Guard Your Fellowship

Guard Your Fellowship

What is fellowship?  Genuine fellowship indicates a communion or spiritual union between like-minded and like-hearted people.  For a believer, our deepest fellowship can only take place with Christians who are as committed to the Lord and as mature in their walk of faith as we are.  How can light ever cooperate with darkness?

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  (2 Cor 6:14 NIV)

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  (Jas 4:4)  Don’t be so committed to friendships with unbelievers that you become lukewarm in your faith. Don’t learn to love the world’s ways.

Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, 10 in whose hands is a sinister scheme, and whose right hand is full of bribes.  (Ps 26:9-10)  Unbelievers may want to engage in behavior or activities in which no Christian would take part.

But they mingled with the Gentiles [nations] and learned their works . . .  (Ps 106:35) Associating with unbelievers can teach us habits which are not pleasing to the Lord, or may even lead us into an area of temptation.

I am a companion of all who fear You, and of those who keep Your precepts.  (Ps 119:63)  Rather, it is far better for us and for our friends if we are both Christians and brothers/sisters in the Lord.  Because we believe God’s Word and we choose to obey His Word and His Spirit, we can encourage one another in faith and in good works.

This article is not teaching against evangelism by any means.  If you develop a friendship with someone in order to share your testimony with them, then you have embarked upon a holy purpose.  But if the person doesn’t accept the Lord as their Savior, then one might consider changing the status of that relationship to an acquaintance.  It would be appropriate to continue, in a spirit of love, to share unfolding testimonies with the person, or to invite them to church-related events where they would be exposed to other believers and opportunities to hear the Gospel. 

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned.  (Eph 4:17-20 NIV)  The fact is that unsaved people, no matter how nice they are or how much fun they may be, have no sensitivity to the spiritual realm or to the Spirit of God.  They are darkened in their understanding of spiritual things because spiritual things are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:14)

True fellowship walks in the light as He is in the light.  (1 Joh 1:5-7)

Share Your Testimony

Share Your Testimony

However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”  (Mk 5:19)

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul.  (Ps 66:16)

“Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”  (Joh 4:29)

These passages all have one thing in common—they pertain to sharing your own testimony of what God has done for you.  We need to remember that our testimony is important.  We each have a testimony of how we came to accept Christ as our Savior and Lord. 

We also have additional testimonies of answered prayer—some of which are clearly in the realm of signs, wonders, and miracles.  We must be bold to joyously share the great things that God has done for us.

Why?

  • Your testimony is unlike anyone else’s. The honesty and reality of it will be used by the Holy Spirit to move in people’s hearts.
  • The Bible tells us share our testimony. (1 Pet 3:15-16)
  • All people love to hear stories. This is the age of superheroes, so introduce people to a true Hero—their Savior.
  • Your testimony strengthens the faith of all those who hear it—and will even strengthen and encourage your own faith as you remember what God has done for you in the past.
  • It will encourage other people who may be going through a similar situation. In this way, you may be able to help them carry their burden.  (Gal 6:2) 
  • Every time you retell how you came to know Christ as your Savior, you revive your experience of it. It helps to keep you connected and plugged into your first Love.  (Rev 2:4)
  • Your testimony gives glory to God because it points people to the Savior Jesus.

Unjust Suffering

Unjust Suffering

The Bible gives us notice in numerous passages that followers of Jesus Christ will experience unjust suffering.  We are told that any suffering that we go through is not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us!  (Rom 8:18)

Christ suffered for us, and He left us this as an example, so that we would follow in His steps—being forewarned.  (1 Pet 2:21)

For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.  (1 Pet 2:19 NIV)

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.  (1 Pet 3:14a)

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  (2 Tim 3:12)

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.  (Joh 16:33)

In all situations of life, we can never be separated from the love of God for us.  (Rom 8:35)  God promises to comfort us in all of our troubles.  (1 Cor 1:3-4)  These passages of the Scripture are meant to support us and to encourage us when we suffer.

Our perseverance in suffering, holding on to our faith in Christ, proves the genuineness of our faith according to the Word of God.  (1 Pet 1:6-7) 

We are told to count it a joy when we face many and various types of trials. (Jas 1:2-4, see also Rom 5:3-5) 

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Mt 5:10-12)

Prepare your heart, mind, and will to follow Jesus in every circumstance; and when you arrive in eternity, you will be filled with rejoicing and extreme thankfulness that you did.

Love Edifies

Love Edifies

Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.  (1 Cor 8:1c AKJV)

But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.  (1 Cor 8:1c NIV)

The portion of Scripture shown above clearly reminds us that love edifies, or builds up the body of Christ.  What does this mean?

