A song of ascents. Of David.
I was glad when they said to me,
Let us go to the house of the LORD!
Are you excited to come to church this week?
Whatever your gut reaction to that question might be, I invite you to consider what Psalm 122:1 has to say (quoted above). Denoted as “a song of ascents”, this psalm was expressly written to resonate from the lips of God’s people as they traveled to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. In other words, songs of ascents were songs that God’s people sang on their way to church to prepare them for an encounter with the living God. It was their way of making the most of the gathering.
What would happen if LifePoint followed their example? Are the things we say and do throughout the week consistent with the spirit of Psalm 122:1? Or let’s make this even more specific: do you have a plan to proactively prepare for the gathering before you arrive on Sunday morning?
With these questions in mind, I’d like to offer five habits to help us intentionally make the most of the Lord’s Day. I believe these habits will help us experience more of God’s grace before, during, and after church gatherings with an emphasis on the “before”; because I believe that what happens before church significantly impacts what happens during and after church. I pray these will encourage us to worship God more faithfully in life together.
LifePoint provides you with an advantage here. You’re reading an online devotional resource specifically designed to help you prepare for the Lord’s Day. You can also immerse yourself in some Bible passages that focus on the gathered life of the church (for example: Rom. 15:5-7 or Col. 3:15-17). And it always helps to ask yourself some thoughtful questions about how you might apply the Gospel among the people of LifePoint. Whatever you do doesn’t have to overload your schedule. Five minutes is all it takes.
Be sure to set aside some time to intercede for the gathering. At my house, we often do this as a family on Saturday night. I also pray intentionally throughout the week. Maybe you prefer to pray “as you go.” Perhaps, then, you might turn off your car stereo one day a week to pray for Sunday during your commute to work. No matter what, make it a priority to pray for a spirit of joy and unity among our church as we worship together.
To experience the gathering for all it’s worth, we must consciously exercise faith. So let’s look forward to Sunday with an attitude of fervent expectancy that God will visit us in a powerful way. You might even visualize yourself in the midst of the congregation singing praise to God with joy in your heart. Whatever helps you to stir up a sense of holy anticipation within you is worth doing.
When you arrive at church on Sunday, be ready to get in the mix. Gathering as a church is not a spectator event; it’s a dynamic encounter with the risen Christ and those whom He has purchased with His own blood. How could we not be moved by that? Nothing should thrill us more than an opportunity to celebrate God’s Good News with our Spiritual family. So let’s not be reluctant to participate. Let’s sing, greet others, lift/clap our hands, serve, give, pray, engage with the sermon, etc—all with gusto! After all, these are means of grace God has given us for His glory and our joy. We’re called to observe them with exuberance.
No one who has truly encountered the real Jesus is satisfied to go on with life as usual. He tends to ruin people to the status quo. So by the Holy Spirit’s power within you, be resolute in making changes for greater faithfulness in your life as a response to your encounter with God on the Lord’s Day. Looking ahead, what is your next step of obedience?
So let me ask again: Are you excited to come to church this week? If we will develop these godly habits in our lives, God just might work in us to make our answer an emphatic YES! If you aren’t already, I pray you’ll give them a try.
Liturgy for Sunday, October 11, 2015:
Call to Worship: Psalm 96:1-3
Confession & Assurance: Micah 7:18-20
Benediction: based on James 1:12