What about church?

 Why do we go to church?  Jesus Himself said, “forsake not the gathering of yourselves together”.    To understand why Jesus wanted people to come together to worship, we need to understand what a church was as Jesus established it. 

WHERE 

First, there were no church buildings for those who believed in Jesus as their savior.  The temples and synagogues were for sacrifices and worshipping God according to the Law of Moses. 

Jesus’ believers were hated and persecuted, but the Word spread from house to house.  They gathered in each other’s homes, and shared all their money and goods, so there were no more poor or needy among them.  The apostles went from town to town, talking in people’s homes, and establishing in-home churches in every town. 

This doesn’t mean it’s not right to attend church in a building, it just means that even if you gather together with other believers and pray and worship – it doesn’t matter if you do it under a tree in a city park, in your home, in prison, in a hospital or in a church building.  WE are the temple of God, we’re God’s house, because when you’re saved, the Holy Spirit lives inside of you. 

WHO 

Since a fancy church building is not needed, the “church” is WHEREVER likeminded believers gather.  No certain number of believers is required for worship to take place, but it IS important to gather with people who have the same beliefs as you, and who want the same things as you do.  

It’s ok that there are different churches, different beliefs and people who are at different levels of understanding.  God is working with every man, woman and child right where they are today, and He doesn’t want them going any faster than they’re capable of handling and growing with.  

The worst thing is to find yourself in a group who are strong in their beliefs, and who press theirs upon you when it goes against your own heart and what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach you.  

So you should find people that you get along with, people who want the same things in life, and people who want to worship the way you feel comfortable doing.  It might take you a while to find these others, but keep searching!  Visit churches until you DO find where you feel at home.  And ALWAYS check your beliefs with the Word.  Make sure what you believe is scriptural, and then let God’s Spirit teach your heart how to adapt the Word to your life. 

WHEN and HOW OFTEN 

These early churches met on the first day of the week (Sunday) after they had rested for the Sabbath (Saturday), but there are New Testament scriptures that say not to let anyone criticize you for which day you worship, and that it would be better if Christians held EVERY day holy unto the Lord. 

Often early Christians found themselves having an unscheduled meeting of just 2 or 3 along a road or as people went about their business.  

They stopped, shared the Word, praised God, told each other what God had done in their own lives, and if someone needed to be baptized, they found some water and did it immediately.  This was in addition to their regular worship, and on days they didn’t “attend” church, they LIVED church wherever they were. 

Which days of the week we should have church, how many times a week, or how many Sundays we should meet in a month, are questions that God didn’t write down the answers to for us.  He wanted us to “wing” it according to the love in our hearts, and at the same time, give us the freedom to do all things. 

So there are no restrictions on us that we must be there every time the doors are opened, or that a church should meet Sundays and Wednesdays.  If we HAD those restrictions, we would be trying to live again by the LAW, and the LAW always leads to death – because people will always make mistakes.  Better to live in complete LIBERTY with eternal life! 

WHAT 

They brought into the church their tithes and offerings, and they sent whatever was needed to the apostles and evangelists who were traveling the world to spread the gospel.  

They shared news of the gospel and of anyone who was in need.  They made Jesus the center of their lives, and everything in their lives revolved around Him and His Word.  

Their local church became their family, and as I said before, everyone helped everyone else.  There was no jealousy or greed.  Land and possessions were sold so that the money could be shared amongst them.  They were very eager to fulfill Jesus’ command to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the sick and imprisoned. 

They met as a group, and waited for the Holy Spirit to begin to speak, to give prophecy through a believer, speaking in tongues, interpretation, healings and miracles.  It was a humble, patient service where the hearts of the people were anxious for their Lord, and EXPECTED the Spirit to fall upon them.  It wasn’t a question of “IF”.  God never disappoints!!  If you are looking for Him, He is going to be right there to be sure you find Him. 

In many churches today, if you even MENTIONED the existence of a Spirit of God manifesting in someone’s life, you’d be sharply criticized as they try to make you believe that the Spirit is no longer meant for us, and that miracles and healings have ended. 

Take heart dear believer!  NOWHERE in the Bible does it say this!  Jesus says the Spirit will be with each believer until He returns, and He commands us to USE the power of the Spirit, to heal the sick and cast out demons and preach this Good News! 

WHY 

Why did the new Christians risk their lives to gather in secret?  They were looking for redemption, renewal, freedom from their illnesses (remember Jesus had already been through the land healing).  They KNEW this Christ Jesus was going to heal them, and that HIS “Way” was the REAL way!  They were looking for something meaningful, that made each person more than just a slave, or worker, husband or wife, they wanted reassurance that everything they experienced in life was genuine.  Sound familiar?  Sounds like what the world is still seeking today. 

The new Christians were not called Christians at first.  They called their belief “THE WAY” because it was a way of life, a way of forgiving, of transforming, of being provided for, of living for meaning and depth, and love.  And then there was the promise that when all of THIS was over, there was MORE, MUCH MORE!  

For YOU, what does it mean, though?  Why do you worship Him? 

