Hebrews 10:25a, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” 

There are two basic reasons why I feel church is vital in a Christian’s life.  Let’s look at the first reason this week and the second reason next week.

Church is a place where the Holy Spirit works in my heart.  I look forward to seeing the work of God each and every Sunday.  This happens in so many ways.  When I am down, so often a certain song will be sung at church that comforts me.  I will feel, through the music, that God is showing me that He loves me and knows right where I am.  The special music also often reminds of the greatness of God and His love toward me.  Church helps me each week to refocus on what is most important – my relationship with Christ.  I feel especially close to the Lord while I am at church.  Often I get ideas for the eVotions during a church service.  That is not to say that the Lord lives in a church building.  He does not.  He lives in the hearts of the believers.  But I know that He loves the local church – it was His idea, after all!

I love to see how the Holy Spirit answers my questions while I am at church.  He most often speaks to me through my pastor.  It is amazing how often I have a question about the Bible through the week, and my pastor, without knowing my question, will answer that question in a sermon! When I am puzzled in my Christian life, I know that the Lord would show me the answer on Sunday – either in Sunday school or in the church service!  Church is where I go to get the answers I need; it doesn’t matter if the pastor’s message is on a completely unrelated topic to the answer I need, the Lord will have him say something in his sermon that is just meant for me!  I feel so close to the Lord each time He speaks to me this way.  Your pastor does not need to be perfect to be the vessel God uses to speak to you.  Research all the different methods the Lord used in the Old Testament to speak to man: burning bush, a donkey, a cloud, a fire, and more.  God put the authorities in your life He wanted you to have, and the Lord is completely capable of revealing Himself to you through those authorities.  He set up the church to have a pastor, and He is going to work through the channels He ordained.  If you feel that your pastor does not meet your spiritual needs, it may not be the pastor; it may be you.  You may not be listening for God’s voice and direction.  If you want the Lord to speak to your heart in a consistent and obvious way, then convince Him that you will obey what He says when He does give you direction.  Your obedience will show Christ that you are searching for His will. Your faithfulness to search will also show the Lord how serious you are about finding that will.

Church is the place where I am most convicted and chastised by the Lord.  The Bible tells us that the Lord will punish our sin.  He chastises the believer as a father corrects his child. Proverbs 3:12 says, “For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Let me give you an illustration that I don’t like but that explains my point.

A couple summers ago I was sitting in the bleachers at a softball game sponsored by our church.  I am not a person who enjoys public confrontation.  It always embarrasses me when I see a customer arguing with a clerk or a waitress.  I shy away from any type of disagreement with people I do not know well.  Despite that fact, I found myself caught up in the competition, and I said several negative comments toward the players on the opposing team!  Two of these mean comments were said in a loud voice.  The ladies around me laughed, never having seen this evil side of me.  By the time the game ended, I was back in my right mind.  I told my husband what I did as we were leaving.  I felt that I had ruined my testimony with those who sat around me.  Of course, the next day was Sunday.  I was sure that the pastor was going to preach on “Wicked Women With Loud Mouths.”  Well, the message was not quite on that topic, but one of the points was about being quiet and not blaming others.  My husband poked my ribs and smiled at me.  Yes, I was feeling very convicted.  Even that evening I felt convicted through the sermon, although the message was seemingly unrelated to my bad behavior.  I was being chastised by the Lord.

I am so thankful that I am faithful to church.  God has to punish sin, and I would much rather feel awful through a sermon or two, than to skip church and force the Lord to punish me in a worse way.  You see, Christ set up the church to edify the believers.  We no longer give animal sacrifices like those in the Old Testament.  Christ paid for all of our sins on the cross, and church is the place where we can come and have the Holy Spirit convict us of our sin, and show us the way to deal with it so that we can be close to Him again.

Stay in church.  Be faithful to every service.  Get involved in the church ministries.  Raise your family in the church.  Don’t be a church hopper.  Find where God wants you, and plant roots there.  Love your pastor.  Pray for him and be loyal to him.  God wants to be very real to you, and He provided the local church as a way for you to partner with Him.

Give the Lord the opportunity to comfort you, encourage you, and edify you through His Word, His music, and His man.

Until next week, God bless you, Friends!