|Vol. 14 No. 8 August 20121||
I have had several back surgeries, and each one has helped me. I went through the pain of surgery, but I always told myself it would be worth it when I recovered from surgery, and each time it was. However, this past spring I had knee surgery. I think that I rushed the timing too much, and should have waited a few days. I kept thinking, “It will all be worth it.” Then, a few weeks later, I went into the hospital because of a blood clot. In the course of this hospitalization, I missed Chris, my son’s first starring role in a play. To this day my knee is only slightly better and bothers me often. If I was to ever hear talk of doing knee surgery on me again, it would take a great deal of persuasion, and an assurance that it would indeed be worth it. We can endure a great many things if we are certain that it will be worth it in the end. This applies in many areas of life and is very true in our spiritual dealings.
In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul absolutely nailed down the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and that all of us will be raised from the dead. Based on this, he assures all of us that serving God will be worth it, with these words: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (58). In this verse, he gives the key to this assurance:
Paul is very clear about the need to “keep on keeping on.” He stated it in these words, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). Paul compared the Christian life to warfare and to a race (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Both of these are examples of activities that require the participant to not give up, but to keep on going. You cannot quit, you cannot turn back. You have to keep going if you are going to be successful in either one. The same is true in living the Christian life. Steadfastness implies staying on course. We must walk the narrow path that leads to life (Matthew 7) without wavering and vacillation. If we do this, then, we can know that our labor is not vain (empty) in the Lord, and it will all be worth it.
The Psalmist compared the righteous man to a tree planted by the waters (Psalm 1). The tree that has its roots firmly planted and has been nourished so that it has remained alive and strong, will not be blown down by the winds that will sometimes come. Christians need to have their spiritual roots deeply rooted in the Word of God and in faith in Jesus Christ. We will not be moved by persecution, difficulties, false doctrine or doubt if we are solidly grounded. If we will remain unmovable we will find that the determination to never be moved, no matter what, will all be worth it.
Being unmovable does not mean to sit still and not act. We must be unmovable in faith, doctrine and morality. Yet, we must be actively doing what needs to be done. We must look not just to get by in serving God, but rather to abound in that work. When we are steadfast and unmovable, we will be determined to serve God. Christianity is not a passive religion that happens to us, but rather it is a religion in which we must have an active part. Paul told the Corinthian church, “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour” (2 Corinthians 3:8). We must determine to do God’s work and to never give up in doing it.
Paul taught that all of the effort, all of the pain, all of the discouragement, all of the difficulties and all of the work will be worth it in the end. We are going to be victorious if we give ourselves to God. Then, the day will come when we shall be called out of the grave, we will meet Jesus in the air, and we will spend eternity resting with God (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). It will, after all, be worth it all.
It has been awhile since I have broached the subject of attendance; however, our little number in Bible study on Wednesday evening caused me to reflect on the subject. Upon leaving the building, Alice and I began to discuss the small crowd and the obvious lack of interest in spiritual things. We both agreed that it had helped us to be there. On one hand, we both felt as if we had gotten a tremendous “boost” by having been there to read and study God’s Word and by sharing thoughts and feelings with like-minded people. On the other hand, by looking into God’s Word and sharing together with others, we not only gained something from the meeting ourselves, but hopefully encouraged others who were present. So, just as the Bible study served a two-fold purpose for us by giving energy to our own faith and giving strength and encouragement to others, we can hope and pray that others present received the same benefits.
We all know that the saints are commanded to not forsake the assembly on the Lord’s Day but to be present to worship as they take the Lord’s Supper, to study God’s Word, to give of their means to the work of the Lord, to commune with God in prayer and to sing and make melody in their hearts to God. However, what about the rest of the “assemblies”? Many seem to think that, if they assemble on Sunday morning, they have done their “duty,” and the rest of the services can just be forgotten. It is beyond me why a Christian would feel that way. When a person loves the Lord, he surely wants to be with others who also love Him and will want to study and learn together. I am a strong believer that we need to consider that if we do not want to assemble with the saints here on earth, we may not have much of an opportunity to do so later.
The following is an article written by Steve Preston of Nashville, TN. He wrote:
One of the benefits of Christianity is the fellowship we have with one another. Why anyone would want to stay away from a gathering of the saints is a great mystery to those who enjoy the company of other Christians. Assembling together is so important that it is commanded of God that we do so: “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is but exhorting one another” (Hebrews 10:24).
There are several reasons the saints are commanded to and should want to assemble together. The above Scripture tells us one reason is to “provoke to love and good works.” We cannot stir one another up to do the work of God without being together. The old saying “there is strength in numbers” holds true for the Christian as well as those in the world. When we gather together and hear about the good works that others are doing, it strengthens our own faith and “provokes” us to doing more for the Lord. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, God’s children are told that “Two are better than one” because “if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.”
Being with the saints when they assemble together also sets a good example for others to follow. The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy not to let others “despise thy youth” by being “an example of the believer, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Certainly, one could not be an example to others when they assemble if that one is not there. Someone always notices when a particular person is absent. They may not say anything, but someone always notices.
I would encourage each of you to note every occasion that the church meets together and plan your day and/or week around those times. No one can easily maintain his faith without the encouragement of others in Christ. Each day that passes brings us one step closer to our eternal, loving God, and each of us should make sure that the brethren are ready for the day of Jesus’ return. The easiest and best time to encourage each other to be ready is every time the brethren assemble together.
This concludes Brother Preston’s article, but I do want to lend a hearty “Amen”! May God’s children be like-minded in serving Him to the best of their ability, and may that include attending the congregation’s assemblies. Of course, we know (and God knows too!) that there are times when a person cannot be present, but what about those times when someone is just looking for an excuse to not be present? Please examine your attendance and determine to do better where you can. You will never regret your faithfulness!