How do we prepare for worship when our hearts are cold? How do we prepare for worship when we are spiritually dried up like an old piece of forgotten fruit in the back of the refrigerator? I read something from George Mueller yesterday that got me thinking about this. He said: “It is a common temptation of Satan to make us give up the reading of the Word and prayer when our enjoyment is gone; as if it were of no use to read the Scriptures when we do not enjoy them, and as if it were of no use to pray when we have no spirit of prayer.” I know I have fallen prey to this temptation. I will be spiritually dry during the week and I will just leave my Bible unattended. I will leave the throne of grace unattended as well, as my heart grows colder and is filling with the dark murky water that we have talked about in the past. If this is you this week Randy Alcorn has some advice. He says: “The key in such times isn’t to give up on God’s Word and prayer but to stay with it and ask Him to give us joy.” “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:12).”
So, if your heart is cold today and has been this week, let us run to the throne of grace and just pour our hearts out to God and plead with Him to restore the joy of our salvation. Another thing we can do to help us prepare for worship when our hearts are cold, is to simply go back to the Cross. As Jerry Ediger said last week in his sermon let us: “race to the Cross.” This has been something that has been a tremendous help to me in my own life when I have been dry. Numerous times I have been spiritually dry and I have simply gone to the Cross. John Stott says the Cross ‘is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled.’ So, I will take my cold, dry heart and I will stand at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. There at the Cross, I behold the sinless, savior, suffering the wrath of God in my place, and sparks begin to fly upon my cold heart. Soon my heart is melted and my eyes begin to fill with tears. Charles Spurgeon said: “something lies within the truth of the Cross which sets the soul aglow;…” I love that line from Spurgeon. So, let us race to the cross and stand beneath that blazing fire to have our love kindled and our souls set aglow.
John Piper said: “The preciousness of being saved will rise in its intensity to the degree that you see the horror of what your saved from, and the beauty of what your saved for.” So, as we prepare for worship today and tomorrow let us remember as the song says that at one time we were running our hell-bound race indifferent to the cost. Just this morning I was thinking about my life before my conversion, and I was reminded just how sinful I was. I was running a hell-bound race. As John Piper says: “I must feel the truth of hell―that it exists and is terrible and horrible beyond imaginings forever and ever…I must feel the truth that once I was as close to hell as I am to the chair I am sitting on―even closer.” As we feel the weight of our sin and understand that we deserve hell and at one time we were running there, we must remember the grace of God.
“That God looked upon our helpless state
And led us to the cross
And we beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in our place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace”
Let us pray for the service tomorrow as well. Let us pray for Ian and Erin who will once again be leading us in worship. Let us pray for Jerry who will lead us in a time of confession, and let us pray for Mark as he will open up God’s Word to us. Mark will be looking at Genesis 16 and Galatians 4:21-31. The ESV text of both passages is below:
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife.4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.
7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the Lordsaid to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of theLord said to her,
“Behold, you are pregnant
and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
his hand against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”
13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.
15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.”
“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.27 For it is written,
“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than those of the one who has a husband.”
28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.”
Picture from here