THE POWER TO CHANGE CIRCUMSTANCES:  Nobody wants a dead god.  Nobody wants a powerless church of aging, dying old Christians who never knew the Lord. 

Jesus said that wherever 2 or more of us are gathered in His name, there He would be too.  He said whatever we ask in His name, believing we will receive, He will do for us!  (This means if you pray for someone’s health or salvation, etc., that it will be granted.)  This is something real that you can put your faith into, and your energy.  This is power. 

We are told that the new Christians were praying in one accord when great power fell upon them from the Holy Ghost.  When you align your hearts and minds with other believers and pray with full belief, miracles happen.  It’s hard to pray with other believers if you don’t know any, so this is another reason church is helpful! 

The Holy Spirit IS the power of the cross, and the power of your life today, He’s the Friend who was sent to stand in Jesus’ place in your life on earth, to make sure all is well with you. 

YOU CAN EXPECT MIRACLES EVEN WHEN YOU PRAY ALONE!  “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  (Check out my article on this subject.)  However, we are instructed to call for the “church” elders to anoint us with oil and for the laying on of hands when we are sick, and that we WILL recover.  The added benefit of the body of believers (known as the “church”) is a great power and comfort in times of trouble. 

Remember I’m not talking about the “church on every corner”, the cute little wooden building that has a membership of old cronies who have been in power there for generations and have bought their grave plots by donation to the system.  I’m not talking about backbiters, gossipers, folks who show up on Sunday because it’s the accepted thing to do, or because to NOT show up would make you look bad. 

I’m talking about FRIENDS.  Real ones, who care, who would risk their lives for you if need be.  People that you can tell anything to and know they’d keep your secret.  People who give their word and you know you can trust that it will be done. 

JESUS’ People.  You will find them, where you find HIM. 

The bottom line for any believer is that we love Him because HE FIRST loved US! Even when we didn’t deserve any mercy or forgiveness.  I’m sure you remember that feeling of being so dirty and undeserving.  It was hard at first to be able to believe He could put aside our sins and really love us anyway. 

Thank you merciful Lord for your forgiveness and love! 

HOW CAN I HAVE CHURCH? 

Your family is your responsibility, to teach them about God and to feed them the information they need to live with prosperity and joy.  This is one group of believers you can worship with. 

You can also gather with small groups of believers who aren’t family, and you can attend church services in buildings with great pastors.  All of these fulfill the “gathering together”.   But no one should criticize you for any one type of gathering over another. 

It is good for you to hear preachers preach, it is good to read the Bible and to discuss what you’ve learned with your friends, family and co-workers.  It is good to show the example of Jesus in the kindnesses and helpful things you do for strangers and the poor. 

It is not necessary to wear special clothes, drive long distances to get to a church (unless it is a really special place and you just want to go there), or be known by a large church’s membership roll and fancy title.  

Being a member with your name written in their book is not the point.  The reason someone was known as a member in the early Christian church was so he could share in the blessings, and the other members knew then that he wasn’t a spy bringing soldiers to their door to stop the worship. 

Jesus Himself has a book, with your name written on it if you’re saved.  He also has a book with all the people’s deeds, thoughts and words spoken.  At the end times, He will open those books and judge the world from them.  If your name is written there, your sins are cancelled out by the stamp of Jesus’ blood over them.  If not, you will be judged according to what you have done, and what will happen to you then will be according to your deeds. 

Having your name on a church membership book somewhere is perfectly useless if your name is not in the Book of Life. 

Wearing a certain type of clothing (such as long sleeves, long dresses, hats or crosses) CAN NOT save you.  Only the blood of Jesus can save you and what you wear on the outside is not important as long as you dress modestly.  (That means don’t show your sexual parts or dress in a way that sexually arouses others, because it takes focus away from Jesus and onto physical things.)  This isn’t just for church attendance, this should be your general rule for how you dress ALL the time! 

Jesus has nothing against sex, God invented it, remember?  But there is a time that is appropriate for all things, and keeping your public worship time and your sex time separate keeps both crystal clear and wonderful! 

IS MY BAPTISM VALID? 

If you asked Jesus to forgive you, and be your savior (this is your repentance), and told others that you believe in Him (this is your confession), and were baptized by being completely dunked under the water in Jesus’ name, you are saved and born again. 

The person speaking the baptism might say:  (your name), having confessed Jesus as the Christ and his/her personal savior, comes now to be baptized for the remission of sin in the name of (Jesus, or the Father, the son – Jesus, and the Holy Ghost).  It might simply be “I baptize you in the name of Jesus”. 

You should ASK Jesus for salvation, CONFESS Him as Lord in your life, and be BAPTIZED for the remission of your sins. 

If these words are spoken, this procedure followed, it doesn’t matter which church baptized you, or if it was done in a pond, bathtub or mud puddle. 

The full immersion in the water of your body, means you are buried as the person you used to be and you rise up from the “grave” with Jesus, a new creature, and completely innocent.  No more sin, ever.  His blood continues throughout your life to wash you clean from every wrong you might do, as you learn to walk and live in Peace in Jesus. 

