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Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by I Am Blessed 24, Mar 30, 2003.

  1. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24 Active Member

    Jan 2, 2003
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    (Hebrews 10:25)

    Going to church. During the upcoming Easter season, it is one of the two times a year that almost everyone who even professes to believe in God goes to church. Of course, the other is at Christmas.

    I thought that this would give me an opportunity to address something that I deal with daily in the
    prayer requests I receive here at Liveprayer, and that is how important it is to go to church. Not just on the special holidays, but to be actually
    part of a local fellowship of believers all year long.

    Let me make this point perfectly clear up front. Going to church and belonging to a local body of believers IS NOT AN OPTION. Read today's
    scripture from Hebrews. This is God telling you NOT to stop meeting together. Even in the early church this had become a problem.

    Never forget my friend, the church is NOT a man-made idea, it is a God-made idea. This is another way God has provided for His children to remain strong, and live productive,
    victorious lives. Trust me, over my years in ministry I have heard every rationale for not going to church that there is, and the only one that is valid is when you are physically unable to attend. By the way, sleeping in does not count as physically unable to attend.

    ***Not going to church is living in rebellion to God's will for your life.

    The reason that God has made this part of our life with Him, is to stay on track, there are several basic things that we MUST do. We MUST pray and we MUST read the Bible every day. We also MUST be part of a local fellowship,
    because it is in that local fellowship we are spiritually fed and nurtured.

    It is in that local fellowship we make friends with other believers.

    It is in that fellowship we usually find ways to serve the Lord.

    It is in that fellowship we grow spiritually!!!

    Before you say it, let me. There is not, never has been, and never will be a perfect church because a church is made up of imperfect people, from the pastor on down. That is a fact.

    For those of you looking for a church home, the best advice that I can give you is to pray, find a place where the Word of God is preached in an uncompromising way, find a place that is not
    operating in contradiction to the Bible

    (example: A church that promotes an un-scriptural lifestyle such as homosexuality, or a church that does not accept the basic tenants of faith such as the virgin birth, who Jesus is, the work on the cross). Find a place where you feel that you can grow spiritually as well as serve the Lord.

    I have found after preaching in over 500 churches of every denomination, that the key to a great church is the shepherd, the pastor. I have so much respect for those God has called to be pastors. It is one of the most difficult
    jobs in the Kingdom. However, it is important to find a true shepherd as described in John chapter 10.

    I am praying today that during this Easter season, you will come under great conviction about becoming part of a local fellowship if you are not already.

    It is important to your life and relationship with the Lord. You will never grow spiritually without this being part of your life. It is impossible.

    It is also a reason that many are struggling in their life. I realize that some of you have been hurt in the past by a church. DO NOT let your past experiences get in the way. That is a ploy of satan who wants you out there all alone so that you are an easy target. There is safety in numbers.

    One thing that I realized early in my ministry is that I cannot force someone to do anything.
    God didn't make us that way. He gave us the freewill to make our own decisions.

    My job is to tell you what the Word says, what God wants from your life, and how you can become all that He has raised you up to be. Like in everything, there are basics. Without doing the basics, it just doesn't work.

    Going to church, being part of a local fellowship is one of the basics that is critical to your spiritual health. I am praying in earnest
    that this message is finding fertile ground in the hearts that need to hear these words today. Make it a part of your life not just on Christmas and Easter, but part of each week.

    I am praying for you, and trusting God that those who are not a part of a local church, will make that commitment today. Remember, it is not an option, but something that God requires.

    In His love and service,
    Your friend and brother in Christ,
    Bill Keller

  2. J.C.

    J.C. New Member

    Mar 26, 2003
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    Your post spoke to my heart. [​IMG]

    I am in the middle of a conversation with my mother about this very point. She uses the age-old excuse that she doesn't attend church because there are too many hypocrits in the church.

