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Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  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.

Hebrews 10:19-25

Over the summer, while visiting my parents, I had the joy of attending a Sunday morning service at the church in which I grew up.  My parents have been members of that church for almost three decades. As is often the case for families with young children, we were running late.  By the time we slipped into the back of the sanctuary, the lights were dim, and worship was well underway. My first sight upon entering the sanctuary was nothing unusual, but something about the moment struck me like a memorable snapshot from an old Polaroid camera.

I immediately saw the familiar silhouette of an elderly man raising his hands in worship to God.  That particular man has served in my childhood church for many years. His physical frame may not stand as straight as it once did, but his posture in worship that day was as unwavering as ever.  As I reflect on it now, I think it was the ordinary, expected nature of the moment that moved me.  In a world where very little is reliable, I can all but count on that sweet man to be praising God on a Sunday morning in Pawleys Island, from now until he enters glory.  

In that moment, I felt like the Spirit impressed this truth on my heart:

If we change churches with every passing whim, every conflict that arises, or every worship style that changes, we might miss the beauty of a moment like this.  

We might miss the opportunity to see that familiar people who once were faithful to God still are faithful to God.  We might miss the opportunity to see firsthand how God bestows a crown of beauty on someone who once wore ashes (Isa. 61:3).  We might miss the opportunity to see that the enemy’s schemes have not prospered against the people we love (Isa. 54:17). We might miss the opportunity to see how God honors the faith of friends who rally around the broken to carry them to Jesus when they don’t have the strength to make it there on their own (Mark 2:1-12).  At times, the person on the stretcher might be us. If we cut and run at the first sign of controversy or inconvenience, or if we just aren’t present in the fellowship because it’s easier to fade into the background, who will carry us to Jesus?

Who will carry you to Jesus when you can’t make it there on your own?  Who is depending on you to be among the ones who carry them to Jesus?

Last year, Pastor Dariell* reminded us that “a successful church is a faithful church.”   Mercy Church, God is calling us to faithfulness. We cannot be a faithful church collectively unless we are first faithful individually.  God is calling us to be faithful to the covenant we have entered into with Him and with each other.

Sometimes, it would be easier to leave.  Sometimes, it would be easier to start over.  Sometimes, it would be easier to stay at home.  But, friends, “the Day is drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25).  Do you see it? Mercy Church, the Day** is drawing near. Do we see it?

With increasing regularity, when I turn on the news, I have no words except those the Apostle John uttered to close out the Holy Writ: Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20).  Another school shooting—Come, Lord Jesus.  Another sexual scandal—Come, Lord Jesus. Another devastating natural disaster—Come, Lord Jesus.  Rapidly escalating tension and hatred—Come, Lord Jesus. The virtual absence of forgiveness and grace from the public square—Come, Lord Jesus.

If I am honest, I don’t even have to turn on the news to be drawn into that prayer.  The ever-increasing awareness of the sinfulness of my own heart takes me there on a regular basis.  I do the things I don’t want to do, yet again—Come, Lord Jesus. I am impatient with my husband and children, yet again—Come, Lord Jesus.  I seek satisfaction in the empty pursuits of this world, yet again—Come, Lord Jesus. The cares of this life threaten to choke out the joy of His presence, yet again—Come, Lord Jesus.

But, if I am going to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” I must also ask myself the question, “Would I be ready if He came?”  The Bible warns us that Jesus will come like a “thief in the night.” (1 Thess. 5:2). In using this analogy himself, Jesus unequivocally said, “the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  (Matt. 24:44). Yes, Jesus gave us signs that will alert us to the proximity of his return, and we ought to watch for them vigilantly. However, the only thing we know for sure about the timing of Christ’s return is that it will be unexpected, even for those who have been watching…even for Jesus Himself (Matt. 24:36).  The question we must ask ourselves, Mercy Church, is, “Will He find us ready when he returns?”

“Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.” (Luke 12:37)

If we change churches with every passing whim, every conflict that arises, or every worship style that changes, we might miss the beauty of a moment like this.  

Like most relationships, commitment to the church is not a one-time decision, but an ongoing decision. And to signify our continued commitment to our church family, we ask that all Mercy members sign a Covenant Renewal by November 13th. You can also sign the renewal form at this link.

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*Pastor Dariell Llanes is the President of the Western Cuban Baptist Convention and the Lead Pastor of God is Love Church in San Jose de las Lajas, Cuba.  He preached a message entitled “A Successful Church” at Mercy last fall. His teaching is available here.

**Scripture often uses the term “the Day” to refer to the day of Jesus Christ’s return or Second Coming.