Sunday, May 25, 2014

Prepare for Sunday worship

Family posing in front of a church
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 66:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows. … Oh bless our God you peoples! And make the voice of His praise be heard." Psalm 66:13,8

Today is Sunday. Are you ready for church? Are you looking forward to meeting with fellow believers? Or is Sunday morning at your house typically a hassle—a blur of leaping out of bed too late, a quick shower, scramble for breakfast, what to wear?? get in the car, coffee in hand, to make the hurried drive? If you have young children, it's probably even more complicated!

I know the details of your Sunday morning are none of my business. But if you feel yours could use some help—like I do mine— this psalm has embedded in it some things we can all do to get ourselves ready (Psalm 66:13-20) for a rich and satisfying time of corporate worship (Psalm 66:1-12).

To get ready for "church" the psalmist:

1. Prepares his offering and makes sure he's keeping his promises to God (Psalm 66:13,14). We don't come with animal sacrifices and having made vows we must keep, but we do usually put something in the offering plate. We could, say, write our tithe check Saturday night.

2. Cultivates thoughts of gratitude
(Psalm 66:16,17). The psalmist is so full of what God has done for him, he can't wait to tell others. We could spend some time Saturday, or earlier in the week, reviewing God's goodnesses to us. We could even keep a running list of things for which we give thanks.

3. Examines his heart and confesses known sin (Psalm 66:18). This verse: "If I regard iniquity in my heart / The Lord will not hear" reminds us of Jesus' advice to make things right with our brother before we come to God's house with our offering (Matthew 5:23,24) and Paul's warning about preparing ourselves before we take communion (1 Corinthians 11:27-34).  How wonderful to deal with these sinful impediments before we come to God's house so our worship can be unhindered by guilt and regret.

4. Prays (Psalm 66:19). Perhaps the psalmist unloads all his worries and concerns on God. Perhaps he asks God to reveal Himself during the time of worship. We too can unload before we go to church, bringing our worries to God in spoken prayer. And we can ask Him to meet us in deep meaningful ways as we assemble with others.

The early verses of this psalm show how enthusiastic, joyful, and energetic corporate worship can be: "Make a joyful shout to God all the earth! Sing out the honour of His name; make His praise glorious. … Come and see the works of God . … O bless our God you peoples! And make the voice of His praise be heard…" - Psalm 66:1,2,5, 8.

Perhaps a little ground work before we drive ourselves to church on Sunday morning (or Saturday night, or whenever we meet with others)  could ready us to worship with the same joyful abandon.

PRAYER: Dear God, I confess I often come to church on Sunday unprepared. Please help me to make a habit of readying my heart and life for corporate worship. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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