Live Like a Champion – Week 37

The Promise of Gathering!

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NAS95)


My family has spent the last few weekends working on a big landscaping project to create a fire pit area to sit around and enjoy one another. Our investment is not in the landscaping itself, but in our family’s relationships. Kimberly and I are intentionally creating a set apart place to gather—to talk and share, to build memories, to have places our children want to join with us as they get older, and to have a place where they can invite their friends and bring our future family.


Think of the campfire as a metaphor—each of us are the coals of the fire and the more of us that gather the brighter the fire. When one of us is removed from the fire pit, it not only diminishes the overall warmth and brightness of the fire, but it puts that one individual coal in danger of losing its heat and light.


How does this apply to the Church of Jesus Christ and its individual members?


This week’s promise is, “The Promise of Gathering!” and it provides the answer.


The memory verse for the week is from Hebrews 10:24-25,
“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”


It is not surprising that the Scripture teaches us to, “not [forsake] our own assembling together” because the Church of Jesus Christ is not just a random gathering like a concert, but rather the assembly or the gathering of those who are called out of the world and into relationship with God through the call of Jesus Christ—the Head of the body.


Jesus is the One who gathers us—He calls us out by name! We gather in obedience to Jesus because it has always been and always will be His idea and not our own. We have corrupted the gathering of the Church as a personal preference and that has only diminished our witness. When we make something about us and forget who it is about, we destroy it by making it in our own image. We are designed to be in the image of God and to shine His light for His glory!


You are the Church and to forsake the assembly is to forsake your very identity as a member of the body of Christ. Without all the coals in the fire, we have no ability to be the very “light of the world” that Jesus calls us in Matthew 5:14-16:


You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.


The concept of a city is significant here. A person wouldn’t call a single light in the distance a city. But the clustering of several lights in one space is often identifiable, even from outer space, as a city. There is strength and significance in numbers. This is why we gather!


When you don’t gather you are taking your coal out of the fire, and it goes from being bright to being dull. When you don’t gather you are taking your light from the city, and it goes from being visible to being invisible. God’s will for your life is for you to be the best version of you—burning true and bright for the world to see His love through you—and God designed that to happen in community! From the beginning, God intended you to be His Image Bearers. Jesus came to redeem you to this original purpose, so that the world may know of God’s love.


That’s why Jesus Christ said in John 13:34-35,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”


The promise of gathering comes with a practice—the habit of prioritizing first things first!


We must put on our schedule first what eternally matters to God and stop forsaking the assembling on a consistent basis. Each of us is going to miss from time to time. I miss being at FBC four to six times per year, but it is my habit to prioritize assembling with you, my church family as an intentional spiritual discipline of my walk with Jesus.


It is like prioritizing prayer before meals or Bible intake before media exposure! It’s like protecting a day of rest once per week and reciting Psalm 23 before going to bed. These are the rhythms of grace that we are invited to live in so that we may experience the promises of God.


According to Hebrews 10:24, we gather “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” We are gathered to bring God glory and make God’s glory visibly brighter to the world!


Let’s be clear at this point that our gathering was never intended to be restricted to only Sunday morning worship services. In the New Testament Church, the people would gather daily. Listen to a powerful witness of the promise of gathering found in Acts 2:37-47:


Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.


The promise of gathering is a priority of you putting first things first, day by day! We find time for that which we prioritize. Is once per week truly enough to shine brightly and consistently?


Sometimes we come to the gathering with barely a light left in us, but when we are thrown back in the fire, we are fanned into flame by our brothers and sisters around us! I have found this true at every mid-week prayer service—I come in exhausted, but I leave refreshed by the Spirit’s work in our corporate gathering of prayer, worship, and Bible reading!


The promise of gathering invites each of us to have a participant mentality and not a spectator mentality! While athletes appreciate being cheered on and supported, it is the participants who memorize the play book, train themselves, listen for the Coach’s voice, and run the plays as a team. We are inspired and encouraged best by those who are on the playing field with us!


As we gather as gospel participants and not church spectators, we are transformed by the renewal of our minds through our Spirit-filled time of worship in song, prayer, and Bible teaching to bring thriving to the community for the glory of God. I encourage you to prioritize first things first and not just for the once per week gathering, but as a rhythm of life throughout your week—not just in this building, but throughout the community!


Why more frequently? Because Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us that we gather to “[encourage] one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” We need one another because it is so easy to become a critical spectator of the religious game rather than being an active player running the plays in need of huddle time to be reminded and encouraged by the other players.


We are participants, not spectators! We are the many coals in the fire pit that when together, they each burn brighter to become a bright and shining lights in the world. Listen to Paul describe how this happens in Philippians 2:14-16,


Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.


Did you hear the daily discipline of prioritizing first things first for the glory of God?


You can listen to Pastor Jerry’s message by clicking the link below:


You can watch the service by clicking HERE.