How to Prepare for the Lord’s Day

15 02 2013

Puritan-Prayer_church

Because of the glorious resurrection of Jesus on the “first day of the week”, early Christians began gathering corporately on Sundays (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2).  In the New Testament Sunday is referred to as the “Lord’s Day” and I’d like to take a few moments and explore how we can better prepare ourselves for the weekly corporate gathering of the local church.This post assumes a few things.  It assumes that you agree with the New Testament example and mandate to gather regularly with the local church to worship God.  It assumes that you understand the Christian “Lord’s Day” is not the exact same thing as the Old Testament Sabbath. Finally, it assumes that you understand that the Lord’s Day is something that is a priority for the Christian.

How can we better prepare our hearts for gathering together with God’s people to worship? I’d like to explain that by going over specifically how the folks at First Baptist Oppelo can prepare to worship together this Sunday, February 17th, 2013.  Hopefully you’ll find these suggestions practical for your own life.

First, it will helpful to look at this Sunday’s Bulletin: February 17th, 2013 Bulletin

Know the Songs:

You’ll notice we have listed the songs we are singing Sunday.  Have you considred looking up those songs, reading over them, reflecting on their meaning and purpose?  Perhaps you could even sing them together as a family sometime before Sunday.  The lyrics to each of these songs can be found here:

Knowing the songs before Sunday will help you to sing well and worship well understanding what the song is about and knowing what the words are conveying.  Perhaps you can’t access your church’s bulletin online.  You could try talking to your church’s worship leader and see if you could get a copy of the songs for Sunday early.  Make this easy on him! Maybe you could meet him somewhere every Thursday afternoon, etc.

Pray for your music and worship leader:

Maybe you can’t get access to the songs that will be sang Sunday. Maybe the worship leader doesn’t even know what the songs are going to be until Sunday morning!  Well, you can still pray for your church’s singing.  Spend some time meditating over Colossians 3:16 to see the important role singing plays in your church.  Take some time during the week to pray for the congregational singing. Pray that the people would sing to worship the One True God and not worship a particular style of music.  Pray also for your worship leader. Pray that he would lead the people to worship together in spirit and truth.  Pray that he would pick out songs that are God and Gospel-Centered (see here for more).

Meditate on the sermon text:

This may be harder for some depending on your pastor’s preaching habits. Our pastor does not necessarily publish what his next text will be but going through the book of Colossians our people know he finished with Col. 1:29 last Sunday and that he will pick up with Colossians 2:1-? this week.  If you attend Oppelo, then you know that you can begin digging into Colossians 2.  You can begin meditating on God’s truth revealed in this chapter.  This will prepare your heart to get the most out of Sunday’s message. If you don’t know what your Pastor’s text will be for the coming Sunday, you could ask him.  Pray through the text and pray that the people’s hearts will be saturated with the Word of God. Pray that the Holy Spirit would do His work in His people’s lives, breaking them, encouraging them, sustaining them, pointing them to Christ, etc.  Pray for the lost that may be attending your church and that through this week’s passage God will reveal to them their great need for Christ and lead them to repent and believe the Gospel.

Pray for your pastor:

Your pastor needs your prayers! Not long ago Kevin Deyoung wrote a great post about this here. Pray that your pastor would have ample time to spend in prayer and preparation for the sermon.  Pray that your pastor would medidate on the passage he is prepearing to preach and that God would reveal the truth of the passage and your pastor’s need for it first before he thinks about preaching it to the people.  Pray that your pastor would be clear on the Gospel and point to Christ, no matter what section of Scripture he is preaching from.  Pray that your pastor would feel his great inadequacy for the task at hand but also that he would feel encouragment from the Holy Spirit that he is empowered by God Himslef to fulfill this task.

Your pastor may need encouragment from you to keep preaching the Gospel faithfully no matter the response from the people.  There may also be some tangible things you could do to help ensure your pastor has enough time to pray and prepare for Sunday’s sermon. Maybe you could print the bulletins this week? Make a visit for him? Take up some of the other duties that distract from preparation for Sunday?

