“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” – Psalms 122:1
In this second installment of my thoughts from revival I want to write about church attendance. Not just going and sitting in a pew, singing a few songs, hearing a sermon, a going out the same way in. I am also not writing about the attendance of an unbeliever in the worship service. There is a way for believers to enter into worship. It is with anticipation, expectancy, and reverence that has been built up by prayer, bible reading, and witnessing and fellowship.
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” – Psalms 100:4
The world has taken away our holy expectancy. No longer do we look forward to worshipping with other believers. Just as we go to the game or show we “hope” it is a good one. We “hope” to pull out the win. That’s not the mindset of the believer. “I hope its a good service” should not be part of our vocabulary when it comes to the set apart time of worship. The writer in Psalm 100 is excited about worshipping in Jerusalem. He is excited to stand before the presence of God. He is excited to be with fellow believers in worship. The writer in Psalm 122 is excited about the journey he is making. He will sing the psalms of ascent (or degrees in 120-134) as he makes his each of his journeys toward Jerusalem for four festivals a year. There he will worship and nothing has made him more glad than to say “lets go worship.”
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” Acts 2:46
“Gladness” in Acts 2:46 speaks of an unhidden joy. The word in the greek “agallisei” means “the utterance of sounds with great joy” or “exuberant delight.” Is it wrong to come with a heavy heart? A burden? Maybe the loss of a loved one has recently happened. Perhaps there are issues at home or work. Does that mean a person comes in with a fake smile or a mask to cover up there true feelings. No because happenings work with happiness and joy is of a different nature. Gladness or joy is contentment no matter what. For the believer “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b) and “My soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation” (Psalm 35:9). Our Joy comes from God. We may be hurting from tragedy and worn from trial but our joy and contentment is founded in God.
That should impact the way we come to worship no matter the circumstances. We are coming to worship God not because we want to see something wild happen but to give thanks and praise to the One who has saved us. Not only has He given salvation but also provision. We truly have so much to thank Him for. Cherry Constance writes, “Worship is an invitation, not an invention…We don’t create worship; we don’t manufacture services. Rather we respond to a person” (Constance, 2010, p. 4). Worship is a conversation because “true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23). God has spoken in the beginning to create. God has spoken mercy, peace, and forgiveness. God has called out to us all and those of us that have answered come in worship.
The set aside time is the local gatherings set apart time to gather and respond to the Holy Father’s seeking of worship. We answer His call with thanksgiving and praise. He responds again in the preached Word. We respond again by heeding the invitation and our sending to live out the Word. Worship is never about us but always a response to God’s actions. That’s why we can anticipate and expect great things at worship. The need for us to sing pretty enough, to shout louder, to run faster, is not there because we could never attract God into our presence with that. We come before Him. He is already there. He has beat us to the gathering place. So let us walk in with joy, gladness, thankfulness, and expectation.
Constance, Cherry; The Worship Archetect; Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 2010