A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the preacher decided to visit him.
It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his preacher’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace… and waited.
The preacher made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the preacher took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone, then he sat back in his chair, still silent.
The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.
Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The preacher glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
As the preacher reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, ‘Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I will be back in church next Sunday.’
We live in a world today, which tries to say too much with too little. Consequently, few listen.
Sometimes the best sermons are the ones left unspoken.
The Lord is my Shepherd – that’s a Relationship!
I shall not want – that’s Supply!
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures – that’s Rest!
He leadeth me beside the still waters – that’s Refreshment!
He restoreth my soul – that’s Healing!
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake – that’s Guidance!
For His name’s sake – that’s Purpose!
Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death – that’s Testing!
I will fear no evil – that’s Protection!
For Thou art with me – that’s Faithfulness!
Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me – that’s Discipline!
Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies – that’s Hope!
Thou anointest my head with oil – that’s Consecration!
My cup runneth over – that’s Abundance!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life – that’s Blessing!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord – that’s Security!
Forever – that’s Eternity!
Face it, GOD really LOVES YOU!
What is most valuable is not WHAT we have in our lives, but WHO we have in our lives.
The analogy used by the Pastor in his silent sermon was very powerful. As Christians, we are called to have fellowship with one another, to live our lives in a community of believers, building and encouraging each other.
A few years back, in cell group, we were asked to consider the same topic – can we as believers live a life where we do not attend church regularly, or meet in small/cell groups. There are some Christians who think that church is not necessary and that they can read the bible on their own. However, when we consider not just the analogy of the burning coal removed from a roaring fire, but the nature of God and what He/Jesus taught – to love one another, as He loved us – is all consistent with the need to be a part of the community.
Consider the early church, and even Jesus himself. Did Jesus go to church? Well… Jesus was the church. Jesus specifically taught us on the relationship He had with the church body. Matthew 16:18 states:
I will build my church
Jesus and the church were one. He is the cornerstone of the church and Paul describes in his letter to the church in Ephesus that Christ is the head of the church; that we are the Bride of Christ. Ephesians 5:22-24:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
The early church/believers met in homes. There was no formal structure or program, no written scriptures or religious dogma. Instead, there was free preaching of eye-witness testimonies, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
When this topic was discussed a few years back we agreed that if we were spending time along with God, there are times when this alone time and mediation is necessary and good. However, eventually focusing on God will ultimately lead and compel us to return to rejoin the community of believers. The reasoning for this is that in order for us to put into practice “Love One Another” and to preach the Good News (Gospel) to the ends of the earth requires us to constantly be interacting with others – fellow believers as well as the unreached people of the world. If we are sincere and pure in our approach to God, our thought process should follow something like:
- God, what are you revealing to me about myself?
- God, what do you want me to do? (focus shifts away from self to others)
- God, who do you want me to be ministering to?
Ultimately, when we draw close to God, He will reveal His will for our lives, in that following Him humbly will