Every Sunday Christians all over the world gather to worship God. It is a time of celebration and rejuvenation, a time of remembrance and fellowship. When the saints assemble, we teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Col 3:16). We offer unto our heavenly Father the sacrifice of praise continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name (Heb 13:15).
We hear the preaching of the Word and continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and in prayers (Acts 2:42). We take the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine in solemn meditation of the Lord Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice to redeem and reconcile us to God
Every member of the church has an important part to play in making the assembly one that worships God in spirit and in truth. The church must be united in purpose. Before the family of God assembles, let us prepare our hearts and minds to appear before His presence. We are God’s children gathering for the purpose of worshipping our Father in grateful devotion. How can we do that if we bear resentment or hurt feelings toward one another?
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1Co 1:10).”
How shall we approach God in worship? The writer of Hebrews says, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:28-29).”
Yes, by God’s grace and mercy and the finished work of Christ on the cross, we have received an unshakeable kingdom. The only right response is godly reverence in our service and worship. What can we do in regard to that? Once more, let us prepare our hearts and minds. Remove everything that distracts, lay aside everything that encumbers us. It might be unfinished work, or an imminent deadline. It might be friends or an emotional burden. Leave them. The time for worship is for God.
When we assemble, we must be ready to hear the Word of God preached. In the church, there is no such thing as a popularity contest. It is dangerous to become respecters of persons. Do we perk up our ears only when the brother up at the pulpit is someone whose ‘style’ we like? What if he isn’t someone I respect? Am I then justified to allow my mind to switch off and tune in to something else?
God forbid! The brother preaching is not expounding his own message but God’s, if he has been a diligent student of the Bible and careful and faithful in his sermon preparation. When we refuse to listen, we are not rejecting the person up behind the pulpit, but God whose message is being preached.
Of course, merely hearing the Word is not the be all and end all. We must be ready to apply it as well. When Cornelius and his household heard the preaching of the gospel, they readily received it in obedience (cf. Acts 10:48; 15:7-9). James uses the example of Abraham to teach us that more than hearing and mentally agreeing with the message is required.
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only (Jas 2:21-24).”
When we assemble, week after week, we ought to be determined to learn of all the counsel of God. It is easy to slip into the habit of having a favourite doctrine or two and neglect other Bible teachings. Paul was careful in his ministry. He held nothing back.
“And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ…Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God (Act 20: 20-21, 26-27).”
Brethren, how do we treat the holy assembly of the saints? We owe it to our Father and the brotherhood to do better than shift into an autopilot mode every Sunday. Let us assemble with our hearts and minds tuned in, ready to worship the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God.