    Here's a portion of my email to her:
    I don't think I can change your mind about whether you should be in church or not, but I'm going to try; not to make you mad, but because I love you dearly! The Bible clearly says "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together..." in Hebrews 10:25, not "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together unless there are hypocrites in the church". It's not a conditional verse and can't be used as an excuse to ignore God's plea to "go to church". In my "travels" of meeting many people I have found this a common excuse for those who don't want to go to church for other reasons; however this excuse seems like the best because it points the blame for not going to church off of that person and on Christians. Doing some research led me to this article from which I like to quote:

    Perhaps you have felt justified in either avoiding or rejecting the Christian faith because of some instance(s) of disgusting hypocrisy that you have encountered in those identifying themselves as Christians. If so read on, as we offer four key responses to the line...

    "Hey, I would never be a Christian. I mean, look at all the hypocrites in the Church!"

    1. "Well, we'd be glad to move over -- there's always room for one more. And furthermore, if you ever find the perfect church, please don't join it. You'd spoil it."

    Does that response strike you as a being a bit too smart-alecky? Perhaps so, but before you totally discount it, consider the point that is being made. Is this not a case of the pot calling the kettle black? Are not four fingers pointing back at you as you point at the Church? Are you not a bit like the father who once screamed at his teenage son: "Kid, if I've told you once, I've told you a million times -- don't exaggerate!"

    2. "You're right. There is far too much hypocrisy in the Church. And there always has been. But it's certainly not being condoned."

    An honest admission here may hopefully clear the air enough to make it evident that there are many men of integrity in the Church boldly crying out against hypocrisy today. Ravi Zacharias is one key evangelical church leader who has said, "The Bible's condemnation of hypocrites is clear. The Bible also clearly pledges that God will judge hypocrites (Matthew 24:51). God is more angered by hypocrisy than we can ever be."
    Addressing 10,000 itinerant preachers and evangelists in Amsterdam in the summer of 2000, Dr. Zacharias then went on to challenge his listeners with these words: "Why is it that a community that talks so much about supernatural transformation shows so little of that transformation? We will have to be men and women who embody the message that we are preaching, whose lives are faithful to the claims we are making."

    3. "Since when do you allow hypocrisy to determine your affiliation and participation?"

    We've all heard of medical quacks -- but have you you stopped going to the doctor? There have been news reports of hamburger contaminated with E. coli -- but have you stopped eating Big Macs? Jonathan Pollard and Benedict Arnold were phony, hypocritical Americans -- but are you planning to leave the country?
    And where would you go anyway? With what faith would you ever align yourself? Certainly there are also hypocritical Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists. Even atheists. Like the fella who once participated in a formal debate with a minister. The atheist clearly out-debated the clergyman, but the minister was declared the winner because at the end of the debate, in a sudden flush of victory, the unbeliever shouted out: "Thank God I'm an atheist!"

    4. "You're right -- the Church is not perfect. But Christ is. Fasten your eyes on Him."

    Cliff Knechtle in his book Give Me an Answer writes: "We all either try to hide our bad sides or we try to make them look good. But deep inside we all know that we fall short of living the way we know we should. No one can escape the charge of "hypocrite" -- no one except Jesus Himself. He is the only One who has lived up to God's standards; the only One who has perfectly lived what He preached. Only through...Christ can we escape the penalty due our hypocrisy... By living within the security of Christ's love, we are free to peel off masks and to become real, honest people."
    Ruth Bell Graham, wife of international evangelist Billy Graham, shares the true account of a young college student from India by the name of Pashi who once told her, "I would like to believe in Christ. We of India would like to believe in Christ. But we have never seen a Christian who was like Christ." Ruth Graham says that when she consulted Dr. Akbar Haqq about what might be the best response to Pashi's challenge, Haqq answered decisively, "That is quite simple. I would tell Pashi, 'I am not offering you Christians. I am offering you Christ.'" --Decision, 10/2000, p39

