Summary: To examine how we are prepare ourselves to worship God
A Call to Worship
Primary Purpose: To consider how we must prepare ourselves to meet with God
If I asked you What is worship? I wonder what you would say. Would you mention a specific time or place? Would you mention a particular part of the services that we have? Today, in our text we are going to finally look at Israel at the base of the mountain of God preparing themselves to meet with God. (Read Exodus 19:3-19)
A parable is told of a community of ducks waddling off to duck church one Sunday to hear their duck preacher. After they waddled into the duck sanctuary, the service began and the duck preacher spoke eloquently of how God had given the ducks wings with which to fly.
He pounded the pulpit with his beak and said,
With these wings, there is nowhere we ducks can not go!
There is no God-given task we ducks cannot accomplish!
With these wings we no longer need walk through life.
We can soar high in the sky!
Shouts of Amen!¨ were quacked throughout the duck congregation.
The duck preacher concluded his message by exclaiming,
With our wings we can fly through life!
WE......CAN.....FLY!!!!¨ More ducks quacked out loud AMENS! in response.
Every duck loved the service.
In fact all the ducks that were present commented on what a wonderfully convicting message they had heard from their duck preacher....
and then they left the church and waddled all the way home.
Too often We waddle away from worship
the same way we waddled in....
Unchanged. (contributed by George Rennau)
One of the first things that I want to mention about worship from this passage is that worship is meant to be a life changing experience. It is about meeting with God. It is about focusing on God. It is meant in some ways to change us merely by being in His presence and understanding who He is and what He is about. But, too many time we leave the time of worship much like the ducks in this story did-unchanged.
As the people prepare themselves for three days to meet with God on the mountain you see God tell them to consecrate themselves. The word consecrate in the Hebrew is the word Qadash (kaw-dash’) it means to be sanctified, prepare, dedicate, be separate. There was a period where they were to set themselves apart and to wash their clothing and to prepare themselves to meet with God.
In many ways this is still necessary today. We don’t necessarily need to wash our clothing, but we need to prepare our hearts and minds to meet with God. This involves confession and repentance of sins. This means we examine our hearts to make sure as far as we know that we are right with God and with others. This is part of what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:23-24 when he said, “If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” We need to examine our hearts as we come near to worship God and ask ourselves are we truly right with God and others? Have I not forgiven someone? Is there bitterness or anger in my heart? Is there something I need to ask forgiveness for? We must search our hearts.
This is why I usually spend the first few minutes of each prayer time in my personal life confessing sin and examining my heart. I realize that my sin is first an offense to God. In Psalm 24:3-4 David asks “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn deceitfully.
We need to realize that we don’t usually walk into church on Sunday morning. We might be thinking of what we will do after the service or the schedule for the coming week or the argument we had driving to church. For an example, I think of when my sister and me were children. We would fight all the way to church about anything and everything. Then we would get out of the car and act as if nothing happened once we got to church. But, well into Sunday School I was still thinking about the conversation that took place on the way to church. So, we need to realize that we must prepare ourselves for worship.
The second thing that we should realize when we come before the Lord is how awesome a God we serve. When the people came to stand before God on this day they saw a thick cloud and fire and the “whole mountain quaked violently.” You might wonder at why this is. Why God displayed such power to His people. It isn’t because he was mad at them. But, it is to instill in them a sense of how awesome and holy God is. He wanted them to understand how powerful He is. Sometimes we can be guilty of treating God like another person or a friend. He is a friend, but He is much more. We need to always maintain a holy reverence for God. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the Almighty One who lives forever, the great “I am”. He is not someone who comes to us on the bases of need or want.