Published on Nov 20th, 2013 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0


When I was growing up and watching sports, one of the most interesting things to see was when football players would report to training camp.  Many of them had let themselves go physically over the football break and when you watched them come to camp and saw them wheezing after one play you wondered how these guys were considered athletes.  Then in a few weeks you saw them in shape and ready to play and you realized, once again, that you could never do what they did.  Now-a-days, football is a year round profession and the players are expected to come into camp in shape and prepped for the season.  Training camp is all about timing and execution and not so much about getting into shape.

This week at our church we are triple teaming a message.  Three of us have broken up Psalm 100 and are going to be sharing from the Word of God.  My verse is, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!  Give thanks to him; bless his name!”  Psalm 100:4 The Psalmist is exhorting the children of Israel to come into the gates of the temple with thanksgiving and into the courts of the temple with praise.  I was struck by this.  He was giving the people a responsibility.  Don’t just show up to Temple and then give thanks to God.  Come to Temple prepped.  Come to Temple all ready giving thanks and praise and then corporately come together and do the same.  Then you will be blessed (happy) in his name.  Too often we have the mentality of the old football players.  When I am off church time, when I am not in my personal devotions, I concentrate on other things.  When I come to worship, either personally or corporately, then I give thanks and praise.  The Psalmist does not allow for that.  The Psalmist says to come to meet with God all ready giving thanks and praise.

Do you understand what that will do to the services of your church?  If I come all ready giving thanks to God for the new life I have in Christ.  If I am all ready filled with praise because I once was lost but now I am found then that church service (even that time of personal devotions) will be an opportunity to allow what is inside of me to be displayed to your God publicly.  That service, no matter what kind of music, no matter what is preached on, no matter who sings special music, no matter how long or short, no matter… if the Lord Jesus is lifted up and the Word of God is central…that service will be a joy and beauty to you because you have come prepped and ready.  The name of God will be blessed.

Too often we come to church with an attitude of neutrality.  We simply just show up.  Maybe we have expectations of what might happen (if the music is right, if the people don’t mess up, if the pastor is “on”, if the temperature is right, if so and so does not show up) but most often we simply just show up.  We sit down and without saying it, we expect those leading the service to have picked songs, to say the right thing, and the preacher to preach in a way that will move our hearts from the cares of our life long enough so that we may leave the service giving thanks and praise. We must realize the unrealistic burden that puts on those called by God to minister in that service. You are asking them to do what only you and God can do.  They are called to do their best and to work hard to glorify God and to follow the leading of the service.  We are called to come prepped with thanksgiving and praise.

I haven’t even mentioned the times when we come to worship with a bad attitude due to some hurt or some issue with those in the church.  That kind of spirit weighs down our hearts so much that often all we can see are more and more disheartening things.

So let me encourage you, no exhort you, today.  Do some prep work before you come to worship the Lord either personally or corporately.  Preach the gospel to yourself.  Give thanks to God for his mighty work in your life.  Keep exploring the truths of the Word of God and keep seeking evidences of the work of God in your life so that you continually give thanks to Him and your life is full of praise.  Then before you enter your church or your place of personal worship, stop and give him thanks – out loud or in your heart.  Then as you enter your place of worship – stop – give him praise.  Then when the service starts or you begin your Bible study and prayer…you will be prepped and ready to lift up his name.  You will be amazed as to how even the least “talented” of churches becomes a little taste of heaven.

I used to smirk at some people who seemed to come away from any church service praising God about how great the music was and how God spoke to them through the preaching.  I would think, how in the world did you think that was good?  I even, at times, asked them about what they saw good in that sermon or in that music.  They would share where they saw the work of God.  I, at times, in my arrogance and sin, would smirk that anyone could preach anything and sing anything and these people would come out praising God.  I almost dismissed their attitude as simple minded.  Shame on me.  They came with a heart full of thanksgiving and praise.  I came expecting others to produce in me what only I alone with God could produce in my heart.  Normally I walked away judgmental and less than joyful.  I have learned to admire and learn from those people.  How about you?

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