In the Congregation

As I head into a new week, I’m not ready to “let go” of the weekend. It began with hanging out with a band of brothers at a retreat and ended doing sermon reflection with my small group at our place. In between those, I gathered with my church family where I worshiped with the saints and was fed with the flock. And as I savor the “aroma” lingering from this weekend, I can’t help but be thankful that I’m “in the congregation.”

Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.    (Psalm 111:1 ESV)

There is something about gathering with the people of God. There is something about coming together as a company of those who have shared in the revealed mysteries of the kingdom of God. There is something about coming together as a body of believers with a common desire to lift up the name of the LORD and to thank Him with all our beings. There is something about being in the congregation that is found nowhere else.

Reading Psalm 111 this morning, the songwriter describes a dynamic whereby, when “the upright” assemble together, the praise of God is ignited. Though diverse in their backgrounds, their “day jobs,” and in their personalities, the tie of this gathering is their common determination to focus on the greatness of the works of the LORD, “studied by all who delight in them” (v.2). Their common delight is in plumbing the depths of the fullness of “splendor and majesty” found in the works of God (v.3). And in so doing, their common desire is to know more fully the nature of the God behind the works.

As He moves His people to remember His wondrous deeds (v.4), they are reminded that God is gracious and merciful (v.4) . . . that He is faithful and just (v.7) . . . that He remembers His covenant forever (v.5, 9) . . . that He has sent redemption to His people (v.9). And at some point, the waters of reflection burst the dam of restraint and the company of the upright declares in one voice, “Holy and awesome is His name!” That’s life in the congregation.

Sure, I can meditate and reflect on my own . . . and I should. I can worship God on my own . . . and I should do that too. But there is something about God’s people coming together in God’s presence to offer God praise that is not matched by any other “spiritual discipline.”

It is when the redeemed are gathered . . . when the company of the upright meet . . . not “upright” because of who we are or what we’ve accomplished, but upright “in Jesus” because of who He is and what He has done through His death on the cross and by the power of His resurrected eternal life . . . it is when we come together as “the congregation” that we experience the sweet dynamic of reflection, renewal, and rejoicing.

His praise endures forever (v.10). May it be so in the congregation.

By His grace . . . for His glory.

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