The Certainty of Sunday

The Need for Rhythms Throughout the Week

Author: Charlie Jackson

There are some things in life that are certain, especially in Florida.

You can even set your watch by them.

It never fails – every day in the summertime, at four in the afternoon, having an umbrella at your disposal is a must as the Floridian heavens are opened. Or perhaps you’re driving over the Howard Frankland at 5:00 p.m. on a weekday. With an absolute guarantee, you’ll spend the next (at a minimum) forty-five minutes in a stop-and-go cycle of the most tortuous, seemingly never-ending six-mile stretch in the Sunshine State (save I-4 coming from Orlando around the same time).

The greatest week-to-week certainty we look forward to occurs at fifteen minutes past ten each Sunday morning in the Main Hall at the campus of Covenant Life Church.

A Bible is opened. God, through his word, literally places a call to each one of his children present to worship him together in worldly-wisdom defying, gospel-centered unity. And so we do that, attempting at every turn and through careful planning to do so according to the ways God’s word has given us instruction to.

When we think about this ninety-minute block on Sunday morning as a grace-filled certainty built into the lives of believers at CLC, are we also thinking about the certainty of our own preparedness to gather with one another? Do we risk gathering in vain by not preparing ourselves throughout the week? Is there such a certain preparedness in your life? Have we taken time to think (a notion lost in our knee-jerk, Twitter-infused, snap reaction culture) about what we ought to do to ready our hearts and minds for the corporate gathering? Is it enough that our pastors/leaders are preparing to lead us, or is there some way we can ready ourselves to prepare for gathering with one another?

I submit that there is a responsibility you and I have to one another to arrive on Sunday morning full of joy (not worldly happiness, but godly joy through trials/suffering/disappointments). That joy must be massaged, worked out, and wrought by the Holy Spirit as you – in your family gatherings, in the car, in the mornings and evenings, with your coworkers/friends/fellow students/neighbors/etc., and all other times in between – seek to prepare your heart and mind for gathering with your spiritual brothers and sisters.

None of this is easy, but it is a gift and call to obedience from God.

How do we do this? Perhaps it’s good to remind ourselves that maturing one’s joy is going to be nourishing for one’s soul. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel makes the labors an easier pill to swallow. Furthermore, as you mature in godly joy, this growth becomes more natural and desirable. So, as a Christian person – one who is indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God – know this: you can enjoy the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Joy, among the other fruits, is possible. You would be remiss, and I would pity you, were you not to pursue these things day in and day out.

Pursuing godly joy is no natural feat. Rather, it is supernatural. Therefore, we must not look for natural means of obtaining supernatural joy. That would be like attempting to travel to the moon by utilizing the same mechanics and science behind riding a bicycle. Both are possible, but one is a world away from the other.

God’s word gives us the tools necessary to obtain the joy he prescribes. Psalm 37:23 says that “the steps of man are established by the Lord, and he (the Lord) delights in his (the man’s) way.” God delights when his people obey and seek to follow him in all things. So know at the outset that what is given to us to do in pursuing joy is a delight to God, and when God delights in his people, joy is given.

So what are the weekly joy-producing rhythms that will prepare you well for Sunday morning to gather with the saints? Consider these.

Study the word of God (Psalm 1:1-3)

Engage with the God by reading his word. There simply is no substitute for this, and one would find it difficult to convince others of their own faith and adherence to the Christian religion without having spent regular, devoted time in the Bible. The evidence of faith is produced in you as you read God’s word. Dwell in it day and night.

One of the best rhythms you can develop to prepare for Sunday is to read the previous week’s sermon passage, and then read the upcoming week’s sermon passage. Take notes. Ask questions. Look for connections to other parts of the Bible. Purchase a resource to help you read through the text. Let it consume your downtime. If you believe you don’t have enough time to read and think through God’s word, you must examine what parts of your life need to be sacrificed in order to make this happen. Three words: Netflix, social media. Likely, nothing else needs to be said about killing off time-wasters.

Pray for the people (Ephesians 6:18)

Open the church directory and pray for your brothers and sisters by name. Email/text/call to let them know that you prayed for them. Make a list of the things you prayed for in a journal. It doesn’t have to contain a litany of fine detail. The other day I spent time in prayer and wrote some short notes in my journal. The list looked like this:

Prayed for upcoming sermon; prayer for his/her struggle; prayer for his/her parents and family situation; prayer for his/her health. Joy evident in this time. Longing to pray more, work well, and encourage others.

One of the joys in the life of the faithful Christian is being able to remember how God has answered prayer. A love for God and one another through faithful prayer is naturally developed.

Sing the songs of God, and give thanks (Colossians 3:16-17)

Take your bulletin home with you each week. Within the bulletin is a list of the order of service for each gathering. In that list is the name of every song we will sing on that particular Sunday. After a month or so, you should have a list of around 15-20 songs that you can listen to, sing along with, learn parts to (harmony is such a great representation of the desired diversity within the church), etc. If these songs are new to you, learn them! You do your brothers and sisters good by preparing to sing well each Sunday.

Our genuine attempt is to sing songs patterned after God’s self-revelation in the Bible. It’s one of the ways we push the gospel forward over generations with our children. So, sing these songs at the dinner table, before tucking your kids into bed at night, when you’re driving them to school, when you want to dance around the house, and at any time in-between. And if you don’t have children of your own, you are still able to engage in the discipleship of your friends’ children. You are all spiritual parents to the children of our church members.

We sing songs for all seasons. Songs of joy, lament, thanksgiving, longing, hope, sorrow, confession and more fill our musical palette throughout the year (especially now that we’re in the midst of preaching through the Psalms). Singing our songs regularly will help you have truth equipped in your spiritual tool-belt for the times you are in need of bringing it to bear.

Sunday is coming

Let’s be honest. Weariness and sorrow is an unavoidable part of life. Not all of us are going to show up on Sunday bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Thankfully, that is not the call of God. God doesn’t command you to have worldly happiness at all. This also doesn’t mean that we are to reject notions of genuine visible happiness (David begs God to allow him to smile at the end of Psalm 39). How is it possible, then, to come to the gathering with sorrow, yet possess joy? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:10. We can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” There is a kind of joy in the Christian worked out by God that is inexplicable in worldly terms. But this joy requires work – grace-filled, Spirit-wrought work in the life of the Christian.

For the sake of one another’s and your own joy, engage in this soul work. Satisfy the God-given longings for joy with the prescriptions of Bible reading and study, prayer, singing, and thanksgiving. You have the opportunity to exercise the rhythms of healthy Christian disciplines so that you might have joy, others might be encouraged, and God might be glorified among our people, in our city, and to the nations (joy produces evangelism, and evangelism produces joy, too!). Sunday is a certainty. Make each day in-between filled with certainties of their own that glorify God and bring joy to your soul.

Posted on: July 24, 2018 - 5:58PM

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