I have had a couple of things eating at me ever since I visited a church last Wednesday. When I first got there people were kneeling or sitting and praying. Some were speaking in tongues and some were being quiet in their prayer. But the one thing that stood out was the energy that filled the room. You could just feel the Spirit flowing in there.
When the pastor came out we sang the song Amazing Grace and although it was a little off key, everyone of the people there put their heart into it. I was expecting a few more songs, but that turned out to be the only one. Then the pastor spent the next 45 minutes preaching about how we should pray for our enemies.
The Spirit filled feeling dissipated as he talked and a feeling of disappointment come over me. I thought maybe I was just tired from work at first and sitting for that long of a time in one spot was just making me miserable. But I kept thinking about that church and how I felt and what I had seen and heard. I kept praying that God show me what was eating at me. After much prayer I finally understand what had happened. It wasn’t me at all. It was the church. Now God put it in me to share something and even though this message came about because of the visit to that church, this is a message that ALL God fearing Christians need to hear. This message should be shared with all churches. I hope you share it with your church.
See there were things that were right in that church, but there were things that were wrong too. The right was the fact that the people prayed in their own way. They took the time to talk to God. They were God fearing people full of his joy and Spirit. Which is great, it’s wonderful. You would think they were doing the right thing and yes, they were. But they were not doing everything they were supposed to. They were in fact missing something. See church is not just about praying – you can pray anywhere and God is going to here you. Church is not just about listening to a pastor preach whatever message is being told. Church is about fellowshipping, praising and worshipping, teaching and praying. Each of these plays an important role in our lives as Christians. If your church is missing anyone of these it is not giving you everything you need to make you a well rounded child of God.
Fellowship is to be with a group of people who are your equals. Fellowship is to share your lives and experiences with each other and have a relationship with each other. In 1 John, John writes a letter to believers who are very dear to him.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3
John says that he proclaims what the believers had seen and heard so that they may have fellowship with him. He says his fellowship is with the Father and the Son. What John means by this is that he has an intimate relationship with God and Jesus. He wants to share that relationship with those he wrote the letter to. He wants to have an intimate relationship with them. While in prison Paul wrote a letter to friends in Philippi. At that time he wasn’t sure at that time if he was going to live or die. He wanted his friends to know that if he died he would rejoice at being with the father and if he did not die, he would continue to do what God asked of him the best he could. In verses 10 and 11 of Philippians he says he wants to know “the fellowship of sharing in Christ sufferings”. He wants to become like Christ – to have that intimate relationship, to be as one.
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
To fellowship is to be one body in Christ – to have a relationship with your brothers and sisters in church and to have an intimate relationship with God and Jesus.
Well after having a good understanding of this I looked back at what it was like going to that church. Did anyone say hello? Did anyone welcome me? No. In fact, I was extremely surprised that not one person out of the whole church, not one said hello. That is a sorely sad state for a church to be in. What if I was an unsaved person? Do you think I would continue to go there feeling unwelcome?
2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Yes, each person individually may have their own relationship with God, but we are one body. Not one part – one body with many parts. One person would be like a hand with no arm or a foot with no leg. One body means many parts, many members. Look at your church. What do you do when there is a new person that joins you for a service? Do you welcome them? Or do you just leave without even a glance?
Praise and Worship
Praise and Worship is also an important part of going to church. The church I visited didn’t even give time to Praise and Worship God. Wow! I have never been in a church that didn’t praise God! God loves to be praised, he loves to be worshipped. He seeks those who worship Him in spirit and truth. In fact according to John we “must” worship in spirit and in truth.
23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
What that means is to worship God with all your heart and soul. Don’t worship Him because everyone else in church does, but worship Him because you love Him.
Psalm 100 tells us to shout for joy, worship with gladness, and sing joyful songs. This means to be lighthearted and high spirited in your worship. Don’t come in with a frown and a low “praise God”. Come in singing PRAISE GOD!
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
To worship God is to give allegiance to them. And to praise God is to express our joy to Him. We should praise God with love and with our whole heart. He is merciful when we sin, He has promised us eternal life, He is there when you call on Him, and when you are down He will lift you up.
1 In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, O LORD.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
2 Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
4 In that day you will say:
“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
There are many ways to worship and praise God. Your church should take the time to do this, maybe by singing songs & hymns or maybe by reciting poems. But make sure you also take the time to praise & worship God on your own. Let Him know how much you love Him.
