Preparing for Worship – May 17

from Mark Hoffman

I will extol you, my God and King, 

and bless your name forever and ever. 

Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. 

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,

and his greatness is unsearchable.

This is how David begins his song of praise in Psalm 145.  As we gather for worship this week, it is this psalm that calls us into the presence of our great God to praise Him for who He is and all that He has done for us in Christ. This call to worship from the word of God inclines our hearts to Him and leads us to sing Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.

In the last few weeks, we have heard from Galatians 5 that we have been set free from sin and called to live the life God desires for us by walking and keeping in step with His Spirit. As we hear this truth from Scripture again this week, we will respond through prayer and by singing Hallelujah to My King and By Our Love.  

Following our Fellowship Greeting, our regular time of Giving and Children’s Church dismissal (all children ages 4yrs through 4th grade are invited to attend) Pastor Andrew will continue his Freedom In Christ series with a message from Galatians 6:1-10.

In this passage of Scripture we are all called to have humility before one another, and to never grow weary of doing good to everyone, especially within the household of faith. It is in response to God’s call for us that we again sing By Our Love.  

Prayerfully reflect on the Scriptures and songs above as you prepare your heart and mind for gathered worship this week. See you on Sunday!

Mark


Preparing for Worship – May 11

from Mark Hoffman
 

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.

Psalm 5:7


There is so much wonderful truth that overflows from that single verse of Scripture! God’s love is abundant. It is uncontainable, never-ending, and exceedingly more than we could ever want or need. God’s love is steadfast. It is resolute, persistent and eternally unwavering. And it is through God’s love – which He has graciously shown to us in Christ Jesus – that we are invited to enter His presence to worship Him.
This week in our worship, we begin in praise of God for the abundance of His steadfast love toward us.  We will proclaim God’s love with readings from the Psalms and respond to the truth of Scripture singing One Thing Remains, And Can It Be and Your Love Defends Me.
During our regular time of Giving and Children’s Church dismissal (all children ages 4yrs through 4th grade are invited to attend) we want to wish all of our moms a happy and blessed Mother’s Day!


Pastor Andrew will then continue his Freedom In Christ series with a message from Galatians 5:16-26.  “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” This is God’s call to us. Our closing response is to offer up the song Holy Spirit as a corporate prayer, asking that we, as individuals and as a church, would by guided in our actions and attitudes by the Holy Spirit of God each and every day… for His glory.

 

Reflect on the songs and Scriptures above as you prepare your heart and mind for worship on Sunday. Think about God’s boundless love for you… The God of the universe created you, He died for you, He saved you, and He dwells within you. He has taken every initiative to show his infinite love to us! May we respond in lives of worship…


That’s my desire for this blog! I really do want Preparing for Worship to be a helpful tool in building up lives of worship among the people of our fellowship and helping us all to prepare for gathered worship on Sunday.  Since you’re reading this, I’m hoping that means that you are finding this to be a useful resource to that end. Since our church communication is moving away from the weekly “Connection Point” email, here’s how to find Preparing for Worship moving forward:

One way is to simply bookmark the link to this blog, you’ll always find the most recent blog post there on the website. You’ll also be able to find Preparing for Worship posted at the end of the week on our Meadows Christian Fellowship Facebook page here.


One last thing… will you tell someone else in our church about Preparing for Worship? Share the link or the Facebook post with a friend and simply let them know how it helps you prepare for worship on Sunday. I truly believe that if we are all prepared in heart and mind to come before the Lord together, our times of worship will be richer, our fellowship will be built up, and God will be glorified.


Thanks… and see you on Sunday!


Mark



Preparing for Worship – May 4

from Mark Hoffman

Last week, guest preacher Josh Woodruff brought us bad news, good news and great news from Galatians chapter 4. The bad news is that, apart from Christ, we are enslaved to the law and by that very same law we are condemned as sinners. But the good news is that Jesus Christ came to set us free from this bondage, and the great news is that through faith in him we are adopted as sons and daughters into God’s family!

