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\\ Hebrews 10:25
I have spent many years in many churches.
Many times I sat as a member of the congregation, having the same viewpoint and expectations as most of you have.
And then there were many times I saw something quite different than what you see each week.
\\ \\ For many years, I saw the church body through the eyes of a pastor.
Let me tell you it is quite different.
And there is something I have noticed in every church I attended.
\\ \\ There are those who make a concerted effort to attend every possible service.
These people are considered the *“core”* of the church and can be counted on for their attendance; their time; and even in their tithes.
\\ \\ I have also noticed in each church that there are those who do not make any effort to attend more than once per week.
These people will find other things to do that will keep them out of church, and these people are less committed to the church in their time; attendance; and tithes.
These people are considered the *“community”*, as they are more involved in their community than they are their church.
\\ \\ So the question comes to mind; *“Does attending church really make a difference, and if so, to whom?” \\ * \\ I am of the opinion that is makes a very real difference to everyone.
It makes a difference to the individual involved; to the church that could use more of their talents; to the community who they could become another shining light; and even to God and His desire that we all become doers of the word rather than just listeners.
\\ \\ I think every Christian is obligated to attend every regular service unless something unforeseen keeps them from it.
\\ \\ *1.
GOD COMMANDS US TO ATTEND CHURCH* \\ \\ Many people go to church once per week, and claim they are committed to the church.
In my opinion, a person cannot be committed to the church unless they are willing to be at the church - and that means more than once per week.
Many people are very lukewarm in their feelings toward the church, and therefore, they are lukewarm in their association with Christ.
\\ If we are serious about Christ, we should also be serious about doing what He tells us to do.
\\ In HEBREWS 10:25, we read – \\ ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’
\\ \\ In this one verse, we are warned to not stop meeting with other Christians.
There are some who will only sacrifice enough of their time to attend one service per week.
Once that person gets into a habit of forsaking another meeting, it becomes easier to not attend other church functions.
\\ \\ Have you ever noticed how long one hour in church is, but how short it is when watching your favorite movie?
And how thrilling it is when a ballgame goes into extra innings, but how agitating it is when the service goes five minutes longer than usual?
\\ \\ Did you know that most people who have fallen away from going to church have done so, not because they were let down or hurt while going to church, but they gradually started missing services until they finally saw it too difficult to go at all? \\ \\ God knows that every time you attend a service, you are giving up something else.
You give up sleeping late to be here Sunday morning.
You might also be giving up a good fishing trip with the guys, or seeing a particular football game that is on during the time of service.
\\ \\ For the Sunday evening service, you might be giving up washing the car, or that favorite TV show, or the time to just sit and relax after a hard weekend.
\\ \\ You want something from God, don’t you?
You want Him to keep you safe for eternity.
So, how would you feel if he told you He was just too busy to pay attention to your needs, and that He was more interested in other people than He was in you?
Would that make you feel very bad?
I am sure it would.
\\ \\ But, what kind of message are many of us sending to God each week?
We don’t want to be inconvenienced enough to attend more than one service per week and we sure don’t want to feel obligated to serve the church, either in time, talent, or money.
\\ \\ How do you think that makes God feel?
That must hurt Him very much.
After all, He loves you enough to have sacrificed His Son for us, and He thinks the least we can do is love His Son enough to sacrifice a little time for Him.
\\ \\ There was a choir director who was angry because choir members were not dedicated to attending all the rehearsals.
Finally, one Wednesday night at rehearsal, he said he wanted to thank the piano player, as she was the only one who faithfully attended every rehearsal.
\\ \\ She stood and said, “Thank you, but I felt it was the least I could do considering I won’t be here for the next two Sundays.”
\\ \\ In the Bible, we are told many times to edify one another.
Now, according to the dictionary, the word ‘edify’ means ‘to build up, to instruct, to enlighten, or to teach.’
\\ \\ That is what God wants us to gather together for; to do these things to others who might need it and for us to receive them when we might need it.
\\ ROMANS 14:19 says, \\ ‘Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.’
\\ \\ In HEBREWS 3:13 tells us \\ ‘… encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.’
\\ \\ /Simply put, God has commanded that we gather together and build each other up.
We cannot do that if we do not gather together.
I know that most of you have been to this church for many years.
You will hear me say that I have been to many churches, and have even been a member in many of them.
