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Video version below.
What is the highlight of your week? What is it that you anticipate every week? What makes your eyes light up? Think about it. What do you look forward to? Is it visiting the grandchildren? Is it a special event? Is it a victory for your sports team? Is it finishing a specific goal? Your next day off of work? What is it that gets your heart pumping with excitement?
I was glad when they said to me, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord.” Ps. 122:1, NASB
Did you say, “Going to church on Sunday morning?” According to surveys in the US, many people who identify as Christian only attend church once or twice a month. It doesn’t seem very high on the priority list, let alone the week’s highlight!
Why don’t we consider going “to the house of the Lord” as excitedly as David did? One reason may be that we have lost sight of what corporate worship is all about. Sometimes, it is simply Christian entertainment; sometimes, it is a social gathering; sometimes, our singing and preaching focus only on what God can do for us.
What should we consider when we are entering the house of the Lord?
We are entering the throne room of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. How often do we stand in awe at the thought that we are coming into the presence of Almighty God? He is the One Who spoke the worlds into existence. He is the One Who accomplished the more difficult task of redemption. The great cathedrals of history were deliberately designed to inspire wonder at the majesty and magnificence of God. Our churches today are often designed for merely ‘practical reasons.’ I am not saying that is wrong, but we may be missing something important. We need our eyes directed to the Eternal One Who inhabits eternity.
Do we realize the absolute privilege and honour it is to enter the throne room and the presence of God? Do we take time to even think about that? Queen Easter entered the throne room of her husband, the king, in fear of her life. While - if we are Christians - we should not be fearful about entering God’s presence, neither should we take it for granted or be flippant about it. Not long ago, people dressed in their ‘Sunday best’ clothes to attend church.
For those who realized what they were doing, it was a way of honouring God and declaring to Him and others how special they thought He was. He deserved the best they had to offer. Again, I am not saying dressing casually is wrong; after all, God looks at the heart, and some who dressed in their ‘Sunday best’ had hearts that were far from God. But any action we can take to show God how much we value Him and which helps to focus our attention on Him is worth considering.
There is a protocol for entering the presence of God. David shares it in Psalm 100:4 when he says we are to enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise. When we come to Sunday morning service, do we take time to quiet ourselves and give God thanks and praise for Who He Is and the privilege of coming to meet with Him? Or are we trying to get over the fight we had with our family on the way to Church? I know we are the loved children of God, but even children need to treat their Father with respect and honour as well as love.
Our worship is to focus on God, not just what He can do for us. Our God is the great God. Even if He did nothing for us, He still deserves our worship. We worship because of Who God is. Jesus is our heavenly Husband, and worship is how we make love to Him. Do we approach worship with love gleaming in our eyes or as a sense of duty we want to get over with as soon as possible? How would you feel if your spouse only came to you when they wanted something or when you were trying to talk with them, you had the sense that their mind was always elsewhere. God is real, and He has real feelings.
The message should also be focused on God. It is to train us in Who our God is and how we can please our Divine Lover. When God is the centre, everything else falls into place.
Now I realize that getting a young family ready for Church and controlling young children during the service can be frustrating and distracting. Even though they may not seem to be getting anything out of it and the effort appears to outweigh the benefit, don’t give up. God sees and understands the struggle. He is pleased that you prioritize His House, even through the tears and struggles. You are training your children that the Church is important and meeting with God and His people is a priority. Sporadic attendees teach their children that God and the church are nice add-ons when you have time.
I also realize that some people cannot attend the physical Church because of work, health or transportation difficulties even though their heart is to be at Church. God sees and understands.
But if you have the ability to be at Church but have little or no desire to attend, that should be a big warning sign. A Christian with no desire to attend church is like a Christian with no desire to read the Bible - does such a creature exist? Even a quick reading of the New Testament shows how much God values His children being together. We are called a body, a Bride and a family. None of those things stand in isolation. Also, notice how much emphasis God puts on things like forgiveness and reconciliation in His family. If you regularly have priorities above corporate worship, you are either hoisting a red flag in front of a satanic bull, or you need to examine yourself to see if you really are in the family. I am not being a judge, but I am issuing a challenge. Ultimately, only you and God know where you stand.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, now is the time. You can be a member of the family of God and be welcomed into His presence as a cherished son or daughter. It doesn’t matter what your past has been. Jesus loves you. Tell Him you are sorry for your sins, ask Him to forgive you [He will!] and ask Him to become your Lord and Saviour. Then, begin looking for a good Church to attend. You may need to try several before you find a good ‘fit’ for yourself. Ask Jesus to guide you, and be sure they follow the standard Statement of Faith in practice as well as word. Also, see our New Christian Stream.
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