It is gospel truth like this that moves our hearts and minds toward worship of our God. Responding to the truth of who God is and all that he has done for us in Christ is at the heart of what worship is all about. As pastor and author John Stott wrote in his book, Between Two Worlds, “Word and worship belong indissolubly to each other. All worship is an intelligent and loving response to the revelation of God.”

This week, we gather once again to respond in worship to the truth of who God is and all that He has done for us in Christ. As we reflect on the gospel truth that “for freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1) we respond in praise, singing Grace Alone and No Longer Slaves.

Our singing leads us to the communion table to remember Jesus’ death on the cross which purchased our freedom from sin and death. At MCF, we invite all believers in Christ to participate. Please hold the bread and the cup when they are passed so that we may take them together as an expression of the fellowship that we share in Him.

After our regular time of Giving, we will pray for and dismiss all children ages 4yrs through 4th grade to Children’s Church. Following this, we have the privilege as a fellowship to pray for our Elders as they enter into a new term of service as shepherds of our flock.

Pastor Andrew returns to the pulpit this week, continuing our Freedom in Christ series with a message from Galatians 5:1-15 entitled “Called to Freedom”  Our closing response together is Build My Life.

This week, remind yourself daily of the truth of the gospel, and allow the daily actions and attitudes of your life to be a response of worship to God. Find a few moments to prayerfully reflect on the Scriptures and songs above so that we can fully engage our hearts and minds in worship together this week.  See you on Sunday!

Mark



Preparing for Worship – Apr 26

from Mark Hoffman

This is the day that the Lord has made;
   let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Psalm 118:24

We come together this week to worship our great God and to rejoice in the new day that He has granted us. We not only thank Him for another day of life on this earth, but we especially rejoice because a new day of salvation has dawned… the light of Jesus Christ has shone on us and we now live in the eternal daylight of salvation through faith in Him! Let us rejoice and be glad in this!

Our time of worship together begins as we read from Psalm 118 and respond with singing Today Is the Day and The Lion and the Lamb. We will draw near to the Lord in prayer, and then turn our attention to joining the eternal worship of heaven as we hear John’s vision from Revelation 5 and lift our voices together with Revelation Song.

Since it is the last Sunday of the month, it is a Family Fellowship Sunday! (All children remain in the service; Nursery and Toddler ministry is still available.) During our regular Giving time, we will be collecting for our Benevolent Fund, which we use to help those who are currently in need, both within our fellowship and in our community. (Please remember to designate your gift when giving electronically or use the special Benevolent envelope.) Family Fellowship Sunday also gives us an opportunity to share in Family Fellowship Celebrations as well as a special Kids’ Time.

Our Freedom In Christ series continues this week with a special guest preacher, Moody student Josh Woodruff, with a message from Galatians 4:1-7.

Our closing response of praise is New Doxology.

____________________________________________________

Here are some ways you can prepare for worship this week:

  • Use the links to the songs and Scriptures above to listen, reflect, and prepare your heart and mind for Sunday.
  • Pray for God’s direction and wisdom for Josh Woodruff in his sermon preparation as well as for the empowerment of the Spirit when he preaches. Also pray that the Holy Spirit would be working in your heart to humbly receive from God’s Word.
  • Pray that God would be continually showing you things to be thankful for and that He would open your eyes to His work in the everyday moments your life. As we see these things and respond with praise and thanks to Him, we are cultivating a daily attitude of worship that grows and spills over into our gathered worship on Sunday morning.

I look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday!

Mark



Preparing for Worship – Apr 19

from Mark Hoffman

This week is a special worship service we are calling “Ability Awareness Sunday.”  This is an opportunity in our gathered worship to highlight and celebrate our Caring Friends ministry at MCF. Our Caring Friends and volunteers will help facilitate worship throughout the morning with Scripture readings, sign language, and prayer. Songs will include Good Good Father, This Is Amazing Grace, and Amazing Grace. Sharon Rickerson will share more about Caring Friends and the vision for the ministry moving forward.

