As I was thinking about what to write for this weeks preparing our hearts for worship blog, I thought about Proverbs 4:23 which says: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Joe Thorn says in a note that he wrote to himself: “You work at keeping your conduct in line, and you work at maintaining a good reputation, but you don’t work enough at keeping your heart. The problem with this is unless you learn to keep your heart, your conduct and reputation will be of little value and may come crashing down in times of weakness. The call to keep your heart is a call to work on your life internally, not merely externally. The latter is easy; the former is much harder and more complicated. The religious or moral person will focus on the external and maintain good appearances, but it may have little to nothing to do with the heart. God is first and foremost concerned with your heart, for when you are keeping the heart, the rest of life follows.”
He goes on and this is what I hope these blog post are helping us to do: “To keep your heart means that your focus and work is on maintaining communion with God and pursuing the transformation that only God can accomplish in you. It is not performance-based religion, nor the moral improvement of your life, but the ongoing work of cultivating love for God and hatred for sin. It is the unending effort of guarding ourselves against idols while resting in the promises of the gospel. To keep your heart is your primary business as a Christian, and it cannot be done with passing interest or any small amount of energy. It requires the consistent use of all the means of grace. You must make the most of worship, Scripture, prayer, and the church gathered in all its forms with an aim at keeping your heart and growing in grace. If you are doing anything less than this, you are keeping up appearances but not your heart. And you know that the heart is what God is primarily interested in (Ps. 51:16-17)—hearts that are broken over sin, healed by God’s forgiving grace, and consequently filled with love for our Redeemer God.”
Oh how easy it is to keep up appearances but not our hearts! Let’s pray that God would help us to watch over our hearts with all diligence, and that He would stir up our hearts affections for Him. Something that has helped me stir up my affections for God has been music. Psalm 30:4 says: “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.” Joe Thorn says: “People sing about the things that capture their hearts and things that give them joy. People sing of heroes, victory, longing, and hope. People even sing as a way to express their sorrow. Does anyone have more reasons to sing than you? As a sinner who has been forgiven, a slave who has been freed, a blind man who has received sight, a spiritual cripple who has been healed—all by the gospel—you have real reasons to be known as a person of song!”
So, as we pray for the service tomorrow, and as we pray for Ian, Mark, and Jerry who will all be leading us in worship tomorrow, let’s also prepare for worship by singing. A song that my wife and I have been listening to a lot this week is one that Ian lead us in last week. The name of that song is: To The Cross I Cling. You can listen to it here. A little background on the song can be found here.
Mark will be preaching on Genesis 4:1-16. The ESV text is below:
“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”
Picture from here