Since this new round of cancer has hit me I've been pretty sick most of the time. Every day is faced with new battles. Often one battle leads into another. I'm so tired and spend much of the day sleeping or watching TV. The last couple of weeks I've missed Sunday morning church. I don't like doing this, but I've not been able to avoid it.
But yesterday.....I woke, not feeling great, but I thought that maybe I could make our Sunday service. I've retired from active ministry as pastor of our emerging group, my wife has taken over and is doing a great job. Yet, I love to attend our church even though I'm not doing the preaching. I ate a little breakfast and decided to attend. I got ready and Corinne drove me to the 10:00 a.m. service.
I sat in the back and enjoyed seeing my friends come in. The service began and we entered worship. It was great! Then our Worship Leader, Kris, began to preach. She did a bang up job on stating the difference between the joy that God has given us all with the gift of Christ and happiness. It was an awesome message! Then she ended her message with communion and a couple of more worship songs. That's when I was really hit! As I took communion just the thought of remembering the body and the blood of Christ caused me to cry like a baby. The Holy Spirit really ministered to me and then so did some of the others from the congregation. Several gathered around me and prayed for me, etc.
Now all of this actually goes much deeper in reality as I can't really find the words that would actually describe what happened to me yesterday in that church service. However, the fact remains....HAD I STAYED HOME I WOULD HAVE MISSED IT ALL!
Our church in Inverness, FL, New Covenant Grace Fellowship is a special place. We only teach and practice the message of God's gift of grace. So many believe that we must constantly work to please God. We believe that God did all of the work for us, we please Him because He did that all for us. Our only work is to rest in His finished works. I don't want to get into all of this right now, suffice it to say, that our group is very unique in this light and it is manifest by what God is doing in our lives. By the way, I would not attend a church that did not teach this type of grace! But that's another story too.
It seems that so many stay home from church these days. Some who understand grace leave traditional churches and no longer attend any place. My hope would be that they would plant new churches, but it seems that few are interested in that right now. However, no matter what...a simple fact is that CHRISTIANS NEED TO PHYSICALLY MEET AND FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS!
Here is an interesting verse, maybe written by Paul or a close follower of Paul (Paul....the guy who released grace to the Church!), Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV) "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." The Early Church met together, often much more than just Sunday morning. Things happened when they got together. As a result the message of the Gospel spread across the world of the day.
Let's look at the grace friendly Mirror Bible..."In the light of our free access to the Father, let us extend that embrace to one another. Our gatherings are no longer a repetition of tradition but an essential fellowship where we remind one another of our true identity. Let us do so with greater urgency now the day has dawned in our understanding. (The prophetic shadow had been replaced by the light of day).
It seems that we have kind of neglected this very essential verse of Scripture. It just might be time to resurrect it into its proper place, right in the middle of God's new covenant grace!
The bottom line is that what happened to me yesterday is in direct fulfillment of Hebrews 10:25 and had I stayed home from church, as I had every right to by the way I felt, I would have missed out on a very great blessing!
I trust that I can attend our church next week too! How about you?
Grace and peace!