In the Book of Hebrews, chapter 10 and verses 24 and 25 we read:

"And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities; Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing—warning, urging, and encouraging—one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).

Church attendance is a touchy subject where most pastors are concerned, and I am no different. For the life of me I cannot understand why some Christians insist upon cheating themselves out of this most basic privilege, but I do understand the reasoning behind some of the excuses given. There was a time in my teen years and younger twenties when I rebelled—and for reasons that I still cannot completely unravel, I went through a period of "hypocrite bashing". The lives of some Christians I knew did not measure up and I was too immature at the time to handle it, so I just "ran away"! It was not until after the birth of my first daughter that I woke up to the reality of my responsibility in this area. Not only was I responsible to God for leadership where my wife was concerned, I then had a child to "train in the way they should go". Thankfully, the Holy Spirit got my attention and soon thereafter we joined an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church—on my daughter’s first birthday. Praise the Lord, from that day until this my entire family has been regular in church attendance (35 years). I mention this because I want you to know that I understand excuses. "Been there, done that, and got a tee-shirt!"

Now then, let’s talk about your particular situation. If you attend regularly and support your church, that is truly wonderful—keep up the good work! But if you are less than regular, or only go occasionally, or not at all—please allow me to give you some spiritual food for thought. And to start, I want to discuss the various groups of people that make up the average congregation:

Many people who make no claims of being Christian go to church. I sincerely hope that they will continue to do so and thereby come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But to these dear people I must point out that church attendance in no way "buys" you anything before God. There is no point system and God does not keep score where you are concerned. To be a part of God’s family you must be born into it! Therefore I urge you to turn to The Salvation Page in order to find out what you must do.

Another group we find in churches is made up of professing Christians—they name the name of Christ, have been baptized and voted into the membership of the church—but have never truly been "born again". In my experience the majority of this group are seldom seen or heard from. They really like the food, fun, and fellowship activities, but are highly allergic to prayer

meetings, Bible studies, and preaching. About the only time that you can count on them showing up is when a church experiences internal problems and deems it necessary to discuss them. This is unfortunate and we must pray for these folk that God might see fit to convict them of their false profession and that they might be genuinely saved.

The third group is made up of genuine saints. They know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, but just can’t seem to bring themselves to attend church regularly. Their excuses are legion and I have used most of them. It is primarily toward this group that this sermon is aimed. And I want all of you brothers and sisters in Christ who make up this group to know that I love you, but it is my duty to warn you that you are in the process of doing eternal harm to both yourself and your family. And not only that, your inactivity is cheating your church family out of your presence, influence, and help. You may not know it, but when you were saved God endowed you with at least one spiritual gift—a supernatural ability or talent that He intends to be used for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ. While these gifts are in no way restricted to "church use only", experience teaches that they are complimentary—that is, they are much more effective when utilized in conjunction with those of the rest of the church membership.

To illustrate this principle, I often point out that charcoal briquettes make a hot fire when they are in "a pile". If you separate them over a wider area, the overall heating ability is greatly diminished. If you remove several of them entirely, "it ain’t so hot!" When you absent yourself from the rest of us, you deprive us of your gift and we are not nearly "as hot" without you! Never get the idea that you are unimportant and not needed by the rest of us, because that just is not true. Not everybody can sing in the

choir. Not everybody can serve as an usher, or a Sunday school teacher, or whatever—but everybody can and should occupy their places on the pews! When you are gone, make no mistake about it, your pastor misses you. I ask you ladies to consider this: What if you spent an entire week planning a meal, putting together the menu, cooking it, setting the table, serving

the food, and then nobody shows up to eat it? You would be pretty upset, wouldn’t you? Imagine how your pastor feels when basically the same thing happens to him! He spends the week trying to put together a feast from the Word of God so he can really feed his flock on Sunday, and then several members of the family show that they are not hungry by being absent. Finally, have you considered the spiritual damage you are doing to yourself and your children by not eating? The apostle Paul had a lot to say about "bottle babies"—those that were so immature they could not digest "strong meat" (rib-eye steak, rubbed in garlic) and had to settle for milk instead. Of course he is referring to spiritual immaturity that comes from a lack of knowledge.

Someone has said: "seven days without God’s Word makes one weak!" And I have learned—the hard way—that there are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity. To gain even a cursory knowledge of the Bible requires constant effort and study. One can spend a lifetime of listening to their pastor and still not learn all they should if they are not studying the Word for themselves. Then imagine how little you might know if you seldom listen to the Word being preached—the method God has chosen to propagate it. I urge you to determine that, with God’s help, you are going to listen to the words of the sport-shoe commercial and "Just Do It!"—Get into church, get busy for God, and never look back! To be successful with this will require personal discipline. To be honest with you, I am not fond of shaving every morning and combing my unruly hair is a pain—but I do these things routinely because they need to be done, along with a host of other tasks throughout each day that are not especially fun. This is personal discipline and will eventually pay off for those who will exercise it. Believe me, after a while church attendance will

become so routine and so natural that you will be disappointed when circumstances keep you from going. When your children are brought up this way, there will not be any discussions on Sunday morning about whether the family is going or not.

