It is once again time to prepare our hearts for worship. Donald Whitney talks about worshiping God and he says that: “To worship God is to ascribe the proper worth to God, to magnify His worthiness of praise, or better, to approach and address God as He is worthy. As the Holy and Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, the Sovereign Judge to whom we must give an account, He is worthy of all the worth and honor we can give Him and then infinitely more. Notice, for instance, how those around the throne of God in Revelation 4:11 (“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”) and 5:12 (“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”) addressed God as “worthy” of so many things.
The more we focus on God, the more we understand and appreciate How worthy He is. As we understand and appreciate this, we can’t help but respond to Him. Just as an indescribable sunset or a breathtaking mountaintop vista evokes a spontaneous response, so we cannot encounter the worthiness of God without the response of worship.”
So, as we prepare for worship we should focus on God. Maybe this week we have been focused on ourselves, our jobs, our schoolwork, our families, our future, but maybe we have neglected focusing on God. Jon Bloom asks: “Want to refresh your soul? Want to run with more endurance today?” I would add this, want to prepare your hearts for worship? Then he answers: “Cease to be the focus of your attention.”
Bloom continues: “The state of your soul depends on what occupies your mind. If your self is occupying your mind, forget peace and contentment. You don’t find those in a vacuum of needs and sinful cravings. And forget loving others. A self-preoccupied soul might like the idea of being viewed by others as loving, but ends up finding others obstacles that plug up its craving vacuum.
And forget joy. The soul does not find satisfaction in the self. It’s not designed to. It’s designed to find supreme satisfaction in Someone else (Psalm 107:9), and then to enjoy everything else because of that Someone else (1 Timothy 6:17).”
So, how do we get our minds off of ourselves as we prepare for worship? One answer I would give would be to: “Look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and all that God promises to be and do for you through him. Only he will satisfy your soul (Psalm 63:1-3) and only he has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).”
Look to Jesus
So, as we prepare for worship we should ‘look to Jesus’ or fix our thoughts on Jesus. We should race to the cross. Maybe we need to spend time repenting of our self-centeredness this week and then plead with God to stir up our affections for Him.
After we have raced to the cross, maybe we should just dwell there for awhile. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says: “Look at the cross, my friend. Have you ever really looked at it? Have you ever, with Isaac Watts, surveyed this wondrous cross? I am asking you to do so now. Look at those three crosses on that little hill called Calvary, outside the city of Jerusalem. Look at the middle one and at that person who is dying there. They are amazed that he has died so quickly. Who is he?…He is the eternal Son of God. He is the second person in the blessed Holy Trinity. He is God the Son.”
In John chapter 1 John the Baptist sees Jesus and says: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” So, Jesus the eternal Son of God the second person in the blessed Holy Trinity took on flesh and dwelt among us. Not only did he dwell among us, but he is the sacrificial Lamb who dies condemned in our place.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that: “The Lamb of God has come. God has provided his own sacrifice. It is his own Son. The Lamb of God. This is what happened on Calvary’s tree. God took your sins and mine and he put them on the head of his own Son, and then he smote him, he punished him, he struck him, he killed him. The wages of sin is death. So what was happening on the cross was that God himself was laying your sins and mine upon his own dearly beloved Son, and he paid the penalty of our guilt and our transgressions. ‘For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2nd Corinthians 5:21).”
So, as we meditate on the cross we should remember that all of us are vile sinners, but we should remember that if we have turned from our sins and have trusted in Jesus to save us, then our sins have been paid in full. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones says: “And by Jesus all who believe, you included, are at this very moment justified entirely and completely from everything you have ever done…I tell you, in the name of God, all your sins are blotted out completely, as if you had never sinned in your life, and his righteousness is put on you and God sees you perfect in his Son. That is the message of the cross, that is Christian preaching, that it is our Lord who saves us, by dying on the cross, and that nothing else can save us,…”
So, let’s spend time meditating on the cross of Christ as we prepare for worship. Let’s also spend time praying for the service tomorrow. We should continue to lift up Rachel and Ben Bowen and their families at the throne of grace. We should also pray for Ian and Erin as they will lead us in worship. We should also pray for Jerry as he will lead us in a time of confession. Jerry will be looking at Philippians 1. Let’s be sure to pray for Mark as he preaches from 1 Peter 1, I believe. Links to Philippians 1 and 1 Peter 1 are below.
Picture from here