Years ago, I used to listen to the daily program of a news commentator on the radio. During the day, the program was promoted by the catch line "if you miss a day – you miss a lot." If that is true of a radio program, it is certainly true of every opportunity that we have to be in the services of the church!
When asked "Why a Christian should faithfully attend the worship services of the church?" the best answer that many can give is "because it is commanded." Well, it is true that God expects us to be faithful to the assembly of the saints. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25) But, is the fact that it is commanded our highest motivation?
Asking if "Christians have to attend all of the services of the church?" is sort of kin to asking "do I have to go home and have dinner with my family each night?" If one has a loving family at home, where else would they want to be? Yes, God has said not to forsake the assembly, but for the conscientious Christian, who loves the Lord and his brothers and sisters in Christ, where else would they want to be? I have been asked, "Where does it say that I have to attend on Sunday night or on Wednesday night?" I like to look at the example of the early church (Acts 2:46-47) and ask "Where does it say that we should no longer be together daily?"
When we miss any service of the church, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Midweek Bible study, Gospel Meetings, etc., - we really do miss a lot! Consider the following things you miss when you fail to assemble with your Christian family:
When you miss the Lord’s Day, you miss being with the Lord and your brethren as they surround the Lord’s table. Jesus told us when He instituted the supper that He would take it with us in the kingdom. (Matthew 26:29)
When you miss any service, you miss the opportunity to be with the Lord in a unique and special way. He also said "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)
You can sing by yourself (although it is doubtful that you do), but you miss the opportunity to join your voice with others being taught and admonished by the words that you sing. (Ephesians 5:19)
You miss the opportunity for an organized and prepared study of the scriptures.
When you don’t attend, you fail to receive the encouragement of other Christians as they admonish one another and "stir one another up to love and good works." (Hebrews 10:24)
When you forsake the assembling of the saints, can it be truly said that you are "seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness?" (Matthew 6:33)
How can you "let your light shine before men" (Matthew 5:16) and "be an example to the believers" (I Timothy 4:12) if the church isn’t more important than the things of the world that keep many away.
When you, without any true cause, forsake the assembling of the saints, you are actually guilty of committing a "willful sin." (Hebrews 10:28) Consider your choices in light of James 4:17 "Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."
When you miss a service – You miss a lot!
If one of your friends is trying to convince you, or if you are trying to convince yourself that alcohol or even social drinking is not dangerous, read what the Bible says about this menace to life:
· Rom 14:21, “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.”
· Pr. 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
· Pr. 21:17 “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”
· Pr. 23:20-21, “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.”
· Pr. 23:29-35, uses sarcasm to show the harmfulness of alcohol.
· Pr. 31:4-7, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.”
· Isaiah warns against strong drink and harshly condemns those who use it in Isaiah 5:11-16; 22.
· Then the Rechabites are example for every Christian to abstain from all alcohol in Jeremiah 35.
Then if this list is not enough Pro. 1:20 reminds us that, “wisdom cries aloud in the street…” Notice the wisdom that these people share about alcohol even though many were not Christians.
· Shakespeare: “Alcohol is a poison men take into the mouth to steal away the brain.”
· Gladstone: “Drink is more destructive than way, pestilence and famine.”
· Manning: “It is a public, permanent agency of degradation.”
· Lincoln: “Drinking is a cancer in human society, eating out its vitals and threatening its destruction.”
· Robert Hall: “It is distilled damnation.”
· Lord Chesterfield called it “An artist in human slaughter.”
· General Pershing: “Drunkenness has killed more men than all of history’s wars.”
· General Robert E. Lee: “My experience through life has convinced me that abstinence from spirituous liquors is the best safe guard to morals and health.”
· President Taft: “He who drinks is deliberately disqualifying himself for advancement.”
· President Theo. Roosevelt: “—business tends to lawlessness on the part of those who conduct it and to criminality on the part of those who patronize it.”
· President Wm. McKinley: “the most ruinous and degrading of all human pursuits.”
Then there is more “wisdom from the streets”:
· 55% of all auto accidents are alcohol-related.
· 125,000 people were killed in alcohol-related auto accidents in one 5-year span (that is more deaths than we suffered in Korea and Vietnam combined).
· There are 100,000,000 drinkers in the United States and 9,000,000 of them are alcoholics.
· 57% of boys and 43% of girls ages 15 to 20 are drinkers.
· 62% of all major crimes are committed by those under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crime.
In view of such information, it would seem that Christ-like people should avoid the use of alcoholic beverages in any amount! Clear Bible teaching and the “wisdom from the streets” shows us that alcohol is inconsistent with the Christian lifestyle. Think about it! Mark T. Tonkery
Snacks at the camp store about $10.00……Camp T-Shirt about $10.00... Camp registrations $115.00…A camping experience where God, the Bible, and the church are honored and respected. Invaluable. A Christian environment where you have an opportunity to make godly friends. Inestimable. A place, where one’s faith in the Lord will be built up and one will be helped to get to Heaven. Priceless!
We often look at things, even church camp in terms of how much it will cost us but sometimes the price tag does not always tell us what we are paying for. Yes, if one goes to another camp such as 4-H, Scout, Band, or some sport camp they will learn valuable lessons that will be beneficial for every day life. But what about the many other benefits that a Christian camp can provide that are not listed in the promotional pamphlets or may not be found in other camps such as: meeting new godly friends, learning from mature Christians, to be encouraged daily to study God’s Word, opportunities to asks Bible questions and be taught one on one and in small groups, experiencing God's creation in the outdoors, and to be strengthened in all areas of one’s faith. There is no price tag on these and other priceless blessings one can receive by going to church camp.
