Assembly Required

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MP3 Audio (2.07 MB)


Assembly Required

MP3 Audio (2.07 MB)

It was not too long ago, that my wife and I were not attending services on a weekly basis. We only showed up about twice a month. We had several reasons for not coming, but the fact was that by not attending 
services regularly, we began to suffer spiritually.

This article was inspired by some of our church literature, especially from one called, "Should You Attend Church"
(March/April Good News Magazine). I want to discuss a command that God gave us; it’s an extremely important
 one with far reaching consequences as well as blessings. It’s the command to assemble together on God’s Holy Sabbaths or to put it more simply, whether going to church is optional or required.

God appointed the Sabbath and His annual festivals as sacred assemblies. Leviticus 23: 1-2 says, "And [the LORD] spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, The feasts of [the LORD], which you shall proclaim, holy convocations, even these are My appointed feasts.” (MKJV unless noted) Another term for holy convocation here means "sacred assembly.” Then Moses continues to list all of the holy day feasts and the Sabbath.

Lions teach a lesson

When I was a small child growing up in the church, my parents used to let us watch nature shows on the Sabbath – mostly “National Geographic.”  For some reason I always remember the episodes about lions. I loved watching the lions; they were so powerful, the king of the beasts.

As I continued to watch, as I got older, something about the lion shows started to bother me. They always showed the lion hunting, but it wasn’t the killing that got to me. I started to notice that when lions hunt, the first thing they do is separate the herd. What’s ideal for a lion, as with most predators is to find prey that is weak. This weakness could mean being slower than the rest of the herd, like with a sick animal, but most of the time the prey is just young. During the chase, the lion will separate one individual from the herd, the weakest member of that herd.

As a child, this really began to bother me. I mean I could see this kind of cowardly behavior coming from maybe a hyena, (my least favorite animal) but not from a lion. I had a different image of lions in my mind. Lions were to be feared and respected, but the way these massive beasts picked off the young to devour it, it just didn’t seem that magnificent to me anymore.

I think we can learn a very important lesson from the lion. One of easiest ways for Satan to destroy us is to first separate us from our “herd.” Get us one on one, feeling alone, scared, and without the protection of our spiritual family. Then he goes in for the kill. 

1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour.”

One of the important reasons God gave us the command to assemble together was to protect us from the adversary who seeks to destroy us. We have a very real God, and we also have a very real enemy. If we give Satan a foothold by not keeping the Sabbath commandment and reject the protection that God offers through his church, Satan will use it to try to destroy us spiritually. That’s his goal.

Look at a very encouraging scripture, Matthew 16:18. In the second half of the verse Christ says, "… I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (NKJV)

Satan is truly a master of the "Divide and Conquer.” We have seen Satan use this tactic time and again to divide the church, but we typically think of this on a larger "church wide" scale, but let’s think about how Satan uses this tactic personally, on an individual basis.

Let’s look at the second part of the scripture read at the beginning of the article,

1 Peter 5:9. "… whom firmly resist in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions in the world are being completed in your brotherhood." We do share the same sufferings. We are supposed to be there for each other, to encourage and to serve.

Service versus selfishness

There are many blessings that come from keeping God’s commandment to assemble. Fellowship, friendship, instruction, we get counsel, advice, help and the list goes on.  It’s a tremendous blessing to be able to worship God together with hymns and through prayer. All of these blessings are very, very important and wonderful. They are gifts from God.

Service is a must for us as Christians, and it’s even more important as first fruits. Christ calls us laborers. In Matthew 9:37, He said, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” What is a laborer if he does not labor?  What is a servant that does not serve? God makes it clear through this scripture and others that we will be busy in the Kingdom of God. And that each of us has a job that will involve service to God and to one another. We know that Christ left His throne, came to earth and set an incredible example of service, making Himself a slave, a bondservant, even unto death.

It's according to God’s abundant love that keeping His commandment carries with it so many blessings, but that's not the only reason we come to church. If we are able to go to church, to serve others and God, and then we choose not too--that’s selfishness. (Philippians 2:3)  God will not have selfishness in His kingdom.

We can't fall into the trap of being selfish with our Sabbath. We have all had long weeks, when the Sabbath rolls around and we say to ourselves, “I just want to relax.” Believe me I know. Living in the desert, in the summer, the last thing I "feel" like doing some Sabbaths is throwing on a suit when it’s 115 degrees outside and driving 35 minutes to services. It’s sometimes easy to convince yourself that listening to a recorded sermon, or catching a webcast is enough. We can also try to use God’s words to condone our selfish actions. Saying things like, "Well, the Sabbath was made for man … not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27) and I’m tired!" But man was made to serve God and to serve one another whole-heartedly.

Of course, there are times when coming to church may not be possible. This may be due to an illness, advanced age or a distance that is just too far to make it on a weekly basis. But aside from that consider what it says in Hebrews 10:24-26.  and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins. (NKJV)

It’s amazing how our perspective on coming to church changes when we remove ourselves from the picture and focus on loving one another. We begin to see that Christ is looking for faithful and steadfast servants, of one body, in the same place, with the same mind.Remember to pray for those who can't come to church and seek God’s help in bringing them back. Take shelter from our enemy within His flock, relying on one another for encouragement and to remain focused.

