Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 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.”

Last week we discussed about the importance of church in our lives.  Church is a place in which the Holy Spirit can speak to us, comfort us, encourage us, edify us, and chastise us.  We need to attend church regularly, as He wants to communicate with us through the music, His Word, and His man.

May I share with you this week the second reason that I love church?  Attending church is an active ministry in itself.  It is a “contact sport” in which I am a player.  Yes, I play a role inwhat happens each week at my church.  I do not mean that, because I teach a Sunday School class, I am involved in church, although that is true.  Every single person has a role to play the moment he enters the doors of the church.  That role is two-fold.

1.) We are to each partner with Christ in being an encouragement to others at church.

2.)  We are to have gratitude in our hearts and give glory to God because of what we see at church.

Hebrews 10:24 explains that we are to consider those with whom we fellowship at church.  This pondering should then provoke us to love for people and action toward them.  You see, the role that we each play at church is that of being a blessing to others.  If I stay home and watch a sermon on TV, I miss one of the most vital components of church attendance.  If I consider myself part of a “universal, invisible church” (whatever that is), I lose the opportunity to help and encourage real, visible people.  Jesus Christ started the church, in part, so that believers would have a place to get together with like-minded human beings and find out the needs of one another in order to pray for each other and do good works to each other.

My attendance at church is important to others.  I attend a church with thousands of members.  As I walk the halls with these people, I am immediately reminded of burdens they are carrying.  I often say silent prayers for these people as I pass them in the hall.  I am thinking now of the usher who recently lost his wife to cancer.  I pray that the Lord will comfort him and ease his loneliness.   I think of the widow rearing children alone.  I have prayed for her for years now, always asking the Lord to be a husband to her and a father to her children.  Yesterday I passed a lady who recently had a miscarriage.  I asked Jesus to heal her physically and emotionally.  I see those who have lost loved ones or who have sick relatives or those who are obviously struggling made clear by their appearance.  I pray for those people as I pass them in the hall.  Sometimes I see a wayward young man in his early 20s.  My husband was his teacher.  Years ago I wrote him a letter and told him that I believed in him and was praying for him.  I will see him in church from time to time, and I pray that God will get a hold of his heart.  Many are struggling financially.  I would like to think that if I had a hard time, others would pray for me.  Going to church is like having a 3-D prayer sheet as each heartache passes by in human form.

My mother, a very generous and thoughtful person, always has a gift for someone when she comes to church.  She usually has something to give me or my boys.  She is constantly searching for someone, wanting to find them and give them something she made.  That is being a proactive, productive church member.  Going to church is not entirely about getting fed spiritually; it also includes giving yourself away to others.

I can even be an encouragement to my pastor as I sit and focus on what he says.  If I learn the truth he is teaching, and apply it to my life, that not only makes the Lord happy; it makes my pastor happy.  For years I have had the habit of saying a simple prayer when the invitation starts.  As we stand for the invitation, I silently pray, “Lord, please save every person in this room.”  I am partnering with the Holy Spirit and my pastor.  There is a lot we can do at church!

The Lord has a special job for a specific, small group of people. These are the people whom He has chosen to suffer.  I go to church and see fellow church members who sit in wheelchairs.  I see the blind and the deaf.  They are all so faithful to church!  That fact alone is a sermon in itself.  You see, when asked why the Lord would make a man blind from his birth, Jesus explained that it was not because that man or his parents had sinned, but so that Christ could manifest His works.  (John 9:1-3)  The Lord allows some wonderful Christians to suffer publicly, so that the rest of us can see their sweet spirits and their faithfulness.  This glorifies Christ. Someday those people will receive great rewards for allowing the Lord to take their good health or to take their loved ones prematurely and continuing to be an example of how to stay devoted to God through horrible circumstances.  I would miss this lesson, and fail to increase their reward, if I was not at church to see them.  God has a purpose for everything.  We need to be where we are supposed to be, so that we do not miss what we are supposed to learn.  Seeing others with infirmities should provoke me to praise God for my good health.  I should walk out of church each week full of thanksgiving that God has been gracious to me and my family.  These special people chosen to suffer are a reminder to me.  I don’t want to miss my reminders.

My youth pastor, Bro. Eddie Lapina, once preached a sermon when I was in high school that I never forgot.  He said that the only explanation he had of why he was where he was, being used of God in a great way, was that he was always at church whenever anything was happening. If there was a church service, a youth activity, teen soul winning, a job that needed to be done – whatever it was, he was there.  That is why he feels that God decided to use him.  I want to be able to say the same thing.  If God is looking for someone to do something for Him, He would most likely look in the church house first.  I want to be where I am supposed to be at all times.

Please do not feel that your church attendance makes no difference.  It makes a big difference, especially if you see the bigness of the role you play.  Go to church expecting to pray for others you see.  Bring a note or a gift for someone on a regular basis.  Spend enough time at church to feel like it is a home away from home.  Encourage your pastor and his family.  Look at those whom God has chosen to suffer, and let your heart be filled with gratitude to Christ.  Give God the glory for His marvelous work in your life.  All of this only happens to those who are faithful to church.  So jump in!  Start attending church regularly.  If you already do, then vow to God that you will stay faithful for the rest of your life.  What a great idea the Lord had when He started the local church!  And just think, we get to have an active role in His plan!