    My feelings on the excuse "I don't go to church because there are so many hypocrites" is that there is another hidden reason for that person's reason for going to church. Some don't want to give up their time to meet and have Bible study and worship once or twice a week. Some don't want to be reminded of the way we are supposed to live because they would have to make some lifestyle changes. Some don't want to yield the tithe. The truth is that a person who is "after God's own heart" will live a much more satisfied, more blessed and fulfilled life. Life will not be perfect. Life will have its difficult times. All of the hundreds of stories that we are taught in the Bible can be, in my opinion, summed up as "if you follow God, you will be blessed, if you don't, you won't". Think of a few: Jonah -- Jonah said that he loved God. God told him to go tell those of Ninevah to repent or their city would be destroyed. Jonah ran away from God because he hated (feared) the Ninevites. God caused a storm, a big fish swallowed him, and 3 days later spit him on the shore where he then obeyed God. Jonah was a hypocrite. The Nation of Israel -- God sends Moses to rescue the nation from Egypt. God causes plagues to happen to the Egyptians until Pharaoh releases God's chosen nation. They are blessed and protected by God through a pillar of fire at night and a cloud of dust during the day until they reach the Red Sea. God blessed them again by separating the sea and killing off the Egyptians as they followed. They praise God for his blessings. Then what do they do immediately as Moses is getting the 10 commandments, they melt their jewelry and make a statue of a bull and commit idolatry! The nation of Israel, God's chosen people, was a hypocrite. Peter -- He was one of Jesus' best friends and one of his 12 disciples. Peter denied Jesus three times while Jesus was dying for the world's sins. Peter was a hypocrite.

    James Coste -- James was a good kid, yet a sinner. God's Holy Spirit spoke to him one day while attending a youth evangelism rally in Birmingham, Alabama. The Holy Spirit told James that his sins could be forgiven if he would simply confess them and ask Jesus to be his Lord and Savior. James did and was relieved that his sins were forgiven, he had been given a future home in heaven and was made an adopted son of God! James loved God but he did not quit sinning. Everyone that knew him knew that he was a "good" Christian, yet James, in private, had premarital sex with several of his girlfriends until he finally got married. James, grew in his faith in the Lord and felt the call to be an ordained deacon so he could help minister directly to a selected group of believers in the church. James sometimes loses his temper and gets angry at his family and yells and doesn't act very God-like. James is sometimes very selfish and puts his needs/wants before others and God. James is a hypocrite.

    The truth is that every Christian has their own story and it somewhat parallels mine. They found God, the loved God, they sinned against God, they repented, the sinned, etc...

    To not participate in organization because it is not perfect would cause us to be in no organizations at all. You have no problem going to work, yet it is not a perfect organization. You have no problem participating in a charity walk, although there are imperfect people walking along side of you. You have friends who are not perfect, you you still love them despite their faults. Why can't you look past the imperfect Christians in a church and obey God's command to worship together? When you use the excuse "I don't go to church because there are hypocrites in church, replace the word "hypocrites" with "people like my son, dad, mom, ... me". Every person who ever walked this earth, except for Jesus, fits that definition of "hypocrite". God wants us to attend church not because we are perfect, but so we can worship the One who is perfect and who took our sins away by dying a most-cruel death on a Roman crucifix.

    I know that you have been hurt by people who have done wrong things and some of those people are Bible-toting, Bible-quoting, church-attending people. But for every person who does this, there is also that saint of God who will hug your neck and love you for who you are, despite your faults. One who will come help you when you need help. Reading what I have said, do you think that when you stand in front of God, he will "buy" your excuse for not attending church? I think he will say, Pat, I love you so much and had to withhold so many blessings from you because you continually disobeyed my command. God is a God of love, but God is also a God of justice and He has to stand by His word, even if we don't like it. God does have grace and gives us wonderful blessings that we don't "deserve" sometimes, but He also has to remain faithful to His word. From this day forward, if you were to find a church to attend, began attending on a regular basis, make new friends, would you be happier and more blessed? Will you be blessed more often if you start being obedient to God and begin worshipping with other believers, despite their faults? If you join a church somewhere, people might one day call you a hypocrite too. But that's okay. God doesn't expect you to be perfect, just obedient. When you aren't, confess and keep on serving Him, loving Him, and enjoying His provision and blessings.

    Deuteronomy 11:26 "Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.

    I, prayerfully, shared my heart on this matter.

    ** end of email **

    I post this information for two reasons -- the power of prayer and any bits of advice, scripture others might have for me in my situation.
  3. Tentmaker

    Tentmaker <img src=/tentmaker.gif>
    Site Supporter

    Nov 6, 2002
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