, faster than most people, and sing aloud a completely new song introduced, like I have practiced the song before.  Although, I am still not a fantastic singer in church services, my singing is "decent" enough, and my confidence in singing, is like I have the gift of faith, of exceptional faith.

I am quite an old man, but when I worship the Lord in a service, except from being mindful of the need to be orderly, and taking cue from the worship team on the stage, I am quite lost in my worship of my Lord.  I have efforted to please and honor my God, and I still do, and God has helped me along and granted me favor.  I am thankful to my God for the decency of my singing in English; over and on top of that, God has gifted me with the gift of singing in tongue years back, when hardly anyone, in Singapore sang in tongue (I only knew of 2 others, then), of which I am eternally grateful.  I dare say, the fullness of this singing in tongue has broken levels after levels, that there are very few who can sing to the level matching that of mine (Lord, you know the intent is not to boast of what I can do, but to tell of your grace and your goodness in recognition of one who couldn't but wanted very much to worship you to please you, and to encourage others).  

I even imagined, perhaps, when I get to Heaven, I would be in the choir of the Lord; for someone who used to be unable to sing, that is big deal.  Thank you, Lord.  And Lord, I am still holding onto the possibility that I will be the singing healer for you, in this life!

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - Lord, it is so good to dream with you. Amen.