“And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
The verse above shows Israel’s response when they would return to Israel after years of bondage in Babylon. The bondage of Babylon would be grievous, and the return to their homeland was to be joyous. What a time it would be for the Jews to return to Zion! Their return would be marked with singing, joy, gladness, and leaving the sorrow behind.
How these people would return to Zion is exactly how God’s people should approach their church services every time they go to church. Though the believer is not in bondage to the world, we have to live in the world, and our privilege to go to church three times a week should be as joyous as when Israel returned from bondage. Let me share with you how you should approach every church service.
First, have an attitude of excitement that you get to go to church. Your attitude towards church will determine what you get out of each service you attend. If you approach church with the attitude that you have to go instead of getting to go, you will never get from the services what God wants to give you. You should approach every church service with an appreciation of the privilege that you get to go to church.
Second, prepare your mind for God to speak to you. These people had not yet gotten to Zion, yet they were singing and joyful. The reason they were singing and joyful was because they prepared their minds for what they were about to enjoy. If you go to church to punch a clock so that you can fulfill your religious obligation for the week, you will get your time in, but you won’t get anything from God. If you prepare your mind in prayer for God to speak to you, you will find that the sermon preached will be God’s personal message for you that day.
Third, be prepared to sing with joy. These people were joyful when they sang the songs of Zion, and you should be as joyful about singing the songs in the congregational singing. Don’t just sing because of ritual, but sing from your heart and think about the words you are singing. You could enjoy the song service if you purposely determined that you are going to sing with joy.
Fourth, leave the world’s problems behind. Sorrow and sighing fled away from these people because of their approach to Zion. You cannot enjoy the church services if you bring the baggage of the world with you into church. Leave your problems behind and enjoy the privilege of singing, fellowshipping with fellow believers, and hearing the preaching of God’s Word.
Fifth, be responsive to the singing, preaching, and invitation. Imagine if only one person sang and rejoiced as they returned to Zion, they would not have had the joy and gladness that this verse talks about. You must determine that you will participate in the singing by singing with others, in the preaching by nodding your head or saying “Amen,” and in the invitation by going to the altar to make a decision from what you just heard from God’s Word. My friend, it is a privilege to meet with God’s people in church and to hear the preaching of God’s Word; prepare yourself for it, and you will get something from it.