Getting Ready For Sunday: How to Prepare for Worship at Uptown, October 12, 2014

I have to admit that I am a big sports fan, sometimes to the point of fanaticism or should I say idolatry. Ever since I became a Christian my emotional investment and heart motivation for sports and the teams that I like to follow has been brought to light. At times it is discouraging to see just how much my heart can be wrapped up in sports. There are many observations I have made about my own heart and those around me, both Christians and non-Christians. One striking observation is noticing how people can ‘sing’ the praises of various sports teams. The more I become aware of it the more I see how it seems to be a form of worship. If one my teams is doing well I will tell everyone about it. I will proclaim the play of the quarterback or how well the team works as a unit. As I talk about the team I start to get even more excited. I also talk about these teams when they do not do well. I will let people know how bad the team is this year and how they could improve. Whether my teams are up or down I consider myself a true fan because I am consistent in my following of the team. It is hard to write about how my heart operates with an idol, but i’ve shared it because I believe it is a glimpse into how God has made us. 

We are worshipping creatures and because of the fall we have turned to false gods to worship. When God saves us He saves us from false worship to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Worship happens in the heart and one way that shows forth is how and what we praise with our mouths. In the case of sports I can talk and get excited consistently about the teams that I like to follow, but can I do the same with God? It may not be sports for you. Maybe it is shopping or art or food. Idolatry turns good things into best things. Any good thing can be turned into an idol. God wants all of us in our worship and He wants us to worship Him alone. We can look to what we praise with our mouth to know what we worship with our heart. One helpful exercise is to watch yourself throughout the week or even this weekend and see what you praise and where this praise takes your heart. 

The other weekend my wife and I went to a game where my team got throttled. We both left exhausted and the next morning I was still tired. I felt as though I had nothing left in the tank to give God in worship. I can trace this back though to what I praised and worshipped throughout the prior week. Before the game on saturday I had read up on the team and talked to others about how excited I was about the game and what I expected to happen. When we arrived on Saturday I got even more excited seeing where we would watch the team play. This worship or idolatry did not happen in an instance instead it was a gradual rhythm build up throughout the week. In the end this kind of worship left me tired and dead instead of fulfilled and energized. This is what false gods do to you. They promise something they can never deliver. I will qualify all of this by saying that I do not think sports are evil in themselves and even having a favorite sports team that you follow is not bad, but it is the posture of your heart in how you relate to the things that God gives us that our good and how we relate to God. We are called to examine our hearts to see what is the priority. If God is not our priority He calls us to repent and to turn to Him giving Him the worship and praise that He alone deserves. 

THE WORD

Scripture: Ezra 3:1-13
Sermon: Offering the Sacrifice of Praise

SONGS

All People That On Earth Do Dwell
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Forever (Chris Tomlin)
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Kind and Merciful God  (arr. J.D. Goodwyne)
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All I Have is Yours (arr. Sojourn Music)
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Song of Preparation: I Will Offer Up My Life  (arr. Matt Redman)
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Song of Response: You’re Worthy Of My Praise (arr. David Ruis)
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