Thursday, November 5, 2009
Hello, dear ones. How are you doing?? Are you having a good fall? Are you making your list of things you're grateful for?
That's one of the things we do at Thanksgiving - but that's a totally different post. I really don't want to write this post, but it's time. :)
Maybe you've already discerned from the title what I feel God's leading me to write about today - and maybe you're one of the people who will get upset with what I have to say. But I pray you'll listen, and at least listen to what God is telling YOU, individually, before you dismiss it.
Today, I need to talk to you about being part of the body of Christ. The church.
I have SO MANY friends who have told me, "The church is full of hypocrites." "I don't need that; I can worship God just as well on my own." "I don't need to go to church. God understands."
Dear one, I need to deliver this message: much of what God wants to teach you needs to be taught in meeting with believers.
You'll notice I did NOT say "in a church"; I believe that a BUILDING cannot BE the church. WE are the church, the believers who make up any group that meets in ANY building. But I DO feel that God is telling His body to become more unified.
There are many reasons that people I know have left the church; can't find one they like, have been too hurt by others, don't have time, don't like what goes on in church, etc., etc. But, dear one, that doesn't give you a reason to not be with believers in a service ever again.
I know that you've been hurt, deeply, by people who are supposed to bear Christ's name. And I'm not saying that it will never happen again. But you know what? NO ONE is perfect. There are so many MORE reasons for meeting together than NOT that you need to find a place to be. A place to be safe, to be loved, to be encouraged, and to be held accountable.
Yes, I said accountable! :) We seem to have given up on trying to be holy anymore - not holier-than-thou, but holy. God said, "BE HOLY, as I am holy." (My emphasis there. :D) We all know we're not perfect, nor are we holy - but we seem to have stopped trying. It's true in many aspects of our lives - we can't do something completely, so we don't even attempt it. Oh, dear one, that's SO not the way God wants us to live!
We are to rejoice together - the shepherd who found his lost sheep, and the widow who found her lost coin BOTH called people together and said, "REJOICE WITH ME!" It's with the words of our testimony that we share our story of God's grace in our lives. We benefit in both the hearing AND the telling of it; if you're not meeting with anyone to rejoice with them, you're losing out on many blessings!
We are to encourage one another - being KIND and COMPASSIONATE with one another. FORGIVING one another. Oh, dear friend, I know this is hard to do when you've been hurt! I know how difficult it is to let anyone in again, when your heart has been broken, your spirit crushed, by those who were supposed to have been friends, who were trusted to be truthful and loving.
And we're to exhort each other. What does that mean? Here's the definition from dictionary.com:
to urge, advise, or caution urgently; to admonish urgently; to give urgent advice, recommendations, or warnings.
Yes, we're to help one another, IN LOVE, to show each other where a problem might be - again, IN LOVE. Our pastor said in a sermon from Ephesians that we are not going in love to someone unless our heart is breaking for them. Oh, sweet reader, I KNOW this is where some of the pain comes in. Someone may have said something like this to you:
"I'm only saying this because I love you, but...." And then proceeded to cut your heart out.
YES, we need to be advised. And sometimes advice hurts - sometimes warnings hurt. Our flesh rebels against restrictions, and it's easier to justify those desires than it is to die to them. But it's also easier to put them on the altar when you have someone to walk with you, to help you, to encourage you to LEAVE them on the altar. When we walk with each other, we can help each other. But when you walk alone, look out!
The enemy is real, dear one. He "roams", seeking "whom he may devour." THANK GOD our God is so much bigger than the enemy! But, dear one, if the enemy can cull you from the flock, can separate you from the body, he can get at you so much easier.
If you've ever watched any of the animal shows, you know what I'm talking about: lions, for instance, don't attack a whole herd of antelope. They separate one from the rest of the herd. Then, it's easy for them to take down ONE.
But I'm sure you saw this video that was going around the Web, the one with the herd of water buffalo who won back against the lions AND the crocodile. WARNING: The video is VERY difficult to watch!!! Dear ones, we're NOT powerless - and we're a much more incredible force TOGETHER. We're in a battle, and one soldier doesn't stand much of a chance.
I'm hoping to have one of my friends who is a pastor of a home group do a guest spot here, and talk a little about home groups. I am here to say: don't give up on each other. It's too important, from too many Scriptures. We grow and learn with each other.
Alone, we usually don't even try. If you're honest with yourself, you'll admit it. You might for a little while, but after a time, every day is the same - except it's a weekend, so you can sleep in and do those chores that haven't been done.
Don't give up. Don't be separated from the flock. Want Scriptures? I had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to use, because there are so many of them. Start with the middle of Ephesians. Still want more? Email me. I can't tell you how heavily this has been weighing on me for a LONG time! God is calling us together again, dear one, as His body. He's calling us to learn to live in UNITY. To strengthen and uplift one another. To put on our armor, and STAND together.
I love you! I pray for you! I want you to know that GOD loves you, and wants you to love HIM. Read His Word. TRUST His Word. BELIEVE it - it will change your life.
Email me with any questions, or concerns, or complaints, or prayer requests. :) I'll listen!!!!!