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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Church

The Top 5 Reasons We Should Be in Church Sunday(And the Top 5 Lousy Excuses Why We Won’t)

This is one that has run on Sunday mornings before, and probably will again.

To say that the act of worshiping God in church on Sundays has become less popular over the years would be an understatement. On any given Sunday, on a good day, perhaps half of the people who claim membership in any given church will be present for Sunday morning worship. If you happen to be around Sunday night or Wednesday night, the number is even more drastically reduced.

Where is everybody? It seems that everyone has a million good reasons why they don’t attend church, so we cannot even begin to list them all here. For today’s article, we are going to cover some really good reasons why we should be in Church Sunday morning, and then we will cover and rebut some of our lousy excuses for not going.

Reasons to Come To Church Sunday

  1. Because God said so. That’s pretty simple, right? Rather like your parents telling you “Because I said so!” when you questioned them. Only in this case, it is the Creator of the Universe saying so, which carries a lot of weight. In fact, ignoring what God clearly tells us to do is a very risky proposition to be honest. Hebrews 10:25 is the clearest, most up front message from God concerning how He feels about us meeting for worship. There, Paul was inspired to tell us about “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” In other words, don’t skip church, like some people do!
  2. It’s what Jesus did. We talk often about becoming Christlike, which means we are to strive to be like Jesus. Well, Jesus attended church regularly. In Luke 4:16 we are taught that Jesus attended worship regularly in the Synagogue.  The believers in the early church certainly followed Jesus’ example, as we see in Acts 2:42: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers
  3. We need to go to church and bring our lost family and friends with us. Primarily here I am speaking to saved persons who have unsaved family members around who would go to church if they did. What I am about to say may sound harsh, but it is true.  If we are saved, how can we stand idly by while our children, husbands or wives drift off into an eternity separated from God in Hell? If we understand what salvation did for us, and the consequences of not being saved, one would think we would literally drag those people to church with us. An observer might question our love for our unsaved family members when we allow this to happen. It might even be a sign that we might do a salvation check of our own if we so lack understanding of what salvation means that we don’t bring our unsaved family to hear the Gospel.
  4. It helps us grow. Of course, we can read, study and meditate on God’s word outside of church, and we should.  But there is nowhere we can get as much good Bible study poured on us in so short a time as we can at Sunday School and Church.  There, we are given the gift of Preachers and Teachers who have spent substantial time preparing just to provide the rest of us maximum learning and growth in the minimum amount of time.  What they give us in perhaps a half hour would take us hours to study ourselves.
  5. We can fellowship with other believers. Really, fellow Christians are the people we should have the closest relationships with. God actually tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Not that we should turn our backs on non believing friends, but our primary relationships should be with fellow believers. And, obviously, the best place to be with other believers is in Church. Why would we make a conscious decision to NOT be with people who will love, encourage and support us?

Our Lousy Reasons for Not Going to Church

Okay, let me just say all reasons for not going to Church are lousy; that is just how I feel and what I believe God’s Word teaches.

  1. “I can worship God just fine in my fishing boat.” (or golf course, ball game or even my Sunday drive. No, actually, you can’t. To be cliche, we can’t truly worship God in a fishing boat anymore than we can fish in a Church house. Church is primarily for worship of our God. And worship is not worship if it is shared with anything else.  Trying to worship in a fishing boat would only be a lot of fishing with some vague thoughts about God tossed in.  The Bible teaches us that God is a jealous God; He wants all of us, not just a leftover. How are we to love God? Matthew 22:37 tells us to”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind
  2. “The church if full of hypocrites.” Yes it is and there is room for one more.  That’s between them and God, not you and them. That’s like saying, “I’m not going to the gym because there are too many out of shape people there,” or “I won’t go to a doctor, there are too many sick people there!”
  3. “Those people are worse than me anyway!” See the last point. That is between them and God, not them and you. We are judged by God’s standard only for ourselves. We are not judged in comparison to any other person.
  4. “They just want my money!”. Who doesn’t?. Not to be flip, but anything we involve ourselves in is trying to get in our wallets; why don’t we stop doing all of those things? God doesn’t need our money; actually it’s all His anyway. If we have it, it is only because He gave it to us. We are merely His stewards of what He gives us. God’s work, however, does take financial support. So, yes, occasionally we may be reminded about what the Bible says about giving to support the work of the Lord. Sadly, some greedy TV preachers have made all churches appear corrupt. Your giving, however, is between you and God; it is not between you and where you go to church. If that’s not true,  find a church where it is true.
  5. “Sunday is my day off and I like to sleep in and just rest.” You know, Jesus got up early one Sunday morning about 2000 years ago. Only, He didn’t wake up from bed, HE WOKE UP FROM BEING DEAD! Had that not happened, where would we all either be or headed? Without the Resurrection, our salvation would be incomplete and eternity in Hell would be our only option. I can promise you from personal experience, if you give God His day even on your day off, He will give you all the rest you need.

We could go on and on for pages with many more good reasons we should attend church regularly; we could do the same with the myriad reasons we do not attend church regularly.  These are just some of the bigger reasons for going and bigger excuses for not going.

It’s very early Sunday morning; what are you doing today? Do you belong to a church somewhere? They would love to see you there; God would love to see you there. Feeling stressed and need encouragement? There is plenty to be found through those doors. Lay aside all your reasons and we’ll see you in the morning!

My God Is Faithful

God is faithful. Are we? Some good thought for a Sunday morning from Pastor Anthony Baker at The Recovering Legalist. Blessings and enjoy!

I am going to church this morning.

I’m not going as one who wants to show off…as one who wants to be seen…as one who deserves any kind of blessing, healing, or anointing…as one who deserves anything at all.

I’m not going because it’s expected of me, even though it is – I’m the pastor, you know.

I’m not going to prove anything to anyone, especially God, because He knows my heart; He knows me better than I know myself.

I am going to church this morning because my God is faithful, despite my unfaithfulness.

I am going to church this morning because my God deserved to be praised by me in front of others, because I love Him, and I’m not ashamed.

I am going to church this morning. Are you?

Read more from Brother Anthony here

The Marks Of A Missional Church

As always on Sunday mornings I like to post something church related. Normally, it is an encouragement to actually be there. This morning it is some great thoughts on some of the things church should be by my friend Keith Haney.

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This opening illustration frames the attitude the Church should have regarding missions:

A missionary in Africa was once asked if he liked what he was doing. His response was shocking. “Do I like this work?” he said. “No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonable, refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse. But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to ‘Go,’ and we go. Love constrains us.” –Our Daily Bread.

I want to begin this by discussing the churches in the Book of Acts. The struggle I run into when talking about the Church’s mission based on what was happening in Acts is that we tend to see those churches through rose colored glasses. We see the explosive growth, we see the unity, but we fail to see the flaws. And to be honest, all churches have flaws. Here is what we know about those early churches….read the rest of the post here: The Marks Of A Missional Church

Forming Relationships with New Christians

Tonight, we continue on with our sharing of Elihu’s great study, BuildingGenNext. We do fail new Christians in our churches in many ways, and here is some great counsel on developing relationships with them. Blessings and enjoy!

friends

(This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.)

The young man sat statue-like in the pew, observing the various chattering knots of people. There were hugs exchanged, hands waving, and smiling faces. Three weeks had elapsed since he was baptized. He was supposed to be “part” of this group now, and yet he still felt like an outsider.

The first week, there had been an outpouring of congratulations, exuberance and introductions. He definitely didn’t know more than a handful of names yet. As the weeks had trickled by, he was just… well… he was just there. The sermons were still excellent, but the preacher assumed that everyone in the audience knew all this stuff. He shook his head with a small chuckle. He still couldn’t find books like—what was it—Habakkuk? Well, it was something like that. The Bible classes were hard to keep up with too. A lot of the discussion was over his head. Maybe his friends at college were right. Maybe this was a joke. It was as if his conversion was the end-goal and now these Christians didn’t care if he was here or gone.

He shifted uneasily in his seat, debating whether he should slip out before services started or if he should stay and worship. His roommates had been planning a day at the beach. They would certainly still be there. He was certain that God wanted Him to worship, but his resolve weakened with the mounting sense of ignorance and isolation……read the rest of the post here: Forming Relationships with New Christians

Nine Important Functions of the Local Church

A great post here on the importance of the local church from the Isaiah 53:5 Project

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By Aaron Dunlop from think GOSPEL.com

1. The Christian’s worship center. The local church is the center of the Christian’s worship. This is where our sacrifice for sin—our altar—is presented and understood (Hebrews 13:10; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23). This is where our worship begins and flows out into the life. We damage the growth of Christian graces in the life if we neglect the assembling of the church (Ephesians 4:11–16; Hebrews 10:24–25).

