Is there a better barometer of our spiritual state than our faithfulness to and attitude toward public worship? God has always ordained public convocations of His people for the purpose of worshiping Him, but during this church age, the exercise has been nearly perfected. Public worship provides more variety than a day at the fair, more avenues of expression than an art gallery, more opportunities to learn than a university, and more occasions for growth than a well-planned diet and exercise program.
Consider some of what occurs during public worship in a sound church. (1) The Word of God is preached and taught so that believers hear the very voice of God. (2) Prayer is offered to God so that believers may agree on critical issues and share in the significant needs of others as prayer requests are made publicly. (3) Music is performed so that believers may join as one in offering praise and thanksgiving to God. (4) Offerings are received so that believers may return a portion of God’s bounty back to Him and contribute to the financial support of God’s work. (5) Testimonies might be given so that believers may publicly express the faithfulness and goodness of God to them personally and specifically. (6) Fellowship occurs so that believers may encourage and exhort one another. (7) And in and through it all, the Spirit of God works, saving souls, sanctifying hearts, cleansing lives, reproving, rebuking, comforting, strengthening, and directing to service. Though most of those activities may be a regular part of many public worship services, the richness of their variety and value should never become routine. That God deigns to meet with His redeemed children, that He promises to do a spiritual work in their hearts, and that He provides opportunities to serve Him and others, as well as to be served, beggars description.
David expresses the heart of a saint—one who is walking with God—at the privilege of worshiping with other saints: “I was glad,” he writes, “when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Psa. 122:1). The word glad may be a more sedate translation than the Hebrew word allows: the Hebrew may be translated as gleesome. The mere prospect of worshiping the Lord publicly causes David glee. It stands at the apex of his list of sources of happiness and rejoicing. To know that he is among the congregation of the righteous, to humble himself before the Lord acknowledging the greatness and goodness of God, to recognize that others whom he knows and loves are freely and genuinely sharing the same experience thrills David.
In a similar vein, the sons of Kohath (members of the tribe of Levi who served as musicians, among other things) exclaimed: “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psa. 84:10). One day in service and fellowship with the Lord, say the sons of Kohath, is to be preferred to approximately three years in the world. We should not press the description with mathematical precision. The point made poetically is that there is literally no parallel between the two. So grand is serving and fellowshipping with the Lord that nothing else affords a worthy comparison.
Do these expressions ring hollow in your ears? Do they sound like exaggeration? Is it your chief joy and delight to meet with the people of God for the purposes mentioned above? Anything else reveals a heart that is less than what the Lord has redeemed it to be.
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