Friday, July 10, 2009

To Assemble or not to Assemble... that is the question

Okay... So a couple of recent posts from some dear blogger friends of mine have my mind wheels turning over a certain topic. Kathy @ theknittingbasics and Stephanie @ livingasetapartlife are blogging about some issues concerning church.

"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 (the last day) approaching. " Hebrews 10:25

The word is pretty clear. We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We are at all costs to make the most possible effort to attend church. God is to be first and foremost.

My family was blessed with a very Spiritual and loving church. So attendance comes very easy to us. My kids LOVE to go to church. That in itself is a blessing. However... many people have not been so fortunate.

Many churches have become stale and complacent. Many Ministers are actually doing more spiritual harm than good. Many people are being turned off to the structural church and even Christianity. Unfortunately, the closer we come to the end times. The worse it's going to get. More and More people will be led astray. The Word says if possible even the elect will be deceived. (Matthew 24:24) That's why it's even MORE important to have a good spiritual support. We need to be surrounded by those who are sensitive to the discerning power of the Holy Spirit.

Now there is no doubt in my mind that there is a HUGE difference in Religion and Christianity. There is a major gap between those religious and those born again. There are religious people and there are Christ-Like people. There is religion and there is.. having an intimate relationship with our Savior.

In my opinion...Religious people develop a routine instead of a relationship. They are complacent. They act a certain way because of tradition without having a change of heart. They are the ones who declare Christianity without knowing Christ. They are the reason Christians are labeled hypocrites. That's why when people ask me if I'M religious I say ..."NO! I'm Born Again. I'm a member of the blood bought, the church, the redeemed." There is a difference.

I have often heard it said..."I'm not going to a church full of hypocrites." Well.. let me pose this question. Would you rather go to church with hypocrites or to hell with hypocrites. Would you rather spend a few hours a week sitting next to them in a pew or suffering with them for all eternity?

Now before you ask... I DO NOT believe a person will go to hell just because they don't go to church. However... I do believe that it makes it a whole lot harder to spiritually grow and a lot easier to become complacent or lukewarm. Why take the chance? Also... you're cheating yourself out of a tremendous blessing by forsaking the assembly.

We are blessed by blessing others. I want to be the exception in a world full of hypocrites. I don't just want to BE blessed. I want
to be a blessing. If I stay at home in my own little world, how is my light going to be seen? Who's to say that there isn't someone at church on Sunday that needs to hear something God has laid on MY heart? How many opportunities to honor God am I missing by staying home? Maybe there is a little old lady that's waiting for my friendly hug or a young girl who needs to see my example. I want to be there to make a difference. So that even if the church is crowded with hypocrites, an unbeliever might see me and think "Well, maybe they're not ALL bad." By staying home.. I'm missing out on opportunities for blessings.

So we agree that we need to go to church regularly. Now Stephanie poses another question. How do we know which church to go to? We do not want to be led astray. We do not want to become complacent or stale in our faith. We want to spiritually grow. Well.. Kathy posted some great guidelines to follow. If you're already attending a church ask yourself these questions.

1. Were you inspired to live in a Godly way?
2. Were you rebuked and corrected in your Spirit by God's word?
3. Were you encouraged by God's word?
4. Did you want to dig deeper into the Spiritual realm of God?
5. Was their focus on God and God alone?
6. Was God's presence felt in the worship service? Was the
music simply entertaining, or could you tell the people were
singing to praise and not just show off?
7. Is your church involved in society.... and changing it?

If you are looking for a church, observe the other members and answer the questions on their behalf. You will also know if they are spiritually growing by the fruit they bear.

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7: 15-20

Are the elder members living a Godly life? Are they bearing good Godly fruit? We know that the Holy Spirit brings forth spiritual growth. For He is the one who brings forth conviction. If you want to be in a church where you will mature in Christ.. then the Holy Spirit must be present!

If you see routine members of the church living a life without conviction... then it's NOT the church for you. Party on Saturday.. church on Sunday. Is NOT Spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit brings forth a desire to change. Those living a worldly life
who desire to continue to live a worldly life are not going to want to show up in a church where the Holy Spirit is present. For they're not going to want to feel conviction. Now to add to that scenario... back to the "religious" spirit. God is LOVE. If you see the elders of the church acting with an attitude of judgment instead of LOVE. Then Christ is not the focus there either. The Holy Spirit convicts NOT the church. Where the Lord's Spirit is you will feel convicted not condemned. His Spirit will bring forth continued change and growth. For we are ALL only merely STRIVING for Christ like perfection. NONE of us have actually obtained it. Therefore...Those who are not wanting to grow will not want to stay within the presence of the Holy Spirit. If they're staying and NOT feeling convicted. He's not there. Plain and simple.

There you have it... Spiritual growth. I believe that in today's society it's a necessity to continue to grow spiritually. In these last days, it will become easier and easier to be led astray it will become easier to be deceived... easier to become complacent... easier to become lukewarm Christians.

"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Revelation 3:16

Why take the chance? We have so VERY much to lose! We must do everything within our power to be obedient to God's word and then His grace will carry us.

In these last days, we must remain on fire for God. We must continue to grow and mature in Christ if we want to remain within the Master's protection. We need our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage us and help us grow. Therefore let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Let us unite as the body of Christ and together triumph over the works of the enemy.

Love in Christ,