Among the many challenges of 2020, not the least for Christians has been the matter of public worship services. The very tradition of church gatherings has been shaken. As the months have passed, Christians have struggled to find acceptable ways to gather safely to worship the Lord. It has not been easy for either church leaders nor the congregations. It has also not been easy for Christian women of all ages as they weigh the dangers against the desire to gather for worship. Concerns for the health of others, for the training of the children in God’s ways, and for one’s own heart worship of the Lord Jesus factor into the decision making. In these challenging times, one thing is needful: Christian women need the place of public worship for the building up of their faith and holy living.
How easy for women of all ages to slip into habits that lose the vitality of real worship because of the realities of real life—like managing to find all the needed shoes for every family member; overcoming physical and mental pain; pushing through a multitude of other hindrances to be at church. Busy women often wearily sigh as they slide into the pew for the worship service. Truly our dear Lord Jesus sees the plight of His precious daughters on earth with love and pity. “Come unto Me” is His encouraging word! God’s deep, eternal love for His children is revealed in His good and abundant provisions for them. The Westminster Shorter Catechism questions 89 and 90 succinctly teach us about public worship.
Q. 89. How is the word made effectual to salvation? A. The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation.
Q. 90. How is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation? A. That the word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer, receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.
How refreshing to weary and burdened women to discover the blessing of public worship! The Holy Spirit uses the reading and preaching of the Word not only to save sinners, but also to build them up in holiness, to comfort them, and to increase their faith. God’s faithful preacher under the guidance of the Holy Spirit prepares a spiritual feast week by week, service by service. In a similar way as a woman plans and prepares a feast for her hungry family, God’s servant prepares spiritual feasts to nourish your precious soul, yet with much greater effort of mind, body, and soul. The Holy Spirit leads the minister to apply the Word to the needs of your soul. It is for you, dear woman, in need of a blessing! When we understand that the church service is truly a spiritual feast, coming to the public gathering for worship will revive our hearts. We will more eagerly pay attention, receive what we hear with faith and love in active, vital, heart worship before God. Through our regular attendance upon the Word, the truth will lodge in our hearts and be reflected in our lives.
So, precious daughter of the Lord, as you slide into the pew for Sunday worship, enter into the service with thanksgiving and praise. Confess before Him your sins and needs, consecrate yourself with diligence and faith, and commune with the Lover of your soul. In this refreshing way, you’ll be strengthened for the daily walk of faith, and those of you who are wives and mothers will be fortified to love your husband and children, keep your home, and be the godly woman of Titus 2.
As I was writing this column, the heart-stopping news of Dr. Alan Cairns’ sickness and hospitalization was announced. I spent the next days not only praying for this dear servant of Christ, but also remembering his ministry in my own life. I sat under his ministry from 1984-1988 where I learned to enter into worship for the inestimable good it did for my soul. Problems needing advice were totally resolved by the end of the service because I had been pointed to Christ, the great Problem Solver. The Lord healed my hurting heart as the Holy Spirit applied the Word to my need. I liken Dr. Cairns’ messages to a deep- sea treasure hunting expedition: it was only as his tone of voice softened at the conclusion that I surfaced with a sigh, realizing that deep, spiritual truth-gems from God’s Holy Word had been brilliantly revealed and thoroughly explained by this gifted master preacher. I am eternally grateful.