We had a great day in worship and in the Word yesterday, although I think it could have been better. I believe we could have gone much deeper in worship if we had only concentrated more on Jesus the week before. Often we come into corporate worship unprepared, not really having taken the time to consider all the goodness of God. Worship is simply an expression of our thankfulness for God; not necessarily what he has done but who he is, which defines what he does. Unfortunately there are some days that corporate worship is more like a chore to us, an obligation, something we need to bite the bullet and get it done.
The thing is, when we stand in the light of the Lord everything is revealed. I realize that we are always in the presence of the Lord as he dwells in us, but there is something uniquely special about the times we set aside to just concentrate on him. The thing is, instead of fighting against those things that play on our heart and mind when we desire to focus on Jesus, we should drag them into the light and let them be exposed. They are the things, the reality of our lives, our daily burdens, worries and fears that God wants to help us with. Instead we try to set them aside while we struggle to think of the good things God has done for us. Stupid! (it speak to myself) Those things we are trying to ignore are the good things he wants to do for us.
In writing to Timothy Paul was expressing some of his desires which probably arose from problems he had seen in worship in many places. A couple of those things were rooted in a lack of authenticity before God:
I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. (1 Timothy 2:8)
I want you to reflect for a moment on the root of things such as anger and disputes. Obviously we are not talking about righteous anger, when we feel angry toward injustice and wrongs done to other people. This is more the animal anger that comes from the weakness of our flesh. It is often caused when we feel wounded by others or when others come against us. Disputes often arise from the attitude that what we want is more important than what someone else wants. It comes from disagreements. These things are from our old nature and should have no part with us. Terrible words often flow unchecked from a heart of emotion that burns as hot as a furnace. Paul expresses his desire that such people would take it to the Lord instead of taking it out on each other.
The problem comes from us not having a real relationship with the Lord. It is like a child avoiding the advice of his father because he knows exactly what his father will say, which would be contrary to what he wants. We can't get to the deep places with God unless we are willing to be real with him and allow him to teach us and change us even when our flesh will fight us on it. Our desire should not be to be proven right but instead to live God's perfect will. This requires us to trust him.
We often put things off to deal with until Sunday so when we come in to worship we are in the worst condition possible to be thankful. Our living takes place during the week and that's where we need to be keeping it real with Jesus, bringing all the ugly stuff in our life into the light. We don't wait to confess our sins until Sunday, we do it as the conviction comes on us; in the workplace, in our homes, at sporting events, at the gym, wherever it is. In that moment we are able to draw close to God, bring the ugliness into the light and he will help us deal with it. When Sunday rolls along we have a heart overflowing with thankfulness for the great things Jesus has done with us all week long.
Sunday should not be reserved for dealing with all the ugliness of the week. If we come in that condition then bad things can happen. We will be filled with anger so that every little fault of every person will get on our nerves. We will be argumentative and, as my mother says, down right ugly. We will end up dealing with these things in us instead of worshiping in thanksgiving. But if we have kept it real all week we will lift up holy hands in prayer, giving thanks and be taken to a deeper place with our God. Do not be afraid to keep it real with Jesus every day so that your worship will come from thanksgiving and your time there will be all that much sweeter.