FIRST-PERSON: Sunday's top priority

PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP) -- What is your priority as you arrive at church on Sunday? Is it to assure your child has two matching shoes? To lead a great small group class? Greet guests? Enjoy Christian friends?

Oh, those are all quite important, but our TOP priority must be to truly worship God. How can we do that? Try these six simple tips:

-- 1. Anticipate. Look forward to Sunday's worship service. Faithfully commit that time to God weekly. Pray for God to bless each person there, and to speak to you personally. Quote Psalm 69:9 NLT, "Zeal for your house consumes me."

-- 2. Arrive early. No exceptions! You have an important appointment with the King of Kings, so don't allow anything or anyone to make you even a split-second late.

-- 3. Engage in the worship service. True worship is not routine. It doesn't involve making a grocery list or checking emails. Intentionally keep your eyes and heart focused on worshipping holy God. It may help to sit near the front.

-- 4. Participate in every part of the worship service, with joy and enthusiasm. For a Christian, worship is no spectator sport!

Stand when it's time to stand. Worship by giving your tithe. Greet during greeting time. During Scripture reading, open your Bible, I-Pad or Bible app to follow along.

Sing every word of every song, with joy and enthusiasm, directly to God. There's no true worship in singing words with a mechanical, artificial, business-as-usual attitude. Off-key is fine; closed lips are not.

Listen to every word that's spoken. As announcements are made, ask God's blessings on those events. During baptism, celebrate with the angels.

Listen expectantly to every word of the sermon. Learn. Apply God's Word to your own life. Take sermon notes. Nod your head. Say "Amen." Demonstrate your interest in the sermon with body language.

-- 5. Eagerly anticipate life-changing decisions during the invitation time, praying fervently that God will change hearts and touch lives. Don't even think about gathering your belongings or slipping out early. Your pot roast must not distract your worship of God.

-- 6. Leave slowly and joyfully. A race to the exit seems to state, "I've put in my check-mark for God." Instead, linger a moment. Keep your mind on God. Smile at a child. Meet a guest. Encourage a fellow believer.

There's nothing humdrum about the priority of worship. And there's a huge bonus: That worshipful heart will carry over into our actions and service to God throughout the entire week.

"You must worship God in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).


Diana Davis is the author of "Fresh Ideas" and "Deacon Wives" (B&H Publishing) and wife of North American Mission Board Vice President for the South Region Steve Davis.

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