It is time once again to prepare our hearts for worship. D.A. Carson writes that: “We long to meet, corporately, with the living and majestic God and to offer him the praise that is his due.” Every Sunday afternoon at North Avenue Church we have the privilege of meeting, corporately, with the living and majestic God and during our time together we get to offer him the praise that is his due! This should get us excited for Sunday afternoon worship at North Avenue.
R. Kent Hughes says: “When…you get together with the people of God who are seeing the glory of God, it is amazing. When you’re praying and all are united together, when you can hear people affirming what’s going on, there is something very wonderful about the gathered body of Christ. There is an encouragement that takes place from singing with the people, affirming the same things, saying “amen” to the reading of God’s word, having your Bibles open with all the pages turning at the same time to the text that can’t happen individually. There is nothing like gathered worship.”
We should be eagerly anticipating the Sunday worship service. As we prepare our hearts for worship today and tomorrow we should remind ourselves that there really is ‘nothing like gathered worship.’ Seminary professor Dennis Prutow says: “There is a great privilege the people of God have of drawing near to God in corporate, public worship. In corporate, public worship, God is pleased to draw near to His people…and to assure them that they belong to Him and that He is indeed their God.” So, one way we can prepare for worship is to simply thank God for the great privilege that we have of drawing near to God in corporate, public worship.
I am going to go in a slightly different direction to end this post than I normally do. This is something that I thought about yesterday and today. As most of you know Mark and Kelly went to the hospital Thursday evening and Kelly ended up going into labor Friday. Their precious little son Micah was born at 3:38 AM early Saturday morning. My wife and I were there Thursday night, Friday night and today. What I saw was how much this little guy was already loved by everyone. All of his family and extended family already loves him so much. Almost everyone cried when they first saw him. Honestly I was moved by all the love that was so obviously evident for little Micah.
As I was dwelling on the love that was on display for Micah I began to think about God’s love for us. I saw my brother with such love for his only son Micah, and then I thought about God. God also has a dearly beloved precious Son. God could have sent his Son into the world to condemn the world. Thankfully John 3 tells us: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Amazingly God sent his Son into the world, so that the world might be saved through Jesus!
How would the world be saved through Jesus? Well, God would have to: “not spare his own Son but give him up for us all…” Martyn Lloyd-Jones powerfully tells us of God’s love when he says: “God, in his great love to us, delivered up for us his only begotten, dearly beloved Son, who had never disobeyed him and had never done any harm to anybody, to the death of the cross…God did not say, Because he is my Son I will modify the punishment. I will hold back a little, I cannot smite him, I cannot strike him…He did not keep anything back. He spared not his own Son. He poured out all his divine wrath upon sin, upon his own dearly beloved Son. That, my friend, is the love of God to you, a sinner…And that is the wonder and the marvel and the glory of the cross, God punishing his own Son, in order that he might not have to punish you and me.”
So, as we prepare our hearts for worship let us marvel at the grace of God in our lives. Let’s marvel at the gospel! Today as I thought about the love for Micah Timothy McAndrew, it was almost as if God was telling me: “Yes, there is a lot of love for Micah, but have you felt my great love for you?” I think I experienced on a very very small scale what D.L. Moody experienced in the 1870’s in New York City. He describes it like this: “one day, in the city of New York—oh, what a day!—I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name…. I can only say that God revealed himself to me, and I had such an experience of his love that I had to ask him to stay his hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world—it would be small dust in the balance.”
Maybe as we prepare for worship we should go to the throne of grace and ask God to help us: “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,…”
Let’s be sure to pray for Ian and Erin as they will once again lead us in worship. I am actually going to be doing the confession tomorrow, so if you wouldn’t mind praying for me that would be great. Also, let’s pray for Jerry as he will be preaching on the life of Joseph tomorrow. He will mainly be looking at Genesis 37. The link to the ESV text is below:
Picture from here