It is an exciting thing to get ready Sunday morning, to prepare ourselves for the corporate worship of the Lord. It is exciting and a time of expectation as we prepare ourselves, both spiritually as well as physically. It is the physical things though that can distract us from our spiritual preparation, especially if you have children. It is not an easy thing to prepare breakfast, clean up children, prepare their Sunday clothes, tidy the house and then get yourself ready. By the time you are finished you really don't feel like going anywhere. If you are not careful you can arrive at church having forgotten why you came in the first place.
Above all else Sunday is about remembering who our God is. It's about coming in with a grateful heart and a desire to praise him for all of his goodness. It's about honouring him for his faithfulness to his many promises. I know we want to present ourselves in the best light possible but you need to remember you were already in his presence when you woke up this morning with bad hair, bad breath and looking like something the cat dragged in. You were in his presence when you lost your temper with your spouse and said those things that should not have been said. He already knows the best and worst of you and he always chooses to forget the worst and remember the best. That is reason enough to take a deep breath, look around and enjoy your preparation this morning.
The psalmist who wrote Psalm 128 said:
Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways. (v. 1)
That's what I am focusing on in my preparation this morning and I invite you to join me. This past week, have I shown my love and respect for Jesus by acknowledging his ways, spending my days with him, pursuing his goals instead of my own and simply worshipping him all day long? Or, have I been out of step, distracted, pursuing my own desires, not giving much thought to him except maybe at the end of the day with a quick prayer?
God is pleased when we treat our relationship with him with the highest respect born out of love. We want to please him; it is our greatest desire. Just as a child often seeks the approval of his parents so our greatest desire should be to love our Lord by obeying his commands; walking in his ways; not as we think it should be done but as he has instructed us it should be done. I am telling you, the blessings flow from obedience:
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your sons will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD. (vv. 2-4)
So many people suffer when there is no need to suffer. They put themselves through so much torment when the solution is at hand. Much of what we go through is born out of disobedience or a "forgetting" of God. When we set him aside and do our own thing we must understand that disaster is just around the corner. When we fall upon it we cry out to God, maybe even blame him, but he is there to cover us in mercy and grace and to set us on our feet again. Some of us are either slow learners or we are hard of hearing.
This is what I know, God has promised blessings when we are obedient to him. Jesus did not promise following him would be an easy thing and not every day would be problem free. In fact, he told us if we did it right the world would hate us but this does not mean he was saying that life would not be blessed. Just in this one psalm we see that God has promised we would eat the fruit of our labour and that our families would be blessed. Have you experienced that this week? Then you have much to praise him for.
I look at my week and I see the many challenges the Spirit has guided me through. He even moved a couple of mountains for me and responded to a number of my prayers. He has been very active with me this week and he has filled me with an abundance of peace, joy, contentment and love. I am a very blessed man with a heart filled with gratitude this morning. Knowing what he has done for me fills me with confidence that he will do the same today and tomorrow so I enter his courts with shouts of praise and thanksgiving, allowing everything else to fall away.
Do not dishonour our Father this morning by entering in half-heartedly, tired and frustrated. Enjoy your preparation. Laugh with your children. Appreciate your spouse. Hand over your worries and fears. Quiet your spirit and allow our Father to wrap his arms around his child who he takes so much pleasure in. Bless the Lord oh my soul. Bless him with thanksgiving!