Summer vacation is over. Our students have returned back to school. Our farmers are preparing for harvest season. Harvest is coming, and maybe an early one at that. Jesus preached that the fields are already ripe for harvest in the Kingdom of God. He taught his disciples to pray and ask the Lord to send out more laborers for the harvest. Now, it’s time for you to get back to church and reaffirm your faith in Jesus Christ as risen Lord and Savior. Remember your membership vows from the baptismal covenant: “we renew our covenant to faithfully participate in the ministries of the Church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness, that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” Yet, I warn you, that you can’t do it alone from your own strength and power; you need the grace of God and you need the encouraging love of your brothers and sisters in Christ to do it.
So, how can you experience more of God’s grace in your life and in the church? By meeting God in the means of grace that Jesus and his apostles modeled for us in the Bible: prayer (on your own or with others), searching the Scriptures (reading or listening to the Bible), worship, holy communion, fasting, and Christian conferencing (fellowship and testimony). We also encounter the grace of God when we show Christ‘s love for others through compassionate acts of mercy: healing the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned and the homebound, caring for the widow and the orphan, welcoming the stranger, liberating the oppressed, and giving alms for the poor.
Next, why do you and I need mutual encouragement in love to remain in God’s grace? Hear the good news from Hebrews 10:23-25 (CEB) 23 Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable. 24 And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. 25 Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. The author of Hebrews understands that worship and fellowship is essential for the health of the church. 10:23 tells us that we are to confess our hope (why?) because we can rely on the promises of Jesus! So what are some of blessings Jesus promised us?
- “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
- “Where two or more are gathered, there I am also.” (Matthew 18:20)
- “I will ask my Father in heaven and he will send you the Comforter (Holy Spirit).” (John 14:16)
- “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
- “I am the Vine, you are the branches…If you remain in me and I in you, then you will bear much fruit.” (John 15:5)
- “Wait…for the promise of the Father…you will be clothed with (Holy Spirit) power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
- “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
10:24 calls us to consider each other carefully to spark love and good deeds. We catch aflame with God’s love when we meet Jesus in the means of grace. This then causes a chain reaction of love where we encourage one another to show God’s love for our neighbors through selfless acts of mercy. 10:25 shows us that we are expected to meet together regularly for worship. In addition, we are implored to encourage fellow church members to return for worship (onsite or online) who have developed a troublesome habit of missing Sunday services. This mutual invitation is not just a one-time ask, it’s to be a constant conversation among and prayer for one another during each week, “as you see the day drawing near.” Don’t forget to invite your friends, neighbors, and co-workers to join you for worship this Sunday too.
Finally, I ask you: which means of grace and acts of mercy will you start practicing today?…this week?…this month?
I challenge you this month to speak, call, text, e-mail, or handwrite words of invitation and encouragement to spark love, good deeds, and faithful worship attendance as a congregation. In the meantime, I’ve taped up our church membership list on the wall of my prayer closet at the church to pray for you by name. I am praying for you in the holy name of Jesus. Please send me your prayer requests so I can best be praying for you! See you on Sunday (onsite or Facebook Live)!
“Christ transforms our lives so our community can thrive!” Pastor Zack