When you were born the first time (as a baby), you went through water (amniotic fluid in your mother’s womb) INTO the earth family, under the name of your earth father.  You received your DNA from him, and your fingerprints, and you are known by these means of identification.  You also received the curse of death from sin, in the blood of your ancestor Adam. 

When you were born the second time, (in baptism), you were born of water AND the Spirit, INTO God’s family, under the name of your Heavenly Father.  Now you have Jesus’ “DNA” so to speak in you, - the Spirit – and you have the “fingerprints” of LOVE to identify you as a child of the King.  You also have the new blood of Christ and this blood sets you free from that curse, and from the Law.  It gives you liberty and freedom, and eternal life. 

This is your birth certificate, your proof to the enemy that you are sinless, purchased and redeemed, washed clean and BELONG to the Almighty God of All that there is.  When the enemy comes, remind him of your new birth and send him away. 

DO I NEED TO TITHE? 

There are numerous references to tithing in both the Old and New Testaments, and even some surprising things that God has to say about it.  (For instance, there are instructions on how to have a tithing party if it is too far to take your money or goods to the church.) 

Yes, tithing of your time, money and all that you receive is wonderful and we were instructed to do so.  NOT because God needs money.  (Think about it, Jesus went fishing to get His tax money.  He can create money ANYWHERE!) 

It’s an act of faith, of putting your money (and heart) where your mouth is.  It’s being obedient.  It’s supporting God’s work (that helps others) and getting YOU used to parting with cash for the sake of others.  It also teaches you that when you trust in God completely, HE will NEVER let you down, but will bless you beyond your capacity to contain the blessings. 

It’s putting God first and taking a giant step of faith, to take the first 10 % of what you have, and give it to the Lord right off the top.  Do that before you even figure what you’re going to pay or buy with your money.  You are investing into your own harvest, and it will come swiftly. 

Beyond all of this, it is the attitude of the heart God is looking for!  He wants us to acknowledge Him as the one who provided your food, house, paycheck, and all that you have.  He also wants you to be THANKFUL for them.  

In today’s society, we think of our ability to work or our intelligence in getting a GOOD job, OR being able to get a government check, as our support.  THIS IS INCORRECT.  

WE DO NOT SUPPORT OURSELVES, JUST LIKE WE DO NOT SAVE OURSELVES. 

We CANNOT save ourselves and we also CANNOT support ourselves.  Yes you work, you get paid, or you don’t work or someone else works, - but the bottom line is – God takes care of you.  Your job may come or go, government checks may come or go, but God says HE WILL PROVIDE FOR YOU COMPLETELY, and HE will NEVER change!!!  Thank you Jesus! 

Jesus said to think of the birds and flowers, they don’t work but they are fed and dressed.  He said God knows you have need of these things and He will provide them IF you seek the Kingdom of Heaven first!  Seek Him, love Him, learn of Him, and all the other things you need and want will be added! 

HOW should you tithe?  For every dollar you get, take out 10 cents and set it aside for God.  You could also take another 10 cents and set it aside for your family fund or future fund.  Let this second tithe grow and don’t touch it.  Then when you need something in an emergency, you’ll know you can have it.  Give your God tithe to a church, or ministry, call a church or email me for more information. 

Give with a CHEERFUL heart!  God says He loves a cheerful giver, and I don’t think that just means in church giving.  I think it is to be the attitude of your heart whenever you are helping someone else. 

In our church in Albany, they don’t always pass a plate.  The plate may be down front on a step or set where it can be seen, and when the time comes to give, those who wish to make a faith deposit, go down clapping and cheering, in true joy.  No one is embarrassed or made to pay.  Sometimes it is passed around.  Giving is not a chore when you understand and accept what you’re doing with that money. 

You’re not losing it, and no one is taking it away.  It is yours and God’s, and brings you back an increase.  “Cast your bread upon the waters and it will return to you…” 

In the Albany GA church I’ve been telling you about, the members there were blessed abundantly with money, houses and cars!  As each one was blessed, they turned around and blessed someone else.  

One family was given a new house, so they gave their old one to another member.  Another family was given a new car.  Several were given large cash amounts that enabled them to pay off their debts and live for the Lord. 

I have seen this happen, and it is continuing to happen.  God’s people are always wealthy and provided for when they understand Godly principles. 

I pray that you will receive understanding and wisdom from our Lord, and the Spirit of God, and that everything you touch will be blessed and prosper. 

So what do you need to do now? 

  • Have you asked Jesus to save you?
  • Have you told someone that you believe He IS your savior?
  • Have you been baptized?  Have you started reading the Bible?
  • Have you found a group of people to pray with and worship together?
  • Have you begun tithing?
  • Have you asked God to show you the gifts and special talents He’s given you?
  • Have you asked God what He wants you to do with these special gifts?

For more information, email me, or seek help from any of your local churches. 

If you don’t have a Bible at home, log onto www.biblegateway.com or ask a church to give you one. 

email:  chastityrose@yahoo.com  

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