Categories
Scripture

Saturday Study

Spiritual Discipline of Corporate Worship (2-20-21)

The gathering of the saints for corporate worship is one of the most precious practices of our faith. The visual and audible reminder that we are adopted into a big family of God is a treasured and needed thing as we struggle through this life. There are so many blessings we receive from fellowship, worship, communion, sitting under our pastor’s teaching, and praying for one another. Corporate worship points to the glory of our eternity with God. We get a picture of this in Revelation 4 and 5. Take a moment and turn there and read about the throne room of God and the choir of His redeemed exalting His holy name.

The Scriptures speak often about the value and importance of corporate worship. Today, I want us to read through some of these passages and look at how they apply to the importance of our corporate worship.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

All throughout God’s word we see testimony of the gathering of the saints to celebrate and honor the King. One of the most famous places is the collection of songs/poems called the Psalms. In chapter 150, we see this great crescendo of celebration for God.

Psalm 150 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

So one of the things we are to do is to gather and sing—to celebrate and play instruments and make a joyful noise unto the Lord. We are to lift our voices in unison and praise Him for all that He is and all that He has done. Let’s look at another passage about gathering corporately to study, praise, and pray.

Hebrews 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

In this year of 2021, many are using the threat of a new Corona Virus to disobey God’s command on the redeemed Church to gather for corporate Sunday worship. Nowhere in Scripture do we see the people of God instructed to forsake coming together if they are healthy. We do see God’s instruction for the sick and contagious to separate themselves until well, but we do not cease to gather if we are healthy—even if there is a threat in doing so. We trust God’s providence for our lives, and we obey His commands. He has numbered our days, and so we joyfully and humbly trust in His providential plan for our lives. Watching a church service online, while helpful to grow in God’s word, is not the same as physically gathering with the saints to practice all the one anothers, to pray together, sing together, serve together, and take the Lord’s Supper together.

For others, it is all too tempting to satisfy the flesh and sleep in on Sundays because we are overworked, or because we stayed up too late on Saturday night. Or maybe we have a greater desire to stay home and watch the race or to make plans to be out of town too regularly. I encourage you to be attentive to the need to get away with your family on occasion, but I want to highlight this passage that calls for us not to neglect our meeting together. It needs to be a priority.

Corporate worship should be the peak of our week as blood bought believers in Jesus Christ. Everything builds towards and flows out of Sunday worship at your local church.

For too many, corporate Sunday worship is what you do when you have nothing else to do: when you don’t have to work, when you aren’t going out of town, when you don’t have a lot of household chores. The problem with this is what it says about your worship!  What is most important to you? God has designed into the life of His people a local church, local church shepherds to lead and feed that local church, and a unity of people by which we are not meant to do life without.

I pray that instead of Sunday worship being the thing that you do when there is nothing else that it becomes the priority of your week. I pray that we teach our kids that  Christians build their week in anticipation of the gathering of the saints to share testimony, sit under their shepherds’ teaching, and to rejoice together for all that God is and is doing in them. The true members of a local church are not haphazard participants; they are faithful, committed, plugged in, and excited to regularly meet and grow together.

Let’s look at another scripture regarding corporate worship:

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

In Acts chapter 2, we see another aspect for why we are to value or devote ourselves to regularly meeting corporately, and that is “to devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching.” Here we see the local church thriving and growing in their early days. What was one of the big parts of their coming together? To sit under their shepherds’ teaching of the word. Sunday worship is the main vehicle in the modern church for our pastors to teach us. In John 21, Jesus commands Peter to “Feed my sheep.” At least 16 hours a week is invested into my Sunday sermon preparation. This is no small investment by the church to value what God’s word values, which is that God’s people are being rightly taught the word of God.

What this means is that you need to highly value this instruction. As a committed member of your home church, you should never miss a sermon that is taught. Now, I don’t mean that there are not some Sundays you will miss due to sickness or a needed family vacation, but with modern technology and online sermon podcast, you don’t have to miss a sermon, ever. At any point later that day, week, or month, you can listen to it from just about anywhere in the world.

Before we move on, don’t miss what else this verse in Acts 2:42 highlights: a devotion to fellowship, communion, and prayer. Read it with me again:

Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Communion is the corporate testimony of the saved, pronouncing what Christ has done on the cross and that He will return again one day. I don’t know about you, but I love to see all my brothers and sisters visually feasting together—testifying about what God has done for them, testifying that they are His and that He is coming back for them.

Oh, how we need to fellowship, and we need to enjoy our time together. I want to ask you to make it a habit of showing up early and leaving late for Sunday church. Take time to get to know each other and visit and pray for each other. Make the most of this special, weekly corporate worship time.

One of the things you must consider is not just whether or not “you” need to go to church that day but the fact that you play an important role in your home church family, and your absence impacts others more than you know, even if you don’t have an on stage or central role you play on Sunday. Just your presence, your words of affirmation and encouragement, your hugs and presence are a God-ordained part of your home church family. Don’t undervalue what you bring to others.

Practical Things to consider for Corporate Worship

– Make it a priority every week to attend.

– Bring your Bible and take notes for further study.

– Be on time, come early.

– Never stop inviting, or even better, bringing those who don’t yet know Jesus as Lord and/or those needing a good church to be a part of.

– Get to bed early on Saturday night so you are rested and ready to worship Sunday morning.

– Start looking for ways to help make Sunday worship happen (volunteer in kids, tech, security, hosting, set up, etc.).

One of the critical aspects of our corporate worship is our financial giving. This should be looked at as financial worship. This is the giving of our first financial fruits. Everything your local church needs financially to run is within the resources that God has entrusted to its local members. The question is, are the people of that flock all being faithful with the first fruits of what God has entrusted to them? More specifically, are you joyfully, regularly, generously, and faithfully making it a priority to give what is God’s to the work of God by worshiping Him in the giving of your first fruits of your income to your local church? God gives us direction for how He wants this done. It is not simply a pragmatic issue; it is a spiritual issue.

We are to give joyfully:   

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

We are to give regularly:

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (NLT) Now about the money being collected for the Christians in Jerusalem: You should follow the same procedures I gave to the churches in Galatia. On every Lord’s Day, each of you should put aside some amount of money in relation to what you have earned and save it for this offering.

We are to give generously:

2 Corinthians 8:2-3 (NLT) Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will.

If you have not been obedient to Scripture and faithful in practicing financial worship, I plead with you to begin today. Prayerfully commit to God what you will give, and then set your lifestyle with what is left—not the other way around.

Each of us has a part to play in our local church body. Are you playing your part? Are you obedient to God in this area of your life? Is corporate worship a priority in your week? I pray it is like never before. May you not only be blessed, but may you be a blessing.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Joshua Kirstine

Disciples Church