Daily Devotional for Sunday March 30, 2003
Going to church
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 unscriptural 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. I honestly prayed that God would never call me to pastor a church. 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.
As I normally do, I am going to let you pray about this. 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 love you and care about you so much. 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