Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Going to the House of God

 I recently read "Faith on Trial" by D. Martin Lloyd Jones which contains his sermons through Psalm 73.  The whole book is rich and insightful but his comments on the Benefits of going to the house of God certainly bear repeating... so enjoy, be encouraged, be challenged:

"What a wonderful place God's house is.  Often you will find deliverance by merely coming into it.  Many a time have I thanked God for His house.  I thank God that He has ordained that His people should meet together in companies, and worship together.  The house of God has delivered me from 'the mumps and measles of the soul' a thousand times and more - merely to enter its doors.  How does it work?  I think it works like this.  The very fact that there is a house of God to come to at all tells us something.  How has it come into being?  It is God who planned and arranged it.  To realize that in itself puts us immediately into a more healthy condition.  Then we begin to go back through history, and remind ourselves of certain truths.  Here am I at this present time with this terrible problem, but the Christian Church has existed all these long years. (I am already beginning to think in an entirely different way.)  The house of God goes back through the centuries to the time of our Lord Himself.  What is it for?  What is its significance?  And the cure has begun.

Again, we go to the house of God, and to our amazement we find other people there before us.  We are rather surprised at that, because in our private misery and perplexity we had come to the conclusion that perhaps there was nothing in religion at all, and that it was not worth continuing with it.  But here are people who think it is worth continuing with; and we feel better.  We begin to say: Perhaps I may be wrong; all these people think there is something in it; they may be right.  The healing process is going on, the cure is being continued.

Then we go a step farther.  We look round the congregation and suddenly find ourselves looking at someone whom we know has had an infinitely worse time than we have been having.  We thought our problem was the most terrible problem in the world, and that no one had ever before suffered as we had.  Then we see a poor woman, a widow perhaps whose only child has died or has been killed.  But she is still there.  It puts our problem into a new perspective immediately.  The great apostle Paul has a word for this, as for all things.  'There has no temptation take you', he reminds us, 'but such as is common to man' (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Where the devil gets us is just here.  He persuades us that nobody has ever had this trial before: no-one has ever had a problem like mine, no-one else has been dealt with like this.  But Paul says, 'There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man,' and the moment you remember even that much, you feel better.  All God's people know something about this; we are such strange creatures, and sin has had a strange effect upon us.  We are always helped in our suffering by hearing that somebody else is suffering too!   It is true of us physically, and it is true on the spiritual level also.  The realization that we are not alone in this helps to put the thing in right perspective.  I am one of a number; it seems to be something that happens to God's people - the house of God reminds us of all that.

Then it reminds us of things that go still farther back.  We begin to study the history of the Church throughout the ages, and we remember what we read years ago, perhaps something in the lives of some of the saints.  And we begin to understand that some of the greatest saints that have ever adorned the life of the Church have experienced trials and troubles and tribulations which cause our little problem to pale into insignificance.  The house of God, the sanctuary of God, reminds us of all that.  And immediately we begin to climb, we are going upwards, we have our problem now in its right setting.  The house of God, the sanctuary of the Lord, teaches us all these lessons.  People who neglect attendance at the house of God are not only being unscriptural - let me put it bluntly - they are fools.  My experience in ministry has taught me that those who are least regular in their attendance are the ones who are most troubled by problems and perplexities.  There is something in the atmosphere of God's house.  It is ordained that we should come to God's house to meet His people.  It is His ordinance, not ours.  He has ordained it not only so that we may meet each other but also that we might come to know Him better.  Moreover, those who do not attend God's house will be disappointed some day, because on some favored occasion the Lord will descend in revival and they will not be there.  It is a very foolish Christian who does not attend the sanctuary of God as often as he possibly can, and who does not grieve when he cannot."