It is once again time to prepare our hearts for worship. I thought this was a good reminder from Bob Kauflin: “When we gather as God’s people we are being called away from other pursuits to worship God together in a specific place and time. We can worship God indirectly as we play soccer through good sportsmanship and serving others. But we worship him more directly on Sunday mornings as we gather to sing, pray, hear God’s Word preached, and share the Lord’s supper.”
He continues by saying: “God is the one who has called us out of the world to rehearse the gospel in his presence for his glory and our good through the power of his Spirit. That should encourage us to engage fully with God because we come by invitation, not presumption, through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.
Finally, we come together for a specific purpose. After a week when we’ve been tempted to worship money, relationships, control, sensuality, and ourselves, a call to worship God wakes us up to the fact that we are sojourners and exiles in this world (1 Peter 2:11), that there is one true God, that he deserves to be exalted in our minds, hearts and wills, that he calls us together so that we might build each other up, and that that’s what we’ve gathered to do.”
We have all probably had busy weeks, and we have been tempted to worship so many other things this week, and maybe we have been spiritually lazy this week. If this has been the case with us we probably just need to start by praying to God and asking His forgiveness. We need to race to the cross as Jerry Ediger so often says. I think we need to be reminded of God’s grace. Just this morning I read Jerry Bridges definition of grace: “God’s unmerited favor to those who deserve only His wrath.” My affections were almost immediately stirred when I read that. I was once again reminded that I deserve nothing but the wrath of God, but I was also reminded that God has poured out His unmerited favor upon me. John Stott says that: “Grace is God loving, God stooping, God coming to the rescue, God giving himself generously in and through Jesus Christ.”
I think one of the best ways to prepare for worship is just preaching the gospel to ourselves. Maybe we should just go to a familiar passage like Romans 3:23-26 which says:
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
John Stott writes this in his commentary on Romans 3: “Justification is the heart of the gospel and unique to Christianity. No other system, ideology or religion proclaims a free forgiveness and a new life to those who have done nothing to deserve it but a lot to deserve judgment instead. On the contrary, all other systems teach some form of self-salvation through good works of religion, righteousness or philanthropy. Christianity, by contrast, is not in its essence a religion at all; it is a gospel, the gospel, good news that God’s grace has turned away his wrath, that God’s Son has died our death and borne our judgment, that God has mercy on the undeserving, and that there is nothing left for us to do, or even contribute. Faith’s only function is to receive what grace offers.”
As we dwell on the gospel we should also pray that God would stir up our affections for Him. We should also be sure to pray for Ian, Erin, and Ben who will be leading us in worship tomorrow. If you could pray for me as I will be doing the confession time I would appreciate it. We should also pray for Mark as he will be opening up God’s Word to us. I believe we will once again look at Galatians 1. The link to the ESV text is below: