It takes a while to get settled in a new city. There are so many new places to discover and explore. New routines must be developed such as finding the neighborhood grocery store and post office. We’ve also had to make some difficult decisions like which doctor or dentist we should go to. Some exploring has been fun, like finding new restaurants, but the most challenging place to find has been a new church home. This was necessary for us to feel completely settled, and develop a sense of belonging and purpose. Of course we could have stayed members of our previous church and worshiped on-line, but there are Biblical reasons to belong to a local church.
- The Psalms guide us to God’s dwelling place. “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty,” Psalm 84:1. Also, Psalm 26:8, “Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.” We can’t fully enjoy the Lord if we don’t regularly attend a local church.
- Hebrews 10:24-25 commands believers to meet together to encourage one another, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
- Local church leaders help us grow spiritually. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 instructs us, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.” Hebrews 13:17 also tells us, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”
We knew that we needed God’s help to find a new place to worship in. It had to be a place where we can grow and serve. We turned to God and Scripture to lead us. We prayed and asked God for wisdom and guidance as we “shopped” for a new church to attend. In Acts 16:6-10, Paul was led by the Spirit where to preach and where not to preach. It’s the same with us. The Holy Spirit will lead us where we should go, we just need to ask.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
We did an exhaustive internet search then called several churches to ask questions. We wanted to review their doctorial statements, and to learn about what programs were available for our children. We asked about missions and volunteer needs. We even wanted to know how the church spent their money. We found several places to visit.
Part of getting guidance from God is to understand when He is telling you “No.” We visited several churches that preached the Word of God, and had places to serve, but they weren’t right for us. How did we know? When I perceive God telling me “No,” I don’t feel good about the situation. I may not know exactly what is wrong, but I know something is not right. It’s God’s way of warning me. In Acts 16:6-7 Paul was led, and stopped by God’s Holy Spirit. We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so we can discern what God wants us to do, and not do. More prayer was needed to ensure we were understanding God correctly.
Something interesting happened as we searched. God said “No” to the church we thought we would join. Part of correctly hearing God’s voice is not to go where you want to go, but where God wants you to go.
Yesterday, we visited a local church, again. All the elements are there, and it feels right. But there is one more step. We are waiting for confirmation from God. Scripture also commands us to be still. Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” By just waiting on God He will let us know, one way other the other, that we have discovered the place just right for our family.
Blessings to you as you make decisions and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
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