I heard a pastor talk about the old days when the Sunday school teacher would tell you to pray a prayer and you go to heaven. That's not what the bible says at all. If you think that simply "believing" in God gives you a get out of hell free ticket, lets think about this. First, Satan "believes" in God, secondly Matthew 7:21 says Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Also in Luke 6:44 Jesus says, "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? Many respond to this saying, everyone sins, and that is completely true. God is not looking for perfection, He is looking for repentance, a changed heart. The word in the New Testament usually translated “repent” is the Greek word “metanoeo,” and the word translated “repentance” is “metanoia.” Both of these Greek words have the same basic meaning: “to change your mind; reconsider; or, to think differently.” God's desire for us not to sin is demonstrated in the story of the the adulterous woman in John 8. Many people like to quote this verse about not casting stones, however the story ends with Jesus saying in John 8:11 So yes, Jesus did not condemn her, but he also said sin no more. When you become a Christian you should have a desire to live differently and do things differently and constantly be growing and becoming more Christ like.
Speaking of growing, that brings me to one of the other four areas I mentioned, church. I said church because it was a tweet, and there was not a way to elaborate on it, and most people know what that means. Hebrews 10:25 talks about not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some. Forsaking means abandon, renounce or give up. It's pretty cool how God knows us well. I want to make sure you understand, I am not judging anyone! I was one of those people that stopped going to church because I started to focus in on people that did wrong, and what I was not getting from church. I now understand that even if another church member does you dirty, what does that have to do with God? God didn't do you dirty, a person did. I've found that going to church with a spirit of giving, instead of getting makes it much better. We are also there to worship and serve God, our Lord, Savior and Father, not to be entertained.
Many are quick to point out that assembling together does not necessarily mean church. I totally agree. I also agree that there are some people that go to church that do bad stuff. Most of the people that are quick to point this out are not assembling together with other Christ followers either. Why point out that assembling together does not mean church, when you know you are not assembling either? If you are assembling together, over the next 30 years your group should grow as a result of inviting people to your group and sharing your faith. Eventually your group will outgrow the building you are meeting in, and guess what, you have a church because you cannot physically fit everyone in your house or the Panera bread.
One of the four areas I mentioned was reading God's word, the Bible, and a Christian's instruction manual. If you are not reading the bible, and you are a Christian, how are you supposed to do what God says? This is definitely an area I struggle with and I am trying to do a better job. The verse above says only those that do God's will enter the Kingdom of heaven, and since the Bible is the instruction manual, it seems like a good idea to read it!
One of the other four areas I mentioned was tithing. Again, this is an area I have struggled with. A lot of people including myself get defensive when you start talking about money! It took me a few years to embrace giving. What is interesting about money is we leave the world with the same amount of money we came into it with, yet much time is spent trying to make it and hold onto it. The bible says in Matthew 6:19-21 to be storing up treasure for heaven, not Earth. Again why is this so hard!! I cannot tell you the number of times I have had to get my focus off worldly stuff like a new car etc. If you have enough money after your tithes and offerings to buy a new car, there is nothing wrong with that either, but I am not one of those people so I need to get my focus off of it. I believe because of our sinful nature that we must learn how to be cheerful givers. I remember the first time I wrote a check for over $1,000.00 I wasn't real cheerful about it. Let be honest here, when you start doing 10 percent off $10,000 or $100,000 you are talking real money. A lot of people would say, if I made $100,000 I would gladly give away $10,000 because I'd still have $90,000, but it's not that easy. The other thing is some people give what they feel like. You know the churches where they pass the offering plate around? It's funny I hardly ever see any checks in there. Some people give so little, they aren't even worried about getting a tax credit for it. They put 10 bucks in there like it's an admission fee for a movie or something. Let say someone decides I'm going to give $5,000.00 off $100,000.00 because that's a lot of money. You might even get some thanks for giving the money, but really it's like jumping up and down screaming touchdown on the 50 yard line. That's not being obedient, and God's not impressed. God is all about obedience, and has been since the Garden when Eve ate the apple and gave it to Adam.
The last of four areas I mentioned was volunteering aka serving. I know for a fact this is a problem area, they call it the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people. I told my son recently that if you go a whole week and everything that you did that week only benefit's you and your family, there is something really wrong with that picture. There are kids that need mentoring, homeless that need fed, widows that need help around the house, but how many of us get too busy with our own lives and find ourselves not doing anything for anyone else outside our family and work? I will be the first to admit there are times when the focus is all on me and my family, but there is a world of hurting people out there that need us.
If you are a Christian and you have never read the bible, check out Youversion.com they have a free phone app and you can sign up for a one year plan to read the bible. If you are not serving, there are plenty of places you can do so. If you are not going to church or assembling, start doing it and start growing your faith and sharing it with others, I promise you won't regret it if you go in with a giving spirit.