WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE?
The “amen” has been said and the services have been let out. As you make your way to the door, talking to people along the way, you begin to reflect upon that morning’s worship service. This particular worship service seemed much more powerful to you than the last few. It is not that you do not want every service to have the same impact, but for some reason there are some worship services that seem to be “just another service,” while others leave you in awe of the power of the Lord and what He has done for you. If you are like I am you have felt this and have wondered what it is that makes the difference.
The Location of Our Hearts: Sometimes it is real hard to make the transition between our secular lives and getting ready to worship God, however, when we assemble to worship God we must set aside our secular worries and focus on worshipping the Lord. We do not have to be focused on the “cares of the world” during worship to have a misplaced heart. It is possible to go through the motions of worship and yet the heart not be in it because our worship has simply become habitual. How can someone expect to get the most out of the worship service if their heart is not even in what they are doing? Quoting from Isaiah, Jesus said, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Mk. 7:6). While this is specifically dealing with their binding the traditions of men, the application can be made to attempting to worship God while your heart is focused elsewhere. David exhibited the proper attitude by saying, “Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart. In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation” (Psa. 111:1). There are many things you can do to help get your heart in the right place: Sit down five minutes before services start and meditate on the greatness of God, start preparing for worship services the night before, or read a passage or two from the book of Psalms that deal with worship.
The Realization Of Whom The Focus Of Our Worship Is: Have you ever stopped and spent time contemplating about the focus of our worship and the God whose presence we are in? I am afraid that we may not spend enough time doing just this. In picturing those that surround the throne of God John writes, “... They do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come...’ ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created’” (Rev. 4:8-11). When we worship God we need to realize that He is not some distant being, but rather is in our midst. After reflecting upon the greatness of God, David wrote, “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.” If the greatness of God does not have awesome impact on us I do not know what will!
Whole-Hearted Participation: John T. Lewis is quoted as having often said, “The ones who say they didn’t get much out of the worship service must not have brought their bucket.” Sometimes when it seems we do not get as much out of a service or feel it lacked the impact of other services, it may be because we did not bring as much to the service. Usually, the times we get the most out of the services are the times when we pray with more focus, listen more attentively, and sing out to the best of our ability and with all our might. Our worship is a sacrifice and when we do not give our best we are offering up a “sick” sacrifice. Malachi wrote, “When you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” (Mal. 1:8). We also must keep in mind that part of our coming together is also to edify one another, Col. 3:16 says, “...teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” If we are not giving our best in worship how can we be effectively doing this?
These are just a few of the things that can have an influence on the impact of the worship service. While these are focused on individuals; however, since the church is made up of individuals, these things can also affect the assembly as a whole. If every person was doing their best in each of these areas, the group as a whole would experience a worship that would leave it thinking, “What a mighty God we serve!” ----Aaron Beard via Gospel Power, Vol. 10, No. 35, August 31, 2003
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