A young woman at the age of 25 had a bad car accident leaving her paralyzed from the neck down. This Christian lady was determined to live her life to fullest. Though bound to wheelchair, she could get around by driving it with her mouth. She would go to places like Walmart even though it meant driving her wheel chair for over a mile. She also never let her condition keep her from worshipping God with her fellow Christians. The church she attended was almost a mile a way from the nursing home she stayed at, but she never let the distance bother her. Faithfully, she could be seen cruising down the road toward the church building on Sunday. This woman found great joy in what independence she had and she loved being able to assemble with the saints. She only lived till she was 50, but her determination to assemble with the saints should encourage us and make us feel ashamed of the excuses we have given in the past of not making it to the services. If this woman could do it with joy in her heart, there is no reason we should neglect the assembly when it is possible for us to do so.
David, a man after Godís own heart (Acts 13:22), also serves as a great example of a person who loved to worship God and found great joy in doing so.†
Psalm 122:1 I was
glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the
LORD."† 2 Our feet have
been standing Within your gates, O
David and those with him arrived before the appointed time and waited with anticipation to enter the house of God. This is the same attitude we should have when it comes to assembling with the saints. Unfortunately, some Christians do not have this type of excitement when it comes to the assembly. In fact, some do not seem to find much joy at all at church. When you look at them, you can tell by the expression on their faces that they are bored out of their minds, and their thoughts are somewhere else. When the preacher gets up to speak or the song leader leads a song, they can spot these people easily. Even visitors notice those who seem disinterested, and it becomes distracting to them.
When I have seen those who seem to be bored to death at worship, I often wonder:
Do they not find joy and gladness in serving the Lord?
Are they not encouraged when they assemble with their brethren?
How can we help them find joy in assembling with the saints?
Our worship to God is a privilege and it should be a great source of encouragement. It helps us get closer to God, and we should love being around those who are like minded and striving to be pleasing to God. I wish every Christian could have the same enthusiasm and joy that David had when it came to worshipping God at the house of God.
Assembling with the saints is an important duty that we are commanded to do so we might exhort one another:
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,† 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
While we are commanded to assembly, we should never look at it as something we have to do. Instead, it should be considered a great privilege and an honor. We are fortunate to have the freedom to assemble, and we should never take our freedom for granted. We need to put things into perspective. When we do, we will appreciate the many opportunities that we have to serve our God freely.
We should look forward to ever opportunity we have to assemble with our brethren because we make up the body of Christ, we get to sing praises to God, participate in prayer, give of our means and ourselves to God, and we get to learn more about our Creator.
When we come together to worship God, we are honoring Him for everything He has done for us. It will help us to find great joy in our hearts when we begin to count the many blessings that God has blessed us with, and will help us develop a deeper appreciation of assembling with the saints to worship God almighty.†† †
If you are the kind of person that finds worship boring and you do not enjoy being around your brethren, then you are going to be miserable in heaven because our worship to God on the earth is just getting us used to what we will be doing on a daily basis in heaven for eternity.
The more we assemble with the saints, whether it be the first day of the week, for Bible class, or for some other gathering, it will make us stronger in the faith. When we get around those who are like minded it helps us remain focused on our goal of getting to heaven. We need all the help we can get! We should welcome whatever help we can get to motivate us to combat the temptations of the world.
If we want to maximize the amount of joy we get of assembling with the saints, then we need to prepare our mind before we ever assemble. This can make a huge difference in what we get out of our worship and Bible class because when our mind is set on righteous things and the joy that comes from assembling with the saints, then we will have the right attitude.
Too often, we have ourselves spread so thin with activities that church becomes just another thing we must mark off out to do list. When we show up to church with our minds elsewhere, we might as well be elsewhere because we are out heart is not going to be fully engaged for God. So, it is crucial that we take time out before we ever make it to the church building to start preparing ourselves.
For example, on Saturday night we need to do our best to get to bed at a decent hour so we will wake up rested and ready to go to worship on Sunday morning. If we stay up late and only get a few hours of sleep, how in the world can we expect to get much out of the service especially if we are falling asleep during the service?
I know of one lady who listens to worship songs before she goes to church because she said it gets her mind set on giving her best to the Lord. Some find it helpful to pray or meditate on Godís Word before they assemble with the saints. All of these are great methods, but you need to find what works for you so you can be prepared to give your whole heart, mind, and soul to God at church.
It will also help if we will arrive early to the services so we can have time to visit and get settled down. When we wait until the last minute to make it church, we are going to be stressed about being late. If we are late, we might miss out on important announcements. We also need to be mindful of how distracting it can be when we continue to show up late and what statement we are making by our tardiness. It makes it seem like we are not excited or concerned with honoring God with our presence.
Whether we realize it or not, our brothers and sister appreciate us arriving on time and they are encouraged by our presence. Every member of the Lordís body is significant, so it is important that we honor God and respect our fellow brethren by being on time and doing our part.
