Seek First the Kingdom

As you begin the new year, 2016 AD, it’s good to look back and consider the past year, what you’ve done, how God has blessed you, and what to ask Him for and how to serve Him in the new year.

This can be counterproductive endeavor, like asking a kid to list all the things he wants for Christmas next year based on all the things he didn’t get this year. But it doesn’t have to be like that, and it won’t if we dedicate ourselves first to the Lord, and specifically to worshiping Him.

Worship is work. It goes against the casual culture of the church today to say so. Church services have been shaped by a consumer mentality. Rather than providing something to sing to God, the music has become something to listen to, to be performed for you by the band rather than by you to the Lord. Psalm 96:1-2: “Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.” As a congregation we want to learn new songs and plan to in 2016. Dedicate yourself to learning these beautiful and strange songs that require a little bit of work. But when you invest yourself, it’s worth it—God is glorified, and you end up with the joy of Psalms and hymns in your heart. We’re thankful that Josh Penner will be leading our musicians in this new year, and he is available to help you learn the music.

Prayer is also work. It becomes light and easy once you practice, but it takes practice. Whose prayer life ever fell into their lap? As believers our goal is not to be long, thinking we’re heard for our many words, but consistent, as Jesus teaches. The prayers we pray here in worship are personal and specific—God can answer them yes or no. Invest yourself in worshiping God with His people and add these prayers to yours. Share prayer requests and ask others to pray for you.

It also takes work to listen and interact with the Word preached. We have a pulpit in the middle here as Protestants give the Word its central place. As it is proclaimed, it shapes and changes hearts. The messages are long, and there are a lot of little people in here who are hearing. It takes time to teach them how to worship, which is itself a most important act of worship. Keep up that good work, and use the nursery next door as you need to as a training ground to be in here. Make sure what is preached lines up with the Word.

Worship is blessed work. This is the hour and a half God asks for. Giving it means priority in our hearts which takes priority in our schedules. It means preparation the night before and in the morning to be ready. It means preparing emotionally to give ourselves to the Lord and each other.

As you look to the new year, seek first God’s kingdom first, and let Him add everything else to you.

Ps. 96:7-9: “Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples, Give to the Lord glory and strength. 8 Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. 9 Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.”

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