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Perhaps the most interesting thing that I have found throughout the reading of His Word this year is how God uses the "non-chosen" to bring about His kingdom. He chooses agents such as Gedaliah in todays reading or king Cyrus at the end of 2 Chron:"This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: " 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you—may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up." God speaks to "unbelievers" and they obey, sometimes acting more like true believers in doing God's work than card carrying "believers".

I am struck by how these different excerpts from diverse places in scripture fit together to paint a complete picture.

1. There is real evil in this world and we will suffer from it. (Paul in prison awaiting execution and the evils of the Babylonian conquest and aftermath)

2. God warns us and promises us deliverance. (Jeremiah, Paul, the Psalmist)

3. The deliverance turns out to be more than we could have envisioned - new, eternal life in Christ. (Paul and the Psalmist)

Mike has provided yet another image of people who make excuses for not 'going to church'. I am saddened by our limited view of 'church'. I love what Mike does with this blog and the wisdom he provides day in and out, but I think Mike shares with us from his own perspective of what 'church' is and that's okay and fair.
However I would like to share a different look at this idea of 'church attendance' and I speak as one who is an associate pastor in a church of 1500 people that 'meets on sundays'.

Today we have become brainwashed with a view of 'church' that says 'we must 'go' to church'. I know of no scripture that says 'go to church'. I know many that imply 'be the church'. I believe that if we are to be biblically anchored on this matter of 'church attendance' we need to think in terms of 'the church gathered and the church scattered.' I DO NOT believe that the church gathered is more important than the church scattered. I know firefighters and medical people who CAN'T GO TO CHURCH OR ATTEND CHURCH on sundays so they participate in the life of our Body other times in the week. Perhaps it is more accurate to say as rob bell of mars hill church says, that 'Sunday morning 'services or gatherings' are an 'event' of the church just as "Alpha' or a 'men's meeting, or women's meeting, or youth or colllege and career meeting are also 'events of the church' as are the 'meetings our members have throughout the week when they are working in their career callings'. Maybe all of that is church when done in the name of Jesus.

I think we do an injustice when we make one day more 'holy' than other days. Historical tradition seems to emphasize based on church polity that Sunday is the Lord's day but we have two references to this and two only, and we have institutionalized something that was meant to be more dynamic and fluid. We now see the church as a 'fixed fortification' or even an 'entertainment center' like movie theaters where we can pick and choose our venue. God help us! We have lost our ability to 'go as a church' to the world.

I appreciate that mike's intent is to encourage fellowship and community in a specific locale and that is fair and good but I hear way too much emphasis on 'going to church' and far too little on 'being the church.'
Let Paul have the last word, "One person considers one day more sacred than another, another person considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in their own mind. He who regards one day special does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, fo he gives thanks to God." Romans 14:5-6

I do not believe that we use Hebrews 10:24 and 25 appropriately either about 'not neglecting to meet together' as some are in the habit of doing. The context of this verse is not 'going to church.' IN fact, in Hebrews 3:12-13 the author speaks of exhorting and encouraging one another DAILY. How about we emphasize that a little more? Daily intense, up close and personal community.

Thanks L! Good points. I will confess that I come back to church attendance over and over again in this blog because I have a hunch that there are quite a few folks that read this blog that don't go to church at all these days - and perhaps some who don't do/be church in any other way throughout the week. So, yes, I think for many of us just getting ourselves into the door of a church on Sunday or Saturday or whenever once a week is an important step for our spiritual health and growth. But, your points are good and valid too. I guess I'm focusing more on people like me who think it's fine for us to skip church - and then we skip community and skip prayer and skip _____ (fill in your blank). I think regular church attendance - be it big church / house church / small group - every week is important for my spiritual well being, so yes, I recommend it for others.

Below is an interesting thing I read recently about church that might or might not :) be useful to others.

God bless! And thanks again for your comment. This is a great and important conversation for us to dive into! -Mike
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Question: "Why is church attendance important?"
Answer: The Bible tells us that we need to attend church so we can worship God with other believers and be taught His Word for our spiritual growth (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:25). Church is the place where believers can love one another (1 John 4:12), encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13), “spur” one another (Hebrews 10:24), serve one another (Galatians 5:13), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), honor one another (Romans 12:10), and be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32).

