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We live in a day when perhaps more emphasis is put on the "individual" aspect of life than the "together" part. People nowadays tend to see themselves more as individuals, living their own independent lives, rather than as a part of a larger network of relationships. Maybe this is because of the changes in society that have scattered our families so widely. No longer do many of us live in close proximity to our extended family. The result is that we tend to live isolated lives, just taking care of ourselves and not having much to do with those around us. Sometimes we don't even know our next-door-neighbors.
But in some ways, we need, as Christians, to resist this tendency toward radical individualism. God has designed the plan of salvation such that there is not only an individual part but also a together part. Granted, we're not saved on the "group plan," but it's still a fact that God has set up the local church to be an important part of that which aids and helps us on our way to heaven. We can't neglect the together part of Christianity without some serious negative consequences.
It is God's will that the local church meet together on a regular basis (Ac. 2:42-47; 11:25,26; 20:7; etc.). One thing that takes places in such assemblies, obviously, is the worship and glorification of God. That should be our highest priority. But in God's plan for our assemblies, there is something else that should happen: we are to edify one another when we gather together as the church. The Hebrew writer said, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hb. 10:24,25).
Choosing to attend every assembly of the church is an important choice. No doubt there'll be times when circumstances beyond our control keep us from being a part of the assembly. But the truth is, many Christians who absent themselves from the assembly do so by choice -- they simply decide to do other things. But when we're choosing between our priorities, there ought not to be anything that takes precedence over being with the Lord's people when they meet. In this matter of choice, let's work on making better choices, those that most greatly honor the Lord.
Monday: 1 John 4:20-5:2
Key Idea: If we love Christ, we must be concerned about the spiritual needs of His people.
Questions for Family Growth: Can we love the Father and not love our brothers and sisters in the family? According to this passage, how is it easier to love our fellow Christians than to love God? What are some ways we show that we love our brethren?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 25:24.
Tuesday: Colossians 3:15-17
Key Idea: Mutual edification is an important part of our discipleship and service to Christ.
Questions for Family Growth: According to this passage, what is one very important purpose served by the singing of spiritual songs in our assemblies? Consider also Eph. 5:19. Can we fulfill this purpose if we are willfully absent?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 25:25.
Wednesday: Matthew 18:20
Key Idea: Christ is with His people when they assemble in His name.
Questions for Family Growth: What does it mean to do something in the "name" of Christ? Do you think Christ's presence with His people should be a part of the reason we look forward to gathering together as the church?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 25:26.
Thursday: Acts 2:40-47
Key Idea: The early church assembled eagerly and frequently.
Questions for Family Growth: What indications do you see in this passage of joy and gladness among the Christians in Jerusalem? Does it seem that they had to be persuaded or coerced to gather together with the church?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 25:27.
Friday: Hebrews 10:23-25
Key Idea: We must not neglect the opportunity to assemble and edify one another.
Questions for Family Growth: In this text, what are we told to "consider"? What are we urged not to "forsake" or "neglect"? What are some steps we can take if we don't find the assemblies of the church edifying?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 25:28.