Guard Saturday Night:

Don’t stay out late on Saturday night.  Inevitably this may happen from time to time but don’t make it a habit.  Being well rested to gather with God’s people is important.  How many times have you woke up late on a Sunday morning only to fight with your spouse, or kids, rushed hurridly off to church, only to feel tired and irritable the whole morning.  God is not honored in that.  We should desire gathering with God’s people (more here)! So, plan late outings for Friday, or a different night of the week.

Wake up early Sunday:

I’m not saying you have to wake up at 5am or anything.  I’m just saying wake up early enough that you have time to pray, read the Word, and prepare yourself for Sunday morning. This may just mean setting the alarm an extra 30 minutes early.  If we wake up on Sunday at the last possible second and then rush around to get ready, are we really ready once we enter the place of worship to meet with God?

Schedule your week around the Lord’s Day not the Lord’s Day around your week:

Don’t leave stuff undone for Sunday.  Clean, mow, wash the car, etc. on other days of the week instead of putting them off until Sunday.  Your mind won’t be so anxious to rush out the door Sunday morning if you’ve prepared well throughout the week, setting aside Sunday for the priority of corporate worship.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25





Why preach through entire books of the Bible?

16 07 2012

Just some Monday afternoon thoughts on why Pastors should preach through books of the Bible:

1. It’s how we operate with all forms of communication.  You don’t get a letter from someone and just read the middle paragraph and think you have a good grasp on the letter. Yes we are in the “digital” age where we just like to consume bits and pieces of communication at a time but we also are unable to communicate properly without context.  It would be odd to pick up a book, randomly go to page 142 and read a sentence and actually believe you could understand all that was behind that particular sentence.

2. It’s how the Bible was meant to be read.  Let’s say you disagree with #1 and you say “Well, I grab books and only read the important sections and then toss ’em.”  I would say to you, fine, but the Biblical authors wrote with the intention of having their work read in its entirety.  (example, Col. 4:16)  Moses did not write in hopes that someone would read 5 chapters from the Pentateuch.  He wrote with the intention that all 5 books would be read and studied.  If this is how the Bible is meant to be read, then why not teach your people this by modeling it through your sermons?

3. It’s a testimony to belief in the sufficiency of Scripture.  Is Scripture sufficient? Does it contain everything we need for salvation, knowing God, obedience to Him, understanding His will?  If it is sufficient, then we want to know all of it, not just the parts that we believe are important and skip out on the rest.  Does man live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God or not (Deut. 8:3)?  Scripture interprets Scripture.  Therefore, we need to let the Bible itself speak on what it is that we need to know about God and man.

4. It allows you to cover the whole counsel of God’s Word.  Related to the above point, preaching through books allows you (andforcesyou!) to cover all that the Bible says; even things that are controversial.  You can’t dance around Jesus’ teaching on divorce, or repentance, or conversion for example if you are preaching verse by verse through Matthew.  It also keeps the Pastor from just hounding away on his favorite topics or soap boxes.

5.  It’s what your people want need.  I have heard and do hear complaints from time to time from lay persons about Pastors preaching through books of the Bible. But, if the above points are true, then if you’re a pastor, this is what your people need.  And I believe this is what mature Christians want.  Why? Because our desire as Christians is more of Christ.  What better way to give your people more of Christ than preaching His own very Word in its fullness?

6. It allows the Pastor and the people to know what’s coming.  You don’t have to scramble Monday mornings to find what to preach on.  Your people can read, reflect, meditate, pray about, and discuss with family members the next set of verses that are going to be covered.  This will help congregations master certain books of the Bible which will only help them to master other Books of the Bible when studying on their own.  If done properly and consistently it teaches sound hermeneutics without ever having to say the word “hermeneutics” from the pulpit!

7. The benefits far outweigh the “cons.”  Yes, you must be disciplined in preaching through books because each sermon must be in context while at the same time able to stand on its own.  Also, you should be flexible because there may be local or global events that occur (good things, bad things, ugly things) that your people must hear a Word from God on and it may not match up well with your specific text (although sometimes it may).  However, I believe God will bless Pastors who are resolved to preach expository sermons through books of the Bible as the main dose of their preaching simply because this is how God’s Word was meant to be preached to His people (see above statements!).