Robert Morris - Start Going To Church
We've been in a three-week series called "Three Steps to Victory". The first week was "Stop Believing Lies". Last weekend was "Stay in the Word". Here's the third one. Last one in this series: "Start Going to Church". Now, what you're thinking is, well, I am here. I don't need this one, Pastor. Well, the emphasis is not on start, the burden the Lord gave me is on going. Start going to church. Now, here's what I mean by that. I want you, when you can't come, to watch on the Internet. And I want you, even if you decide not to come, just because you're too tired to watch on the Internet. Don't stop watching on the Internet, okay? Not saying anything bad about that, or if you live outside of the metroplex, or whatever. I want you to watch on the Internet. I want you to.
So this isn't a correction, this is just to answer a question that's beginning to come up more and more and more, I think, since so many pastors, their messages are available at any time online, but I just wanna, you know, this isn't church attendance for church attendance's sake. I wanna actually answer the question, why go to church? Why go? Why not just watch? What's the difference, and if you can't, again, if you can't come, then watch. If you're out of town, or if you're traveling, or if someone's sick in the family, or somebody, then watch. But if you can, why make the effort? And I have three reasons. Is that shocking to you? I got three reasons.
Now, that reminds me, there was a guy that got up one morning on Sunday morning, and told his wife, "I'm not going to church today, and I'll give you three good reasons why I'm not going". He said, "Number one, I don't like the building. I just don't like it. I've never liked the building. Number two, I don't like the people. And number three, the people don't like me. I can just tell it. They look at me funny, they just don't like me". And so, she did, as all ladies have to do at some time or another, she said, "Well, I'll give you three good reasons why you are going, buddy". She said, "I've gotten up, and I'm going. Number two, the kids have gotten up, and they're going. Number three, you're the pastor, and they're expecting you to be there". But what happens if the pastor comes, and the people don't come? So that's what I wanna talk to you about, all right?
So here's the number one reason to go to church, God's presence. Now, I understand that God is everywhere. That's called His omnipresence. Then, there is His inner-presence. Inner; I-N-N-E-R. When the Holy Spirit lives within us. But there is His manifest presence, which is His made-known presence, which happens when we come together, in a more powerful way than I've ever seen in my life. So I wanna show you a few scriptures, all right? When God told them to make a tabernacle on earth, the very first one ever, this is Moses, the tabernacle of Moses. Moses's tabernacle, before Solomon's temple, all that. He gave him some instructions, and by the way, He said, "What you see in heaven, build on earth".
So it's tabernacle, the pattern for it is in heaven. And this is what He said, Exodus 25:8. "And let them", that's the people: "Make Me", God: "A sanctuary; that I may dwell among them". I want a place to live on earth. And then, later down in Exodus 25:22, He says: "And there", talking about the sanctuary: "There I will meet with you, and I will speak with you", something happens when we come together, and then Jesus even confirms this in the New Testament, Matthew 18:20. "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them;" it's His presence. I'll bet you can remember some worship services when you sensed God's presence more than you've ever sensed Him before. And you know exactly what I'm talking about, when the whole body is coming together, and we're worshiping God, His presence is so strong.
You know, when He got angry with the people of Israel, when they were traveling through the wilderness, He said to Moses, "I'm not gonna go with you into the promised land, but I'll send My angel". Moses's reply was, "If Your presence doesn't go, I don't wanna go". And he made an incredible statement, he said, "If Your presence doesn't go with us, how will we be different from any other people in the world"? It's the only thing that makes us different. Listen, it's the only thing that makes the church different from every organization in the world. Every organization in the world, every meeting in the world, the reason we're different is because God shows up Himself when we meet together. God's presence is here. Let's not forget, it is God's house.
So number one, His presence. Here's number two, His power. God's power. Now, we read in Matthew 18:20 a moment ago that: "If two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst", let me just show you the verse right before it, Matthew 18:19. "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven". And then, He says: "For", this word for is a preposition, which means because: "Because", this is why it's done: "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst", see, many people have never connected these two.