Paul said in,
1 Corinthians 12:20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.† 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."† 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.† 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,† 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,† 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.† 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.†
Clearly, every Christian is important and every Christian has their function in the body of Christ. As Paul said, we are to care for one another, and we are to take note of those that are suffering and those that are being honored so that we can either suffer with them or rejoice with them. We certainly cannot do this if we neglect the assembly.
Even if we feel that we do not need encouragement, we need to consider those that do and have our mind set on serving others instead of ourselves. When we do, it will help give us joy knowing that we have been able to lift someone else up. †
We should also be mindful of our visitors because they can tell whether a church is a loving one that reflects the love God. Many times, we only have one chance with a visitor from the community so be here for them and do your best to show your love for God by your actions and your participation in worship. Knowing that we might make a difference in a visitor life that might lead them to salvation should cause us to rejoice.
We should also consider Jesus because His sacrifice made the church possible and the Bible teaches us that He is with us when we are gathered together. So, we should realize that God is watching us, and we are in fellowship with Jesus when we worship God. Knowing the Jesus is with us when we assemble with the saints and that we are making up part of His body/church that He purchased with His own blood should cause us to feel honored and full of joy to do so. †
It should also cause us great joy when we get to sing praises to God. When we sing, we need to focus on what we are singing and realize that God is listening to us. Not only do we get the benefit of singing praises to God, we also are teaching and admonishing one another with the words that we sing. When the Scriptural songs are sung that have a great message, they can encourage us and cause us to think more about living a righteous life.
Sometimes you see Christians who will not sing even though they can. They convince themselves that there singing is too horrible or that it is not that important. I feel sorry for people who think that way because they are missing out on a wonderful part of our worship to God, and they are disobeying a command of God:
Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,† 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,†
God does not care how bad your singing skills are; He is concerned with what is coming from your heart. When you understand this, it will help you find great joy in singing praises to God.†
When we assembly, we also get to participate in the prayers that are given as collective unit. As we listen to the words that are being spoken, we can know that God is listening and will answer our prayers. James tells us:
James 5:16 †The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Think about how effective a room full of faithful Christians praying about something will be.
We can find joy in the message that is proclaimed or taught when we assemble. Yes, sometimes the message may step on our toes, but we should be glad when that happens because it will help us to see the sin in our life. The message preached can also be uplifting because it will remind us of great our God is. All of us should look forward to learning more about God and being reminded of those things we already know.
As we listen to the message preached or to the Bible class that is taught, we get more out of the lesson if we train ourselves to listen carefully and make as much application as we can to our lives. Listening is art that has been lost in our society, but we regain it by practicing. One effective way of listening is by taking notes. Listen for the points of the lesson and outline what is being taught. If you are easily distracted by what others are doing, I would suggest that you sit closer to the front; that way there will be less distraction for you to see. Of course, another benefit of sitting toward the front is being able to hear all the voices singing toward you.
Partaking of the Lordís Supper should certainly cause us be filled with joy. Yes, we will experience the sadness of what Jesus had to do for us on the cruel cross, but it is also a moment of joy because His sacrifice made it possible for us to have the forgiveness of our sins. Why would any Christian want to miss out on the opportunity to remember our Lord and what He made possible for us through His death?
1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;† 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."† 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."† 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.
We should also find joy in giving of our means to the Lord
1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
We are taught to have a joyful attitude about the money we give:
2 Corinthians 9:6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.† 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
The last thing I want to suggest that will help us find joy in assembling with the saints is realizing the more we assembly, the more we will grow spiritually. We should certainly want to grow because Peter said,
2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
Itís common knowledge that the more we are involved with something, the more we will appreciate it. Itís kind of like exercise, the more we exercise the more fit we become. Once we start enjoying how good we feel from exercising, we will not want to stop because we do not want to start feeling bad again.
The same thing happens when we start assembling with the saints all the time. At first, we might find it difficult to make it to all the services, but once we work up to it, we will find it exhilarating and will not want to miss a single service because of the way it makes us feel.
I can relate to this because when I first started going to church with Erica, I felt like Wednesday nights were enough for me, but gradually I started making it to Sunday night services. As more time went on, I finally started making it to Sunday morning services. My last hurtle was making it to Sunday Bible class. When I finally made that achievement, I have never looked back. Now, if I miss a service it really bothers me because I understand how important every service is and how they encourage me. Everyone of us can experience how much joy assembling with the saints can bring if we just make an effort to make it to all the services.† Notice what Paul says in:
1 Timothy 4:8† For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.† 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.
Yes, bodily exercise is good, but exercising toward godliness is far greater. So, I hope you will start doing your best to make it to all the services and stop trying to do the least you can for the Lord. When you become spiritually fit as you should, you will not ask yourself if you should go to church because you will want to go to church if possible.
If you struggle in this area you need to ask yourself, what is more important in my life God or myself? If you love God for what He has done for you, you should have no problem understanding the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity you have to assemble with the saints and the joy it should bring you. Hopeful we can all get the point in our Christian lives to say:
Psalm 122:1 I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the LORD."