Have you ever planned and prepared an event or meal, spending endless hours? You painstakingly took time to gather all the necessary items, sent out the invitations, and spent hours upon hours to put it all together. With each guest in mind you purposely arranged the decorations and composed all the elements to make the occasion divine. However, after much work, to your dismay, many who promised to come... didn't.
Each week this happens in churches around the globe. Pastors spend time ministering before the Lord, listening and receiving the assignment from God. They pray endlessly for each person. These men and women plan and prepare for sharing the gospel. Many gather tools in different technical mediums to inspire and enlighten. And after all that, with great anticipation they come to the church only to find many of those who promised to attend, don't.
You are probably saying, right now, "that's ok, there are good reasons people don't go to church". Yes, there are! Some have to work, others may have sick children, or be ill themselves. But the majority of people use everything and anything for an excuse not to serve the Lord on Sunday morning or Mid-week service. "I'm too tired." "I need a day off." "It's too far to travel." "Someone invited me to go to the beach." "I need to prepare for company." "I want to watch my favorite sports team." And on and on.... Heb. 10:24-25 (TLB) says, " In response to all He has done for us, let us outdo each other in being helpful and kind to each other and in doing good. Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of His coming back again is drawing near."
You see these men and women of God are accountable to Him for their work to us. Heb. 13:17 (TLB) tells us to, "Obey your spiritual leaders and be willing to do what they say. For their work is to watch over your souls, and God will judge them on how well they do this. Give them reason to report joyfully about you to the Lord and not with sorrow, for then you will suffer for it too." Their diligence and faithfulness is for our benefit. 1 Thes. 5:12-13 declares, "Dear brothers, honor the leaders of your church who work hard among you and warn you against all that is wrong. Think highly of them and give them your wholehearted love because they are straining to help you...."
The issue at hand is that we are selfish. We want to do what WE want to do! Don't forget what God has instructed us through the Word. Think about the necessity of His Word impacting our life and being a blessing to others! It's an atrocity to think we've arrived at the place where we have determined we no longer need God or His Word. Even the decision that we are too good or too busy for the Lord is an outrage. The purpose for church leadership is stated in Eph. 4:11-12 "So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up." Now more than ever we NEED to be steady in our church fellowship. The preaching of the Word builds our faith, equips us for standing against the wiles of the devil, and renews our mind so we can walk as an overcomer.
If God has called you to a specific church, don't let your Pastor down. Missing 'Body' parts make it difficult to fully function. (1 Cor. 12:27 "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.") We each have a specific purpose in our church. The different gifts that He placed within us are required for completing the 'Body'. (Read Rom. 12:4-8) Determine today to be faithful to your church and pastor. And when tests to defect come, and they will, RESIST! Stand firm in your decision - be constant!
But if you haven't found a church home, we encourage you to pray and seek God where you need to be planted. Being part of a church is important in spiritual growth. Find the one to which He has called you! Let's be faithful to attend, to serve, to give, and to do our part! Give of yourself wholeheartedly, not just conveniently! Don't miss the next 'Divine Occasion'.
1 Cor. 12:21-25 "And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. No much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor;...there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another."
I just took notice, recently, of a situation that almost caused me to become offended. Let me just say, I was real close to falling in the trap. One thing I've learned over the years is that offense can turn into deeper problems, like resentment which turns into bitterness, then becomes hatred. Hatred then becomes the root in people's lives developing deeper issues, resulting in negativity, misery, sickness and the like.
Jesus said in Luke 17:1 (NKJ) "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come."
Offense can come through strangers, that drive erratically, treat us bad in a drive through or those that give us an unusual stare. Eventually we begin to look for this type of behavior often and become cynical, which concludes in offense.
We can find it among family members. Our expectations of their response create misunderstandings, thus resulting in resentment. Every situation is viewed by each individual and perceived differently. Because there is little or no converse explanation, someone gets offended. This often develops into years of hurt feelings and torn relationships.
Face it, we get easily offended if we think we are being rejected, forgotten, ignored, judged improperly, or if we don't get our own way. Selfishness, negative attitudes, and insecurity will express offense frequently. It's important to check ourself to make sure we are conveying and living daily in God's love. Agape love. Love mentioned in 1 Cor. 13:5 (GW) says, "It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs.'
These things made me stop and think about being offended or causing offense. I guess you could say, I thought twice before allowing the situation to gain control over me, mentally or spiritually. I decided NOT to be offended. I chose to forgive these people and pray for God's blessing upon them. That way I am operating in His Word doing, Pro. 17:1 "Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends."
I encourage you to let go of past wrongs or hurt feelings. It's not worth the misery it causes. Once we forgive, we will begin to experience His grace. Blessings will flow into our life and JOY will infiltrate every part of our being. Take NO offense!
Pro. 19:11, "A person with good sense is patient, and it is to his credit that he overlooks an offense."
A faith filled Christian woman prayed and worshiped God everyday. One spring day, as the woman was praying, her atheist neighbor overheard her through an open window. Listening to her thanking the Lord for groceries, he thought he would prove to her there was no God. So he bought her food, sat it on the porch, rang the door bell, and hid in the bushes. When she saw the groceries, she began jumping up and down praising the Lord. The neighbor jumped out of the bushes and said, "Ha! God didn't give you that food, I did!" She was so excited, she ran down the street rejoicing and proclaiming, "Praise the Lord! I knew God would provide, I just didn't know He was going to make the devil pay for it!"
Romans 4:19-21 "And not being weak in faith, he (Abraham) did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. And being fully convinced that what He (God) had promised He (God) was also able to perform."
Daily, there is something, for which we all are standing in faith. Whether it's healing, finances, or a change in circumstances, the devil tries to inhibit God's promises. It may come through discouraging thoughts or friends and family conversations. Yet no matter the avenue, he's trying to test your faith. Do you really believe what God said? Is that promise for now? Is it for you? He often tells us we are not worthy to receive a blessing. Perhaps, because we got angry or we think we don't live up to the expectations God expects. The quick resolve - repent and ask forgiveness. (1John 1:9) Slate clean, now receive!
The scripture says, Abraham was strong in faith and did not consider or give thought to the circumstances. He didn't allow his mind to go there. He held onto what God said, and strengthened his faith by giving glory to God! So here we can learn that #1) Don't rent your mind to corrupt thoughts. Renew your mind to the Word of God, and think on the right things. (Rom. 12:2 & Phil. 4:8) #2) Give glory to God! Thank Him, praise Him, and worship Him for the end of your faith! True faith believes it has already received. Col. 2:7 (GW) says, "Sink your roots in Him and build on Him. Be strengthened by the faith that you were taught, and overflow with thanksgiving."
The key to totally receiving your promise from God is: being fully convinced! Abraham was absolutely confident that God would do what He promised! If we are positively assured, we will take possession of that promise. We will act as if we own it! That promise will be so embedded within us, we won't be able to see any other result. No thought or conversation will persuade us otherwise! We encourage you to keep your grip on the promise of God for you!
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."