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The Ember

The Ember

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Category: Special Features
This past Sunday morning we had to cancel our morning services because of the bad weather. It was an uncomfortable time for some of us. We missed being with others in worshiping our God. I know that it's sometimes difficult for us to remain focused upon the right things in life. But, who is to say what is the right thing: what should be the focus for us, for me, for you, for your spouse, your parents, your boss, your friends, or even your church leaders?

Hopefully, you know the answer to that without being told, but just in case, it's God who can tell you what should be most important! Weighing in with my opinion on the matter, I would say that our relationship to God must be our number one priority.

We help keep that relationship alive by constant association with him and his church. It's just like anything that becomes our priority. If it is sports, then we watch and attend sporting events. If it is a club, then we attend the meets and associate with others from that club. If we don't then our enthusiasm begins to die.

There is an interesting illustration which I heard many years ago, that I thought might be worth sharing again because it makes this point well:

For some small reason, maybe an imagined offense or maybe no reason at all, a man had stopped attending the services of his church. Noting this fact, the preacher called upon him one winter evening to discuss the matter. As the two men talked, they sat in front of the wood-burning fireplace where a fire burned briskly on the hearth. During the conversation the minister casually took the tongs from their place beside the mantel, and without comment, reached into the flames, removed a brightly glowing ember, and laid it in a place by itself at the edge of the hearth. For a while both men sat in silence watching the small mass as it gradually lost its glow, darkened, became gray and then black. The man then turned to his preacher, sighed, and said, "I see what you mean, Preacher; I'll be back next Sunday."

That man picked up on the important lesson. It is simply this: Faith is maintained in fellowship. Apart from the fire, the ember cools and dies alone. So does faith when kept apart from the fellowship which nurtures and sustains it. Over the centuries — from the very day of Jesus' resurrection until now — the Christian Faith has been kept alive in association, person with person, people together, in genuine fellowship — sharing life together. Historically, it has been in community that the Word has been preserved. And still today, it is in community that our faith is maintained.

The worship assembly of the people of Christ is essential to keeping the fire in our spirits alive. I know how easy it is to get distracted. People visit who aren't members of a church and therefore don't understand that they are keeping you from something you deem important. Events are sometimes planned that conflict with our periods of worship, clubs meet, games are played, families gather ... so many distractions in life. Let me encourage you to keep your focus! Sometimes, perhaps it's going to be necessary to let folks know that you have a greater responsibility in life, a higher allegiance. After all, you don't want the ember to die do you?

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near (Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT).

About the Author

Russ Lawson
Russ Lawson is a former missionary to Africa and minister in Ohio. He now works with World Christian Literature Outreach and writes a weekly email devotional, Messages from the Heart. For more information about Russ, click here.

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