Yes, I know what some of you are thinking about now. "But you don’t know our pastor—he’s as dry as three day old toast!" "I don’t get a thing out of his messages" and "he’s a teacher and not a preacher"—which reminds me of a heated discussion between a man and his wife. "I’m never going back to that church because the people aren’t friendly!" He said, "And they treat me like I have leprosy." "But honey," interrupted his wife, "You have to go back—you’re the pastor!" As funny as this is, preachers are people too—with feelings like everyone else. We are painfully aware of our inadequacies. Boring my congregation is of great concern to me, but my job is to preach the Word, not to entertain. And sometimes the temptation to do so is almost more than I can resist. But to be faithful to my calling I must stay focused upon that which is most important. Do you know where the preacher’s "job description" is found in the Bible? Let’s look at 2 Timothy chapter 4 and I’ll show you. Beginning in verse one we read were Paul is addressing his "son in the faith", Timothy:

"I charge [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by (in the light of) His coming and His kingdom: Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency (stand by, be at hand and ready, whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it be welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong) and convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, verses 1 and 2, emphasis mine).

Does this give you a little better understanding about "where your preacher is coming from?" He is not supposed to be engaged in a popularity contest, and oratorical ability is not one of his prerequisites. First and foremost his responsibility is to "Herald and preach the Word." There is supernatural power in the Word of God and it will get the job done. Preachers make a big

mistake when we try to amuse and entertain people with a view toward pacifying and keeping them happy as members. The relative size of the congregation is to be determined by the Lord Himself—not our abilities as showmen. The preacher’s plans and programs must always be secondary to and directly dependent upon what the Word says. As long as your pastor stays in

the Word and preaches it to the best of his ability, please support him and pray for him. Intercessory prayer on your part will do more for your preacher’s sermons than you can ever imagine. And if in your opinion he "goes down deep and comes up dry" on a regular basis, try your best to pray him out of the rut. You might discover in the process that the problem is with you and not him! All of us—if we will admit it—enjoy preachers who tell stories and are gifted speakers. This is just human nature and we are all "cut off the same bolt of cloth." But I think it is safe to say that the overwhelming majority of preachers/pastors do not fit that description. Most of us are just trying to do the best we can with what we have to work with. It is comforting to me to know that Moses was not a gifted speaker and apparently the apostle Paul wasn’t either, because he was criticized for what was perceived to be a lack of ability! But if I had to choose between being the greatest orator this world has ever seen or being an apostle Paul—guess which I would choose? No contest, my friends! Love your pastor and support him by your presence every time the "doors are open". Give him some friendly faces to speak to and teach. He might turn out to be one of the best friends you have if you ever really need one.

The last group—"the faithful few"—are the backbone of the church. I have said many times that 10% of the membership wind up doing 100% of the work. It should not be that way, but it usually is. To these I offer my personal thanks and a heart-felt "well done!" I don’t think that it is going to be too much longer until you will hear those same words from the lips of your Lord

and Savior.

Finally, in our text from chapter ten in the Book of Hebrews, we see that the author (probably Paul) is instructing believers to exhort one another—to encourage one another and to do it even "…more faithfully as you see the day approaching." What day is he referring to here? Conservative Bible teachers tell us that it is a reference to the "day of Christ"—the end time events of which the tribulation period is but a part. When believers see the unmistakable signs and characteristics of this future time coming into view, they should be even more careful to go to church and to closely associate with other believers, in order to draw strength and courage from each other. The next great event on God’s prophetic calendar is the "Rapture of the Church", in which He will remove the true church (comprised of all genuine believers) from this earth in a split second of time—"in the twinkling of an eye", the Bible says. No one knows the exact time and date for the rapture, but we can say that it appears to be very soon. When this great event takes place, it will usher in a seven year period of time in which God is going to pour out His wrath upon the nation of Israel in particular and the rest of the world in general. A man the Bible calls the antichrist will be Satan incarnate—possessed by the devil himself—and will be allowed to rule the world for seven years. It will be the most horrible time this world has ever seen, or will ever see again. Because of this, God wants His children to be alert for signs of its coming.

I try to illustrate this recognition of "the signs of the times" by using the analogy of attending a theater production. When one sees and hears the orchestra begin to "tune up", movement behind the curtain, and then finally the lights begin to fade—something is certainly about to happen! Well, all of these things—these signs of the times—are now in full bloom! The future events have not taken place yet, but all of the modifying elements are in place for them to happen any time now. For instance, the Book of Revelation speaks of an army coming from the East that is comprised of two hundred million men! Up until the latter half of this century this was viewed as being totally unrealistic, but we now know that China alone could, if they chose to do so, raise an army that large. Many other things foretold in the Bible, such as this army, are not only possible —they are already in place—just waiting to fulfil their respective prophecies. When God’s deadline rolls around, the rapture will "light the fuse" for all of the end-time events. David Bay is doing a tremendous job in his "Cutting Edge" articles to explain and highlight what is going on in the world with regard to this subject. They are worthy of your examination and consideration.

Since the day is approaching, do you not think it wise to prepare yourself and your family for what is coming? My advise to you is to draw closer to the Lord and to your Christian brethren and then work as you have never worked before to support your pastor and your church while there is yet time. There are many souls without Christ and many saints who need a helping hand.

Wont you please get involved and then stay faithful? That is my prayer for you.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.

 If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have come to realize His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to accept His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you accept Him as Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.

We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order -- Kingdom of Antichrist -- in their daily news.

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Cutting Edge Ministries, C/O Pastor Ron Riffe
P.O. Box 26

Gordo, AL 35466

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God bless you.