An Invitation

July 31, 2021
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Listen while you read: "Blest Are The Pure In Heart"1 (Lyrics)

Psalm 100:3 – Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. (NKJV)

This prolonged pandemic has impacted all of us spiritually. In our imposed isolation, some folks have developed a sense of religious independence and now don't see the need of being part of a congregation or denomination anymore. We've managed to survive this long without the church programs or projects influencing our lives and using up our precious time. Some of us have become reliant on our own ideas, opinions, and choices. We're in danger of being loosely attached to God, but only when we really need Him to help us, and otherwise making our own way and asking Him to follow along.

With the psalmist in today's verse, we need to be reminded that we are creatures and not the creator of ourselves. The purpose of our lives always has been and always will be to worship God and to enjoy Him forever. We may have convinced ourselves that being in church is not necessary so long as we are being church. That's never been true — after all, Jesus was always in the synagogue every week on the Sabbath, and His apostles always gathered together for Sunday worship after the first Easter.

Another dangerous side to this religious individualism and church independence is that prophetic churches with cult-like leaders are on the increase. People with no sound biblical teaching are more gullible and susceptible to accepting conspiracy theories and being manipulated by unscrupulous prophets who make outrageous claims. Those false teachers are leading many astray, which is precisely what Christ and His apostles constantly warned His followers about.

So, today, I make this invitation: let's get back to church, be with God's people, and seek sound teaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards 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. (NIV)

Question: When was the last time I attended worship at a local church?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You know us better than we know ourselves, and You clearly see how vain we are. Help us to reconnect with Your church, so that we can grow spiritually through worship and sound teaching. In Your holy name, we earnestly pray. Amen.

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About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen, John.


    Good to see you here.


    So true and so well said, John. I would like this devotional to be included in our church newsletter.


    Amen, John! To God be the glory! Thanks for sharing this devotional reminder. Blessings.


    I needed to hear this as we in Manitoba are just opening up after this covid lockdown. I appreciate the scripture today. Thank you.


    Amen to that brother! Our attendance is down significantly since we re-opened.
    Blessings,
    (QC, CANADA)


    Thank you, John, for today’s devotional. I feel truly blessed that our church’s worship team provides a service on Facebook every Sunday.
    Blessings,
    (Ontario, Canada)


    I cannot wait to be able to meet in full fellowship in Church again, the singing, the sharing, the in-person fellowship, all are needed to be a ‘well rounded’ Christian. I enjoy the daily devotions and play the hymns but oh how I miss Church!!!


    Dear John,
    This was a great nudge. I have been holding off until large indoor gatherings are safer since conditions keep changing, but your encouragement to give it serious thought before it becomes an ingrained habit is both timely and good.


    Dear John,
    We do get into routines and then it is harder for us to go back to what was before the pandemic. Thank you for reminding us that Jesus wanted us to grow our faith in community and the importance of this for all of us. May you continue to share your thoughts and understanding with all of us. Blessings.


    Good morning
    I am very blessed here as we still do church, masks of course and distancing but it is so good to be in His presence with other believers.
    God help us all and may the Holy Spirit touch the lives of ones who are out there doing their thing.
    God bless.


    John. I always like when you write. I retired in 2004 but have been active in preaching for years until now. I memorized those verses in Hebrews and am working on several more. I memorized small books in the Bible as a young pastor and many chapters.
    Covid did not keep us out of church for more than a few months.
    (Iowa)


    Thanks, John for the renewed invitation. I attend every Sunday, online, singing along, worshipping, reading, and praying. I so wish I could go in person. How I MISS the fellowship. Our sanctuary is only 3 blocks away. I can see its spires from here. But God knows my heart and my husband with the compromised immune system to whom I must not bring home Covid. A friend’s brother about our age just died from Covid. The only place he went was to church.


    Greetings John,
    Very good advice in your devotional this morning especially for those who have become lax about getting back to church attendance now that the restrictions of this pandemic time have been lifted. I was very thankful and excited the day we were told we could worship together in person again and it was such a blessing seeing other members in person again. Hopefully many others in other congregations will be inspired to return to their regular worship services. Blessings for the very meaningful and pertinent devotionals you submit.


    Hello John,
    Thanks so much for your very timely message concerning returning to worship and remaining rooted and grounded in sound teaching and Christian fellowship. I couldn’t agree more. My Presbyterian Church returns to in-person worship tomorrow for the first time since early March 2020. I’m so looking forward to it, although the initial response may be smaller at first. There may be a lot of change in how we “do” church, but Jesus is the same, yesterday and forever.
    God bless you and hold you in His care.


    Good morning John,
    I have for many years led worship services in various Presbyterian Churches in the area. The last time I did that was on February 16th, 2020 and we have not been in a church setting since then. Our local church, the one we belong to, has opened a couple of times with restrictions and as both my wife and I are elderly and as I am medically compromised, we have not attended, but have been watching services on YouTube.
    Having said all that, the Lord willing, we will be going to a church an hour from here where I will be leading the service, as I have many times in years past. We are looking forward to it.
    Blessings on all you do.


    Thank you for this admonition, Rev Stuart. Without active worship and service, we become lost.
    Our small congregation has been a beacon throughout this nightmare. Our pastor and session worked tirelessly, with the aid of Zoom and our usual email broadcasts, to stay connected in worship and good works. Our missions such as feed-your-neighbor have not slowed. We are having our first in-person worship service in 18 +/- months tomorrow. Masks, social-distanced, bring-your-own Eucharist elements. There will be numerous changes, such as no Pass-the-Peace embraces. We pray Delta Variant doesn’t shut us down again, but I am confident we will not despair. Earthly credit goes to the Pastor and the session members our Church.
    Blessings and peace.
    (Alabama)


    Hi John,
    Thank you for these words to remind us today of where we should be. It has been so easy to just sit at home and listen to the church services from the comfort of our living rooms on zoom or other sources of media.
    Breaking that habit has been hard. Thanks to technology we have been blessed to be able to tune in on Sunday mornings to the services of our choice and I hope this will continue for those unable to attend.
    I know I have listened to my church here in Newfoundland and because of the time difference I’ve been able to listen to the service from my church in Fl. Sometimes earlier on in the pandemic I would tune in to hear your wonderful Scottish voice in Knoxville.
    Even though I am back attending church here in NL there are very few attending even though we are lucky in having very low cases and have been Covid free for 3 weeks and hope this trend will continue. We still have to mask and social distance inside.
    I pray that your number of Covid have decreased and are doing well, and your in-service services will grow in number.
    Blessings.


    I totally agree with what you are saying. Thank you for your message.


    Thanks for every one of your daily devotionals, but this one was special. Our church has had on-line services every Sunday since March 2020, and our minister has done a wonderful job of keeping us together with on-line bible study and prayer meetings. We have had on-line coffee hours and even a mid-week Zoom service where we could really take part.
    But it is not the same as “God’s people together”!
    We plan to have our first ‘in-church” service in Mid-August, and although we can’t have a church full of worshippers yet, and we can’t sing praises … it is being looked forward to by so many people – it will be a glorious day!
    Thanks again.

 



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