March 24, 2013

What we do at 11AM on Sundays

In the middle of 1 Chronicles 16 is a beautiful poem of David (or perhaps of Asaph, his chief worship leader). It’s a song about what God’s people should do when in a setting of corporate worship. It’s a description of how to act in the Lord’s presence, in the Lord’s house. For us, then, it’s a kind of blueprint for how we should act at 11:00am each Sunday (or whenever your church meets for corporate worship). Let me walk you though it…

1. "Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name" (29a). In essence, we are to speak well and much of the LORD when we are in His house on His day. He should be our topic of conversation in the car, and in the hallway before the worship service. Our lips should be filled with good things to say about God all morning long. Maybe we recount what He’s taught us this week. Maybe we discuss the sermon or SS lesson. Certainly we ought all to sing with full hearts…and think about what we are saying about our God! Sundays at 11:00am are about speaking well and much about our God!

2. "Bring and offering, and come before Him" (29b). We should not come to Sunday at 11:00 empty-handed, but with an offering of money, or service, or praise. Indeed, remembering that everything we give was first given us by God, we should be offering ourselves to the LORD  all week long…with Sunday as the culmination!

3. "Worship the LORD in holy array" (29c). “Array” is another word for clothing. Here it is used in a figurative sense. In other words…worship the LORD wrapped in a garment of holiness. Come to the LORD with a clean robe on your back. Pursue godliness all week long. And when you fail (which you often will), confess your sins and be cleansed afresh before meeting with the LORD in His house. Cleansed afresh through the mercy of Christ! That’s why we pause for confession of sin during the pastoral prayer...that we might come before the Lord in the garments of holiness that He Himself has made white!

4. "Tremble before Him, all the earth" (30a). Reverence the LORD. The presence of God in the house of God is not the place for silliness and slapstick. God is in heaven. And this giant earth (on which you and I are dust mites) is His footstool. Therefore we ought to tremble at even the thought of God…much more when we enter His presence. Are you trembling today?—with both reverence & anticipation—at the prospect of meeting with God?

5. "Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice" (31a). Joy and gladness should be the theme of our times together with the LORD. We tremble at His greatness and holiness…and we leap for joy at His mercy and kindness! Yes, we may have heavy hearts some days … and the Lord knows that, and has compassion. But there can be a deep-seated, hopeful joy in our hearts, alongside the tears. So the call to joy is not a call to phony smiles. But it is a call away from self-pity, hopelessness, and (perhaps worst of all) mere religious routine. What a tragedy if our faces…or worse yet our singing…should betray that we think God is boring, or run-of-the-mill, or incapable of meeting our deepest needs. How often I am guilty of this. Let’s not be today!

6. "Let them say among the nations, 'The LORD reigns'” (31b). Did you catch that? We ought not just speak well of the LORD to one another (as in #1). We ought also to speak well of Him among the nations! We come here and are fed every Sunday at 11:00am so that we might tell the nations and the neighborhoods about the wondrous love of Jesus! When’s the last time you told a co-worker or family member something specific about the LORD, His goodness, and His plan of salvation? Maybe something you hear or see in God today will be just what needs passing along!

For all these reasons (and many more) 11:00 on Sunday is the greatest hour of the week. Let us make the most of every moment!

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