Since the beginning of time, people have been gathering to worship God. In the garden of Eden we see Adam and Eve communing with God. All through the Old Testament, we see people gathering in caves, in tents, temples, by rivers, in homes on a weekly or daily basis to commune with God. People would talk amongst themselves and talk to God.
With profound intensity and intimacy interchanging thoughts and feelings. People would talk to God. God would talk to them. God would talk directly, through other people, through the written word, through Psalms, hymns, songs.
People would express themselves through singing, dancing, poetry, art, humor. Communicating to God exactly what he meant to them. They would come with the heaviness of the world on their shoulders and leave the meeting with a lightened load.
In these meetings, while people were expressing themselves to God. Declaring their faith in him, thanking Him for their blessings, asking him for assistance. In return, he would boldly manifest his presence. An ambiguous God would become palpable.
While the intent of the humans was to communicate with God and express themselves to Him, his intentions were the same.
To be made known to his people when they gathered to worship.
NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
Today, hundreds of millions of people will gather today to worship Jesus Christ. They will bring their thoughts, wins, loses, success, heart ache to the local gathering and offer up their sincere, heartfelt prayers. As they surrender their schedule to God, put off the parties, recreation, laziness, and even family time, they put GOD first.
They are making a statement to God, to themselves, to the devil and anyone else watching their life. Gathering with other believers matters. One thing we need to understand about going to church is that it is not really about if you need it or not.
Going to church on the weekend is all about you as a human being a part of a bigger movement. I am a human. I gather with humans and with one voice we declare to God that we are thankful for his creation. We are thankful for his redemption. We are thankful for his adoption, second chances, and fresh starts. We sing with one voice to Jehovah, Lord of the Earth, Jesus the Messiah we are here, we choose to return love to you. We choose to return our resources, our time, our talent, our money back to you!
It is our honor to consecrate our week. Surrender everything back to you. We recognize your sovereignty, your all encompassing knowledge and ability. We are thankful for your love, mercy, and grace.
You are sitting in one chair with others, in the _______ service, in one building of about 20-30 different buildings here in San Marcos, across the state of Texas, across the United States, across the Western Hemisphere. It is transcontinental. Reaching across Africa, and Asia, and Europe, and Australia. Not only are we joining 7 continents this morning in worshiping our Savior, but we are joining with believers over the time line of existence, kneeling at the throne of Jesus in one voice.
This concept was really set in my heart when I went to Jerusalem and stood outside the eastern wall of the city. I saw a vision of me standing in the midst of the rest world, we were worshipping the one true God on the eternal throne of Mount Zion.
We were living in a glorified body in a glorified world. Heaven and Earth were together, inseparable. When we gather here on Sunday, this is happening. We pray, “God, may the line that separates heaven and earth dissolve as we sing, pray, listen, dance, clap.”
Sunday worship is bigger than you. Sunday Worship transcends the week you had or the week you wanted. This is enormous. This is about a GOD that is eternal, immortal, and omnipresent. He is interested in you. He is capable of healing you and helping you.
This is about a God that loved you so much he would go to he greatest extent possible to bring you back. When you join with others and worship God several incredible things happen to us.
We are Awakened on Sunday!
Often we come into corporate worship feeling a sense of spiritual fog. During the rough and tumble of the week, the hard knocks of real life in the fallen world can disorient us to ultimate reality and what’s truly important. We need to clear our head, recalibrate our spirit, and jumpstart our slow heart.
Martin Luther found corporate worship powerful in awakening his spiritual fire: “at home, in my own house, there is no warmth or vigor in me, but in the church when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks its way through.”
Psalm 73:2 But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. 3 For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
In a fog! Deceived by what we see.
Psalm 73:17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
He was embattled. The spiritual haze was thick. But the breakthrough came in the context of worship. Which then leads to this climactic expression of praise:
We BREAK THROUGH the fog in corporate worship. “Praying Through”
ONE THING THAT IS IMPORTANT: if you haven’t gotten this yet. Corporate worship isn’t a show to you to watch. It is a show, but every human is a participant. The only spectator is JESUS CHRIST. Everyone who participates gets in on the action. There happens when we express our emotions thoughts, and concerns to Jesus. When you come into PromiseLand San Marcos, you are going to hear singing, clapping, dancing, shouting, and other sorts of expression. This has been happening for millennia.
Psalm 150:3 Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! 4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! 5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals. 6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the lord! Praise the lord!
Psalm 95:1 Come, let us sing to the lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. 3 For the lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.
Psalm 98:1 Sing a new song to the lord, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power!
Psalm 47:1 Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! 2 For the lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth.
There was a time when King David was worshipping and dancing in such an expressive way that his wife was embarrassed.
2 Samuel 6:21 David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the lord, so I celebrate before the lord. 22 Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!” 23 So Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless throughout her entire life.
In corporate worship, we experience an accentuated joy of deeper adoration and awe. Our perception of Jesus grows as we magnify him together with others.
Science and Medicine have actually shown fascinating results when studying people who worship regularly together on a weekly basis.
Bjorn Vickhoff, a Researcher of the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden studied the heart rates of choir members as they joined their voices. What really struck him was that it took almost no time at all for the singers’ heart rates to become synchronized. The readout from the pulse monitors starts as a jumble of jagged lines, but quickly becomes a series of uniform peaks. The heart rates fall into a shared rhythm guided by the song’s tempo. He says, “The members of the choir are synchronizing externally with the melody and the rhythm, and now we see it has an internal counterpart.” There is actually a Swedish proverb says, a shared joy is a double joy.
In How God Changes Your Brain, neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg shows that meditation/prayer improves memory and helps improve the aging brain, and can interrupt the devastating effects of depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and a host of stress-related disorders.
In 2002, there was a study published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine were they studied the affects of Religious attendance over a 31 year period. They wanted to the relationship between religious attendance and mortality. They did this by examining 6545 people that went to church over a 31 year period from 1965 to 1996. They found that people that did not attend church weekly had significantly higher rates of death from circulatory problems, cancer, digestive and respiratory issues. Their conclusion: Weekly Religious Involvement is a general protective factor that promotes health through a variety of causal pathways.
We Advance on Sunday!
WE Grow! We Listen! We Learn! We are discipled! We are shaped and molded!
Corporate worship also plays an indispensible part in our sanctification — our progressive growth in being conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29).
When you hear a sermon, it is like a seed sown into the soil of your heart that bears fruit in season. However, sanctification can happen “on the spot” as we sit under gospel preaching and engage in corporate worship. There are times — may God make them many — when the Holy Spirit takes the Scripture read, the prayer spoken, the chorus sung, or the truth preached and presses it right to the point of our need, and not merely informs our Christian walk, but heals us in that moment.
When we join in corporate worship, God loves not only to change our minds, but irrevocably change our hearts “on the spot.”
1 Corinthians 14:3 But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.
Look at the change that happens to all of us. I love the plurality of this passage:
2 Corinthians 3: 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Rose Ellis’ sister that said last Sunday, “Your sermon in 2005 changed my life.” She went into detail about the parable I used and I could not remember one facet of the sermon. She went on and on. You never know what one sentence in one sermon will do for your spiritual journey and health.
OK, here is my SPRING CHALLENGE for you. I know that there is something on this list that you can jump into:
- Commit to Public Worship Weekly
- Get out of your Comfort Zone
- Invite Others to Participate with You