No More Excuses!

Text: Psalm 122

Prior to my “blogging sabbatical,” which I wrote about in my last post, I introduced you to the Psalms of Ascent.  I mentioned that they were most likely songs that were sung as the Hebrew people made their way to Jerusalem three times a year (cf. Ex 23:14-17 & Ex 34:22-24).  These fifteen psalms (120-134) are musical arrangements designed to reflect a wide spectrum of emotional reactions from fear to joy.  They are the songs of God’s people in all generations, who travel through life’s unending challenges on their way to eternity.

Psalm 122 expresses an enthusiasm for corporate worship. Does that seem odd to you?  It does to me!  When I listen to other people, as well as to my own heart, I hear a lot of excuses when it comes to corporate worship.  “Why should I go to church?” we ask.  We often think things like: “It’s too cold, and the people are not that friendly. The sermon probably won’t be to my liking. Maybe it would be best to just stay home.” 

But Psalm 122 turns those excuses (any many others) upside down. You see, the Jews understood that life was designed to revolve around God, not our human feelings.  And that is why David was glad when he heard the chants of the people who were headed to Jerusalem yet again!  What David understood can revolutionize our worship experiences as well - 

We will worship with enthusiasm when God is the sole focus of our worship experience.

How did I come to this conclusion? Let me share with you three reasons for enthusiastic, corporate worship embedded within Psalm 122. 

  1. GOD REQUESTS.  Verses 1 & 2 move from an invitation to a reality.  That is, people were saying, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”  They realized that God had invited them to leave their homes and occupations for a short period of time and enter into his presence.  Verse 2 expresses the reality of actually following through in obedience.  That is, God’s request turned into a reality.  The same is true for you. God invites you to worship (Ps 95:6 & Heb 10:24-25).  He is the sole reason for doing so—not how we feel or even how others will respond to us.  
  2. GOD REVEALS.  That is, the ancient people gathered in Jerusalem, and when they did, they would often marvel at the way the city had been carefully put together.  These observations in turn led to expressions of thanksgiving and praise (vv. 3-4). But even more important, these worshipers would often come with burdens and stresses from the lives they experienced “back home.”  Therefore, God structured these worship gatherings as times to inquire from Israel’s teachers as to how God wanted them to live in righteousness and peace (v. 5; cf. Deut 17:8; 2 Chron 19:8).  Corporate worship brought instruction for life.  And the same is true for us.  When we gather as God’s people, God’s Word is proclaimed in a variety of ways, so that we can know and obey the wisdom God has for his people (Col 3:16).  
  3. GOD REFRESHES.  It appears in vv. 6-9 that David is praying specifically for the city of Jerusalem. You will want to notice two words that are repeated in this last paragraph, the words “peace” and “security.”  David wanted peace and security during this time of corporate gathering because he knew that once the festival was over, the people would be returning to…LIFE!  Therefore, they needed to be refreshed while they were gathered as the people of God.  They needed “peace” and “security” in their souls.  And so do you!  In fact, that is one of the by-products of corporate worship according to Hebrews 10:19-25.  Jesus gives us access to God the Father.  In turn, having been cleansed from all sin, we can live in spiritual peace and security after our corporate worship is complete. 
Reflect on these thoughts as we move toward another Sunday - 
It would be easy to listen to your feelings and stay away from meeting with other believers.  But that is not the way of a Christ-follower.  So stop the excuses!!!  Look to the God who invites you to come into his presence. 

God alone is worth the time and effort it takes to come together as the people of God and worship.

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