Such gatherings of God’s people are to be spent stirring up one another to love one another, to do good works and to encourage each other to persevere in the faith. We are to remind oen another not to throw away our confidence in God and of our reliance upon God to provide all things we need.
In order to receive the blessings of God, we are to encourage one another to endure so that we can do God’s will. We are not to shrink back and reject the confession of our hope. What God has promised, God will deliver.
Our Christian faith is also based on unseen realities, such as God as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Congregations are to provide times when members tell their stories of how God has answered their prayers and kept his promise to provide or to bring about changes. We should share how God has helped us overcome grief or to accept and love others just as they are or to make the necessary adjustments to maintain healthy relationships with our spouse, children, other relatives and friends.
Such times of giving testimonies should be concluded by the affirmation “As God has done for others, God can do for you.”
Merely going through the motions of practicing what we say we believe does nothing for deepening our confidence; hence, shallow-rooted Christians are easily blown away when the storms of life come.
The degree of confidence we have in God’s promises has a lot to do with our expectations of God.
If we expect God will spare us from troubles, then we are headed for a major crisis of faith. God never made that promise. In fact, God said, “In the world you (will) have troubles, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”
To expect freedom from hard times is an illusion which always produces disillusionment. God did promise to enable us to overcome hard times. God did promise that we would not have to fend for ourselves during our troubles.
Therefore, let us hold fast to our faith that is rooted in the confidence of seen and unseen realities. God will keep his promises to reward such faithfulness.
THE REV. GENE NORRIS IS A PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR IN AUGUSTA.