Always keep Christ’s promise in mind that His church will not fail and continue to learn and prepare for the coming kingdom. Do this by consistently and zealously practicing Godly service one to another, remembering that we’re not gathering at church for ourselves alone. And let’s not ever forget that to accomplish all this, and to truly make us ready… Assembly Is Required.

For more interesting reading on keeping the Sabbath and God’s Holy Days, request our free booklets: Sunset to Sunset - God's Sabbath Rest and God's Holy Day Plan - Hope For All Mankind

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  • cindyixtapa

    Dear Skip,
    Thank you for your words of encouragement but I have an unbelieving spouse which makes it even harder. I just remember that Adonia will never give me more than I can handle

  • Skip Miller

    Dear Cindy,
    That is sad. But it must make the Holy days even more special.
    I know some who can only fellowship on God's commanded Holy days because the distance to weekly Sabbath services is just too great.
    I pray that you will find a way to get together more often.

  • Skip Miller

    I really like Arthurdave's comment
    and I would like to add just a little to it.
    We certainly set the right example when we make an effort to keep God's Sabbath with other members of God's growing family.
    But not only are we setting a right example for family
    (both genetic & spiritual), there is also just a chance that God
    may use our presence in that setting to say something that another needs to hear. Our presence may be just the thing needed.
    Never count out the good your presence may do for the family.

  • cindyixtapa

    I also don't have any place near me so I just study by myself. Very lonely but I have no choice because I refuse to worship on a pagan day

  • Arthurdave

    When I was a child, it was 4 hours one way to a congregation as we lived in eastern Montana. We only went every other week at the time because of the shear distance involved. In some ways, going to services like that was not a good example of a Sabbath keeper for me. Fast forward to the mid to late 90s, when broadcasting through the internet started up. This meant I could catch local services at home and not have to travel. There was a period in my life where that sort of thing was my preference. My mother would go with others to church and I would get the broadcast of services at home. Yes, I was lazy, this sort of trend continued with varying degrees of personal attendance up until last year with Feast in Montana. Then in January I was baptized and have mostly kept to attending regularly ever since. I happen to agree very strongly that regular weekly sabbath service attendance sets up an exceedingly good and positive example for children. There is no excuse not to have contact or some fellowship with brethren on the Sabbath, even if services are hours away. I know some friends who sadly don't go every Sabbath, and while I understand the reasoning for it. the example being set to the children is not the best. "If my parents aren't going all the time, then why should I have to go?" or to think of it another way. "Is God's Law of keeping the Sabbath Holy really that important since my parents do not seem to be taking that seriously?" These are the questions that enter a child's mind when they realize that their parent's are not consecutively and regularly attending services. They may not understand the adult reasoning for not going every Sabbath, but those questions are what may pop into children's heads because of parental example early in childhood in not attending every Sabbath. Even children need to see their parents living the way that they are trying to teach them. Any other way will lead to "Is this right for me?" questions later on. Attending Sabbath Services is important, Period.

  • Derek Strauss

    We need contact with each other for sure. If you have ever been cut off from contact due to prolonged illness for example, you begin to feel VERY lonely. Each of us needs fellowship and interaction with those of like mind - it directly contributes to our combined spiritual growth.

  • Skip Miller

    Hello Dziwczyna,
    I like your reply!
    If we see a cold congregation then we should warm it up!
    We are the Church & what we know, we should show!

  • Stephana_Thornton

    Thank you for this helpful article, Mr. Kramer. It is easy to take our blessings, such as regular opportunities to attend church services, for granted. However, a few years ago this blessing really came to my attention when my family was moving across the country. I was so thankful that even though we would be adjusting to a new city at least I could count on meeting friendly, loving fellow church members on the weekly Sabbath. This brought me great comfort during a time of many adjustments.

    In response to Olumayokun’s question, may I suggest that a person unable to attend services reach out to others through phone calls, sending email messages or writing notes of encouragement. It has always strengthened me to focus my mind on reaching out to others.

  • Aaron Booth

    Hello Lloyd,
    There is a United Church of God congregation in Chicago and one in Munster, Indiana. You can search for the closest congregation to you by going to and inserting your postal code. On the results page - contact information will be provided for the local pastor in that area.
    All the best,

  • LloydDThompson

    YES! As Olumayokun asks what of those that are not near a congregration? Is there a Church group near me? My address is listed below. Thank you and may GOD guide and bless you all in all you do. Lloyd Thompson. **address removed to comply with comment policy**

    Chicago, Illinois

  • olumayokun

    well, the article was cool. but what happens to those of us in areas where there are no congregations around?

  • dziwczyna

    Like the author, I myself went through a period of time where I was not attending church regularly. Thankfully, my minister set me straight, and I had an open heart/mind to listen and repent.

    One of my reasons for not attending, was that I had just changed congregations. To go from one congregation that stays hours after church talking about the Bible and getting together every week for a meal, to one where everyone rushed home and spoke more about worldly things was very difficult for me.

    Needless to say, although I miss that type of fellowship, I try to focus on my own attitude and generally am one of the last to leave to talk as much as I can.

    Don't let anything discourage or take you away from keeping God's command to meet on the Sabbath!

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