Now logically, before we go on to speak about this, we must define worship. And the definition of worship is sometimes very broad. If you ask a non-Christian what worship in a Church setting is, they may say "Worship is singing songs to God in Church". A few really young Christians may say the same thing...but as you grow more in spirituality, the definition seems to change. The pastor who was preaching said you may define it this way: "Worship is the heart's dependence, gratitude, and delight in God Alone through Jesus Christ".
Sounds like a good definition to me, so let's run with it. So basically, the matter of worshiping is different for each individual. It could be a raising of the hands, or one hand, swaying back in forth...it all doesn't matter on a person's 'style' of worship as put...it's about where their heart is. As long as it's dependent upon God for strength, and it has gratitude and delight in Him, especially by treasuring Christ...that's all that matters.
Now here's another twist on things. As humans living life, there are challenges to everything. And yes, there are challenges to worship. When you ask, "Well what are those challenges?"...Most will answer sin. Yeah, that sounds like a good answer. How about the World and it's values? What about Satan? What about humans in the first place? Well, by that last one, I really just mean human weakness. Right? Yeah, as humans we're all basically weak.
Let's take a look at the World first. I can't find the actual verse, but a verse was quoted that basically said, "Live simple lives."...that's what God wants us to do. For the most part, it may seem a little bit easy. But what if you're walking out to the parking lot after the sermon, headed for your car. On either side of the car are two nice 'brand new' cars. Maybe they're sports cars, maybe they're not, but either way they're new. Sure, your car may drive fine, but it has two hundred thousand miles on it. Or maybe there's a car across from yours that you know has better gas mileage, and maybe fine leather seats. Just then you're desiring a world value. The world wants, (as my pastor said) 'new', or 'stylish', and 'leather'. While I MYSELF have no issue with new or stylish (because come on, stylish is for the annoying peoples! [I apologize if you're one of them xD]). On the other hand, the other description comes to my mind...leather. This one is REALLY tough for me because I'm obsessed with it. I'm obsessed with leather: Jackets, gloves...not jeans though, but I do have a friend who is obsessed with them. (you know who you are!!! :). Just because 'leather' is a 'world value' though doesn't mean I'm sinning. It just means I have to watch out for those boundary lines that I shouldn't cross. Sin is the thing that tries to separate you from God and give or make you take action to nab those 'world values'. Satan and his evil forces do everything in their power to get you to focus on empty things instead of the fullness of God.
The final part of the sermon dealt with several questions. What do Pastors do the night before (or even days before) to prepare for Church on Sunday? (Or whenever your church meets). What does the congregation do to prepare?
Let's start with the first one.
1. The pastors will honor the Word of God.
They understand that it's not really anything they say that has any meaning, but the Bible has the authority.
2. They pray for miracles.
They earnestly seek God beforehand to help them speak the truth, and they pray that God will show Himself through the text to their congregation, that He would move through the congregation with his power.
3. They endeavor to remove distractions.
One thing that our church is now thinking of doing is removing the break. Which break is that? Well, generally we have a break between worship and the sermon. What it's for is to allow the parents to take their kids to Children's Ministry...but usually they gab, as well. The issue is that this breaks the flow of the Spirit and emotions in the service. In the break, usually people speak of stuff that are worrying them, and it really destroys the movement. So what we'll be doing now is having the children immediately go to their appropriate rooms, and then we'll start worship. As soon as worship is finished, the pastor who is preaching will come up and preach. I like the idea of it...but I'm sure I wouldn't if I were still young.
Okay, the other question. What can YOU do to prepare for church the night before?
1. Ask God for a new heart.
I can't exactly remember what the passage in Ezekiel was. But it said to call out for God for a new heart, a heart to worship and treasure Him above all else. If you ask Him to give you a heart for worship the next morning, earnestly, He will.
2. Meditate on Scripture.
This is a good idea. It gets you in the mood to be able to receive immediately from the moment you walk into your church.
3. Allow enough time to rest BEFORE Sunday.
Have you ever had someone (or yourself) walk into church sleepy? Or maybe they stood awake for worship, but as soon as the preaching starts, they fall asleep? Isn't it sad? I don't care if you're some sports' player who had an important game, or some businessman that had an important meeting to go to...The hour or two that you spend with your church, worshiping and receiving God...it's the most important hour of your week. Wouldn't you agree? You should be awake, attentive, and ready to listen to what God has to say to you.
4. Avoid activities the night before that are harming to your spirit.
Don't get involved with a party that steps over the line on Saturday night! Well...you really shouldn't be in that area anyway, but how much worse is it for you to come into church in the morning tired and not being in a right stance? Maybe you should abstain from uh...let's say 'visual' movies as well. Probably.
5. Arrive church earlier, before it starts.
Again, this is your important hour of the week! Say if you were going to a big football game or a concert by one of your favorite musicians? Would you want to walk in just as it starts? I think not. You'd probably be there much earlier to get good seats, and you don't want to miss anything. How much more is the hour where the Spirit of God works in you?
6. Pray for Spiritual Endurance and less distractions for you and your fellow believers.
Pray that you are fully able to focus on God throughout the whole thing. It's just terrible to think of something awful, especially when you're giving praise to Christ for saving you from sin. Maybe if you pray before hand, God will keep you from that thought.
7. Pray for Him to help you draw near to Him...and ask Him to draw near to you!
Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in your service. Pray for Him to touch hearts and heal those which are broken. There isn't a better feeling for someone then to have their troubled, broken hearts mended by a loving Father.
8. Discern what the Holy Spirit is doing.
You should do this in everything, not just your church meeting. Try to see what He's telling you to do, or wanting you to do when you have the chance to do so!
9. Confess sins to your Heavenly Father before you walk in.
Sure, sometimes at the end of the sermon you want to confess and have prayer for that sin...but if you walk into church with a guilty and sinful conscience, won't that be harder on you to experience Him?
And finally, 10. Act, don't watch.
No, I don't really like what the pastor originally said. He said be the actor, not the audience. I wouldn't want to put it that way. Think about it. An actor is ACTING a part. He isn't BEING the part. So you don't need to be the actor, but you need to be active in praising and praying. You need to pray for others when they need prayer.
Well, honestly, I tied in a lot more of my thoughts then I had originally hoped to do, so I don't need to add anything here, and besides that, this post is feeling long. Let me just say that I make a stand to do what I've said in preparing for church services. Won't you come and join me?
Sincerely, BLS signing off.