Most of what I know about the Lord and about real Christians I have learned in the local church. It was in the church that I learned the importance of the Bible. It was there that I learned to worship. In the church I received encouragement and learned to build up others. I learned to share my faith and to be a witness for the Lord. My first glimpse of world missions came through the Lottie Moon International missions emphasis at Christmas time. In the church I witnessed lives being transformed, heard missionaries speak of Christ working in far off countries, and saw souls won to the Lord. It was in the church that I learned to really pray, to give to the Lord’s work, and to preach God’s Word.
Church attendance nourishes and strengthens the spiritual life, but research has also shown other benefits. Josh Ulick, in a 2003 article in Newsweek magazine, reports that people who regularly attend church live longer. In studying the relationship between religion and health, researchers came upon a strong and persuasive finding: Those who did not attend church lived an average of 75 years; less than weekly attendance, lived 80 years; once a week 82 years; and those who attended church more than once a week lived an average of 83 years. Research indicates a person attending church weekly is less likely to become depressed, and more likely to exercise, quit smoking, and stop drinking (Josh Ulick, "Why Religion Helps," Newsweek, (11-10-03), p.47;).
In Psalm 26 David has asked the Lord to “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.” And then he shows areas in which the Lord can exam his spiritual health. The one for today is: Do I regularly and wholeheartedly worship with God’s people?
David writes in Psalm 26:6-8 “I will wash my hands in innocence; So I will go about Your altar, O LORD, That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works. LORD, I have loved the habitation of Your house, And the place where Your glory dwells.”
David loved to gather with others at the house of the Lord to worship. His worship included:
- Cleansing from sin – “I will wash my hands in innocence.”
- Gathering for worship with others – “I will go about Your altar.”
- Giving thanks to God – "I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving.”
- Testifying of what God had done – “tell of all Your wondrous works.”
- Expressing love for God’s presence – “loved the habitation of Your house.”
- Honoring God – “the place where Your glory dwells.”