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Faithful to the Church

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Can I complain a little?
Sundays used to be sacred days
Businesses closed
Family dinner after church
Activities planned around Sunday church services - including sports
What happened?
The church stopped being the church, stopped taking it seriously, and especially stopped telling people about church and Jesus
WE are to blame
Group discussion - describe your job
Now, describe the church’s job, your job/responsibility here at church
Coached a softball team. We were a good team, when everyone was there. When everyone wasn’t, it was difficult to function, and we played shorthanded. Often, I never knew who was going to show up and who wasn’t.
Imagine owning a business and wondering each day if workers will show up.
Church as “community”
Imagine wanting to work for a company, but not want to show up consistently, or do any work related to the company - just “associated”
Or being “related” to a school, but not partaking in classes
People are spiritually disconnected, because they refuse to connect with God’s primary resource to be connected - the church, the local church.
NT letters of Paul are written to local churches, with those churches having faithful members, people who say they belong to that family of believers
Paul never wrote to un-involved members of churches, or non-attenders, because it was unthinkable be connected with a church and not be involved. Each epistle - to involved people of churches, local churches
We post financials, newsletters, missions letters, other cards and correspondence that people send here. Many “associated” here never see it, but get upset when they feel out of the loop. That was un-thinkable in NT
Lots of reasons to talk “membership,” but the emphasis today is on involvement in church
Man in adultery, 1 Cor 6 - assumed he was part of the church, actively
Church is for believers, and for those wanting to meet Jesus.
Do you belong to the church, or does the church belong to you? How you answer that, what you think of that, influences how you interact with church.
Three-legged stool - foundation sets the tone for the rest

Marks of the Faithful - Church Attendance and Involvement

1) The faithful prioritize the LORD and His Word
He is made first in the lives of those who are faithful to church
Exodus 20:3 NASB95
“You shall have no other gods before Me.
A “god” is ANYthing you put before the LORD
We can be very quick to set aside our time of corporate worship for other activities - family gatherings, vacations (try to go to a local church), sports, camping, work, or even just relaxing, “need time for me.”
We need to realize that it is the LORD who makes all that other “stuff” possible.
And…great testimony to family, friends, when you choose the LORD, church over them and the activities they plan. They’ll get it. You let them know what you are characterized by.
This area can be abused, legalistic, if we force church on people, as a “law”
10 Commandments - first four show relation to God, starting with #1 - everything else follows that
2) The faithful demonstrate the love they say they have for Jesus
The church is His bride - that seems important to Him
It is impossible to maintain a love for, a relationship with Christ and avoid fellowship with a local, Gospel-believing church
Committing to love the church = committing to love Christ
Eph 5:25 - 27 - explains how Christ loved the church, gave Himself for her, His bride - treat the church with devoted love, like Christ
Think about how you show your love for Jesus, to others around you, by the way you treat the church (encouraging or discouraging) - especially children, they take note of what is important to you
We want others in our lives to have a strong relationship with Him, yet often we show that our relationship is circumstantial, at best
3) Blessing - faithful church attenders are refreshed by the Gospel weekly
Romans 10:17 NASB95
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
This fuels a desire to be here - to be strengthened by what we already know and say we believe
We don’t come out of guilt, or force. He made us to fellowship, with Him, and with others
Three institutions: Family, government, church - including the local church
To ignore, or minimize church, is to say to God He didn’t know what He was doing
4) The faithful evangelize the lost, edify the believers
This is the purpose! The church is for helping people become believers and for believers to be built up, to grow.
NT full of local churches bringing people to meet Christ, and then to continue participation in that local church, see Acts 2:42-47
Acts 2:42 NASB95
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Miracle - unbelievers coming to saving faith in Christ - no different today
Then, those coverts need to be taught, need to grow
And existing, mature believers already in the church help them, and they grow as well
Believers are encouraged, built up, by working together with others in this effort
Are YOU part of this effort? Inviting others? Helping new members/believers grow?
5) The faithful develop thankful spirits (cultivate)
I encounter so many people who suffer with anxiety, depression, sadness, addiction, and so on - people search and search for happiness
Church attendance/connection is where you find joy
Much easier to experience joy, victory, when you are surrounded by others who share that joy!
And people filled with joy are people who are thankful
Come and complain, and then be met with someone who sees God at work in everything, and see how hard it is to keep complaining (like Frank D)
Church is where we express our thanks to God, who let Jesus (He SENT Him) die for you, for the church, for THIS church
2 Corinthians 9:15 NASB95
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
6) Encourage fellow disciples
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NASB95
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Look at the verses prior - to lead to the “therefore”
Life is tough, it’s a long walk - so what encourages you? Financial security, family peace, people (yeah, right)
People here need YOUR encouragement
YOU need the encouragement of people here
It encourages some just to be here and see you
Hebrews 10:24–25 NASB95
and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
“Provoke” one another - encourage, Biblically, and then come, gather!
7) Encourage the pastor
Hebrews 13:17 NASB95
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
1 Peter 5:1 ff talks about submitting to the leader, the “under-shepherd” who answers to the Great Shepherd
This is NOT about me. This is family. God just told me to lead it, that’s all. I take it seriously
Encouraging to hear that a message touched someone, even challenged someone, and then they still come back!
I won’t talk about the discouragement of people not here - they are not hear to hear it
I told someone one time what really encouraged me, personally, as a pastor - to see them here in church regularly - then I didn’t see them here for a few months
Hebrews 13:17 NASB95
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
It’s always easier to lead sheep who are willing to be led, and who come into the pen regularly
Do we know our mission as a church?
Do you know our job? Do you know yours? Do you have one? Do you want something to do here?
It takes the faithful to get it done
Productive, efficient, successful (as the LORD defines success)
Full team - if you are not faithful, someone is trying to cover for you (you may be the one covering for others, getting it done, being the faithful one - THANK YOU!)
Do NOT think, “well, if I don’t do it, someone else will”
There are ministries we’d love to do here, that we cannot do well, because we do not have enough faithful people
I’d love for this church to thrive, to see our families strengthened, to see our church grow, and to see our community (the one we complain about when it comes to Sundays) change.
Without you, “church” may still get done, though likely not as the Lord truly desires
With you - oh my, God will use you to change your family, to change this church, to change this community.
In Acts, they changed the world. Let’s let God use us to change this part of the world - and that takes you, and me, to be faithful.
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