Recently a friend of mine sent me this email. I thought it was such a gentle and kind way of getting across a much needed message.
You know, we all come up with all kinds of reasoning and excuses as to why (if we are a Christian) do not need to read the Bible or attend church. Yet, if we desire to grow in Christ we must read the Word of God, and if we wish to become closer to Christ as we grow we must read it often. The Bible tells us that, and experience has shown me that.
This going to church deal is a bit different BECAUSE, so many churches can get their purpose screwed up by confusing religion with Christianity, which turns many people off and makes them run as far away from “church” as possible. But the Bible talks about this too, and it says that the Christian is to continue “gathering with the brethren.” That means that Christians, in some form or fashion, are to continue to get together to sanctify, edify and exhort one another, not for God’s benefit, but for their own. Why? Because when you get into the Bible and become closer to Christ you become aware of a whole new, and “unworldly” way to live that is almost too good to be true. You need to interact, communicate and share with others what you are learning so that you can make certain you stay on the right track, and so that you won’t feel so odd as you pursue the narrow path Christ has already established for you.
I’ve said all that to say this: Christians must get into the Bible on a regular basis, and we must continue to attend a “church” of some sort, no matter how disgusted we are with religion. “Church” can be a traditional setting, or a gathering for worship of two or three, a small home church or whatever.
The following story says it more diplomatically and gently that I.
A member of the church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him.
It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.
The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone then he sat back in his chair, still silent.
The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.
Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, ‘Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the firey sermon. I will be back in church next Sunday.’
Sometimes the best sermons are the ones left unspoken.
The Lord is my Shepherd —– that’s a Relationship!
I shall not want —– that’s Supply!
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures —-that’s Rest!
He leadeth me beside the still waters —–that’s Refreshment!
He restoreth my soul —– that’s Healing!
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness –that’s Guidance!
For His name sake —– that’s Purpose!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death–that’sTesting!
I will fear no evil —– that’s Protection!
For Thou art with me —– that’s Faithfulness!
Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me —–that’s Discipline!
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies——that’s Hope!
Thou annointest my head with oil —–that’s Consecration!
My cup runneth over —– that’s Abundance!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life—-that’s Blessing!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord —–that’s Security!
Forever —– that’s Eternity!
Face it, God loves you!
What is most valuable is not what we have in our lives, but WHO we have in our lives.