Following our regular time of Giving and Children’s Church dismissal (all children ages 4yrs through 4th grade are invited to attend) Pastor Andrew continues his Freedom in Christ series with a message from Galatians 3:23-29 entitled “We are Family”.

Our response is a sung prayer to the Lord, Build Your Kingdom Here. Finally, to close out this special morning, we have the privilege of welcoming new members into our fellowship!

I look forward to seeing you on “Ability Awareness Sunday!”

Mark



Preparing for Worship – Apr 13

from Mark Hoffman

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
   so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
   for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

Psalm 42:1-2


Psalm 42 demonstrates a passion for God’s presence and a deep dependence on Him. Every week as we gather for worship, we have the opportunity to “come and appear before God” to express our devotion and dependence in response to His person, presence, works, and Word. Psalm 42 and Psalm 63 give voice to this expression, as do the songs Here for You and Come Thou Fount Come Thou King. Then, Jesus’ words in Luke 15 remind us of the steadfast love of God that is always seeking, always saving. We respond with the song Reckless Love.

Following our regular time of Giving and Children’s Church dismissal (all children ages 4yrs through 4th grade are invited to attend) we are pleased to welcome Converge missionaries Steve and Debra Rowe with us for a missions update. Then, Pastor Andrew continues in his Freedom in Christ series with a message from Galatians 3:15-22 entitled “The Promise of God.”

As Paul writes that “the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe,” we close with a response of faith in Christ singing Once And For All.

This week, prepare your heart for gathered worship by seeking satisfaction in nothing and no one else but the Lord. Then we can all come on Sunday thirsty for Him, ready to respond to His presence and His promises.

See you on Sunday!

Mark



Preparing for Worship – Apr 6

from Mark Hoffman

worth·less
adjective: having no real value or use; having no good qualities; deserving contempt.

wor·thy
adjective: having or showing the qualities or abilities that merit recognition in a specified way; deserving effort, attention, or respect.

What do we truly value in our lives? What or who is truly worthy? As we enter into worship of the Lord together, our intent this week is to set our hearts on that which has true value. We want to turn away from worthless things and turn toward the One who is worthy of all glory, honor and praise. Scripture passages from the Psalms and from the book of Revelation will lead us in this way, and we will respond in prayer as well as in song, singing Great Are You Lord, In Christ Alone and Mighty to Save.

Pastor Andrew will pray for and dismiss all children ages 4yrs through 4th grade to Children’s Church followed by our regular time of Giving. Then, continuing in his Freedom in Christ series, Pastor Andrew brings us a message from Galatians 3:1-14 entitled “Set Free Through the Spirit.”

In our closing response, we sing aloud the truth we proclaim with the song This I Believe (The Creed).

I look forward to worshiping with you…. See you on Sunday!

Mark



Preparing for Worship – Mar 29

from Mark Hoffman

This week in our worship we remember the most important weekend in human history as we gather for our Good Friday and Easter services.  

GOOD FRIDAY

On Good Friday, we will gather at 7pm for “A Service of Communion and Prayer.”  The introduction from the Good Friday service guide explains more about this time of worship:

Good Friday marks the death of Jesus Christ. It’s called “good” because of what Jesus’ death means for the redemption of the world. As churches from many different Christian traditions around the world gather to worship on this night, many will focus on three aims: (1) to narrate and remember the events of Jesus’ death, (2) to open up the meaning of these events for our understanding of God and the redemption accomplished by the cross, and (3) to invite worshipers to renewed prayer and dedication. It is our intention to do all three tonight.


We will hear the story of the crucifixion of Christ as told from Scripture. We will explore the meaning of his death for us as a means to forgiveness of sin and restored relationship with God. Taking communion tonight will be central to this part of our worship. And, because the sacrificial death of Jesus opens the way for us to confidently “draw near to the throne of grace” as Scripture says, we will pray. We will pray silently and aloud. We will pray individually and corporately. We will lift up prayers of praise as well as prayers of confession. In some Christian traditions dating back to the early church, Good Friday worship includes the longest intercessory prayer of the entire year. We will enter into this Good Friday tradition as well, lifting up prayers for various needs ranging from the global to the personal.

