Psalms 95:6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
Psalms 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise! Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
Jim Smith went to church on Sunday morning. He heard the organist miss a note during the prelude, and he winced. He saw a teenager talking when everybody was supposed to bow in prayer. He felt like the usher was watching to see what he put in the offering plate and it made him boil. He caught the preacher making a slip of the tongue five times in the sermon by actual count. As he slipped out through the side door during the closing hymn, he uttered to himself, “Never again! What a bunch of clods and hypocrites!” Ron Jones went to church on Sunday morning. He heard the organist play an arrangement of “A Mighty Fortress” and he was thrilled to the majesty of it. He heard a young girl take a moment in the service to speak her simple moving message of the difference her faith makes in her life. He was glad to see that his church was sharing in a special offering for the hungry children in Nigeria. He especially appreciated the sermon that Sunday, it answered a question that had bothered him for a long time. He thought as he walked out the doors of the church, “How can a man come here and not feel the presence of God?”
In his book “Folk Psalms of Faith”, Pastor Ray Stedman says he wishes that all churchgoers could stand in the pulpit on a Sunday morning and watch the faces in the congregation during the sermon. Although most people seem to give the minister their attention, many have their minds elsewhere. Stedman writes, “It would be fascinating at the end of a service to know where everybody had been!” My friend, to receive the greatest benefit from a church service, we must prepare our hearts and become active participants. We must become wholeheartedly involved in singing the hymns, silently praying as the pastor leads the congregation in prayer, and worshiping from the heart as the choir sings. Finally, we need to discipline ourselves to listen intently with a receptive heart to the teaching of God’s Word. We must develop a hunger for truth that quiets our spirits, inspires worship, evokes praise to God, and moves us to serve Him. It’s easy to blame the pastor if we leave the service feeling empty and discouraged (as Jim Smith did). But he’s just one participant; we must do our part. Those who get the most out of worship are those who put the most into it (as Ron Jones did).
Both men went to the same church on the same Sunday morning. Each found what he was looking for. What were you looking for this past Sunday morning? And what will you be looking for this coming Sunday?
At the heart of worship is worship from the heart.