Now, there is another kind of Praise. There is a kind of praise that says “Job Well Done!” This is also a way of saying Thank you. When God blesses you, when He answers a prayer, keeps you from harm or helps you through something. You should tell Him Thank you. Tell God you appreciate what He has done for you. Think about it – don’t you feel uplifted when someone tells you that you did a great job? Well, I think God wants you to uplift Him too. I think God is uplifted, knowing that you appreciate Him by praising Him.
Did you know that when you do what you’re supposed to do by following the Word of God, that He will praise you? Yes He will! It was a promise He made from the very beginning.
1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:
3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock–the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
7 The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.
8 The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.
9 The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you. 11 The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity–in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground–in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you.
12 The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.
Give praise and it will be returned. God’s richest blessings are given to those who will use them for his glory. Praise, worship and glorify God and see what blessings He bestows on you.
The third thing God put into my heart is about tithes. You see when the pastor at the church called for the tithe he said “bring your tithe up and place it in the bucket, even if you don’t have anything to give at least come up and touch the bucket and be in obedience with God”
Well, ya know what? I didn’t get up. Actually I couldn’t get up. I started to get up and something made me sit back down. I thought maybe I am feeling guilty and not giving enough so I decided to give a little more. But I just could not do it. I could not get the money; I could not stand, so I just sat there. Now I KNOW these people were thinking “that girl is crazy! The pastor just said to at least touch the bucket and be in obedience to God. She is going to get it now, she is testing Him.” Well what these people didn’t understand is if I had gotten up I would have been disobeying what God told me to do and that was to stay seated. God was telling me not to give tithe to that church. This really surprised me because I always thought you are supposed to give something as a tithe.
Before I continue with this let’s talk about what tithe is. You may think tithe is money you give to your church. Yes that is kind of true, but it is just a little more than that. I looked tithe up in the dictionary and it says:
1: to pay or give a tenth part of especially for the support of the church
2: a tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution or as a tax especially for the support of a religious establishment
So Tithe, according to the dictionary, means to voluntarily give a tenth. That is all fine and dandy, but we do what God tells us to do, not what man tells us to do. And man wrote the dictionary. God’s word comes from the bible. The bible teaches us what we need to know to live according to God’s word. God told Moses “The Israelites are going to give the Levites a tithe and they are to give a tenth of that to as a tithe to Him (God).” This is setting the foundation of tithing. God is letting people know he expects a tithe of a tenth of what you get.
25 The LORD said to Moses,26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD’s offering.
Deuteronomy 14:22-29 also explains about tithes and in verse 22 it says “Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.”
What this means in modern day terms is to set aside a tenth of what you earn. Notice it says “all that your fields produce”. In the time of Moses it meant to give a tenth of your total harvest or herd. In modern day meaning it is your gross pay, before anything is taken out of your paycheck for taxes or insurance.
Even the Pharisee bragged about tithing a tenth thinking he was being more obedient to God then the tax collector. Little did he know that the tax collector was more humble before the Lord and went home justified.
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
AH! There is such an important message in that parable. Yes, God wants us to tithe a tenth, but we should not boast about how obedient we are. God would rather you ask him for mercy and forgiveness. Because you are admitting to be a sinner and by asking for mercy you are humbling yourself before Him.
I found this verse in Luke, which I think that sums it up perfectly. It is actually referring to several things God calls us to do, such as loving each other and forgiving each other.
38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
If you give what your heart feels is right then you will be given what God’s heart feels is right. What you give in obedience, God will return in abundance. The measure that you use is what you do in love and obedience.
In Malachi God asks “Will a man rob God?” By not being obedient in your tithes you are robbing God and he doesn’t like that one bit. He will punish those who rob him. In the case of the Levites, God punished them with famine, bad weather and insects that ate their crops. But look carefully at what this verse says.
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, `How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
If you bring the whole tithe God will “throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” In fact God says to test him on it. He is making a promise that if you obediently give a tenth then he will bless you more than you know.
Now looking back on my visit with the church I understand why God held me back. See the pastor did something which I now find unbelievable. He told people that if they give $20.20 that they would get back twice as much if not more. He sat there and said he felt that 4 people were called to give 99 dollars. Well maybe they were. But you don’t use manipulation to get people to tithe correctly. You teach them the right way. You use the truth and the truth is tithe is a tenth.
It is true that we are not perfect and mistakes are going to happen, but it is important we try to do as we are taught to do.
If we follow the word of God he is going to bless you for it. But if we distort the truth then someday you are going to have to answer to Him for it. And I would not want to be the one trying to explain to God why I did it my way and not his.