Maybe you brought your Bible. Sometimes you bring relatives or friends. No doubt you brought your mobile phone with its annoying ringtone. But hopefully you brought more than these with you today. The apostle Paul states in Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” So meeting together to worship God and hear His word is important, but what we bring with us is important too.
A spirit of praise
“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing” (Psalm 100:1-2).
We have to come into God’s presence with a joyful noise, gladness and singing, so we arrive with a spirit of praise. How many come to church with worry, fear, anxiety and depression! Notice the psalmist says that we must “make a joyful noise.” This implies that our praise ought to rouse the sleepy saints who just come to warm a seat. It means that we put our heart and soul into singing to the Lord rather than barely raising a whisper. We should be singing with great gusto! It may be a noise to some, but it is at least joyful to the Lord and us. This is why we reject professional choirs in the church service, for each one of us are part of the “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6), and “a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Each one of us must participate in worshipping God. “And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:3).
We are actually serving the Lord when we worship Him. Service sounds like legalism and so must be boring, but those who love the Lord serve Him with gladness in their hearts. Did you come to church with a big smile on your face today? “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1). If meeting with other believers in the presence of the Lord is our delight then we will be blessed beyond measure. God does not mind if we express our love to Him by exercising our vocal cords. “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise” (Psalm 98:4).
A spirit of submission
“Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).
We know of churches where the congregation assemble to glorify themselves, but we are here to worship God by being submissive to Him. We must “know” that God is the only one who deserves our praise. We are not here to exalt ourselves or anyone else, we are here to honour God alone. We are nothing without Him. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
He “made” us who we are, therefore we are not the ones in the limelight. “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). God saved us so that we could serve and praise Him by being obedient to His will. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Before we try to exalt ourselves, let us be mindful of the fact that we are simply sheep following the shepherd. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:1-2). We sing the words but do we really mean them? “Submit yourselves therefore to God” (James 4:7).
A spiritual sacrifice
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5).
God required that the priesthood come before Him with offerings and sacrifices. We come before Him with thanksgiving in our hearts. Some are content to sing a few hymns, offer their tithes and listen to a sermon, but we must go beyond that and truly thank the Lord for all He has done for us. This is the way Daniel came before the Lord too, “I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God” (Daniel 2:23).
Gates keep trespassers out, but we can pass through them into the presence of God because we belong to Him. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17). “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1).
We are permitted into the Holy of Holies to meet with God. When you meet a monarch it is customary to bring a gift with you. We come with the spiritual sacrifice of thanksgiving. “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30). We can praise Him for being good and merciful towards us. “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). We can thank Him that His word can be trusted throughout every generation, for it is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). We can rejoice in the fact that God will not renege on His promises. “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Have we ever taken the time to thank Him for what He has done for us? “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:1-5).
What a dramatic change would take place in most church services if its members brought the right things with them! Dull and boring church services are a product of dull and boring people. We ought to come with praise and thanksgiving in our hearts, then we will prove that we truly love and serve God. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20) … “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:16-17).