2. The Christian’s schoolroom. Next to worship, teaching is the most prominent function of the church—they rise or fall together. The pastor and elders teach (2 Timothy 2:2), the people teach one another (Titus 2:4; 1 Timothy 5:1–2), and as a body we all teach the angels (Ephesians 3:10, 1 Corinthians 11:10) and the world (Colossians 4:5).

The learning experience of the church is not independent learning—sermons and lectures downloaded from the Internet do not serve this function of the church. The church as a schoolroom depends on the submissive integration and gracious interaction (Hebrews 13:17; Philippians 2:2–4) of Christians. They learn and teach at the same time as they interact with others in the church.

3. The Christian’s counselling room. The Spirit of God uses the preaching of the Word in a remarkable way to penetrate into the hearts and minds of the hearers (Acts 2:37). There is a mysterious element in the preaching of a single sermon. It can rebuke one and comfort another. One can be left in darkness and another illumined (Mark 4:11). “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him” (Psalm 25:14). He knows your heart—the trials, fears, and anxieties you struggle with. The Word of God“is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). He is then the greatest psychiatrist, the Great Physician……read the rest of the post here: Nine Important Functions of the Local Church

What If Jesus Had Been Too Busy For The Cross?

I have run this one before in several places and several times. I think it is a good reminder for this Lord’s Day

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It’s almost an epidemic in our society today that we are all so busy we can hardly keep track of ourselves; we literally seem to meet ourselves coming and going. The list of things we are busy doing seems endless: work, home, entertainment, television, sports and so on and so on.  Many studies have shown that this business is usually not healthy for us; we all need down time where we are not just doing.

Christians are not different; they are subject to the same issue of simply being too busy with the things of life. Our lives are so cluttered we just no longer have time for the things of God. Yet we are clearly commanded by the Bible that our priority is to be the things of God and not the things of the world.  The Bible teaches us that we cannot both love God and love the world:

 James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

The Bible also teaches us that the things we put our lives into are a reflection of the things in our hearts. We put the emphasis on the things we truly love:

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Despite this clear teaching, the “Christian” community is overrun with professing Christians who are simply too busy with other things to have even a little time left for the things of God. What are some of the things we fail to do that really we should be doing? This list is not in order of importance, by the way; all of these things matter greatly.

#1 is going to Church. If one looks around on any given Sunday morning, it is simply amazing the number of Church members who are missing in action. Many folks come a time or two a month, or on special occasions, and honestly seem to think they have somehow done God a wonderful honor by being there. Has anyone ever wondered why Sunday preaching is the most attended time of the week? What about Sunday School, or Sunday night or Wednesday night services? They are important also. Scripture is clear what God’s expectation of us in this matter is:

Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

#2 is study and time spent with the Bible, the Word of God. For so many, the only time they actually open their Bibles is when they come to preaching on Sunday morning; if they don’t do that, they may never open them. Yet we are clearly directed to read and study as believers:

 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

#3 is witnessing to others and reaching out to a lost world. Studies have been conducted about the issue of Christians witnessing to others and the results are uniformly disturbing; most show that around 95% of professing Christians have never told anyone about Jesus Christ. There are many reasons why this is true, but one of them is certainly that we simply do not take the time to do it. It takes time from a busy day to tell another person about Jesus; it takes time from a busy evening to knock on the neighbor doors and invite them to church; the list goes on and on.

#4 is fellowshipping and providing comfort and assistance to and with other believers. It is God’s wish that we surround ourselves with other believers. He clearly does not want us to build the primary relationships in our lives with non believers. The following is probably the best guidance in the Bible concering who we are to fellowship with, or not fellowship with:

 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

In addition to not fellowshipping with other believers, we simply do not take the time to aid and assist other believers who may be in need. Do we check on the sick? Do we go visit them? Do we check on suddenly missing church members to see why they are suddenly missing? Do we provide physical assistance to fellow believers who may be unable to help themselves for some reason? The Bible shows time and time again that this is what we should do.

The above list is far from all inclusive. In fact, we could simply sum it up by asking the question: What does God want from us? The answer is everything!  These two verses sum up nicely what God expects from His saved people:

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

We really cannot argue the point that God has expectations of believers, and that most of us(including me I might add) fail to meet them on a daily basis. We have many reasons we come up with to justify our actions, or in reality our inaction.

“God wants me to be happy and enjoy my life!” That is almost a true statement. God does love us and He wants our joy to be complete; however, our happiness for its own sake is not His objective. God created us to love and worship Him; that is His primary desire. God wants us to be happy not by pursuing the things of the world, but by striving to seek and execute His will for our lives.  An earlier article addresses this issue, read it   Here

“I can worship God just as well in my boat as I can in Church” No, you cannot. You might think briefly about God as you pull in a fish or bait the hook; however your primary objective out there would never be worshiping God, but catching fish. You can no more effectively worship God in fishing boat than you can effectively fish in a Church building. God wants our undivided attention, not just the leftovers.