\\ \\ You must realize that I have lived in Virginia, two areas in Ohio, Tennessee, Washington D.C., several areas of Arizona and now Oklahoma.
For me to have not been to many churches would mean that I didn’t go to church.
But, every church I have been a member of, had people who went so seldom that they didn’t know many people, and the ones they did know; they didn’t know well enough to be comfortable.
\\ / \\ /And what would happen?
The enemy would even make them feel that was a good reason not to go to church.
And most of them would fall for it!
\\ / \\ God has given us another commandment, too.
In MATTHEW 6:33, He told us to seek first the kingdom of God and then everything else will be given to you.
\\ \\ Okay, so Jesus tells us to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness before anything else.
Do we? Or, do we seek other things in our lives, and then try to squeeze in a little bit of church time?
\\ \\ I think we have all said, “I just don’t have the time to do everything I need to do.”
Well, even though we have said that, it is a false statement.
We may not have the time to do everything we would like to do, but we do have the time to do everything that we need to do, *and going to church regularly is something we need to do.* \\ \\ It all boils down to priorities.
I once had a man actually tell me that one of his chief priorities was getting enough sleep to be healthy, but he was so busy the rest of the week, the only time he could actually get that sleep was on Sundays.
I think we would all agree that his priorities were all wrong.
\\ \\ Can you remember as a child there would be times you didn’t want to go to school and you would tell your mother that you didn’t feel good?
Well, most of the time when I did that, I had to go anyway, but that is something we all do; get up and not feel like going somewhere.
\\ \\ Many people don’t go to church on Sunday morning and evening, because of aches and pains, but they will feel like going shopping or to the lake.
And no matter how they feel, they will get up and go to work on Monday.
I am not saying their aches and pains are not real, but I am saying that this clearly shows where church is in their list of priorities.
\\ \\ MATTHEW 10:37 says, \\ ‘Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me’ \\ \\ Who is your true family anyway?
In MATTHEW 12:47, someone came to Jesus as He was talking to a crowd and told him that his mother and brothers were outside wanting to talk to Him.
In VERSE 48-50, Jesus said, \\ \\ ‘Who is my mother and who are my brothers?’
Pointing to his disciples, He said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’
\\ \\ *Family is important, but Jesus is more important*.
Some people stay home when they have relatives visiting them.
Is that putting Jesus first?
Do like Ginger and I do.
If you have relatives over, invite them to go to church with you.
If they decline, tell them you will be home later.
And then go to church!
\\ \\ God does not want us to turn our backs on our blood family, but He likewise, does not want us to turn our backs on our church family.
And, He doesn’t want us to turn our backs on Him, by forsaking the gathering together in church with our Christian family.
\\ \\ \\ *2.
HOW DOES GOING TO CHURCH HELP US?* \\ \\ We get fed God’s Word when we are in Sunday school.
We get fed God’s Word when we hear the sermons in church, and we get fed the Spirit of God when we associate with other Christians.
Even the songs are designed to teach us to praise the Lord.
\\ \\ The Lord’s Supper helps to bring our hearts closer to Jesus, and the collection of tithes and offerings teach us to be obedient to the Lord’s command.
Everything in church was designed to grow you spiritually.
\\ \\ Our growth is dependent upon our diets, aren’t they?
If you are like me and like the chocolate diet, you will tend to grow around your waist.
If you are like others and eat healthy, you probably won’t grow much around your middle.
\\ \\ Likewise, if you feed yourself on the Word of God, you will grow spiritually, and the more you feed yourself, the more you will grow.
Of course, if you do not feed your self the Word of God, you won’t do much spiritually growing, will you?
\\ \\ *Those people who do not attend regularly end up with spiritual malnutrition, and that leaves them targets for temptation and sin.* \\ \\ I have never personally known any person who was a strong, faithful, and committed Christian who only attended church once per week because it was not convenient.
To my experience, these people look at attendance as a duty rather than a desire.
Of course, there are those who have legitimate reasons for not being in church, but all of us would have to agree that these reasons are few and far between.
\\ \\ By going to church faithfully, it helps us build ourselves up in Christ while allowing us to build others up around us in Christ, too.
\\ \\ *3.
HOW DOES GOING TO CHURCH HELP THE CHURCH?* \\ \\ EPHESIANS 4:15 talks about how we grow in Christ.
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