When a person trusts Jesus Christ for salvation, he or she is made a member of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). For a church body to function properly, all of its "body parts" need to be present (1 Corinthians 12:14-20). Likewise, a believer will never reach full spiritual maturity without the assistance and encouragement of other believers (1 Corinthians 12:21-26). For these reasons, church attendance, participation, and fellowship should be regular aspects of a believer's life. Weekly church attendance is not required for believers, but someone who has trusted Christ should have a desire to worship God, be taught His Word, and fellowship with other believers.

Recommended Resource: The Church: Why Bother? by Philip Yancey.

Question: "What is koinonia?"

Answer: Koinonia is a Greek word that occurs 20 times in the Bible. Koinonia’s primary meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The first occurrence of Koinonia is Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Christian fellowship is a key aspect of the Christian life. Believers in Christ are to come together in love, faith, and encouragement. That is the essence of Koinonia.

Philippians 2:1-2 declares, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Koinonia is being in agreement with one another, being united in purpose, and serving alongside each other. Our koinonia with each other is based on our common koinonia with Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:6-7, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

A powerful example of what koinonia should look like can be found in a study of the “one another’s” of Scripture. Scripture commands us to: be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10), honor one another (Romans 12:10), live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16; 1 Peter 3:8), accept one another (Romans 15:7), serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13), be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32), admonish one another (Colossians 3:16), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13), spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24), offer hospitality (1 Peter 4:9), and love one another (1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11; 3:23; 4:7; 4:11-12). That is what true Biblical koinonia should look like.

Recommended Resource: The Church: Why Bother? by Philip Yancey.

Question: "What should I be looking for in a church?"

Answer: Finding a good church can often be difficult. Many people just "settle" for the church that is closest, or the church they've been going to for years. However, if you aren't being challenged to grow in your faith, if you aren't being led to worship God with all of your heart, soul, and mind, you are pretty much just wasting your time (in my opinion).

A good church is one that is concerned with the spiritual growth of its congregation. It is a place where the Gospel is preached, where sin is condemned, where worship is from the heart, where the teaching is biblical, and where opportunities for ministry (to minister to others as well as to be ministered to) exist. Consider the model of the early church found in Acts 2:42-47 (NIV), "They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord's Supper and in prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity--all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved."

Finding such a church that balances these things well isn't easy, as many, if not most, churches lean more towards one activity than others: some place more importance on the worship part of a service, some focus more on evangelism, some are just places of fellowship. Before you even step foot inside of a church, you should do some homework. Get out the phone book and look at the churches in your area. Find the denominations represented and take a look at the denominational web site. Read their doctrinal statement, their purpose statement, their mission statement, or anything that will give insight as to what they believe as a denomination. If the church itself is listed as having a web site, browse those sites as well, with the goal of getting a feel for what they believe regarding the Bible, God, the Trinity, Jesus Christ, sin, salvation, and man. You are looking for a church that shares your own beliefs and convictions; "discard" the ones that don't.

Next, pick out a few churches that you'd like to visit. Attend service at least twice at each church. Pick up any literature they have for visitors, and pay close attention to their belief statements. Evaluate the church based on the principles we see in the above Acts passage. How was the fellowship? Does the church focus on discipleship? Were you led to worship God? What type of ministries does the church involve itself in? Was the message biblical and evangelical? You also need to feel comfortable; were you made to feel welcome? Is the congregation comprised of people you can identify with?

Because I'm more concerned that the Word of God is taught and preached clearly without excuse than with other aspects of a church, yet I desire a well-balanced church, I need a church that I can align myself with that shares my own Scriptural convictions. You will need to do the same. Also, don’t forget the importance of prayer. You should be praying about the place God would have you attend from the very start of your search, throughout the search, and through the decision to be made.

Recommended Resource: A Biblical Theology of the Church by Mal Couch.

