Volume. XXV, No. 5
Sunday, 01 August 2010

Prepare to Worship the Lord


Our chief goal in coming to church on Sunday is to meet God in the morning, and to commune with our Creator and Saviour and to hear His Holy, infallible and inerrant Words through the preaching of His messengers. Our Lord also instructs all those who worship God to worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:24). This entails a great deal of spiritual and mental preparatory works which must be done before one comes into God’s house to worship. The preparation should not take place only five or fifteen minutes before the worship service starts. The spiritual and mental preparation for God’s people to meet the Lord should begin at least the night before. More importantly, our whole life should be a life of worship. If we were to meet the queen of England tomorrow, most of us would be preparing ourselves mentally and emotionally for that “important” appointment because we want to honour that highly distinguished individual. Ironically, many of God’s people today have assumed that less is expected or required when they come on Sunday to meet the Creator of this world and the absolute Potentate of this Universe. Without exploring the potential reasons for such laxity and indifferent spirit among God’s people in this day and age, I would like to put forth some suggestions which may help us to be better prepared to worship God on the Lord’s Day.  
Abjure All Known Sin in Our Lives
The first preparation for worship is that we should abjure all known sin in our lives before coming to worship God (Pro 15:8, 29), and examine whether there be any sin of pride, anger, bitterness or any illicit desires which need to be brought before the mercy seat (Ps 24:3,4; 1 Jn 1:9). According to the Old Testament, the people of Israel attempted to worship Jehovah God, their true husband, while giving their devotion to the gods of Philistines (Hos 1:2). As the prophets of Jehovah had warned repeatedly, the people of God also tried to worship God while concealing sin in their lives. They oppressed the poor, and crushed the needy, while living in wealth and luxury.
Being plagued with such a dire spiritual condition, the worship of the people of Israel became a weak, empty lifeless and legalistic ritual. Similarly, if God’s people today attempt to worship God only with their lips while allowing their hearts to run after other “gods, or “idols of our hearts” then our worship may well be of a meaningless form and legalistic ritual. Having said that, we must remember that God will gladly take the vilest sinner into his arms on Sunday morning, who comes with a broken and contrite heart, intent on forsaking all known sin and trusting in Jesus for cleansing and for forgiveness of sin. However, God will not be deceived nor mocked by those who pretend they love Him and wilfully break his law during the week.
Be Sensitive of What God Is Doing in Our Lives
The second preparation for worship is that we must be sensitive of how God has been trying to get our attention through various means. Six times in the book of Amos, chapter four (vv. 2,6,8,9,10,11), we read that God says that he had done specific things in the lives of his people to turn them back to Himself. And five times the Lord says, "yet have ye not returned unto me." (Amos 4:6,8,9,10,11) Each of these things God had done, or events which He had allowed to happen, were to get their attention so that they might return unto Jehovah God. Nevertheless, spiritually poverty stricken Israel was reluctant and unwilling to return unto God. Yet, God held Israel accountable for not listening and responding to be prepared to meet their God (Amos 4:12).
In not hearing the voice of God, or seeing the hand of God, the people of Israel failed to prepare to meet Him despite constant warnings. The parallel to this account in the Old Testament is that God’s people today must be sensitive of what God is trying to do in our lives. We must wake up and stop looking at our lives like secular, scientific, evolutionary naturalists who in their mockery deny the existence of God and His providence. God is doing things in our lives which are gracious providential messages to return to Him and trust Him. Many of the world’s tragic events, economic crises and natural disasters should be seen as God’s way of catching the attention of His people to renew their first love and zeal for Him. It starts with the way we prepare ourselves to worship the Lord on Sunday. “Prepare to meet thy God”—this divine and solemn call for attention should still echo in the ears of God’s people today, Sunday after Sunday, in godly fear and trembling.
Draw Nigh to God in Our Hearts
The third and final preparation for worship is that we must draw nigh to God in our hearts. When the LORD said five times "You did not return unto me" in chapter four of the book of Amos, He did not necessarily mean that they should have come more often to the “place” of worship. The returning was not a physical movement to be confined to a “location” of worship. Rather, the return to God was a movement of the heart, a spiritual movement and not a movement of the body to a location. The temple of Lord could have been physically filled with people but the hearts of God’s covenant people might not have been there, so as the churches of Jesus Christ are today. There is a heart preparation that needs to be done before we come to the house of the Lord, not simply preparation of the mouth and the lips. Our Lord said, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me." (Matthew 15:8). Thus, what is needed is the preparation of the heart or a movement of the “heart” from far to near, and not so much of movement measured in inches or miles like the Pharisees of the old who had misunderstood. Then, what is the preparation of the heart you might ask? The preparation of the heart has to do with attention, focus, desire,trust and joy. It is measured with attention because one might not be thinking of God Saturday night or even Sunday morning if he had devoted hours the night before watching a late night sporting competition or comedy show. He may be physically present in God’s house on Sunday, but his heart is far from God—thus he comes unprepared and uninterested to hear God speaking to him. Or, it may be measured by focus because one may have some attention on God, but it is broken up by other things and there is little or no focused attention that puts God clearly in view, or no capacity to receive God’s word humbly with appreciation because of the “cares of this world” (Mk 4:19). Thus, his wanders mind around throughout the entire worship service. It is also measured by desire because one may feel little desire for God but be very much caught up in a greater desire for sports or finances or a trip to the popular holiday destination, while the desire and the longing for God is pitifully weak by comparison. Or, it can be measured by trust becauseonemight havetrust in God, but his trust in God may be weak and wavering due to dire life circumstances and problems he is facing. Or, it may be measured by our joyin God because one you might feel much more pleasure Saturday night in a late movie than in meeting God in the morning.
Every one of us is far from where we want to be at least on one of these aspects every week. No one should be quick to judge or point the finger at others of their failure, but should thoroughly examine himself first. So I want to close with some practical suggestions that I think will help us prepare to meet God in worship together Sunday morning.
1. Set Our Priority Aright the Night Before 
Set aside some time Saturday night to begin the orientation onto worship. Turn off the television or computer, and set your mind on things above with the Word of God and a time of prayer with your loved ones and family.
2. Go to Bed Early
If our occupations allow us and when we have a choice, we should try to go to bed early enough so that we are fresh and emotionally alive Sunday morning. The price of late night movies or parties on Saturday will be powerless worship on Sunday morning.
3. Wake Up Early Enough on Sunday
If we have the liberty of no physical constrains or family commitments, try to get up early in time Sunday so that we do not have to rush to get to church. It will be good to have a little time to be alone with God and ask His blessing on you and your family and on the church. This will take some discipline and some planning. Again, do not be too hard on your fellows Christians but always start with yourself and your family. 
4. Begin Seeking God as Soon as You Enter
When you come into the sanctuary, begin to seek the Lord. That means that by and large there will be a holy hush across the sanctuary. But it will be a very different kind of stillness than the awkward silence. The goal of those moments is not that people will be impressed with us—either our piety or our friendliness—but that they will fall on their face and say, "God is in this place." And that will only happen if people are taken up with God.
5. Become the Actor in Worship
Finally, before every act of worship, whether a hymn or a reading or a prayer or an anthem or a moment of silence or a sermon, say to Lord in your heart, "Lord, I come. I come to sing to you. I come to pray to you. I come to listen to your Word. I come to enjoy your presence." Don\'t drift through the service as though the action is on the platform and the rest are just the audience waiting for the “show” or the “talk” to finish---such is not worship, but a dead legalistic ritual. Our minds need to be tuned in and our hearts must be poured out when we come to church for worship. The worship leader, the pianist, the organist, the readers of scripture, the congregation and the preacher should all be one in spirit in order to worship God in spirit, and no one is a mere “pew warmer”. So, become the actor, not just a spectator. The greatest action in worship is when a heart that is far from the Lord draws near to the Lord, and focuses on Him and desires, trusts and enjoys God. May God help us.
Pastor Weng