The reason that what you ask is done is because He's standing right there with you. His presence is there. And when His presence is there, His power is there. If His presence is there, then His power is there. So many people want and need the power of God in their life, but they don't go to church. When I grew up we went to church three times a week: Sunday morning, anyone wanna finish this? Sunday night, and Wednesday night. And that was if we didn't have Tuesday visitation that week, or whatever, you know? Or Thursday Bible study, or what was it, Saturday morning men's breakfast, okay. At least three times a week. I'm not advocating that. I'm not even advocating four times a month, every weekend, because I know we travel and we have kid's events, and things like that. But I'd like it to be more than once or twice a month. And not for attendance's sake. You have to understand, I have no ulterior motive. I don't need a higher number, okay? That's not why I'm doing this. It's for you.
I know what happens when we come together. God's power is exponential when we come together. Deuteronomy 32:30. "How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight", it's the power of God. See, people, sometimes, have a difficult time committing to a church. Sometimes, people could be like butterflies or bull frogs. Butterflies will just flit around from church to church, and never like very long at any one place. And bull frogs will come and sit on your lily pad 'til someone touches 'em, tries to develop a relationship with 'em, then they blow up and hop off somewhere else. Let me just show you. So I've said to people before, you need to be planted. You need to be planted.
Let me show you where I base that on, Psalm 92:13-14. "Those who are planted in the house of the Lord", planted. Not just attend, they're planted: "Shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing". Again, watch: fruit, fresh, and flourishing; three points. It's all through the Bible: God Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Okay, so nevermind. But that verse is only good for those who are planted. Not those who flit around from church to church. You wanna be planted somewhere. Another testimony, from Shady Grove, that's now our Grand Prairie campus. Pastor Olen was doing marriage counseling with this couple. And after a little while, he said, "I don't think I can help you anymore". And they were down, you know, discouraged about it. They said, "What do you mean"? He said, "The only thing that can help you is the presence of God. You need a touch from God". So he said, "My advice to you is keep coming to church. Just keep coming to church, and keep worshiping God, and let God do a miracle in your hearts".
So they did, and, one time during worship, just a few weeks later, after he told 'em that, the presence of God was just all over the place. And it's back when pastors would stand on the platform during worship, and he just felt the Holy Spirit said, "Open your eyes, and look what I'm doing". And he opened his eyes, and his eyes fell on this couple. They were both standing there like this, tears streaming down their cheeks, worshiping God. And right when Pastor Olen looked, the man took his arm like this, and put it around his wife. And then, she put her arm around his waist, and they stood there a minute, and then they turned and faced each other, and he said something to her. She said something to him. And then, they hugged and they cried, and then they turned back. He's got his right hand there, his arm around her. She's got her arm around him, and her left hand in the air. And their marriage was healed, just like that, in the presence of God.
He went on to become an elder in the church, to be very successful in business. As a matter of fact, probably most of you have something in your home that he invented. Has given lots of money to the Kingdom of God, and they've been married over 50 years now. Still married, still going strong. You know what saved their marriage? Obviously, God, but through church. Just coming to church. God's power, and here's number three, God's people. God's people. Now, what you may be thinking is, well, if I've got God's presence and God's power, why do I need God's people? I'm gonna tell you why, but here's, just to sum it up, because His presence and His power flows through His people. You need people. You know, I've heard people say, "Just me and God". First of all, that's not grammatically correct. Just, if you're gonna say it, say, "God and I". But just me, "It's just me and God, that's all I need is God".
That's not the way God set it up. You need someone else. Out of all that God created, everything was good except for one thing, man alone. I mean, God said at the end of every day, "It's good, that's good". Creates Adam, says, "It's not good. I can do better than that". And He did. So let me show you a few scriptures here, I don't think we, sometimes, realize how incredible it is to be called the people of God. 'Cause many of us don't have any type of a Jewish heritage. We've been grafted in to the nation of Israel, but the Jews understood it. The Jewish people did.
So let me show you some scripture where Peter's writing to Gentiles and where Paul's writing to Gentiles. 1 Peter 2:10. "Who once were not a people but are now the people of God", now, He's quoting Hosea, and you'll see, Paul actually mentions that. Romans 9:25. "As He says also in Hosea: 'I will call them My people, who were not My people'", and this is the scripture in Hosea, Hosea 2:23: "Then I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people.' And they shall say, 'You are my God'". It's good to be a part of the people of God. But we need other people. Jesus backs it up. They come to Him, and say, "What's the greatest commandment"? He says, "Well, obviously, 'Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.'" But the second is like it, and that word means equal to. The second is equal to it. "Love your neighbor as yourself". And then, He makes an incredible statement. "On these two commandments, hang all the law and the prophets", the law of the first five books of the Old Testament, the prophets are the rest, the major prophets and minor prophets.
And you gotta remember, they didn't have a New Testament when Jesus was speaking. They were the New Testament, so they didn't have one at that time. So when Jesus referred to the Scriptures, the law and the prophets, what He was saying was the whole Bible hangs on these two commandments. And let me say those two commandments a different way. Love God, and love people. Let me say it a different way. Relationship with God, and relationship with people. You need both. You need both. So why? Why do we need God's people?
So Paul's addressing that in 1 Corinthians, and he's putting some things in order, but he's also encouraging them in some things they're doing. He's just trying to help 'em do it better. But he makes a statement that you need to kind of understand his writing, because he'll ask a question, then he'll answer it himself. Sometimes, he'll say, "What's the conclusion, then"? And then, he'll answer it. Or he'll say, "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound"? And then, obviously answers, "God forbid". And he answers, all right. So this is what he does in this one. He says, 1 Corinthians 14:26: "How is it then, brethren"? In other words, how is all this? How's all this work? And then, he answers it. "Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification".
Edification means building up, but apparently, what he's saying is the way you get built up is by someone else's song. By someone else's teaching, by someone else's revelation. I'm given someone, listen to what God's saying. I'm gonna give someone else what you need. And you're gonna have to come together to get it, because I've designed it that way. I don't want you to live in just me and God. I want you to live in community, in a congregation. I want you to congregate, I want you to come together. So in the Old Testament, that's where we get our word congregation from. They were always called the congregation.
Have you ever heard of the signal trumpets? 'Cause most people have never even heard of 'em. The signal trumpets, so let me show you a place where the Bible calls 'em the signal trumpets, in Numbers, and then we'll back up a little in Numbers to show you where God told Moses to make 'em, and what they were for, all right? So Numbers 31:6. "Then Moses sent them to war with the holy articles and the signal trumpets in his hand". So that's Numbers 31:6. Now, back up to Numbers 10:1. "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'Make two silver trumpets for yourself; and you shall make them of hammered work; you shall use them for'", number one: "'Calling the congregation, and for directing the movement of the camps'". And then, in Numbers 10:9; "And when you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you", anyone have an enemy who tries to oppress you? Okay. "Then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies".
Here's what He's saying. He said, "Edification", coming together, and we just read, when you come together, it's all for edification. So edification, direction, and protection. Three points, again. All good sermons have three points. In preaching class, I remember one student asked the preaching professor, "How many points should a good sermon have"? He said, "At least one". I thought that's pretty good. It should not be a point-less sermon. Edification. Why come together? I'll tell you right now, why come to church? Because you need to be edified. You need to have direction in your life, and you need protection from the enemy. And you know the one the wolf catches? The one that's on the fray. The one that's on the edge. The one that only comes every now and then. That doesn't attend the classes, that doesn't go through Grow Path, that doesn't go through Next Steps. That doesn't go on in God.
Listen. You're a sheep, right? We're all sheep, that's what the Bible says. We're all like sheep, have gone astray. We're the sheep of His pasture, okay. So, if you're on the fray, here's what you need to do. Excuse me. And you need to get right in the middle of the flock. Because the wolf's gonna catch the ones on the edge. Is that right? You need brothers and sisters around you. We need the body of Christ, we need each other. And now that I've talked about gathering, I'm gonna take it a step further, and I wanna talk about assembling.
Now, I know what you're thinking. You're probably going, "Well, what's the difference between being gathered, and being assembled"? There's one thing to see a pile of bricks, and each brick has individual worth, and individual beauty, and individual strength. If you think about it, one brick has strength. Get hit in the head with one, it's got strength. It's got individual worth. I don't know, two bucks a brick or something, I don't know what they're worth individually, and individual beauty. I guess a brick has some beauty by itself. But when you take those bricks, and you begin to rightly relate them to other bricks, their worth, their strength, and their beauty is increased. And a lot of churches, you're just piles of bricks. But if you just assemble 'em, guess what you have? A house. A house, where someone can dwell. Where you can meet with and speak with someone.
Now, you might think, "Well, that's good; two good illustrations about the car and the bricks and assembling, but do you have a scripture on it, Pastor"? Think I got a scripture on it? "Well, do you have a New Testament one? You use the Old Testament a lot. Do you have a New Testament one"? Yeah, I do. Got one that you've read before, but you've probably never seen it in this light. Hebrews 10:25: "Not forsaking", the what? "The assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another", watch this: "And so much the more as you see the Day approaching". Church attendance shouldn't be decreasing, it should be increasing, because the Day is approaching. We should be going to church more. We should be gathering more. We should be assembling more.
So another thing that happened that I'll never forget at Shady Grove was we would tell people, "If you have a testimony, share 'em". Now, we do, like, video testimonies, you know? And so, people would come up sometimes and share with the pastor, and the pastor would decide, would this be a good moment to share that? Or, is this a good week, or how do we do this, you know? So this guy talked with one of the pastors, and then one of the pastors in a time in worship said, "I want you guys to hear this guy's testimony". So this man said, "I'm not from around here, I live in another state. But several months ago, our daughter was diagnosed with an incurable disease. And a few weeks ago, we came to the hospital here in Dallas to see if they could help her. And on Friday, a week ago, before last weekend, they called us in, and they said, 'There's nothing we can do to save your daughter.'"
She was about eight-years-old. "We would suggest that you take her this weekend, and do something fun. Some parents decide to tell their children, some don't. Whatever you decide, but then bring her back on Monday, and we're gonna start some treatment to try to prolong her life, but we can't save her life". So he said, "I had heard about this church. I had heard about how you worshiped, and how God shows up. So last weekend, we came", and he said, "It was incredible. We sensed the presence of God. We could feel God's presence. We were all encouraged. No one prayed for us, though. No one talked to us".
And he didn't ask, he wanted no one to talk to him, they didn't come forward and ask for prayer. They just were in the service, and they sensed God's presence during worship. He said, "On Monday, we went back for her to start getting her treatment, and they came back in a little while and said, 'We're getting some odd results, we need to run some more tests'". And so all that day they ran tests, And all day Tuesday they ran test, and all day Wednesday, they ran tests. And on Thursday, they came in, and they said, "We don't know what happened, but your daughter doesn't have that disease, anymore". I'll tell you what happened. The presence and the power and the people of God came together. And when the people of God come together, His presence and His power are released.
You know, God created church. God created a place for His people to come together, worship Him, learn His word, sense His presence, and experience His power. His presence, His power and His people: that's what church is all about. And I know that sometimes churches get off track or maybe go the wrong way, but it's still church and it's still a place where if we press in with all of our hearts we can enter in to God's presence, we can hear God's Word, and we can grow in Him and affect other people's lives. I want to encourage you to get in a good local church wherever you live. If you live in the Dallas-Forth Worth area, we'd love to see you at Gateway Church.