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Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers...They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
- Psalm 1:1,3 NLT
Many times over the course of my life, I have heard people say and even uttered myself the statement, “Just because they go to church, it doesn’t make them a Christian.” And oftentimes it was spoken, more or less, to lessen some of the conviction I was feeling about not attending church myself. It’s so easy to play the blame game.
I used to have the mindset that the church was just a bunch of people pretending to be something they’re not. Now that we have found a church home, I can see that a church is not a place to come and feel bad about yourself. It’s a place to come and have fellowship with those who are seeking exactly what you are seeking: unity in God’s Kingdom and comfort in those who are willing to see how amazing God truly is. It’s a place to come for healing and hope. A place where we allow God to guide our steps to Him, and He begins restoring our faith.
In Psalm 1, God’s Word tells us that joy comes to those who do not stand with the wicked. His Word literally tells us that we must surround ourselves with believers who encourage us to pursue the Lord and meditate on His Word to step into the abundant life He offers. You cannot see the blessings of the Lord if you are allowing the wicked to overshadow God’s power.
As humans we bear fruit of our surroundings and circumstances. If we don’t have a relationship with Christ, when turmoil and chaos arise, we only have the opinions of the flesh to uplift us. Often those are the opinions of the same ones that got us into the particular predicament, but God’s Word says that the wicked are like chaff (worthless rubbish). The Lord watches over the walk of His people, and steers them from destruction. With our eyes focused on the Lord, we cannot expect a life of perfection or without trial, but we can expect a more fulfilling life full of God’s goodness and grace.
Since we started attending church, I have had the opportunity to gain relationships with some of the most encouraging people I have ever had the pleasure of befriending. My husband has a relative that goes to church with us. We’ve always known each other, but through attending church together, we have actually formed a friendship that I cherish. She has encouraged me to keep faith, she always greets us with love, and she pushes me to share my talents. She even got up and sang a Christmas special in front of the church with me, just because she knew I was nervous. We need these types of friends in our lives. We need people who encourage us to pursue the Lord and meditate on His Word to encourage our steps to the abundant life He offers.
Living a new life as a Christian can be hard because we are used to living in sin, but Jesus tells us his burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). This doesn’t mean that in your Christian walk that you will never face hard times. It simply means God made the gift of salvation as simple as possible. Salvation is freely given and we need only to ask. So if becoming a Christian seems like a daunting task, it is likely that there is sin in our lives that we are struggling to let go of. The first step in receiving Christ as your Savior is recognizing that we are all sinners and are in need of His covering. He has provided it through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
You are not alone, even if you feel that you are. This is why finding a Christian community is so important, because this is where you find the people on the other side of the obstacle you are facing, who can uplift you and let you know there is truly someone in your corner that has been where you are.
1. Is there anything holding you back from accepting the free gift of salvation, and do you think it really compares with the new life of purpose and freedom that God has for you on earth and in Heaven?
2. Who are some of the Christian friends you have, and how have they positively impacted your life?
Dear Lord, thank You for offering me the free gift of salvation. Help me continue to see the importance of surrounding myself with people who are seeking Your kingdom. Thank You for the promise that You will guide my path as long as I keep my focus on You, and You will never lead me astray. You promise a prosperous life for those who believe in You, and I am grateful for the loving kindness You so freely give. I love You and I thank You for all You do for me, Amen.
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