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Posts Tagged ‘expectation’

We’ve been talking about worship for several weeks now, and I want to bring this series of teaching to a close today by talking about keys to powerful worship.

When we gather on Sundays for worship, as I have said, we are coming into God’s presence together. I have made a lot about the image of God as a King and the protocol of how to honor a king because what we are really doing as a group is coming into the throne room of God together.

Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Revelation 4 gives us one picture of God’s throne room, full of majesty and power, with Jesus seated at his right hand.

Our own order of service is based on this kingly analogy.

  • we offer praise to the King
  • we offer up our prayers/requests
  • we listen to what the King has to say to us

So we come to meet God, our king, but there are lots of things that can stand in the way of truly meeting with God, so that God does not receive our worship and we don’t, as Hebrews says, receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

So let’s talk about 5 keys to powerful worship. This is teaching that will help us to truly enter in and encounter our king, our God and our Father.

1. Deal with sin in your life

Our sin separates us from God. Isaiah 59:2 says, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”

When you try to come before God with open, willful sin in your life, you won’t have success. It’s like someone who is living in open rebellion against their king who wants to come before the king and ask for a favor!

Rather, as James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Part of our drawing near is that we get rid of our sin through repentance and forgiveness. This is how we are cleansed and purified. And then the promise is, “God will draw near to you.”

If you want to enter God’s presence, deal with your sin.

2. Deal with broken relationships

We worship together as a community. We are the body of Christ; we pray, “Our Father;” we come before God together. And so when our relationships are broken, it affects our worship to God.

Jesus talks about this in a couple of places. He teaches us that if you have offended someone seek to make it right.

“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:23-24. The context here is that you have said angry words to a brother or sister, so that they have something against you. This is such an important issue that you are to leave off worship to make it right.

Jesus also taught that if you have been offended and the person seeks to make it right, forgive them

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:14-15. If you don’t forgive, you will be separated from God.

Now it may well be you have done all you can do to be at peace with others as Paul talks about in Romans 12:18 – “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Some people just don’t want peace and you can’t control that. But if there is brokenness and you are the one refusing to live in peace with a sister or brother,  this will affect your ability to enter into God’s presence. Just as with #1, there is separation, damaged and broken relationship with God.

So work toward peace with your sisters and brothers so that we can all enter before God and be pleasing to him.

3. Come ready to worship

Come having already drawn near to God during the week in your private times of worship:

  • be prayed up
  • spiritually alive
  • alert
  • ready to go

The assumption is that you are worshipping privately during the week.

  • Luke 18:1 – we “ought always to pray”
  • Ephesians 5:20 – “giving thanks always”
  • Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”

We ought to be doing these things always, not just on Sundays or during a crisis. If your spiritual life depends on Sunday you are in trouble! Your spiritual life will be weak.

Think about it – how would your physical health be if you ate once a week? It wouldn’t matter how much you got – it isn’t good for you.

Come ready to worship so that you can enter right in.

4. Take responsibility for encountering God

Take initiative. You can’t sit back and wait for someone to inspire you to encounter God. You can’t say the music wasn’t good, it’s not the style I like, or the prayer time was too long, or there was a child next to me that was loud, or the sermon was boring.

You are responsible for your encounter with God! No one else is. Participate! Worship is participatory. Don’t be passive!

  • Bring a gift and offer it to God
  • Offer your prayers
  • Listen to God’s word

Be determined to meet God in all these ways. Be like blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:47 – “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And though many rebuked him, telling him to be silent, he cried out all the more. And Jesus answered him.

Be focused, don’t give in to distractions and be determined to encounter God.

5. Have an attitude of expectation

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” As God said to Israel in Deuteronomy 4:29, If “you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

These are great promises that show us that if we truly seek God, God will come and bless us.

We are indeed to expect that when we seek God, we will find God in powerful ways.

The truth is, we often don’t expect much. And if we don’t expect much we limit God.

  • If we come to church – just to go through the routine
  • If we come to church and expect to be bored
  • If we come to church and feel fortunate to get something out of it

Besides the fact that these tend to be self-fulfilling prophesies, we are limiting God. With such little faith how could God possibly bless you!

Remember Jesus trying to minister the power of God in his home town of Nazareth in Mark 6:1-6? They had low expectations and little faith. Hey we know Jesus, he’s not anyone special! And Mark 6:5-6 says, “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.”

We limit God through our unbelief. So come ready to meet with God and expect that it will happen! God will not disappoint.

So here are five keys to help us to encounter God as we gather together on Sundays.

May God help us all to live them out and to meet God each time we gather.

William Higgins

 

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