Psalm 24:3-5 reads: “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” – NASV

Have you ever wondered why some church services seem so ‘lifeless’? Have you heard people walk into a church, not get anything from the service and then start blaming everything from the pastor, to the music minister, to the sound system? It’s not uncommon, and if we are all honest with ourselves, we’ve probably all done it.

The harsh reality is that it’s not anyone’s responsibility to get us ready to worship and receive from God except the person staring back at us in the mirror. Unfortunately, it’s always much easier to critque elements of the service and blame those for our struggles instead of taking a deeper look.

All through the scriptures, we see references of going to the temple for worship using phrases like, ‘going up’, ‘let us go up’. There’s a reason. The temple sat on top of what is now called the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. I can tell you from first hand experience that walking up to that spot is not easy, even for the fittest of individuals. Just wondering, do you think there might be a message for us in the fact that from the very beginning of corporate worship, you had to work (literally) just to get there.

I don’t think God wants us to approach corporate worship casually. It shouldn’t be ‘church as usual.’ The question posed in verse 3 of Psalm 24 could just as easily read, “Who can enter God’s presence?” Don’t we go to church to have an encounter with God? If so, is it not reasonable to think that the standard God lays out in this passage applies to us?

Before heading to your church for worship the next time, I challenge you to spend time with God before you go. Begin to prepare for worship before pulling into the parking lot or sitting down in your seat. When you prepare and take care of spiritual ‘business’ beforehand, you open yourself up to ‘ascend the hill of the Lord.’ When you do that, it doesn’t matter if they sing your favorite song, or if the sermon isn’t what you wanted to hear. Why won’t it matter, because those aren’t the real reasons for going to church in the first place. The reason is to spend time in God’s presence with our fellow believers.

Disclaimer – In no way is this blog an attempt to lessen the importance of those leading in worship also being prepared to spend time with God. I will be addressing that in the next couple of days. This is simply a concept that I believe applies to everyone coming to worship from the senior pastor all the way down the line.

As always – I’d love to hear feedback from you guys. Be blessed!