Pastor’s Desk October 29th

Scripture Passage:  “Good understanding gives favor: but the way of transgressors is hard.”   Proverbs 13:15
Dear Friends,
     If the way of a transgressor is hard, then why do wonderful, godly people suffer?  Why do some saints of God seem to suffer more than the wicked?  Is suffering directly related to personal transgressions or man’s inherited fallen state?  If God is good, why does He not just let wicked people get cancer and good people live healthy, prosperous lives as a testimony and reward for living right?  Is there a tangible benefit to living a Christian life in a secular materialistic world?  Finally, is there any earthly reason for going to church so much if church people still get sick and have financial difficulties?  They seem to have as many problems as those living carnal, worldly lifestyles.  This list of questions is not exhaustive, they are just the ones I am dealing with today.  (literally)      To answer these questions I want to look at some select passages of Scripture.  “As Jesus passed by, he saw a man who had been blind form his birth.  His disciples asked him, “Master, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that caused him to be born blind?  Jesus answered, “Neither one.  This man did not sin, nor did his parents.  Through his blindness you are going to benefit because the works of God are going to be manifested in him.”  (John 9:1-3)   Not everything that happens to us is a result of a personal transgression.  On the other hand, if man did not live in a sinful fallen state, there would be no suffering at all. In comparison to God’s holiness, the true nature of man becomes apparent and we realize our utter depravity.  (Romans 3:10-12) Sometimes the difficulties we experience accomplish much more for the kingdom than all our successes.  For a believer in Christ, to experience His presence and bring glory to His name is the pinnacle of our purpose for living.
     The Apostle Paul said he believed all things worked for good to them that love God and are the called according to his purpose.  (Romans 8:28)  If we truly believe in the sovereignty of God we accept it as fact, that everything works for our good and His glory.  It is also interesting to note that Jesus used the concept of suffering and blessing to convey God’s love to believers and sinners alike.  “You have heard it said,  You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I say to you, Love your enemy, bless them that curse you, and do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”   (Matthew 5:43-45)  Even Satan accused God of building a hedge around Job by not allowing him to suffer.  (Job 1:9-11)  God told Satan that He knew His servant Job and was confident he would love and serve Him through suffering as well as blessings.  (Job 1:8,12)  In the process, God was honored, Satan was defeated and Job was made stronger – all through his suffering. May it be said so of us also.
     Finally I want to address church attendance.  Does church attendance have any benefit for the Christian striving to live a good, moral life?  In a survey conducted by Ligonier Ministries State of Theology, 58% of all participants agreed that worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church.   Of the 42% left, I would like to know what validates regular church attendance in their minds.   The shift in our culture reveals that what early Christian’s believed about church fellowship and what we believe today are on opposite ends of the spectrum.  The early church met daily because they needed the teaching, encouragement, and fellowship that came with being together.  (Acts 2:46)  The writer of Hebrews admonished us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.  (Hebrews 10:25) I personally believed that people do not attend church regularly because they do not see the benefit in it.  So what are the benefits? 1. There is strength in numbers. A three- fold cord is not easily broken.  (Ecclesiastes 4:12)     2.  We need each other.  Accountability and encouragement are all part of the Christian experience.  Fellowship (koinonia) means we are willing to invest in each other’s lives.  3.  God blesses those who honor him.  One of the ways we honor him is to display our faithfulness to Him by regular church attendance.  A love for His house is directly proportional to our love for Him.  Going to church is one way to witness without ever having to say a word.  In trying to resolve some of these questions, I hope we have happened upon common ground.  May we resolve to live as a child of God and remain faithful through suffering as well as blessing.
In Christ,
Pastor Johnny