What does that word stir-up inside you? What does it make you think? What does it make you feel?
This word is either a directive or an invitation. For me, growing up, it was usually a directive; but as an adult, it’s more often than not an invitation.
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
Psalms 100:1-5 NLT
In Psalm 100, “Come before him, singing with joy.” is a both.
It’s an invitation for all God’s people to come into His presence and engage in corporate worship. But there’s also an element of a directive because God created us for community, not isolation (See Genesis 2). He created us to come together, to unite as one body (Ephesians 4:4, Colossians 3).
There’s an overwhelming number of passages that urge us to meet together for worship including, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
I don’t know about you, but after worshiping with other Believers, I feel encouraged! No matter what season I’m in, what challenges I’m facing, what I’m wrestling with, or how broken I am—I always feel refreshed, refocused, and more hopeful. And when I’m excited, happy, and in a good mood, God places Brothers and Sisters in my path to serve, lift up, encourage, and pour into so they can be refreshed, refocused, and more hopeful. Do you see the cycle? Life is hard. This is why God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us a group of others to encourage us and help us carry the burdens life throws at us. Then, in turn, He provides opportunities for us to serve others.
Do you see how the first three How-Tos, Shout, Serve, and Come, are intertwined? They highlight the three crucial parts of Christianity: our Verbal witness of what God has done for us; our taking care of others; our gathering together as one body to worship.
Coming together to worship is for our blessing and benefit. We not only come into God’s presence and experience what Jesus’s promised in Matthew, “For where two or three gather together as my followers. I am there among them.” (18:20). But we also get to be part of a community of believers. One of the things I love about the Psalms is their calls to worship, the invitations to join together in praising our Creator and Redeemer. Sometimes there was a specific reason to shout out their worship, other times it was just because. I love those just because worship times. Those moments when His glory, grace, and goodness so overpowers us we can’t keep it to ourselves. We have to share, to invite others to worship Him alongside us.
Then in Acts 2 we witness the newly Spirit-filled Believers forming a new community to [devote] themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper ), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.’ (vs.42-47).
Then scattered through the remainder of the New Testament Christians are encouraged to meet together “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Ephesians 5:19-20). To teach and counsel each other (Colossians 3:16). To offer a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 15:15).
Beloved, we are blessed with a holy legacy. With the joy of gathering together. With the opportunity to join our voices and hearts praising our God. Going to church isn’t meant to be a drudgery but a thrill as we join hands and step into our Father’s presence.
‘Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!’ Psalms 34:8