(Video Included Below)
One of Strength for Life’s primary goals is to strengthen believers, and one of the most spiritually strengthening things you can do is gather with your local church family this Sunday!
You might say, “I’ve done that before and it didn’t strengthen me.” That may be true, but the key is to gather with a God-honoring attitude, and gather for biblical reasons. So often people are not strengthened by their church involvement because they’ve gathered with the wrong attitude, and for unbiblical reasons.
With that in mind, in this video we will consider some attitudes and some reasons for gathering with our church families.
First, what’s a good, God-honoring attitude for gathering with your church?
It’s an attitude of humble service, and eager anticipation. It’s important you have that attitude, in that order. Humble service first, and then eager anticipation.
Why that order? Because humble service is about giving and eager anticipation is about receiving. God-honoring church involvement starts with “What can I give?” “How can I serve?”
Humble service is an attitude that specifically asks, “How can I serve God, and my church family?” An attitude of eager anticipation says, “I’m looking forward to what I will receive from God’s Word and from God’s people, my church family.”
So in contrast, a wrong attitude is a self absorbed, self focused, “People at this church better serve me,” and “This is probably a waste of time and I’m likely not going to get anything out of this, but I’m here anyways.”
Instead of that negative attitude which is unfortunately very typical consider the words of JFK but put them in a church context. “Ask not what your church can do for you but ask what you can do for your church.”
More powerfully, consider the word's of Christ when He says, "If any man come after me, let him deny Himself, take up his cross and follow me."
A God-honoring attitude makes a huge difference. When this right attitude is the disposition of your heart, you will very likely be gathered with your church for biblical reasons.
Secondly, what are some biblical reasons to gather with your local church?
Gather with your church family this Sunday for God. Join others in adoring God and worshipping God. John 4:23 Jesus said, “...for the Father seeketh (true worshippers) to worship him.” Gather to worship God.
Someone says, “What does worshipping God look like, practically speaking?“
Nehemiah 8 gives us an amazing glimpse of God-honoring worship.
Interestingly, the people wanted Ezra to “Bring the Book.” They were attentive and interested in the Word of God, without the man of God begging them to care about the Scripture. Instead of their spiritual leader feeling like he needs to constantly promote the next time he’s going to declare the Word of God, the people, on their own had a genuine interest in hearing God’s Word declared.
The people worshipped God by giving verbal expressions of worship. The Scripture says the people were saying “Amen, Amen” as Ezra, the man of God, stood at a “pulpit of wood,” and declared the Word. Not only verbal expressions of worship, but they also gave physical expressions of worship as they were “lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:6)
This stands in contrast to today’s typical church-worship style. People today prefer the “silent and still” style of worship. Many Christians offer no verbal or physical expressions of worship for God. Instead, silent and still is preferred by many because it helps promote the possibility of a little extra sleep. :-)
Verbalizing an “Amen” during or after a Bible-based public prayer, or saying “Amen” during theologically rich church music, or during Bible-heavy preaching is a biblically modeled way to verbalize your worship for God.
Physically speaking, church goers are given the opportunity to physically show their worship for God by ”bowing their heads” and placing their “faces to the ground” during the church’s public invitation, which is often at the end of the church service, after they’ve heard the preaching of God’s Word.
These worshipers in Nehemiah 8 clearly have the attitude that I previously described of “humble service” toward God.
Of course, saying “Amen” and responding at a church invitation is WAY out of the comfort zone of many Christians, but remember, worshipping God is not about what’s comfortable for us, it’s about what’s pleasing to Him.
It’s clear that the people in Nehemiah 8 worshipped God in a way that was pleasing to Him. If these acts of worship are done out of a pure motive, then God will be pleased.
Gather with your church family to worship God, but also, gather this Sunday to serve your church family.
One reason that Hebrews tells us not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together“ is specifically because we are to “provoke one another to love and good works.”
Gather this Sunday with your church family and seek out opportunities to fulfill the “one anothers” in the Bible. Not only, “provoke one another to love and good works,” but also, “Bear one another’s burdens,” and look to “Edify one another, care for one another, comfort one another” and thoughtfully fulfill the many other "one anothers” in Scripture.
Additionally, you serve your church family by stewarding well your spiritual gifts. Romans 12 explains that each church member has a spiritual gift and each member’s gifting is important to the spiritual health of that church body. Beware of withholding from your church family your spiritual gifts by not being in attendance. In order for your church family to be healthy, every gifting within a spiritual body is essential. Don’t be stingy with your spiritual gifts!
Personally, I must say, there are some people in our church family that I may not even get to speak to, but by just seeing them across the room, my spirit is encouraged and strengthened because they’re a person who’s stewarding well their spiritual gifts.
Gather with your church family this Sunday for the reasons of worshiping God and serving your church family but also, gather with your church family for the sake of your neighbor.
Jesus taught us that second of the great commandments is to love your neighbor as yourself.
Your neighbor is not just the guy that lives next to you on the cul-de-sac, but your neighbor is your co-worker, your countrymen, your neighbor is anyone who can see the habits of your life.
In most cases, before your neighbor will ever be interested in serving your God, he or she will want to see you serving your God faithfully. If you’re not setting an example of faithfulness it’s highly unlikely that the unsaved world around you will take your Christian faith seriously.
Love your neighbor enough to let them “see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.“ (Matthew 5:16)
Everything I just described is you giving. I mean you give of yourself to God in worship when you say "Amen" or you respond at the church invitation. You give of yourself when you sing enthusiastically and you listen to God’s Word attentively. You give of yourself as you minister the “one anothers” in Scripture. You give of yourself as you model an example of faithfulness to your neighbor, the people all around you.
But, after all of that giving, gather for the reason of what you can receive with an attitude of eager anticipation.
Eagerly anticipate what you will receive from God‘s Word and from God’s people. Eagerly anticipate God speaking to you, because when the Word of God is preached, the voice of God is heard.
Eagerly anticipate your spirit being renewed as you sing God‘s praise and hear others enthusiastically sing His praise.
Eagerly anticipate your soul being fed as your Sunday School teacher or your pastor teach you more from the Word of God.
Eagerly anticipate the numerous benefits of other people’s spiritual gifts.
Eagerly anticipate your faith to be strengthened as you are constantly reminded of God’s promises through singing Bible-based hymns and through Bible-heavy preaching.
Ladies and gentlemen, I encourage you to gather with your church with the right attitude and for all the right reasons and your faith will be strengthened in amazing ways! And, be sure to gather with your church every time the church doors are open because God rewards faithfulness!