“We Gather Here to Know God and Make God Known.”
We Gather Here . . .
God created us to be in a family. For almost every one of us, our earliest memory is that of belonging to a group of people – father, mother, or siblings. God’s design in creating us within a family environment is for our protection, and for us to learn what love is about. Our happiest memories in life are almost always together with our families or a closely-knit group of friends.
Unfortunately, as we grow up, we lose sight of God’s design and lead lives that are increasingly devoid of love and trust. For many people, days may go by without receiving or giving encouragement, or having a deep heart-to-heart talk with someone who cares about us.
(Ephesians 2:19) Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Knowing how easy it is for us to lose our hearts, God designed the church to be the household in which we can protect our hearts and feel free to love again. The bible is clear that God’s household is not just a place where people mingle once a week, but rather a group of people who gather together as often as possible to protect one another’s hearts. It is not just the quantity in the number of times that we meet up together, but it is also the quality and depth of our relationships that will help to protect our hearts.
(Ephesians 4:15-16) Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
(Hebrews 10:24-25) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
One of the themes that run throughout the bible is that we need other people in our lives to have a consistently deep relationship with God. A sincere and earnest heart may get one started in his journey to heaven, but what’s required to make it to our destination is the helping hands and healing words of those who are committed to us in love. We need people to teach us how to be more Christ-like, as well as hold us accountable to the pledge we made to obey our Lord Jesus.
Let us, as the bible says, not give up meeting together in church so that we may love others and be loved by others. Whether we live in a fast-paced modern society, or one filled with inconvenience and danger, we need to be committed to prioritizing our time by fellowshipping with the Christians for Sunday worship, midweek services, and bible talk meetings. Above and beyond meeting with our spiritual family, we need to be committed to getting our hearts discipled, either by a spiritual mentor or a group of friends dedicated to helping each other make it to heaven.
Therefore, let us also remember that while each one of us will face God alone on judgment day, He has given us a spiritual family to protect our hearts here on earth. Let us also strengthen the bonds of our brotherhood, for togetherness is our strength!
To Know God. . .
Act 13:22 “…’c9. I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart..
Thousands of years after David walked this earth, we are still inspired by this shepherd boy turned king who was given the title “a man after God’s own heart”. David had such an intimate relationship with God that went far beyond one of a maker-created. The Psalms David wrote showed us he greatly pursued, desired and needed God. It was inevitable how much he knew and understood God and His ways.
As members of God’s family, God calls us to love Him, first and foremost, with all our hearts, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27). To love God, we must know God. Not just know about Him, but to know Him in a personal, heartfelt manner that enables us to have a relationship with Him. David’s relationship with the Lord is an inspiration to us all. He passionately desired to know God more than anything else. He used words like yearning, thirsting, hungering in his Psalms.
We are called by God to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter3:18). Knowing God is a journey and a process for whom among us can say we have known God enough? It is neither instant nor automatic, but a pursuit that will take the rest of our lives.
As a church that is committed to know God, may we purposefully seek to be closer to Him. The Bible says “…’c9let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Heb 12:28). Our worship to God needs to be in a way that pleases him. When we worship, God looks past our words and singing to see the attitude of our hearts. God gave us emotions so that we could worship Him with deep feelings.
When we gather together for breaking of bread and drinking of wine, let us do so with hearts that desire to understand more and more his intense love and sacrifice for us. We are such busy, distracted beings and God knew that. He instituted communions so that we can consistently realign our hearts and minds and never forget His grace and mercy.
When we come together for deeper bible teaching, let us get be grateful for the very core of God’s heart – God’s own Word. Truly the treasure of God’s Word are so deep and rich (Romans 11:13) and His Word stands as His counsel forever. How important it is that we take these bibles lessons seriously if we desire to know Him and His ways more.
Last but not least, what can replace our own personal devotion to God? It is ultimately our choice how close to God we choose to be. Like any relationship, it takes desire, time and energy to form a deep, intimate connection with God. Drawing near to His Words should be the utmost importance to us each day as we walk through life with “it lighting the path of our feet” (Psalms 119:105). God also desires for us to pour our hearts to Him daily in prayer because He so cares how we feel. Lingering in God’s presence will remind us that God is always near (Phil 4:4-6).
To spend time, energy and effort to know God is to invest in something of eternal, life-changing values. David had many other gifts and strengths – he was well-known for his physical prowess and might as a warrior and king – but more than anything else, he was known as one who offered up to God the purest of devoted love.
And Make God Known.
Luke 15:20 And he got up and went to his father. But while he was still far away, his father saw him and was moved with pity for him and went quickly and took him in his arms and gave him a kiss. (Bible in Basic English)
Luke 15:20 The younger son got up and started back to his father. But when he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for him. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him. (Common English Version)
Luke 15:20 He got right up and went home to his father. “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. (The Message Bible)
Luke 15:20 `And having risen, he went unto his own father, and he being yet far distant, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and having ran he fell upon his neck and kissed him; (Young’s Literal Translation)
No matter what version of the Bible we open, when Luke 15 is read, we see an undeniable truth: that even when one turns their back on God, He still welcomes them back with arms opened wide! The passage reveals His compassion & His passion. And the recipient of this great love? Us! He welcomed us back, as his offspring; with tears, laughter, a great big kiss & hug – like a reunion of a broken relationship!
When we got helped out of the waters of baptism – that described us. At a time when we knew no other way, no other choice, wasn’t it good to know a God that doesn’t give up on us? We felt a deep sense of gratitude because we knew we were being reunited with our loving Father. It is a joy that is difficult to describe in words because it was a joy of coming home.
The heart of God is truly what the Bible reveals. From the creation of Man, the Scriptures takes us through Israel’s history filled with exploits of men, adventures, acts of heroism, betrayal, murder & passion. And yet nowhere else can we find a God whose central theme is to intensely desire a relationship with man.
God wants all men to be saved. (2 Timothy 1:4) We are the chosen instruments through which His heart for the lost can be known so as to let them come to knowledge of the truth. Yet, we need to remind ourselves God’s desire should be our desire. All the things God has been doing for men had been directed toward the one single purpose of making Himself known to them. In Luke 15, the older son spent years with the Father & yet never grasped His heart. He served his time, but in bitterness. He should have learned to serve his dad with a gladness & sincerity of heart. His example harkens us to learn the lesson.
Making God known to the lost around us is not about earning our way to heaven. It is about being the salt & light to the world. It is nothing to be afraid of, nothing to be ashamed of & it should not be a religious affair. Making God known is aligning our hearts to His heart. It is us being His eyes roaming back & forth the earth, seeking for the prodigal sons & daughters who are ready to come home. Making God known is about seeing the Father jumping up & down with jubilation as He sees those that were once dead are raised back to life again. Making God known is the heart of Him who created us.