This is the 4th and final post in the series “The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.” The first post dealt with the question, “Are Christians Required To Keep The Sabbath?” The second one dealt with the question, “Are Christians Required To Keep The Lord’s Day?” and the third post dealt with the “Common Problems That Hinder Going To Church On The Lord’s Day.”
In this post, we will look at practical suggestions that will help us attend church on the Lord’s Day in a God-glorifying manner. I have broken these under 2 broad categories: Preparation and Participation.
Often, our preparation to worship the Lord on his day happens an hour or two before the start of the church. This often leads to chaos. However, by preparing earlier, on Saturday evening/night or even a bit sooner, we can effectively worship the Lord on Sunday mornings.
10 Things to consider doing on Saturday evening/night.
1. Go to bed at a reasonable time.
Easier said than done. TV, Internet, Sports, Parties, you name it. Many competing and compelling attractions can keep us awake until late hours. However, the reality is that our bodies need a reasonable amount of rest. Going to bed on time not only gets us ready for church because our bodies are rested but it also effectively kills the temptation to skip church because our bodies are tired.
2. Get clothes ready for Sunday morning.
A 5-10 minute task on a Saturday night without stress can avoid unnecessary tension on Sunday morning.
3. Make sure the car has enough gas.
Stopping on the way to church at a gas station to fill up may seem only a few minutes. However, if one is already rushed, those few minutes can add to the frustration. And what if the car does not make it to the gas station?
4. Write the check.
If one’s habit is to give their financial offering as a check to the church, then having it ready beforehand is a good move.
5. Stock the diaper bag [if one has young kids].
It’s very essential to make sure the requirements of kids are addressed adequately.
6. Organize all materials if in preaching/teaching ministry.
The key word is “organizing” not preparing. Preparations should have been done long ago. If one is in the habit of using electronic devices [e.g., IPAD], it is good to keep a paper-copy as a back-up in case the device fails. Also, it is good to charge devices so they don’t run out of battery in the middle of the service.
7. Get the music instruments ready if in music ministry.
Getting music sheets and having the instruments ready to go overnight is a help.
8. Plan for breakfast and if needed, even lunch.
Food is a big issue and often is the cause of much frustration—choosing what to eat and how long it takes to cook. However, by coming up with the plan of what needs to be done the prior night itself, one can save themselves a lot of frustration.
9. Plan for church pot-luck if applicable.
If your church has a pot-luck luncheon, it’s good to plan to bring a reasonable amount for your family and extra to share [especially with those who are single]! That way, instead of burdening others, one can be a blessing to them!
10. Spend time in Bible reading and prayer before going to bed.
It would be unwise to think the 3 enemies of the Christian—the sinful nature that is still with us otherwise called as the “flesh”, the world and the devil—would simply let us pursue the things of God without a battle. So, how should be we respond? We must expect these battles and respond to them by spending time in meditating on the Scriptures and praying.
Praising, confessing of sins should accompany our prayers. We also need to make sure we don’t come to the Lord’s house with bitterness in our hearts. That hinders our worship [Matt 5:23-24, Mk 11:25]. And consequences of worshiping and even participating in the Lord’s Supper with sinful hearts can be severe [1 Cor 11:27-31]!
We need to remember, it’s spiritual warfare. That’s why right preparation is a must! Even if while we are on vacation, we must plan ahead and try to find a local Bible-preaching church where we can worship the Lord with his people.
So, there’s a list of 10 things to consider doing on Saturday. As Sunday morning comes around, here are a few things to consider.
6 Things to consider doing on Sunday morning.
1. Get up at a reasonable time.
The temptation to sleep more is always there—even if one went to bed early. Old habits don’t die quickly. That’s why we need to pray for help and get up when the alarm goes on!
2. Take a shower in order to be fresh.
Good to be alert mentally and physically when coming to worship the risen King Jesus!
3. Spend time in the reading of the Bible and prayer.
It’s not just the physical part alone that needs to be fresh [see next point], but the spiritual part as well. Spending time in God’s word and heartfelt prayer in seeking a blessing to experience his presence in Church is very important. It’s also good to pray for those in ministry and for the Lord to bring people to listen with humble hearts. Equally good to pray for the lost people to come, hear the gospel and be saved.
4. Eat a good breakfast.
An empty stomach [unless one is fasting] can hinder one from effectively worshiping. Both mind and body don’t always function well on an empty stomach! So, a decent breakfast is a must!
5. Help your spouse with getting kids ready.
This suggestion applies more to husbands. Our wives can get all the help they need. Even small things like getting the kids up, getting them to shower and helping them eat their breakfast can be a great relief to the wife who has her hands already full with other things. A fresh and well-fed kid is a blessing to parents and the church family! Plus it’s good for the kid too!
Note: I do understand in cases where only one parent is a Christian and that he or she may not get help from the spouse. It is difficult in such a situation. If you are such a parent, don’t lose heart. Your efforts will not go to vain. Remember, you are doing it for the Lord Jesus who died for you. Let that motivate you to keep pressing forward! Who knows one day your spouse will change. God is in the business of changing hard hearts. Don’t give up!
6. Plan to come early.
By coming early, one can get settled, meet people to offer a word of encouragement, help church staff and prayerfully prepare the mind for worship. Also, by planning to come early, one can overcome unexpected traffic delays leading to frustration and even arguments within family members as a result of rushing. Plus one can also avoid the sin of driving over the speed limit on the way to worship!
Being early is a good example to the kids too! It shows the importance of being prompt. What example will we set for our children if we are always rushing and late to places—especially to worship the Lord? Children learn by example!
So many positives from planning to come early.
Having seen the planning part before coming to Church—both on Saturday night and Sunday morning, let’s see the participation aspect while in the Church.
3 Things to consider while in Church.
1. We must participate wholeheartedly while singing, focus when the word is being preached, pray when the time of prayer comes and so forth. He is worthy!
2. We must fellowship with people and encourage one another. We must also be willing to get to know newcomers. The tendency to spend time only with known people must be overcome. We must be willing to take a step forward and spend time with others.
3. We must plan to stay for the entire service. That’s why it is important not to plan for too many things after the service on a regular basis. This will cause one to constantly keep looking at the clock and panic if the service runs a little over. It is the Lord’s Day after all!
I’m sure most of these suggestions are nothing new for most of the readers. However, they can still serve as a good reminder to help us treat the Lord’s Day as his day.
Whatever I have written in this series, I have not written them in a legalistic spirit— though I run the risk of being construed that way. Yes, we cannot add or delete anything to the completed work of salvation done by the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the salvation that came at such a great cost should be accepted and lived out with a sincere commitment which includes honoring the Lord’s Day.
When we seek to treat the Lord’s Day as truly the LORD’s day, we are saying, “Lord, I love you. I desire to honor you. If that comes at a cost of denying myself, help me to do so. You are worthy. Please help me to honor you on the first day of the week as well as all other days. Forgive me and help me to change in those areas where I need to change.” I hope that will be the continual cry of our hearts.
P.S. If you have other items that you think can be added to the above lists, please feel free to share so that others can benefit. In one sense, we are all together in pursuing this goal of glorifying God on the Lord’s Day.