FIRST-PERSON: Sunday morning expectancy
PENSACOLA, Fla. (BP) -- 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 - the countdown on the screen ticked downward before the Sunday worship service began. I could sense the anticipation in the room.
Do you feel great eagerness as you look toward Sunday's worship? Whether you're a new Christian or a longtime Jesus-follower, a child or a senior adult, a leader or a participant, a few easy steps can help make Sunday worship a focal point of your week.
-- Anticipate Sunday worship. Throughout the week, think about the worship celebration. Chat with others about the joy of worshipping God. Invite guests. Look forward to seeing other Christians there. Help your children look forward to worship. "I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord'" (Psalm 122:1).
-- Prepare. Get plenty of rest on Saturday night. Plan breakfast, prepare clothing, gather Bibles and offerings ahead of time. Listen to Christian music en route. Pray for God's direction and blessing on your pastor, musicians and other leaders as they prepare. "Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your temple with deepest awe." (Psalm 5:7).
-- Be there. Can your pastor count on you? Attend worship faithfully. Carefully plan your personal, business and family schedules to prioritize Sunday worship. Have you ever thought, "No one will notice if I'm not there"? God notices. Be faithful. "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together...." (Hebrews 10:25).
-- Come joyfully. Genuinely enjoy Sunday worship. Smile. A scowl is inappropriate for this great day; let your face reflect joy. Hum a Scripture song. Help your family members catch the joy of Jesus by your attitude. "A glad heart makes a happy face" (Proverbs 15:13).
-- Arrive early. You certainly wouldn't arrive late for a meeting with the governor. Today's appointment with the Creator of the universe is much more important! A mad dash into worship isn't appropriate. Early arrival demonstrates awe for God. Visit with people as you enter -- those who are lonely, children, guests, fellow Christians. Settle your children, find your seat, pray for those around you, enjoy pre-service music and commune with God. "Zeal for your house consumes me" (Psalm 69:9).
-- Worship. Really worship. Worship isn't a spectator sport. Merely sitting in the building does not constitute worship. It's not about how "good" or "bad" the worship service is; it's about God receiving your worship. Be intensely aware of God's presence, His glory and majesty. As you genuinely worship, you won't be tempted to look at your watch or emails, gather your things, or slip out early.
Fully participate in every moment of the worship service. Keep your focus on the front, absorbing each word -- even announcements. Pray when it's time to pray. Give your offering as worship. Sing every word of every song directly to God.
During the sermon, allow God to speak to you. Open your Bible to the text, listen attentively and take notes. Pray fervently during the invitation time. Truly worship. "You must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).
Now the countdown has begun. The Lord's Day is approaching, and our great God is worthy of our true worship. Will you intentionally anticipate Sunday's worship service? 5 – 4 – 3 – 2.