“I need time with my family” Of course, we all do. God created the family as His chosen tool and organization for serving Him.

 Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Service to the Lord does not get in the way of quality family time; it is the best way of all to have quality family time!

“My children need sports and extracurricular activities to develop and learn about life” That may be true to a certain extent; however, our children also need to come to know Jesus Christ to escape the penalty of their sins, which is an eternity separated from God. If we deny them that opportunity because we are “too busy,” we may ensure their success in the world, but doom their eternity.

The question asked in the title of this article is “What if Jesus Had Been Too Busy for the Cross?”.  Let’s look briefly at what would have been, if Jesus had simply opted not to die on that Cross because He had better things to do that day.

We would be doomed to pay the penalty for our sin. We all profess to understand that Jesus paid the price we owed for our sin. That price is death, and He paid it so we do not have to. Without His sacrifice, we would all get exactly what we deserve, which is eternal separation from God in Hell.

We would not have access in a personal way to God the Father. At the moment Jesus died, the Temple veil was rent, symbolizing that we could personally bring our petitions and needs before God. We no longer needed a Priest to present our issues to God.

Jesus would not be coming back to get us someday. If Jesus had not died that day on the cross, He would not have ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God. If He had not done that, then He would not be coming back. If He did not come back, then we and the world would be doomed to exist always just as we do now. He is coming back someday to take us to be with the Father forever. We will all be resurrected into our new bodies, and the Heavens and the Earth will all be made new as well. That can only happen if Jesus comes back, which can only happen if He left which in turn can only happen if He died that day on the Cross.

The following poem sums up the thoughts of this article quite nicely, and I will close with it. It was written by Donna Laster in 1999 and appeared on the Angelfire.com Christian Poetry website:

Too Busy for Jesus

The dream became clearer as I tossed around in my sleep.
The Lord was calling my name over and over, so loud and deep.
The voice surrounded my bedroom, I stared within.
He said, “This is Jesus, my friend, where have you been?”

He said, “My dear brethren, what have you done today,
to walk in my footsteps and try not to stray?
Not once have you been humble on your knees in prayer.
Son, you must shine my light and show others you care.”

I saw you yesterday, only glancing at the man on the road.
He was having car trouble and needed to be towed.
You said, “I can’t stop or I will surely be late,
someone will help him soon, he’ll just have to wait.”

“One of your workers has been sick and almost died.
This lady is a widow and food for five she must buy.
You have plenty and you’re never hungry when you go to bed.
Why are you so greedy and trying to get ahead?

“What if I had been too busy to die on the cross?
You would never walk the streets of gold, your soul would be lost.
What if I had been too busy to hear you that day,
when you asked forgiveness and earnestly prayed?”

I awoke from my deep slumber and my heart felt content.
I thanked the Lord on my knees, for the message He had sent.
So many times, I take for granted the small things He has given to me.
Without the Lord in my life each day, I am blind and cannot see.

Copyright © 1999 by Donna Laster

Why Church Matters


This is a great article by Dave on the Rethink blog about the importance of the local assembly of believers, and why it is so important that we be part of it. His perspective is that one one who had given up on the local church, but is now back. Blessings and enjoy!

Last summer I wrote a blog titled, “Faith in Recovery: Are Traditional Faith Communities Necessary?”.  At the time I had left the Church and the Christian faith for a variety of reasons, but most of the reasons involved seeing hypocrisy in the Church and being hurt again and again by Christians.  A year later, I have found myself exploring a faith community once again in a local church in St. Louis, Missouri, and I am identifying again with the Christian faith.  I am a Christ follower, or at least I try to be.  Last summer I made the argument that traditional faith communities or churches are no longer necessary and neither is meeting corporately for worship.  Over my years in church, as a member and a leader, I have seen churches become buildings over people, businesses to be run, and I saw them become disengaged from both the culture and their congregants.  The Church I saw was not what I think Jesus envisioned during the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), nor was it relevant to my life or my friends who are non-believers.  I am not here today to criticize the Church or argue against traditional faith communities once again, but instead, I am here to invite you to rethink church and how we as Christians are the Church.

