Redimete Diem!

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of the time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15-16, ESV)

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The Issues and Elements of Worshipping God

Part 10 Ė The Word Proclaimed

 

            The heart of the service of worship is when the people, having gathered, are ready to hear the Word God proclaimed.  Actually, the message is just a continuation of the dialogue of the entire service between God and His people, but this is a part where the people are silent and wait to receive Godís instruction.

            What an absolutely daunting task this is!  Is it a high calling to proclaim Godís Word?  Absolutely.  But it does not make the preacher higher than anyone else.  As Richard Baxter said: ďI preach as a dying man to dying men.Ē

            Preaching truly done is, by definition, a supernatural act.  I know that from a very personal standpoint.  As an individual, my personality tends to be withdrawn Ė I do not like being in front of people if I think they are all just looking at me.  But when I step up to the pulpit I have the strength of conviction to know that God has called me to deliver His message to the people.  And if I do my job correctly, I personally become less and less a factor in the worship equation.  Often when I step down at the end of the service and I hear impressions my words made upon others, I have a distinct sense of distance Ė I honestly cannot connect what has happened in their hearts with anything I myself have done.  It truly is only of God.

            Because it is such a supernatural act to preach, I feel moved and compelled to prepare myself for it as best I can.  Iíve heard some preachers use the Holy Spiritís presence as an excuse not to seriously prepare.  If that was true, ministers would be absolutely unnecessary to God and would be among the laziest people on earth.  (Maybe thatís where the stereotype came from!)  No, I may be only a tool in Godís hands but it is up to me to be best tool I can be.  That involves prayerful preparation and study in both the long term as well as in the short term.  I read and research in general to prepare myself overall, and wrestle with the specifics that are involved with each Lordís Day.

            And when that day comes I give myself to the Lord and desire nothing but His authority through the Word and by the Spirit to speak to the blessing and edification of His people and to the convicting of souls of any and all hardened hearts.

            But also, because it is a supernatural act, preaching should be received with as much effort as it is given.  Are you not called to take these things as seriously as I do?  These things should always be kept in your mind:

  •         Attendance is really not an option.  It is God himself who calls you into His presence.  And there is no better comfort and blessing to your soul than to meet with Him on the regular basis that He prescribes every Lordís Day.  I am jealous over the preciousness of this time for here alone I can speak to everyone Ė young and old, male and female, and as a community we grow together.  It isnít simply that you have to ďgo to churchĒ Ė here is where you belong, here is where you need to be.
     

  •         Preparation for blessing and challenge is important.  We are so distracted and self-centered that we are always tempted to rob from God what is His.  And on the Lordís Day, our attention belongs to Him.  To give our teachers our best when in school, to give our employers the best at work, we make sure our arrangements and details are made ahead of time and we get enough sleep the night before.  And then we follow a routine in the morning that helps us through the day.  We also need those things in order to be the most prepared for hearing the Word of God in worship.  Staying out late Saturday night makes you want to sleep in on Sunday morning.  Having to get up early when youíre tired makes you grumpy and resistant to spiritual things.  And when we are resistant, the preaching is always ďlong and boringĒ.  Lack of proper preparation is our fault.  But we are also prone to distraction.  And our world is more than eager to provide, even demand from us all kinds of distractions on the Lordís Day.  Determine and decide that you will say ďnoĒ to the world, simply on the basis that you have given this day away already Ė to the Lord your God.  Begin the Lordís Day quietly, with a prayerful spirit already worshipping God.  Let the distractions, entertainments and everyday services of the world wait.  Listen to some music that focuses your mind and heart.  Then, come with joy to the gathering of Godís people.
     

  •         And then, expect the supernatural to happen.  The God of the ages, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of the Apostles, the God who used these and other foolish and naÔve servants, and who built His Church with the likes of such men, that same God will take one more foolish, stuttering tool and once again speak faithfully to you, His people.

David G. Barker, 2003

 

David G. Barker
david.barker@ncpres.org