‘Maturity & Godliness’

Thoughts on Church Attendance

November 8th, 2010

It’s a good time for me to post this since the members of The Point have been attending church very faithfully lately :-).

I absolutely do not want people attending out of pressure, guilt, because of what others might think, or what the pastor might say.
I would rather people consider instead the spirit of the matter, not the legalism of it.  I feel it’s a good time because our people are doing well in this area, so you’ll know I’m not trying to guilt anyone out by sharing this! 

In the New Testament, Hebrews 10:24-25 states:

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

A short “rabbit trail” about the Sabbath.

This discussion is not one about the Sabbath, but the association may come up for you, so let me offer a few brief thoughts.  If you want a more complete discussion of the sabbath, post a comment below.

Keeping the Sabbath is the 3rd commandment.  I do understand that church attendance is not the same as “keeping the Sabbath”; and it is true we are not under law but under grace.  Yet, I don’t know any Christian who argues that it’s ok to violate the other 9 commandments on the basis of “we’re not under law anymore”.  In addition, keeping the Sabbath has many underlying principles which are of benefit to us, regardless of the technical, legal details which were given to Israel and not to us.
God himself certainly has no need of being legalistic or bound to any law, yet He Himself demonstrated the Sabbath principle on the seventh day of creation.
Incidentally, the first two commandments are: have no other gods before me and don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.  If we do these first two, this third one is easier.  If we aren’t doing the third, are we really doing the first two?

I don’t believe we must follow the Mosaic legal code regarding the Sabbath, (which, by the way, called for the stoning of anyone who violated it!).  However, I do believe God knew what he was doing and had wise principles in mind when setting up this law.

Some Questions about Church Attendance:
(be honest!)

  • What do you believe about the Sabbath, or a day of rest?
  • Are your actions consistent with that belief?
  • Do your actions agree with the “spirit of the law”?
  • How frequently do the “just this once” diversions really occur for you?  Be honest, what does your attendance record really look like?  What sorts of things replaced this sacred time?
  • How will you hear what the Lord so lovingly prepared through the diligence of his workers if you aren’t present?
  • How will others receive the benefit of your presence if you are not present?
  • If you are not giving the Lord the firstfruits of the week, what are you giving him during the week?
  • If we can’t figure out how to give Him something so small, in obedience to Him, are we really giving Him anything?
  • At the same time, what are we still expecting from Him?
  • Is it really that hard to schedule around such a small window of time – only 2hrs, and it’s consistently scheduled week-in and week out?

The Beauty of God’s Design

When we obey God in this matter, trust Him with our time and give it to Him faithfully, He rewards us with many benefits.  Here are some of them.

  • The Lord has something for the body from you every single Sunday Even a “warm body” can still raise the temperature of the room!
  • The Lord has something for you every single Sunday!
  • Ephesians 4:16 “…Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
  • The workers/volunteers are especially energized when you are blessed!
  • Celebrations are more enjoyable when everyone is there!
  • A crowd draws a crowd
  • Visitors want to be part of a living/breathing vibrant ministry
    • This is true regardless of size! Raw numbers do not matter here, but the % participation does.  A church of 5000 with only 2500 in attendance is not fully alive and visitors will know it.  A church of 50 with only 25 in attendance is half dead and people will sense it!

Whatever your track record, make a committment today to make some extra time for the Lord this coming Sunday.  If you come for the sermon but not the Bible study, you are missing a big part of church life.  If you come to church but immediately leave to get back to your busy life, you are missing out on God’s principle of rest and recovery.  If you are faithful in all these areas, praise the Lord!  Keep up the good work and tell others why you think it’s worth it!

Can’t Find Your Way?

June 18th, 2010

John 14:6 is the oft-quoted verse where Jesus says,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Have you ever considered the context of that verse? It is Jesus’ answer to Thomas’ question:

“Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Thomas asked this question after Jesus had just said he did know.

“Where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas’ problem is a classic case of a person having too much of an earthly, physical perspective and not seeing things with spiritual, relational eyes. Thomas keyed in on the words “where” and “the way”. He thought in physical terms. If I say “where” or “the way”, you will think of a location, or a route. This was what Thomas did, but that’s not what Jesus meant! Jesus answer redirects Thomas to himself, the person of Jesus Christ, God Himself. Jesus IS the way. Knowing HIM is the key, not some mapped out route or location. How well do you know HIM? Isn’t a relationship with Him the point being emphasized here? We would do well to check our level of intimacy with Him, rather than always checking our circumstances, or our knowledge.

The next conversation solidifies this point. Now, it’s Philip’s turn to be human! He says,

“Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

I believe Philip was also speaking from a physical point of view. He wanted to see the Father with his eyeballs. Jesus’ answer again points us to a relationship with Christ. Jesus said to Philip,

“Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?'”

The rest of Jesus’ teaching in John 14 explains an interrelationship between God the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and his followers.

Praise God that, through Christ, anyone who believes in Him has been reconciled to the Father, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and now has access to the level of intimacy Jesus spoke of in this chapter. Keep your spiritual eyes centered on the Way, the Truth, and the Life today.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you into a lifestyle of having this perspective and remind you when your physical perspective is getting in the way of seeing the Way!

The Ups and Downs of Life

December 13th, 2009

iPhone Jesse 280_cropLife has ups and downs. It is unavoidable. We have all experienced this. Even godly people in the Bible experienced trial and triumph, burden and blessing. How do you handle this reality? What are the marks of maturity when it comes to the ebb and flow of life?

Some people believe and teach that if you are a good Christian then you will avoid the sorrows of life. While it is true that exercising godly wisdom will bring “life to your soul and grace to your neck” (Proverbs 3:21-22), it is also true that it “rains on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:45). 2 Timothy 3:12 even says “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”

So there will be good days and there will be bad days. The absence of bad days is not the mark of a godly person. However, there is a notable stability in the mature believer that may sometimes be mistaken for a problem-free life. A closer look reveals that it is not the circumstances that are stable, but the person’s disposition. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is consistently evident even in inconsistent circumstances.

The funny thing is that, oftentimes, this “temperate” (1 Tim 3:2) behavior even in bumpy times tends to smooth out the bumps. The ups and downs aren’t as extreme or as frequent. In the life of the immature believer or the non-believer, the swings from good to bad can be quite extreme and quite frequent.

Imagine the response of the average child on their first few roller coaster rides. Compare that to the response of the veteran adult amusement park rider. The size of the hills and the valleys are the same for both. The child has extreme emotional swings throughout the ride. The adult, while still feeling some of the same emotions, has a steadiness about them and an overall sense of joy, even in that clickety-clackety ascent to the peak of impending doom; because they know that it is not doom after all.

How can you “even out the bumps” in your life?

It is not very enjoyable to be tossed around by your emotions as you react almost uncontrollably to the things that come your way – good or bad! How much better to have an steady response, whether to good or to bad. Oh, to always have the perspective that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” Rom 8:18 or the other-wordly attitude of 2 Corinthians 4:7-18.

What a beautiful thing instead for our every knee-jerk reaction to be one of “love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”!

We must walk in the Spirit! This is the promise of Galatians 5:16-23.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says it nicely.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”

This last phrase “direct your paths” means literally to “make smooth or straight”. Some of the curves may go away as you live more wisely, but the best part is that the inevitable curves which remain will not hurl you off the embankment; but God will give you superb traction, such that the road, for all practical purposes, is “made straight”!

Blessings in your journey,
Jesse

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