Above all, this is a time of worship.  We are meeting with the living God to praise Him, to experience Him, and to receive all that He has for us tonight as a fellowship of believers in Jesus Christ.

EASTER SUNDAY

It’s Easter Sunday! Let’s join in worship together to celebrate the triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ!

We begin on this morning by hearing the story from the perspective of Mary Magdalene.  This dramatic retelling begins before the cross and ends in the garden where the stone was rolled away from the tomb. Along the way, we will worship in song with Jesus and Man of Sorrows. Then, we will come to the communion table to remember Christ’s sacrificial death for us on the cross. (All who profess faith in Jesus Christ are invited to participate in this sacred act of remembrance. Please hold the bread and the cup when they are passed so that we may take them together.) All of this leads to joyous celebration of the victorious resurrection of Jesus as we sing Christ the Lord Is Risen Today and Glorious Day.  

Following a Fellowship Greeting time, we will proclaim once again in song that Christ Is Risen. Pastor Andrew will pray for and dismiss all children ages 4yrs through 4th grade to Children’s Church followed by our regular time of Giving. Pastor Andrew’s message this week continues his Freedom in Christ series and will be taken from Galatians 3:10-14. His message is entitled Impossible.”

Our closing response, Death Was Arrested, proclaims the life and freedom we have through Christ:

Our Savior displayed on a criminal’s cross

Darkness rejoiced as though Heaven had lost

But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand

That’s when death was arrested and my life began



Preparing for Worship – Mar 23

from Mark Hoffman

This week we celebrate Palm Sunday, remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as he moved yet another day closer to the cross. On that particular day, the people shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” as Jesus entered the city. We will begin with the same cry of Hosanna as we welcome Jesus in the midst of our worship together.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the people’s cries of “Hosanna” echoed words from Psalm 118, a psalm which declares God’s salvation. We will read from this Psalm as well, responding in song with King of Glory and Cornerstone.

Since it is the last Sunday of the month, it is a Family Fellowship Sunday! This is our special time each month when all ages intentionally worship together. (Nursery and Toddler ministry is still available.) During our regular Giving time, we will be collecting for our Benevolent Fund, which we use to help those who are currently in need, both within our fellowship and in our community. (Please remember to designate your gift when giving electronically or use the special Benevolent envelope when you drop your gift in the offering plate.) Family Fellowship Sunday also gives us an opportunity to share in Family Fellowship Celebrations as well as a special Kids’ Time.

Pastor Andrew’s message this week continues his Freedom In Christ series with a message entitled “Set Free by Christ.” The sermon text is Galatians 2:15-21.

Our closing response reminds us of this freedom as we sing My Victory.

 



Prepraring for Worship – Mar 16

from Mark Hoffman

For freedom Christ has set us free.

Galatians 5:1

Freedom in Christ is one of the central themes in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and we return to this theme of Freedom in Christ in our gathered worship this week.

Our worship service this week is what we call a “Prayer Sunday.” On these Sundays, we allow for more extended times of prayer throughout the service. We begin with a time of PRAISE through Scripture, prayers, and songs – 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) and What a Beautiful Name.

We continue on into the theme of freedom, exploring what Jesus Christ gives us FREEDOM FROM. Again, Scripture and prayer lead the way, with responses in song: Just As I Am and You Gave Your Life Away.

Following our regular time of Giving and Children’s Church dismissal (all children ages 4yrs through 4th grade are invited to attend) Pastor Andrew will share from Romans 6. This passage of Scripture points us to the idea that Christ not only gives us FREEDOM FROM, but He also gives us FREEDOM TO.

We will again respond together in prayer and with our closing song Build My Life.

I’m looking forward to this time of worship and prayer together… See you on Sunday!

Mark