"From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid." (Ezra 3:6)
They made a 900 mile, 9 months walk from Mesopotamia (Iraq) to their homeland for the express purpose of re-igniting proper worship of the LORD.
With this in mind, when they got there and after being allowed a short time to set up living quarters and get the animals and families settled, they launched into the main task.
But note the verse: they began with making an altar. They did not lay the foundation first. They did not build walls. They did not build furniture. They put God at the heart and the start of it all.
Foundation is important! Without it, the structure will not stand. God will build the foundation. But first comes worship.
It is like that for unsaved sinners when they come to salvation. They do not need to visit churches and take time to decide which one is the right one, and then walk an aisle. They do not need to wait until office hours are re-opened and meet with a pastor. They do not need to wait and try and conquer this sin or that sin so they would be even purer before they come to the Lord. You can ask for forgiveness of sins right then, right there, right now. Worship the Lord first, and then He will build your foundation.
For the saved, forgiven Christians, if you have separated from Jesus for a while, you do not need to do any of the above, either. The Jews returning from Babylon already were headed for heaven and already knew the LORD. They had been selected by the LORD to return. (Ezra 1:5). But even so, they did not set up a training school for priests and wait to be blessed or preached to. They did not spend inordinate period developing plans and examining architectural renderings. They got right to the heart of it: worshiping the Lord.
I am not saying that not having a foundation is OK. I am not saying that all the rest of the things I mentioned are to be ignored. The returning exiles did not ignore them. But the first thing they did was begin worship. All good things always start from that one act: humble submission to the One true God. As long as He is the focus, He will bring the development of the individuals and the nation along as He wills.
So? What are you waiting for? Begin worship! What is worship? How is one to worship?
Paul explained the elements of worship to us in Romans 12:1-2: “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, or well pleasing and perfect.”
0. Understand that the one true God is the only One who bestows mercies.
1. Present yourselves. The Jewish exiles did just that in the Ezra verse.
2. A living and holy sacrifice means that you understand that by presenting yourself, you are submitting to the control of God for your body, mind, heart, spirit, and life.
3. Our spiritual service of worship is that He deserves our all. Nothing less. Service to Him is His right and our calling.
4. 'Do not be conformed to this world' in context of worship means you reject what the world has to offer and you instead seek what God offers from His world.
5. 'Be transformed by the renewing of our minds' means as an act of worship, we read the bible and allow His thoughts to engulf us, penetrate us, and aid us in resisting the world. Learning what He said to us and wants us to know is worship.
6. Prove what the will of God is, which is through our acts of submission and worship, to shine His light of glory back to Him. When people see us, they should see the glory and light of Jesus in us. Worshiping Him does that. It is a cycle.
7. The only things that are good and acceptable to God are the things of God, and in His strength. Without Him we can do nothing and there is no one good.
True worship is submitting to, and operating under and within the power and glory of God wherever we are, all the time. Not just in church, as important as it is to worship Him in open assembly, but also worship Him in life, with our lives. Worship comes first, because we begin with God!