Remembering the Lord
D. C. Hinton, Hayes, Middx.
Every believer should count it a privilege to gather together on a Lord's Day morning to remember Him. There they sit together consciously in His presence, calling Him to mind with every heart pouring forth its appreciation of the Beloved One. With every believer in perfect harmony in this way, the Spirit will constrain some brethren to lead the gathering in thanksgiving for the Gift of the Father's love, others to choose hymns of appreciation, and yet another to read a passage from the Word of God which will stir the hearts of all to further worship. When the brethren act in this way, they will not just be expressing their own personal thoughts, but they will act as mouthpieces of the assembled company, so that all should be able to say the Amen to what is said. We have come, not to listen but to speak, not to receive but to give. Such a gathering is to the glory of God; it brings joy to the Saviour and consequently is a blessing to the assembly.
How essential therefore that we all, brethren and sisters alike, young and old together, act according to our responsibilities in this matter. If we fail, then God is robbed of the honour that is His due. But someone may ask, What can I do about it?
The Preceding Days. We can only be at ease in the presence of the Lord on the Lord's Day if we have been at ease in His presence during the preceding week. Elijah spoke of Jehovah "before whom I stand", 1 Kings 17. 1; that was his practice. But is it ours? Are we found during the preceding week in places where God would not place His Name? Such a question shows the need for continual washing that we may come as sanctified worshippers. Let us examine ourselves, and so let us eat, 1 Cor. 11. 28.
Again, we can only remember Him in truth on the first day of the week if we have considered Him during the previous six days. We can only speak of the things that we have previously learnt touching the King; we can only give what we have received by the Spirit, as is pictured in the wave offering on the day of the priests' consecration, Exod. 29. 24. The meditations of our hearts are revealed by our speech; is this why so many are often silent?
These thoughts apply to brethren and sisters alike. But sisters must be silent, as in all public gatherings of the assembly; yet their exercise is as precious to the Lord as that of the brethren, and preparation is just as necessary for them.
Old Testament Lessons. Some simple lessons can be learned from the Old Testament. At the feast of first-fruits, the offering was brought in a basket, Deut. 26. 2. The baskets would be all of different types and shapes, but the contents of all spoke of Christ. Similarly the Spirit would lead all in worship no matter how varied believers may be in age, maturity or nationality.
Again, in the long chapter Numbers 7, the twelve princes of Israel brought their offerings to the Lord. Their offerings were identical, yet each is recorded in detail, since each gladdened the heart of Jehovah equally. So, my brother, if the Spirit stirs you to lead the assembly in thanksgiving, do not remain silent because some of the thoughts on your heart have been expressed already. The repetition of the worthiness of His Son can never weary our God.
Practical Considerations. Lack of learning in days of youth should not prevent any from entering into this holy service. Our appreciation will of course deepen as we mature spiritually, but thanksgiving must never be contused with the ability to expound the Scriptures.
It may be easier to give out a hymn or to read a portion of Scripture; yet while these have their place, the primary purpose of the gathering is for thanksgiving. Moreover, this is not the sole prerogative of elders in the assembly. As in all things,, they should set an example to the assembly, yet all brethren have the responsibility to come prepared for the Spirit to prompt them to lead the company. Personally the writer feels that long thanksgivings are unnecessary, and may not always be the work of the Spirit.
Since we come into the presence of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, we should deport ourselves accordingly, dressing in keeping with His majesty and glory. How wise to arrive early, and to sit quietly meditating upon Him before the meeting is timed to commence.
Self-Examination. How does our contribution in our local gathering measure up in the light of these thoughts? Do only one or two lead the assembly? Is more time devoted to the singing of hymns than to thanksgiving? May we all seek to come week by week with sanctified hearts full of thoughts concerning the Saviour; may all be exercised that the Spirit will have liberty to move in each believer's heart so that each may respond to His promptings.
Those older in the faith should encourage younger brethren to take part, i Chron. 16. 7. It is right to place emphasis on being busy in the Gospel, but the primary matter is to lead in worship on a Lord's Day. Then, having given God the fruit of our lips, He can afterwards speak His message through them to the world.
In such a gathering, where hearts overflow with praise for the Saviour, how solemn is the actual partaking of the bread and cup; not only does the believer remember Him in His death, identifying himself with it, but also he demonstrates his identification with the local company and all it stands for. Hence it is not simply a matter of taking communion, but wider responsibilities are implied.
Again, at the end of such a time spent in calling the Lord to mind, how fitting for the Spirit to prompt a brother to minister the Word, linking up and developing thoughts which have been expressed, and ministering to the needs of all-in apostolic times, it was by the manifest control of the Holy Spirit in such gatherings that unsaved folk were expected to acknowledge the presence of God, 1 Cor. 14. 25. Similarly should they do so today.