Peter states in 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” How are we going to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord? Hopefully from the teaching and preaching by the church, parents, and personal study, but one can also grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord by participating in church camp. For example: If you calculate the time a child spends in Bible class on Sundays and Wednesdays and compared it to the Bible teaching and training at a week of church camp; one week of camp would almost equal 6 months of Bible classes. Many Christians do not realize the great opportunities church camp can provide for our youth and how church camp is a mission field needing to be worked. In a book called, “The Gospel According to Generation X” the author surveyed teens and found that the most significant event for their faith development in the teen years was church camp. Church camp is an effective tool in the spiritual development of young people. Very few places in our day and time are influenced with the Christ centered teachings and influences as church camp.
Jesus reminds us in Luke 14:28 that if we are going to follow Him we must count the costs. When it comes to educating our children in the way of the Lord parents must also count the cost. How much would you pay to have a child develop into a godly and faithful Christian? How much would you give to have your children be encouraged and influenced by godly people? How much would you forfeit to have your children enriched in the way of God? How much are you willing to pay to help your child get to Heaven? Although church camp is not a guarantee that your child will go to Heaven, it does encourage the spiritual growth and well being of your child; where as other camps as good as they may be don’t. God’s word is clear if parents pray for, teach, model the Christian faith, and provide opportunities where Christian faith is encouraged such as church camp. Then children have a better opportunity to be faithful to the Lord than if they were left on their own to discover the Lord’s Way. You must count the cost. By Mark T. Tonkery
You are Invited to come to Church Camp:
† Camp Hervida OVCYC Senior week (14-18 years old June 11-16; Junior week (8-11 years old) June 18-23 and Intermediate week (11-14 years old) June 25-30; See Mark T. Tonkery for details, he will be co-directing Jr. week.
† If your child would like to come to camp please go to the following web site: http://ovcyc.org/
Have you ever told a child you would take them to the park, or maybe go to the movie theater “if”? If they ate their dinner, if they cleaned their room, or if they did their homework? What happened? Sometimes it might have motivated the child to do what was asked and at other times it might not.
Most of us understand that the little word “if” is more powerful than its size might lead one to expect. Your boss might say, "If you get the job done on time you will get a raise." In that case, the word “if” makes the raise conditional.
See if is an “iffy” word. It is based on conditions, circumstances, and stipulations. The work “if” is defined as, “in case that; granting or supposing that; on condition that.” The word “if” is used the same way in the Bible. Notice how the Bible uses the word “If” in the following verses:
· John 15:7, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
The promise is conditional. What if we don't abide in Christ’s and His words? The promise is that we will not get what we ask for in His name. Imagine if God took away our Bible tomorrow because we would not read it today?
· John 13:35, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
What if we do not love one another? Then the world is not going to know we are Christ’s disciples. Do we forgive others? What if God treated us the way we treat our mates or neighbors? What if God stopped loving and caring for us because we failed to love and care for others? The world may not know Christ if we do not love one another.
· John 15:14, "Ye are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you.”
What if we don't keep Christ’s commands? What if we treat God’s commands as not important or old fashion? For example, Jesus commands us to evangelize in Matthew 28:18-20, but what if every church member evangelized just like me? In 1 Cor. 16:1,2 we are command to give on the first day of the week. What if God gave us ten times the amount of money we give to Him on Sunday? If we are friends of Christ we will keep His commandments.
· Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
What if we don’t continue to do good? What if we give up? What if we never saw a flower bloom because we grumbled when God sent the rain? We will never reap or see a harvest, if we stop doing the good God wants us to do today. So, let us not grow weary of doing good.
· John 8:51, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
What if we knew today would be our last? What if we knew that Jesus was coming in the next five minutes? What if we were found keeping Christ’s word, being obedient and living for Christ? Then the promise is we will never see death!
"If" is a big word! If is conditional, there’s a possibility that the task will not get done, there is a likelihood that it might not go our way, there is probability we will not choose wisely. But there is also a possibility that it might work and we might be successful. We might receive the blessing, we might be found faithful and prepared for heaven. We might just be ready for Christ’s return. It all depends on us! If we are willing to obey Christ and follow Him always we will receive a blessing. Think about it! Mark T. Tonkery
Have you ever wondered what the Bible is trying to say? In the pages of the Bible we learn that God is the author of all life (Gen. 1-2) and His creation proclaims His existence (Job 12:7-10). By listening to creation and the teachings of the Bible one can come to know the true God of the universe. The pages of the Bible maintain that the God of creation cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18). If God cannot lie then humans ought to pay attention to what has been written in His revelation, the Bible (1 Jn. 5:13; J. 20: 30-31). God tells us through his Son Jesus Christ that His, “words will never pass away” (Mt. 24:35). As one reads the Bible they will see that Scripture is powerful, even more powerful than the risen dead (Luke 16:30-31). The Bible has the words that tell of eternal life (Jn. 6:68). Romans 10:17 says it is by Christ’s words that product faith and Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of souls and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
From these scriptures the Bible presents itself as the authority from God, which is meant for people to base their lives on today. 1 John 2:24-25 reads, “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” The Bible is God’s message to man on how to live now and how to prepare to live in the next life.
We at the church of Christ take the Bible very seriously, we teach from it in our Bible classes, preach from it in our pulpit and encourage every Christian to read it and live by it’s teaching. If you would like to study the Bible with us please give us a call or come to our times of Bible study and worship. Today, open your Bible and read the wonderful words of life. Written by Mark T. Tonkery