Summary: Worship is a lifestyle, not just a Sunday activity. Practicing God’s presence 24/7 is vital to spiritual life and maturity
Practicing His Presence
Why do we go to church? Why do we worship God? The excuses and attitudes of people are interesting to say the least. Church, for some is pure drudgery, a boring necessity that must be endured. For others, church attendance is an obligation must like paying bills and creditors. Excuses vary like “the sermon is too long and the pastor is boring,” or “the people aren’t friendly.” And let’s not forget the good old excuse of “I don’t know the songs and the music is too loud.” Perhaps the reason some have little desire for God’s House on Sunday is because they have had little desire for God throughout the week…
How about this letter addressed to a pastor.
“Dear Pastor: You often stress attendance at worship as being important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss now and then. I think every person ought to be excused for the following reasons and the number of times indicated.
1. Christmas holidays (the Sunday before and after -- 2
2. New Years Day (the party lasted too long) -- 1
3. Easter (must get away for the holidays) – 2
4. July 4th (National holiday) – 1
5. Labor Day (Need to get away period!) – 2
6. Memorial Day (Visit hometown folk) – 1
7. School closing (kids need a break) – 1
8. Family Reunions (mine and wife’s) – 3
9. Sleep late (up too long Saturday night) – 9
10. Deaths in family – 2
11. Anniversary (2nd honeymoon) – 1
12. Sickness (1 per family member) – 5
13. Business trip (a must) – 1
14. Vacation (3-4 weeks) – 6
15. Bad weather (ice, snow, rain, clouds) – 2
16. Ball games – 2
17. Races – 2
18. Unexpected company (just can’t walk out on them) – 2
19. Time changes (Spring and Fall) – 2
20. Specials on TV (Super Bowl, etc.) – 3
Pastor, that leaves two Sundays per year. So you can count on us being in church on the fourth Sunday in February and the third Sunday in August unless we are providentially hindered.
Sincerely, A Faithful Member”
Excuses are truly amazing! Excuses are much like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but doesn’t take you any where.
Yet, for many worshipping God is pure joy. It is a normal part of their lives. The practice God’s presence is as familiar and natural as breathing. They come to church enthused about worshipping God and being with His people. These kinds of people don’t come because of the pastor, or the music, or the people. Their main motivation is to meet with and worship God. If we get in the right attitude and motivation we too will enjoy coming to church.
David speaks to this issue in Psalm 84. This Psalm was apparently written when David was forced to leave Jerusalem during Absalom’s rebellion, and David is distressed about leaving God’s house. In this Psalm we see three observations concerning practicing God’s presence.
(Read Psalm 84)
1. David had a strong desire for God’s House vv.1-2 “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (NIV)
David would rather be in God’s House than any where else. In our modern vernacular David would rather be in church than on the golf course, Disney World, a football/baseball game, or even at a NASCAR race. He would rather be at church than at the campground or sitting home in his recliner watching reruns on TV. He desires to be in God’s House. Why?
A. David desires to be God’s house. Notice verse 1 “how lovely is your dwelling place.” The word “lovely” is best translated “loved.” David loved God’s presence. He wasn’t yearning for the building, but for the presence of the Lord.
1. God’s House represented the place where he could go to meet with God.
2. Do we feel this way today? Is there a longing for God’s house?
3. Today, more than anything else we need God’s presence. Jim Cymbala writes, “Too much of our religious life is made up of programs and human ideas, talents and strategies. While these have value, they pitifully fail to meet the need of the house. What is missing today is something from heaven itself, something from God the Holy Spirit that fills and floods our lives. This has always been God’s design for His church.”
B. David longed for God’s presence. V.2 “my soul…my heart…my flesh…” These words express David’s longing for the living God. He desperately wanted to be in God’s presence; the living God Himself. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps 42:1 NIV).