It’s our responsibility, as believers, to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ by how we live our lives and by what we teach.  (See Eph 4:11-16) 

 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.  (1 Cor 14:26 NKJV) 

The passage above reminds us that what we do and teach during an assembly or a church meeting should all be geared toward the spiritual growth and maturing of those who attend the gathering.  It gives us suggestions on what to do in order to build people up.  Our teaching, singing, and moving in the operation of the gifts of the Spirit will build up the body of Christ.  

In every situation, the Word of God is the foundation for spiritual growth.  But rather than allowing our knowledge of the Word to move us toward pride, we must be continually anchored by God’s love for mankind and by His love for each one of us. 

The Lord is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet 3:9).  His unconditional love living in our hearts will keep us stable and secure as we grow in wisdom and knowledge. 

. . . that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  (Col 2:2-3 NKJV)

In Christ, we have received untold treasures!

We Need One Another

We Need One Another

Human beings need other human beings!  Everyone wants to be loved, welcomed, and valued.  There are times in life when sorrow or disappointments overtake us when we simply need human contact.  We may need a touch on the hand or a smile or hug.  We might need someone to encourage our faith.  Or we may simply need help moving a heavy dresser or bookcase.  The Scriptures give us insight into this topic.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.  And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  (Eccl 4:9-12)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  (Pro 17:17)

Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend . . .  (Pro 27:5-6)

Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. 10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend,
nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.
 (Pro 27:9-10)

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.  (Pro 27:17)

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  (Jhn 15:13)

. . . that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.  (Rom 1:12)

People who have a lot of friends have proven themselves to be friendly. (Pro 18:24)

When the enemy wants to harm us, one of the tricks that he will use is to separate us from dearly loved friends or relatives.  (Pro 16:28; 17:9)  That is one of the enemy’s favorite past times—destruction.

Jesus is truly our best friend and Savior.  He loves us and pours out His blessings upon us as a result of His love.  One of the most beautiful gifts that He gives to people is the gift of friends!  Our faith is not intended to be lived out in the wilderness by ourselves.  We are intended to live within a community of faith, and an extended community of family and friends.

Friends give us wise counsel, warmth, help of all kinds, laughter, and encouragement.  Just knowing that we’ll be seeing a friend in a few days, can brighten our outlook and fill a person with joyful anticipation.  Often, when the Lord wants us to know how very much He loves us, He will send a caring friend (or several) to wrap their arms around us and tell us how very much they love us.  They may even send us an email, text, or greeting card to enumerate all of the things that they like about our friendship. 

Value your friends and remember to show your appreciation to them.  Don’t try to be a solo act; God intends us to have friends! 

Irrevocable Gifts & Calling

Irrevocable Gifts & Calling

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  (Rom 11:29)

“Irrevocable” means that God won’t change His mind about what He has called you to do. If God has called you, that calling is still there, whether or not you’ve obeyed. And if God gave you a gift—if He gifted you along a certain line—that gift is still in you.

Therefore He says:  “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”  (Eph 4:8)

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ . . .  (Eph 4:11-12)

There are gifts that God has given to the church, and these are referred to as the five-fold ministry gifts:  apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.  There’s also a gift of helps that we all can get involved in. 

As believers, we’re all called to share the salvation story (gospel) with others and to encourage them to trust in Christ for themselves.  It’s a matter of explaining how Jesus reconciled all of mankind to God, and sharing our own testimonies freely and joyfully.

Each member of the church of Christ has a role to play.  (1 Cor 12:27)  Maybe God has called you to the full-time ministry; or to be a businessman or an artist or a musician.  The list can go on and on, but whatever gifts, talents, and skills that He has given you—use them!  Appreciate them and enjoy them, and use them to bring glory to God. 

If you didn’t obey God, and haven’t responded to His call upon your life in a certain area, it’s never too late with the Lord!  Just turn to Him, talk with Him about your change of heart, and ask Him to open doors for you to walk through.  He will answer your prayers and bless you.

 

Who Will Turn It Back?

Who Will Turn It Back?

Are you feeling powerless, hopeless, and helpless?  If so, this should cheer you up and encourage you powerfully!

For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it?  His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?  (Isa 14:27 NKJV, emphasis added)

Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.  (Josh 21:45 NKJV)

Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.  (Isa 46:11 NKJV)

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.  (Mat 24:35; Mk 13:31; Lk 21:33 NKJV)

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.  (2 Cor 1:20 NKJV)

Who is strong and mighty enough to stop the Lord’s plans?  Who can prevent Him from fulfilling His own Word?  NO ONE!

Believe God’s Word today, and continue to trust in the promises that He has made to you in His Word.  He’s not a man that He should lie!  (1 Sam. 15:29; Num 23:19) 

God’s Word stands FOREVER!  (Isa 40:8)  It’s a sure foundation.

The way for you to win and to be victorious is to focus upon God and upon His Word.  Believe God’s Word and trust Him.  Persevere in faith and don’t give up!  The fulfillment of God’s Word in your life is inevitable as long as you persist in faith.  The Lord will NEVER give up on you!