It is time once again to prepare our hearts for worship. I want to go back to Proverbs 4:23 which I have mentioned before, but I feel it is so applicable to these preparing for worship post. Proverbs 4:23 says: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” As Joe Thorn says that to watch over 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.” It is so much easier to keep up appearances and not our hearts though. It is easy just to slap on a smile before stepping foot in Church, and keep up our external appearance. It is harder to work on our life internally.
When we prepare for worship we are working on our life internally. We confess and are broken over the remaining sin in our life. We preach the gospel to ourselves and remind ourselves that: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We seek to see the glory of Jesus in the gospel. As John Piper says: “Seeing the glory of Jesus Christ in the gospel awakens joy.” A great place to see the glory of Jesus is the cross. Frederick Leahy said: “the cross…should be central in the thinking and experience of the individual Christian. It is my conviction, and at times my sad experience, that as the cross goes out of focus in the Christian’s life, coldness and backsliding set in.” When the cross goes out of focus in our lives our hearts will grow cold. Missionary Amy Carmichael wisely said: “From all that dims Thy Calvary, O Lamb of God, deliver me.” As we prepare for worship we want to bring the cross of Christ into sharp focus, we want to be delivered from anything that will dim the cross from our view.
As the song that we sang last week says: “At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered”
So, before I get to the text that Mark will be preaching on, I want to go to the cross. Mark 15 tells us that Jesus was crucified at the third hour, which was 9:00 am. Matthew 27 tells us that from noon “there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Frederick Leahy says: “At Bethlehem, when the Saviour was born, the night was changed to day as the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds. On Golgotha the day gave way to night…At Bethlehem there were countless angels praising God; on Golgotha legions of darkness filled the impenetrable gloom, hoping that darkness would finally triumph over light…At the creation, God, at an early stage, introduced light. Yet now he leaves his Son suspended in darkness at midday. Why must the light of the world be placed in darkness?…That darkness was a symbol of God’s wrath. Hendriksen says that God’s wrath was ‘burning itself out in the heart of Jesus.’ In that hour of blackness He had nothing, nothing but the guilt of sin of all those for whom He died. Utterly forsaken, He was cut off…Christ cried to God, but for Him there was no mercy; He had to bear the curse; He had no rights.” Jesus endured this darkness to redeem His people. At the cross we truly are ‘lost for words, so lost in love.’
Let us pray for the service tomorrow as we prepare our hearts for worship. Let us pray for Ian and Erin as they lead us in worship. Let us pray for Jerry as he leads us in a time of confession and let us pray for Mark who will open up Genesis 18 & 19 to us. Let us pray that God would stir up our affections for Him.
Links to Genesis 18 & 19 of the ESV text are below:
Picture from here