Crossroads Connection for the Week of March 15
 
 
 
Article 1
 

The Art of Going to Church

By Skip Heitzig

People go to church for different reasons, some good and some not so good. For instance, some people attend out of fear, superstition, obligation, or even hoping to find romance. In Ecclesiastes 5, Solomon explained the art of going to church, if you will, giving us three things to watch out for in ourselves when it comes to attending public worship:

1. We should watch our approach to God. Solomon alluded to three possible approaches to public worship:

  • The ceremonial approach. Solomon noticed people were keeping the ceremonial law by bringing an animal for sacrifice to the temple, but they were breaking the moral law in their own personal lives (see v. 1). But God doesn't separate the two spheres of life, and it's foolish for us to do so.
  • The superficial approach. Verse 2 speaks about rash speech—rushing through prayer just to get it over with—while verse 3 talks about much speech, filling your prayers with flowery words that might impress the people around you but won't impress God (see Matthew 6:5).
  • The sincere approach. This is the right approach. As verse 1 says, "Walk prudently when you go to the house of God." The idea is to walk carefully and come prepared. Why? Because God wants to speak to us: "Draw near to hear" (v. 1). Did you know that you can worship with your ears, simply by listening to what the Lord has to say to you?

2. We should watch our affirmation of God. Under Old Testament law, the most important regulation for making vows was that once you made a promise, you kept it, which Solomon echoed in verses 4-6. I believe gathering together in a place of worship ought to be a time of singing songs, reading Scripture, and hearing a sermon, but then also committing to do what God spoke to us about doing. We should make a personal decision to do what we've heard, by God's grace.

3. We should watch our attitude toward God. "Fear God" (v. 7), Solomon wrote, or have reverential awe before the Lord. I believe our attitude before the Lord will make or break a church (see Luke 18:10-14; 21:1-4). Attitude impacts everything.

Here's the key to coming to church: it's all about God. It's not about us or what we get out of it—though we will get out what God speaks to us. But we cannot allow church to simply become another consumer-driven commodity.

So examine your life before the Lord. When you approach Him, are you just going through the motions, or are you sincere? Do you consistently commit yourself to Him with the verbal integrity of following through on the promise? And when you gather with God's people, do you do so out of the fear, respect, and honor of God? Remember that when it comes down to it, the art of going to church is all about the Lord and our relationship with Him.

Copyright © 2020 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

 

 




 
 

Article 2

Love and Discernment

 
By Greg Laurie
 

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.”

—Philippians 1:9

Have you ever wondered what to pray when you pray for other Christians? Paul actually gives us the answer in Philippians 1:9–11:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (NKJV)

Interestingly, Paul is praying they would grow in both love and discernment. Sometimes it seems as though love and discernment are mutually exclusive. In other words, some people seem to be very discerning but not very loving. And some can be very loving but not very discerning.

People who say they have a discernment ministry are essentially saying they like to argue and be obnoxious. They challenge everything. And I’ve found that some of these people are downright mean.

On the other hand, some Christians are loving but not discerning. They simply accept everything and everyone, regardless of what they believe. But what they believe actually does matter. There’s a place for discernment.

Paul prayed for the believers in Philippi to grow in love. Love is a mark of a true Christian. You can’t love Jesus and not love the church. You can’t love God if you’re not willing to love your brother or sister in Christ.

In fact, Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 NKJV). Don’t wait for the emotion. Just take a little step. Make that benevolent gesture. Offer that kind word. Start doing loving things, and your love will grow.

A mark of real faith is that you love your Christian brothers and sisters. 
 


 

Article 3

 

 

Waves of Grace

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
John 1:16

A famous hymn says, “When sorrows like sea billows roll.”
[1] But John 1:16 talks about another kind of billowing reality—“grace for grace.” The idea seems to be drawn from the picture of ocean waves. Out of the fullness of Jesus Christ, we constantly receive one wave of grace after another. Just as a wave swells, curls, and crashes to the shore, then recedes as another follows, so the grace of God comes with endless waves of blessings.

 


Recommended Reading:
Psalm 56:1-8

God cares for us so deeply He records our sorrows. Psalm 56:8 says: “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?”