More Lively Hope



*Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Sis Yvone Kam. Next Lord’s Day: Team Leader: Bro Colin Gan.
*Please note: All members are expected to attend the ACM. Proxy forms are available if not able to attend. Please see Dn Edwin D’Mello for proxy forms.
*More Mandarin speakers needed to interpret Sermons every Lord’s Day. If you can help, please see Pastor Weng.
*Bible Witness on Literature table. Please help yourself.
*Bookshop Sale - 50% off all items until 5 Sept.
Looking Ahead
*ACM & Session Election, Sat, 21 Aug, at 7:30pm.
*Ordination & Installation of 6th Session, Sun, 29 Aug.
*Baptism, Confirmation & Membership Transfer, Sun, 5 Sept.
*Gospel Sunday, 12 Sept, at 7.30pm.
Praise & Thanksgiving
1. Journey mercies: Ps David & Sis Susan Weng & family (Melb/Adl); Mrs Adeline Tan & Sis Vanessa Tan (S’pore); Bro Lincoln Law (Hob); & others who have travelled.
2. Church activities - over the past week.
3. Daily mercies, protection & guidance.
Prayer Items
1. Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Dr SH Tow; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Colin Creaser, Makoto Kobayashi (JPN), Elton Law, Jonathan Liao (Melb), Len & Richard Pearson, & Fred Volvricht; Mr Swee Liang Ng; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Annie D’Mello & her mother (Mumbai), Lydia Fan, Myung Ki (UK), Choon Fong Lee (KL); Lehia Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; & others in affliction.
2. Healing & health - Bro Winston Selvanayagam
3. Cambodia Missions - Rev Moses Hahn & ministry (Sihankouville); Khmer Bible Students at Bible Colleges & Seminaries; Salvation of Khmers.
4. Bro Richie & Sis Myra Hornung - Missions work (Mindanao)
5. iSketch&Tell Studio - Pr H S Lim & his ministry.
6. IBPFM (USA) - Rev K Coleman & Board.
7. Ps & Sis Ki & ministry in New Life BPC (Lond).
8. Ps & Sis Weng - ministry in Hope BPC.
9. Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.
10. Journey mercies: Rev George van Buuren (Adl); & all others who are travelling.
11. ACM & 6th Session Election on Sat, 21 August.
12. Job - Sisters Judy Li, Corinne Teng & Mag Yu (S’pore).
13. Good health in pregnancy - Sisters Myra Hornung & Demelza Ting. 
14. Interpreters translating English Sermons to Mandarin.
15. Believers under persecution in Islamic countries.



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