Someone said to me recently “I don’t know that I have ever really worshipped God.” It wasn’t the confession of an atheist or a non-Christian, but the words of a godly believer.
A large measure of the comment may be the tender conscience of an aging saint, meditating on how much God deserves, and how far short our worship comes.
But it may capture what many of us feel at times. We come to church, but can we say we have really worshipped? Has it been a glimpse into the throne room of Heaven?
I read a line this week that made me stop and think—“all of worship is ascent”. Sure, we are used to thinking of our voices joining in worship with the great multitude in Heaven, but do we regard worship as seeking to ascend into the throne room itself? Or is it merely that our voices are ‘here’ and theirs are ‘there’?
Worship is ascribing to God his worth—it is joining in heaven’s ceaseless praise. To do so we must see something of God. Worship is meant to be an ascending into God’s presence.
Worship happens when we aim to see something of what glorified believers and angels currently see—and then do what they do: Worship.
Worship is when we are moved by a glimpse of God which is either fresh, or refreshed.
Is that you aim tomorrow? Not simply to hear the sermon, not simply to have fellowship with the saints. But to refocus your heart’s affection and mind’s attention on God.
After the humdrum and crises of one week, and before the unknowns of the next, we grab a moment in the courts of Heaven to pull back the curtain, to see something of the invisible God. It rejuvenates us for another week.
Preacher—what is the aim of your sermon for tomorrow?
• If our goal is merely to inform, to expound the passage, we will send people away with full notebooks and dry souls.
• If our goal is to transform, to see lives made more Christ-like, admirable and all as that is, we will send them away with a destination, but no fuel to get there.
• The goal of preaching must be to bring us to worship. To a point where our hearts are filled with awe at the God who has done all this for us. Then we stand in the courts of heaven, refuelled to live for our Saviour on earth. Preaching must inform and apply—but it must be so much more. Yes, some sermons may have a more teaching/application oriented focus—but how can we teach about God, or even living for God, and there not be an element of wonder in it?
Preacher—are you taking your people to Heaven tomorrow? Is there a moment in your sermon where you have been brought to worship? For if your sermon doesn’t cause you to worship, how will it cause your hearers to ascend with you?
Congregation—your attitude as you come to church is key. Not simply in the regular sense of “Am I in a good mood or not?” or “Am I ready to listen?”, but “Am I hungry to see more of God?” We praise what we are amazed by.
Ask yourself: What have I learned about God, sung about God, read about God, that makes me want to worship him/praise him?
That doesn’t mean that every time we come to church there will be a moment of ecstatic delight, but that we should be working together, preacher and worshippers alike, engaging with what is happening, striving to enjoy the God whom we are hearing about.
That way we can ascend weekly into the courts of Heaven, to see more of our Glorious God, to be refuelled for living for him here.
May tomorrow be a blessed ascent into his presence for all of you.
Mark Loughridge, Pastor @ New Life Fellowship, Letterkenny