In some way God captures our tears in His bottle and our pain in His Book. In other words, He cares for every heart pang. If He has captured your tears in His bottle, then let the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit bring comfort to your heart. And if He has written your hurts in His heavenly book, open His earthly Book and find a promise. You will receive one wave of divine grace after another.

Tears are the diamonds of heaven; sighs are a part of the music of Jehovah’s court and are numbered with “the most sublime strains that reach the majesty on high.”
Charles H. Spurgeon

[1] Horatio Gates Spafford, “It Is Well With My Soul,” 1873.


  Article 4

Knowing the Risk and Reward

"David asked the men standing near him, 'What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel?'" (1 Sam 17:26).

Every entrepreneur must determine the risk and reward before entering a venture. This is not the only consideration. We must determine if God is leading us after we consider all factors. We also must consider if the timing is right to proceed.

David was a young shepherd when he was bringing food to his older brothers in the army. He had already killed a lion and a bear during his days as a shepherd. David understood the risk/reward principle. When he heard about Goliath and that no one was willing to fight him he was angry. However, he didn't just respond out of pure emotion. He asked a very important question. "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel?" He got the answer he was hoping for: "The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his father's family from taxes in Israel." (1 Sam 17:25).

Do you see the reward? He gets financial wealth, a wife, and no longer has to pay taxes! What more motivation does a young Jewish boy need? Does this take away from the spiritual significance of the story? Absolutely not.

The religious spirit always tries to make the business side of faith evil. Money and profit is not evil. It is the love of money and the pride of life that gets man into trouble. David understood the proper balance of these co-existing to accomplish God's purposes. To avoid getting into trouble simply ask this question of yourself: "What is the true motive of my heart?" If it does not have the spiritual element balanced with the business element, you may be in trouble. Ask God four questions before you proceed in any venture:

1) Is the Holy Spirit leading me?

2) Is this the time to be involved?

3) Is the risk and reward worth it?

4) Do I have what is necessary to be successful in the venture with God's help?

After you've asked these questions go about your task with all your heart.


    
 

Article 5

 

 

Why You Need the Church

By Skip Heitzig

If you belong to the church, you belong to the greatest company on earth. Our product—the gospel—works universally. We have a great benefits package: forgiveness from the past, meaning and purpose for the present, and peace of mind for the future. And when it's all over, we have the best retirement package going on: face-to-face fellowship with God and eternal rewards that don't quit.

But I've discovered that most outsiders look at the church and say, "Why should I belong to it? Who needs it?" It's a good question, and the biblical answer is that we all do. Let me give you four reasons why:

1. Because we need God's people. We live in a complex, busy world in which technology is growing exponentially and people are feeling less and less connected. We want face-to-face, real community; God created us that way. And that is precisely where the church can and should excel. Even with all of our shortcomings, problems, and baggage we bring to the table, that's what the church can provide. God's cure for isolation is to put people with His people (see Psalm 68:6).

2. Because we need God's principles. We need to be exposed to steady doses of truth multiple times a week. And if there's one place where truth ought to be distinctly and unambiguously heard, it's the church (see 1 Timothy 3:15). In a world cluttered with voices and opinions on how you should live and what you should value, you need to hear that clarion call that cuts through it all: "Thus sayeth the Lord."

3. Because we need God's purpose. Every human being would love to know that they're part of a purpose, a cause greater than themselves, and the gospel is the greatest cause in the world. When you become one of God's children, He enlists you in the family business, which is all about getting people to heaven, changing one life at a time through preaching the gospel. That's our meaning, our purpose as God's church on earth.

4. Because we need God's presence. Jesus gave a special promise to those who gather and worship together as the body of Christ: "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). We need that special sense of God's presence because, more than a social gathering where we discover purpose, church is a place where we corporately worship God.

I love God's church. We have the privilege of working for the greatest cause in the world: the gospel. And I believe the best days for the church are ahead of us. So let's "not [forsake] the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some," the writer of Hebrews said, "but [exhort] one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

Copyright © 2020 by Connection Communications. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

  


 

 
 
 
 

                                     

 


 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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