“I can feel just as close to God at the beach or at home as I can in church.”
We’ve all heard people say something like that. But, is it true? That depends on your church, I guess.
- Let’s assume that the beach is the best it can be: white sands, soft breezes, warm sun and soothing surf.
- Let’s imagine the home at its best: comfy chair, TV remote in hand, or perhaps the quiet comfort of your sun room.
Can you imagine church at its best?
- The people are friendly as they welcome you in.
- The music welcomes you in spiritually.
- As you praise the Lord with your brothers and sisters, you begin to sense the very presence of God Himself.
- Prayer goes forth, powerful prayer in the House of God and things are going to change for people. You just know it.
- The offering plate comes by you and you contribute to the work of God in your community.
- The Pastor preaches a message straight from the heart of God to your heart.
- At the end of the service, the altar call is given and someone comes into the family of God for the first time.
- Someone else renews his relationship with the Lord and is warmly embraced by the family of God.
You leave the House of God stronger than when you came. The King James word is “edified”. But, not only are you different, you have been a part of a process that helps others. Public worship edifies the believer and also redeems a lost humanity.
None of that happened at the beach or on your comfy couch.
What does the Bible say?
But, that’s enough of my imagination. The writer to the Hebrews writes a great passage on this subject. It amounts to this instruction—
“Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.”
The writer tells us that as the end-times approach, the habit of many believers will be to avoid public worship. We are warned not to forsake the gathering. When we gather together, we encourage one another and actually provoke each other to love and good deeds.
Public Worship is not optional!
I believe the word of the Lord to us is this: If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you must gather together with other believers. Each of us has a place in the family of God each time the family gathers. God expects each of us to unite with a local body and support His work through that body. If you have fallen into the “habit” of not attending worship, you have cut yourself off from all that God has for you. Your church could be struggling needlessly without your financial support and the work of God for which you are responsible goes undone.
With each new year we make such towering promises to ourselves. There is no reason to wait for a new year. Today, let’s put this one at the top of the list. Say it with me, “I will be faithful to—The Gathering.”
Therefore brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who has promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Psalm 82:1 NKJV
God stands in the congregation of the mighty…
Psalm 111:1 NKJV
Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.
Joel 2:15-17 NKJV
Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord , And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?'”
Psalm 22:25-26 NKJV
My praise shall be of You in the great assembly; I will pay My vows before those who fear Him. The poor shall eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever!
Psalm 35:18 NKJV
I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.
Psalm 149:1 NKJV
Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, And His praise in the assembly of saints.
Psalm 145:1-7 NKJV
I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, And I will declare Your greatness. They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, And shall sing of Your righteousness.
Psalm 68:24-26 NKJV
They have seen Your procession, O God, The procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary. The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; Among them were the maidens playing timbrels. Bless God in the congregations, The Lord, from the fountain of Israel.
Psalm 73:1-3; 16-17 NKJV
Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. …When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me — Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end.
Lord Jesus, on this, Your day, You will be my focus as a gather with the saints in the House of God. I will offer unto You the Sacrifices of Praise, Thanksgiving, Adoration, and Worship. I will lift my voice to sing with the saints as You have commanded. I will take joy in Your Presence and be stronger for it. I will listen to Your Word proclaimed in power and let it find a shelter in my heart. I will touch and be touched by the People of God for such fellowship is a hard-won privilege from Your nail-scarred hands. I will pray with Your people in faith and agreement so that Your Kingdom will advance. Let all things be done decently and in order so that the church will be edified and Your name be lifted high. Lord Jesus, on this, Your day, You will be my focus as a gather with the saints in the House of God. Amen and Amen.
O Worship the King
Words: Robert Grant; Music: Joseph Martin Kraus
1. O worship the King all-glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love:
our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.
2. O tell of his might and sing of his grace,
whose robe is the light, whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
and dark is his path on the wings of the storm.
3. Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
4. Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in you do we trust, nor find you to fail.
Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!
5. O measureless Might, unchangeable Love,
whom angels delight to worship above!
Your ransomed creation, with glory ablaze,
in true adoration shall sing to your praise!
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved