“Actions speak louder than words.” This statement may seem trite, but it is definitely true. Actions are filled with meaning. Actions are the confirmation of deeply held beliefs. Actions prove that one means exactly what he/she says. Actions are things that cannot be denied.
The actions of those Christian who consistently attend the Sunday evening worship services speak volumes with regard to the type of people they are.
1. They are sacrificial. The Sunday crowd is willing to give up (sacrifice) their time to travel to the building and spend time in the presence of a powerful and loving God. (See Hebrews 13:15).
2. They are diligent. Webster defines diligent as “characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic application and effort.” Energetic and steady definitely apply to the Sunday night crowd. Comfort and ease are forsaken to appear before the great I AM. Paul exhorted the saints in Rome, saying: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11).
3. They are seekers. They Sunday evening crowd are seekers of God and seekers of truth. They long for their God and for the blessings described in His Word. Their desires do not go unquenched. Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).
4. They are concerned. The Sunday night crowd realizes that three things are vitally important: God, their brothers and sisters in Christ, and their own souls. They realize that their attendance on Sunday evenings shows their concern toward all three of these things. They would never have anyone believe that these things are unimportant to them. (Please read Hebrews 10:24-25).
5. They are true worshippers. In Psalm 42:2, David wrote, “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” The true worshipper longs to be with God. He yearns to bring his sacrifices of love and thanksgiving to his Lord. When an opportunity arises to appear before God, he will not miss it.
6. They are lovers of God. When one truly loves another, he wants to be in his lover’s presence. He longs for the time and fellowship that is shared with the one he loves. The Sunday night crowd has these feelings for God. They are grateful that they can express their love for the One who loved them. (See Mark 12:30).
7. They are workers. There is usually a correlation between the diligent workers in the church and the ones who attend on Sunday night. They abound in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). These are the teachers, the ones who visit, and make telephone calls to the weak and shut-in. They are the ones who come to gospel meetings, seminars, and special events. They are the ones who volunteer to assist in whatever capacity they can. They know that gratitude is not just shown in praise to God, but also in laboring for His cause.
8. They are examples. The Sunday night crowd is mature in Christ. They know how important it is to live a faithful life before others. Most of them are usually worthy examples for others to follow (See 1 Timothy 4:12).
9. They are people of priorities. God has told us how we are to order our priorities in several verses. The most common is Matthew 6:33. “But see ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Those who attend on Sunday nights have their priorities correctly in line. If Jesus were here, He would commend them for their wise choice (See Luke 10:41-42).
10. They are the faithful. Faithful is simply defined as “full of faith.” James tells us that true faith produces works. It is not merely a mindset. “Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). One of the works of the faithful is steady, consistent worship of the heavenly Father. (Please Read 1 Cor. 4:2).
We give thanks for the Sunday night crowd. We want you to know that your actions are seen and mean so much to us. May you continue in your faithful service. May your example inspire others. May your tribe increase.
Satan Has Bound Some With Religious Ignorance. Satan does not want you to study the Bible for if you do you will find spiritual light and understanding. “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130). Satan does not want you to study the Bible for if you do you will acquire spiritual knowledge. “For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6). Satan does not want you to study the Bible for if you do you will be able to abide in God’s word. “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). Since Bible study is so important, how could a person be so negligent and indifferent toward it? Satan has bound many in religious ignorance, but, “the Lord raises those who are bowed down.” Satan Has Bound Some With Indifference. Because God and His work are so important we cannot afford to be indifferent in our service. By "indifferent” I mean, “of middle quality, having only a moderate degree of excellence, ordinary.” Our work for God demands more. Read the words of Matthew 22:34-40. “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing Him, and saying, Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” We cannot afford to be indifferent in our work for God. Satan has the “indifferent” bound but, “the Lord raises those who are bowed down.”
Satan Has Bound Some Through Abortion. In the United States, it is legal for a physician to kill a baby for social reasons at any time prior to birth. You can call it abortion but murder by any other name is still murder. The Bible condemns abortion. Although the word “abortion” is not in the scriptures, God’s word speaks very clearly about it. God warned Noah’s descendants that murder would be punished. “Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). God hates those who shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16-17). Abortion is murder. Satan has bound many by abortion, but “the Lord raises those who are bowed down.” Satan Has Bound Some With Gambling. Gambling is motivated by characteristics of selfishness, covetousness and greed (Luke 12:15, Romans 12:10). Gambling demands a trust in chance and material things rather than a trust in God and His will (Matthew 6:19-34, Luke 12:13-21). Gambling is contrary to both the first and second greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37-40). Gambling goes against God’s work ethic and is not good stewardship (Ephesians 4:28, Galatians 6:9-10). Gambling violates the Golden Rule. “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Satan has bound many with gambling, but, “the Lord raises those who are bowed down.”
It is hard to understand, but as Jesus went about doing good and teaching He faced many adversaries. Even while trying to help those bound by Satan, Jesus was resisted by so-called religious people. Luke 13:10-17 tells one such story. “Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity. And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day. The Lord then answered him and said, Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound -- think of it -- for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath? And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.”
This account is of a poor soul that had been bound by Satan. She had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years. She could not raise herself up. But the “Lord raises those who are bowed down.”(Psalms 146:8). Multiplied numbers of people are bound by Satan today. Perhaps it is not in the same sense as this woman, but none the less there are those whom Satan has bound.
Satan Has Bound Some With Alcohol and Other Drugs. The evil fruits of alcohol and other drugs continue to be reaped in our society as more people continue to drink and use drugs more and more. “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”(Proverbs 20:1). Drinking and using other drugs is just too costly and harmful -- physically, mentally, socially, economically, morally and especially spiritually. Satan has the “user” bound but “the Lord raises those that are bowed down.”
Satan Has Bound Some With Sexual Immorality. Adultery, fornication and homosexuality have become a way of life for many. Our society has become so confused that it calls evil good and good evil. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”(Isaiah 5:20). Immorality is condemned in God’s word. Romans 1:18-32 condemns all types of sexual immorality including men with men and women with women. Sexual immorality is a work of the flesh which will condemn one eternally. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissension's, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”(Galatians 5:19-21). Some people would like to edit this list and take out those sins of a sexual nature and say “God made us this way so it must be all right to do these things.” God didn't do it -- Satan is the author of this kind of thinking because he wants to keep the immoral in his bondage. Satan has the immoral bound but, “the Lord raises those who are bowed down.”
More and more I hear of members of the church speaking about “witnessing” and less frequently do I hear about members of the church speaking about teaching the gospel of Christ. While the term “witness” is a biblical one and while many people speak of “witnessing” within the denominational world, perhaps we should wonder if the way the Bible uses the term and the way the denominations use the term coincide. Are we as Christians allowing the denominational world to change our ways or are we as Christians seeking to change the ways of denominations? It appears that in this terminology we have allowed denominationalism to take control.
As I look at all the different ways in which the word witness is used in the scriptures, I don’t find a single solitary instance in which it is used in the same way that most religious people use the word today. We see that the apostles were eyewitnesses of the resurrection and so was the apostle Paul (Acts 1:22; 4:33; 22:15). The Holy Spirit was a witness to the Jews that the Gentiles were to receive the gospel message (Acts 15:8). God gave witness to the apostles and prophets through miraculous signs and wonders that what they said and taught was true (Hebrews 2:4). John writes that the record that God gave of His Son, Jesus, is the witness that is in us, if we believe that record (1 John 5:9,10). However, we never read of an apostle, prophet, or inspired teacher within the New Testament telling Christians to go out and “witness” for Christ. “Preach the gospel” – Yes. “Witness” – No. Where does this concept come from?
When a member of a denomination stands up and “witnesses” they usually tell of all the “great things” God has done for them in their life. Perhaps they will speak about how God saved them from drugs. Perhaps they will speak about how God helped them get over a financial crisis. Perhaps they will speak about how God helped them become a good father or mother. The witnessing is always “how God personally helped me.” The focus of these “testimonies” is upon the individual’s personal experience. From this, those who are listening to the speaker are supposed to conclude that God will work some kind of personal experience for them as well and that they are supposed to come to believe in God based upon this “testimony.” Notice, however, that the faith that is generated by these “testimonies” does not come from God’s word, but from someone’s personal, subjective experience. Herein lies the danger; the Bible says “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”(Romans 10:17). Those who stand up and give personal “testimonies” and “witness” for God are doing the world no favor. They are not preaching the word of God–they are preaching their own subjective, emotional experiences. They are causing people to believe something other than the word of God, and that is NOT biblical faith.
Perhaps someone might say, “Well, the Holy Spirit is really the one who is witnessing.” No doubt, this is what many believe today who participate in this kind of thing. However, the Holy Spirit is not the author of confusion according to 1 Corinthians 14:33 and the Holy Spirit wrote Romans 10:17. Now is the Holy Spirit going to say that faith comes by hearing the word at one point in time and then turn around and say that faith comes by doing something OTHER than hearing the word at another point in time? For someone to say such would be indicting the Holy Spirit of a lie. Either faith comes by hearing the word of God or it does not. Either the Holy Spirit told the truth when He said that faith comes by hearing the word of God or these people who are “witnessing” today are lying. I will stick with Paul, “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).
Why would Christians get caught up in such foolishness? Do they no longer believe that faith comes by hearing the word of God? Do they believe that their simple personal stories are more important than the story of the cross? Do they believe that God’s saving power lies within their own personal experience as opposed to the resurrection of the Son of God? Let us, as Christians, put away such speech from our vocabulary. Let’s believe what the Bible has to say about how faith comes and resolve to preach God’s word instead of exalting our own personal experience above the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16). Let us resolve not to know anything save Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). Let’s resolve to speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11).
How much do you get out of the preaching you hear each week? The word “sermon” is derived from a Latin word which means “a stab or a thrust.” It is also a relationship between the preacher and the listener. The preacher must spend considerable time in sermon preparation, in prayer and in conditioning his own heart to deliver God’s word. Nevertheless, if the sermon is to be helpful and effective, it requires some input on the part of the listener. Some things are necessary for the listener to do if he is to benefit from a sermon.
* Pray. Spend some time praying for the preacher and ask God to give you an open mind to receive the truths that are presented.
* Have Your Bible in Hand. Using your Bible will help you keep your mind on what is being said. It will also be helpful to make notes in the margin as you listen. You will be doing the same noble work as the Bereans (Acts 17:11).
* Take Notes. If you write the main points and key scriptures it will keep you focused on the sermon and help you better remember what you hear.
* Stay Awake and Alert. A failure to do so will cause loss to you as the hearer and may result in a misunderstanding of the message and the messenger.
* Listen Attentively. Samuel Johnson said, “The true art of memory is the art of attention.” It truly requires a lot of hard work to develop the art of listening.
* Judge the Content. Don’t waste your time criticizing the preacher’s mistakes in grammar, inflection, voice quality and style, Concentrate on what he is saying.
* Discuss the Sermon With Others. Discuss the sermon with members of your family or with friends, not critically but with a desire to profit from the discussion. Determine that you will put the things learned from each lesson into practice in your own life.