Jeremiah 39:1-41:18


There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. (1 Corinthians 14:10 KJV)

Gedaliah, like Judah, fell into the same pit, the pit of not listening to the right voice, the Voice of God. Their spiritual dullness desensitized them to the Voice of God. Job made a statement, Doesn't the ear test words as the palate tastes food? (Job 12:11 HCSB), that has stuck with me for years, our ability to discern the truth of words spoken to us. In the fourteenth chapter of Jeremiah, as per the Amplified Bible, we are deceived by our own consent. {And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword; and they shall have none to bury them--them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their wickedness upon them [and not on their false teachers only, for the people could not have been deceived except by their own consent]. (Jeremiah 14:16 AMP)}

Gedaliah chose not to believe the report that Ishmael was out to kill him. The question we need to ask is why didn’t he believe? As most of Judah failed to believe the words of coming doom given to Jeremiah, and the prophets before him, so Gedaliah didn’t believe the words spoken to him about his danger. Obedience to God’s Word and Words is our only protection.


I will jump into the fray regarding the day of the week to worship, it doesn’t matter the day nor the time. Maybe I’m kind of dense but nowhere in Mike’s comments regarding Psalm a couple of verses in Psalm 91 do I read of him advocating Sunday only worship. Am I missing something? The command is to not forsake the assembling of the saints (Heb.10:25 ). Paul himself stated in what I call the “Mind Your Business” chapter, Romans 14, that no day had any special meaning over any other day. If anyone has not experienced the power of cooperate worship, the synergy that comes about when you gather together with like believers, even if you don’t particular care for the one sitting next to you, than maybe you are worshiping at a dead church. Either you may want to switch and go to a live one or pray earnestly for revival (You only revive dead things.)

I sit here as I type this post, figuratively scratching my head, because this debate is being brought up while we are studying Jeremiah. The man God sent several times to the door of the Temple to tell the folks going in to offer their sacrifices and to worship, that what they were bringing was not wanted by Him because what they were bring was not from the heart. It seems to me that we should “get it” that worship and our offerings should come from the heart no matter what day of the week it is, whether it is High Noon or Twelve Midnight, it’s all about the heart, the intent of the heart.

Re being/attending church:

We had micro-church today, just two couples in a quiet corner of a hotel lobby sharing our lives over coffee - adventures in rearing teenage girls. And we were considering what our input should be in two weeks time when our Sunday gathering, which meets two Sundays a month in a home, has an open discussion on our first year together and our direction for the future.

Andrew,

Within the midst of your four person, two couple "church" meeting lie the seeds of a great ministry. Many of you may remember that I attend a Mega-Church, 28000 plus members. The pastor of said church did not set out to begin a mega church 25 plus years ago. Being obedient to the voice of God he began his ministry in a store front with four people, he being one of the four. Do not despise the day of small beginnings--you never know how big the seed will grow.

I count it a privilege to go to the house of God on Sunday morning and worship God. I trust the rest of the folks there are there to worship my Savior also!

Hello Mike,

I continue to be blessed by your bible blog day by day, and am even more blessed when you refer to songs or books that I have read and liked. Howver, this Irresistable revolution is new to me, and I would like to have it to. I am back to being single again, and so I wonder what it is all about for you said you gave it to every single person in your church.

Grace, Love, Joy and Peace,

Celia

"Without a cause"
I think the phrase 'without a cause' (Pr 26:3) speaks something that people ignore. Sometimes there IS a cause. (sorry to disagree with your comment on this, Mike, in your blog - but I don't think it is saying all curses come back like a boomerang and I don't know if people should be scared to hold opinions (in Godly love) of sin. God loves the sinner, but hates the sin. This verse from today, and also the one below is speaking of incidents where one is 'without a cause' but the flipside to that is that, on occassion, there is a cause - else those three words would have been unneccesary.
Matthew 5:22a
But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.

Psalm 90:13 Return, O LORD!
How long?
And have compassion on Your servants.

Yesterday my pastor talked about Timothy's faith and it being passed on from his mother and grandmother. He said you know about generational curses, but you need to know about generational spiritual gifts. Food for thought.

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