The Apostle John was exiled to Patmos in the Aegean Sea — the fortress reserved for Rome’s worst criminals. John was only guilty of preaching the gospel of love. But he — like Peter, Paul, John Bunyan and others — took time to write from prison and encourage others. It was on Patmos that John was given the vision we call the book of Revelation.
Theologians debate about his use of “the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10). He either referred to the end of time, or the first day of the week Christians selected for worship after the resurrection. But it’s true that we must be “in the spirit” on Sunday.
Being in the spirit begins on Saturday with determination that we’ll honor our worship appointment the following day. We also should be well-rested to participate fully in worship and Bible study. It’s hard to believe the average American watches more than five hours of television daily, but surely, we do ourselves no good staying up late on Saturday night for mindless TV.
Being in the spirit continues Sunday morning. We used to sing “Rise, shine, give God the glory” at youth camp. Rising early on Sunday beats rushing in late. We can nourish our souls with Christian music or a broadcast worship service. And we can avoid family conflicts on Sunday morning by being sweet!
And we should continue being sweet when we arrive at church.
I remember a dressing down I received one Sunday when a mother participating in a baby dedication on the platform wore an LSU sweatshirt. LSU had just beaten Alabama the night before and a deacon chewed on me for “allowing” her to wear her sweatshirt. I gingerly explained that I didn’t inspect clothing on Sundays. I agreed it probably was inappropriate for her to flash her colors when our focus was on something else, but I also reminded this deacon that he wore his team clothing to church sometimes, too.
Especially in football season we need to be sweet to each other!
Being in the spirit on Sunday morning means we come prayerfully, participating in Bible study and worship. We sing hymns of praise and follow the lessons in our Bibles. We give an offering as an act of dedication and do nothing to take away from the impact of worship.
A new pastor told me about five or six ladies who stood during the invitation time one Sunday and noisily left the sanctuary. They left to warm the bread for the lunch following worship! He patiently explained to them the propriety of the invitation when pastors plead for the souls of men and women. Respecting this time is a significant part of being in the spirit.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.