Make Worship a Top Priority

The following is the first point of a sermon that I preached at FBC Columbia this past Sunday:


Luke 2:41-42


41 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.


                When God gave his law to his people, one command was that the men of Israel were to travel to his holy city for certain annual feasts. These feasts were special times of worship that God’s people were not to neglect.


                Luke points out to us that Joseph and Mary were devout followers of God’s law. They went up to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration every year. Back in verse 39, we saw that they had done all that God’s law required when Jesus was born. Now we see them making the trip to Jerusalem a priority. Interestingly, Mary travels with Joseph on these trips. Women, according to most scholars, were not required to attend these events. For the whole family to make the trip shows that they were a family devoted to the worship of God.


                Next we learn that Jesus was with them when he was 12-years-old. This is not to say that this was Jesus’ first trip with Joseph and Mary to Jerusalem, but this was a significant one. Age 12 was very likely Jesus’ last year to be considered a child. He did not have to go to Jerusalem for Passover yet. But next year, when Jesus would be 13, he would be required to keep the law as a man in his society.


                Let’s stop right here for a moment and draw a point of application. We see something good and right being done and even commended in Scripture, so let’s try to apply it to our own lives and homes. Make worship a top priority.


                You have heard us say to you that, in our church, we are committed to three things. We worship Christ, we grow together in Christ, and we impact the world for Christ. This first point of application fits that first purpose. We, as the people of God, are committed to worshipping Christ, which means we love Jesus and live for his glory in all that we do.


                Worship has a formal and an informal aspect to it. Whenever you do what you do and think what you think and avoid what you avoid for the glory of God, you participate in worship. Thus, you worship God and show him as glorious when you refuse a second dessert so as not to be a glutton. You worship Jesus when you tell your children a Bible story for God’s glory. You worship Jesus when you refuse to cheat on an exam in order not to disobey God’s commands.


                But we also know that worship has a formal aspect to it as well. Here on Sunday morning, we are gathered to worship. We, in an intentional way, participate in activities that demonstrate that God is our King and we are his subjects, that he is glorious, and that we are dependent on him. We pray together. We give our offerings, we sing. We hear God’s word read and taught. We respond to Gods’ word with joy and obedience and repentance. All of these are aspects of worship, and they are vital to the life of any believer.


                If we are to learn from Joseph and Mary in this account, let us learn to make worship a top priority in our lives. Joseph and Mary made the trip to Jerusalem for a formal ceremony and festival of worship every year. Remember, this family was poor. They had to walk for three days to get to Jerusalem. They had small children, Jesus’ half-brothers and half-sisters. Nothing about this trip would have been easy for them, but Joseph and Mary made worship a priority.


                How about you? Do you make worship a priority? Is being together with the people of God to declare the glory of God a big deal to you? Do you feel like you have missed something important when you miss it? How big a thing has to come up for you to say to yourself that you can skip a week of formal worship?


                Let me add in something for the parents who are among us here. Joseph and Mary worshipped God and brought Jesus with them. Parents, it is vital that your children see you worship. I’m not saying that seeing you worship will guarantee your child’s salvation or even his or her good behavior. However, if you are going to call your children to have faith in Christ, you should be modeling for them what it means to worship Christ. They should see that you have joy in your salvation. They should see that you repent of sin. They should see that you give freely and cheerfully. They should see that you sing, even if your voice is not perfect, for the glory of the Lord who is above all. They should see that you value the preaching of God’s word and that your life changes because of what you hear. They should know, even if they can’t understand all that you are hearing or doing, that something special and very important happens when you worship your Savior. Make worship a top priority.