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Assembling with the Saints: The First vs. the 21st Centuries

Assembling with the Saints: The First vs. the 21st Centuries

By Paul R. Blake

            “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1). “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD’” (Psalm 122:1). What a pleasure it is to come together for worship with God's people!  What a joy it has been for us to welcome new brothers and sisters into the family of God that meets here! What a treat it has been to grow in strength and number in this place!  May the cause of Christ go ever forward in this community.

            While we may wax and wane in number, we must never lose sight of our need to grow in the faith and in our faithfulness. Studying the word of God will help us to increase our faith through the knowledge of the revealed mind of the Lord. Prayer for wisdom will bring understanding and application of the truths contained in Holy Writ. Meditating on these things will develop strength and conviction within us. However, I submit to you that though we will grow by doing the above things, we will grow much faster and we will grow much closer when we do them together.

            God in His infinite wisdom recognized that a man needed a lifetime companion, for it was not good for him to be alone. Therefore, God gave man a mate that would not only help him through life's trials, but this mate will also make him more than he could ever be alone. Thus it is with the church. God knew that Christians would be weak, vulnerable, incomplete and unfulfilled by themselves, so He put them together in churches. Banded together in this fashion, they are stronger and wiser than when alone. Christians as a group are made whole and complete when bound together by unity, love and fellowship. A Christian by himself becomes easy prey for the Adversary. 

            In addition to bringing His children together in local churches for their own growth and benefit, God further admonished his children to come together often for their own protection and development. His word contains instructions for Christians to gather together as well as examples of how the first century Christians carried out those commands. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:23-25). “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3:12-14). “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:42).

                        It is evident that the Christians in the first century heard, understood and practiced the will of the Lord in gathering together with the saints when they meet. They knew that it was for their own benefit, growth, and safety to study, pray, and simply spend time with each other. Have those conditions and essential human needs changed over the centuries. Certainly not! More than ever, Christians need to be together to provoke and encourage one another to be strong in faith and in faithfulness. However, I the 21st century, the common practice is rapidly becoming attend just enough to keep one’s name on the membership roster. Perhaps attend just one time each week to take the communion, but forgo the Bible classes that will build one up in the most holy faith. We all need to hold on tightly to our confession of hope; we desperately need be thoughtful of others encouraging them to greater love and good works. We will not fulfill those needs by minimizing the amount of time we spend together in fellowship. We have the practice of assembling for these things on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night. I’m looking forward to seeing you here to share in our joint work and fellowship.

Be With Me Lord

By Sharon K. Shubert

Help me through another day, Lord.

Life’s pathway is sometimes steep.

Guide my steps to walk the straight way.

Your commandments help me keep.

 

Take my hand if I need comfort,

Let me feel Your presence near.

Keep me close in Your loving arms,

Calm my greatest of fears.

 

Forgive me when I falter,

Encourage me when I fail.

Let me know You’re always beside me,

As I walk life’s crooked trail.

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