Rethinking church begins by reexamining ourselves.  After all, we (all who claim to be Christ followers), are the Church.  What does it to mean to reexamine ourselves?  2 Corinthians 13:5 gives us an idea about that.  I often ask myself, am I the kind of person that I would want in a church?  Or, do I represent Jesus well?  Would my friends see Jesus in me?  With that comes accountability.  It is one thing for me to think I am representing Jesus well, but it is another thing for others to think that and hold me accountable to scripture with others in community.  One reason I think traditional faith communities matter is because we are called to be accountable to one another and carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).  We are also called to share meals together, in particular the Lord’s Supper, praise God together and help others in the community who are in need (Acts 2:42-47).  It is very difficult to do this outside of a traditional faith community.  I think it is okay and even sometimes necessary to reimagine what a traditional faith community looks like and where and when it meets.  I have no problem with a church meeting in a school, home, or even a bar, but it does matter that we meet together for worship, teaching and the Lord’s Supper…..Read the Rest of the post here: Why Church Matters

God’s Garden-Turnip For Church

My yesterday’s post from the Isaiah 53:5 Project

Seen On a Church Sign

lettuce

Turnip for Church-Turn Up For Church

Well, here we go! I know some are saying: “Good grief, here he goes again, yammering on and on about going to church.”

Yep.

The next part of this God’s Garden series is going to be an unabashed and unapologetic defense of the local church. So, if that is bothersome, or not your cup of tea…would you read anyway?

Jesus Christ formed His church personally on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He formed it when He called each of his disciples out from what they were doing. They were a local, visible, called out assembly of believers coming together for the purpose of spreading the Gospel of their Lord, Jesus Christ.

Before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus also issued instructions to His church, to go into all the world, spread the Good News, teach, and make disciples.

Since that time, no writer was ever inspired by God during the formation of the Canon of Scripture as we know it to say, “Hey never mind about that church thing I made, do whatever you think up.” No, nothing has changed.

Why am I saying all of this? Well the concept of the local church as a concept it under almost relentless assault.

Church is not a building, it’s the people!

Church hurt me!

Look at those jets and fancy cars; they just want my money!

I’m just not into organized religion!

I don’t need a church to perform a ministry

Look at the ways those guys act, what’s the point? I can act like that and not waste my time will all that church junk!

And the point is? You know, I would agree with a statement that all of those things have happened and are happening. Church is an imperfect thing composed of imperfect people. Since when, however, does the fact that we sometimes screw it all up mean God’s ideas are suddenly no good? It’s not God’s ideas that are faulty; it is us!

I even get that bad things have happened and are happening under the umbrella of “church.” Again, as bad as that is, our failures have not rendered God’s plan invalid.

I also get that not everybody has access to a truth teaching church. I get that in some places, admitting you are part of a church might get you arrested. I get that some simply cannot be part of a local assembly of believers due to health or other reasons. I get that things may have happened to cause a person to be temporarily estranged from their local body of believers and need to be solved before fellowship is again possible. All of those things don’t mean Jesus’ personally begun institution is suddenly not relevant any longer.

So, that is where we are heading over the next few days, weeks, or however long we feel led to hand around this topic. I’m not here to contend with anyone over it, or most especially to sound like fingers are being pointed, or to hurt anyone’s feelings. I am here, as always to teach with a good dose of Bible truth and commons sense.

Who is church?

What is church?

When is church?

Where is church?

Do I have to go to church?

What if church hurt me?

What if life circumstances keep me out?

Does it really have to be so organized?

Can’t I perform my ministry without a church?

That’s not everything we are going to look at, but it is a start. Thoughts? Comments in advance? Things you would like to see talked about? Let me know.

Until next time, blessings and peace

Read the original post and more at the Isaiah 53:5 Project

Why Go to Church…

A good Sunday morning post from Wanda MacAvoy at Beyond Common Sense

Well, how did you make out yesterday: Sunday? Did you make it to church, Sunday School, PM service? Life is full of choices, and those choices shape who we are and what we believe about ourselves, others, and God.

Choices:

  • I went to church vs. I did not go to church

That decision may have been made for you: the kids were sick, you were traveling, you had to work.  Or, you made a choice: a child had a music practice or ball practice, you needed to do laundry, shop, you stayed up too late Saturday night and were too tired, you just didn’t feel like going.

I am a pastor’s wife, so I probably see things from a slightly different perspective!  Church is what we do.  It is our lives; however, I can honestly say that before we were in the ministry, that was also true, AND that’s probably why God called us into the ministry. Duh!  That is a fairly recent revelation for me! I realize not everyone thinks that way…….read the rest of the post here on Beyond Common Sense

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