Yesterday, I preached on the cosmic significance of corporate worship. For the sake of time, we dropped in the middle of the argument in Hebrews 12, but I thought it might be interesting to look at the immediately preceding verses, that give the practical need for corporate worship. What are some things we should seek from our time worshiping together? I am going to bold the commandments, and underline the things to avoid:
Hebrews 12:12–17Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
Encouragement from Corporate Worship
Accountability through Corporate Worship
Diligence in Corporate Worship
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
“Abide in Me, and I in You”
I am not even referring to sin (although repenting of known sin is a key part of abiding), but to the frantic, busy lives we lead. A vine (although we may be more familiar with fruit trees in Brazoria County) can have lots of pathetic fruit, or a smaller quantity of excellent fruit. The secret is to prune some branches, not only those that are bad in and of themselves, but to allow more room and strength for the chosen ones. You are only humanl you can do do twenty things poorly or three things well. What areas of your life do you prayerfully need to let God prune, even if it hurts? What areas are sapping valuable strength, but bearing no lasting fruit? Don’t let good things get in the way of the best things.
Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly
You need to be in the Scriptures twice every day.
Once by yourself, and once with your family. How much effort would it take to get on a daily Bible reading plan for yourself (we are launching one on January 1st that will take you in detail through the New Testament in 15-20 minutes a day), and then read a chapter out of Proverbs with your family at dinner? If you have kids, they each get to pick one verse for you to explain to them, and once verse to explain to you. Then trade prayer requests and pray. Sing, if you want! But get God’s Word into your life and into your heart. When His Word abides in you, then you can abide in Him. There is no better time than now to get into the habit, and teach your family how central the Word of God really is to you. Build Jesus into the rhythm of your normal life, and watch your heart change.
Make sure you are genuinely a Christian who really understands the gospel. Prayerfully remove the clutter from your life. Deliberately prepare space for God and His Word. Abide.