September 16, 2013
The bible puts emphasis on the importance of fellowship in New Testament. In Acts 2:42, right after 3,000 new believers were baptized (in verse 41), it says, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” Fellowship is also mentioned in Old Testament a few times, beginning in the first book, Genesis, in chapter 5 verse 22 which says, “After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters.” There are two kinds of fellowship: one on one fellowship with God which is with 2 beings (you and God), and the other is with other believers. Both kinds of fellowship are important. There was certainly both kinds of fellowship on the Ladies Weekend Retreat, but that is not the only time people should fellowship – at church or in a church-related event. Going back to Acts 2:42, the 3,000 believers dedicated themselves to fellowship. They made rounds at each others homes regularly to fellowship with one another as well as with God.
Not many Christians take the time to dedicate to fellowship with one another or with God. They are too busy working to earn a living, having a social life, or doing some other “busy work” and forget that it is God who supplies all of their needs and that they should rely on him for all of their needs to be met and remain in fellowship with him and fellowship with other believers. It is easy to get caught up with the cares of the world (hence becoming a workaholic so that you feel you are making enough money to live, but then forgetting to do the living because you are too busy working) when you forget that everything belongs to God: the money you earn, the food, clothing, house, car, and everything else you buy with money – it all belongs to God. And when you forget that God loves his children unconditionally and you feel unloved by the people you love and care about, it is easy to feel discouraged and unloved. Or when you forget God, it is easy to get caught up hanging out with large crowds of people, most of who are probably not believers or followers of Christ. But you need to remember God, cast all of your cares and worries on him, trusting him to supply all of your needs as you place him first in your life. You need to remember to keep God first in every area of your lives and stay in fellowship with him and with other believers.
The apostle John, author of the Gospel of John and books 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John tells all believers in 1 John 1:3, “We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” John was able to proclaim this because he was one of Jesus’ 12 apostles who followed him when Jesus walked the earth as man. In 2 John 2:24-25, John says, “So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.” Your reward for remaining in fellowship with Jesus and God is eternal life! What an amazing promise for staying in our walk with God and his Son and remaining in fellowship with them. John warns us in 1 John 1:6, “So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.” If you go back a verse to verse 5 and then read to verse 7, you should be able to grasp the full meaning of what John is saying: “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” What John is saying is that we cannot be in fellowship with God as long as we continue to do things that go against God, or if we forget to include God in what we do and sin against him. And if we forget to fellowship with other believers, it is sin because you are cutting yourself off from other members of the body of Christ. But if you live in the light (and remember to include God in all you do and only do things according to God’s will,) and have fellowship with other believers, then the blood of Jesus will cleanse you from all sin. You cannot live outside of the body of Christ and expect to be cleansed by his blood. Most believers do not intentionally forget to fellowship with God and with others, they just get too caught up in worldly cares because they forget to put their faith in God and instead place it in financial security, their looks, and other things of the world. But if you have faith even as small as a mustard seed, Jesus says he can use that and you will do great things through him and you will receive what you ask for (in alignment with God’s will) when you pray in faith and believe you’ve already received what you are praying for.
Friday evening for about three hours, most of Saturday, and Sunday morning was spent in fellowship with the other ladies who were at the Ladies Weekend Retreat and there was lots of singing, sharing of what is going on in our lives, praying, and on Saturday we did group bible studies on lessons handed to us by the leader of the retreat – the person who originally started the Ladies Weekend Retreat 20 years ago – and then created skits, found hymns to sing, or some other way to communicate in a creative or simple manner what we learned, or took away, from the bible study. Part of Saturday’s fellowship also included a potluck and there was a ton of food, more than enough for everyone who was there at the retreat. Participating in fellowship with so many other Christian women was an amazing experience and got me thinking that we (believers) do not spend enough time in fellowship with one another because we let work, our physical family, worldly responsibilities, and other stuff get in the way and lots of people also use one of these excuses to miss church service on Sundays. It is understood that people need a roof over their heads and food to eat, but we all need to remember (as mentioned earlier) that it is God who provides our needs and it is he who owns everything since he created it all. Just think how less stressful your life could be if you put God first and went to church service every Sunday with the intent of hearing another message from God and the intention of applying what you learn to your life and worshiping him with your whole heart, mind, soul, and spirit. Imagine how much less stress you would have if you did more fellowship with other believers (your spiritual family) and spent less time with unbelievers who are negative and always trying to bring you down with the worries of the world or with their negativity in general. When you fellowship with other believers, you will realize that you are never alone in your struggles and that there is always someone going through something worse than what you are and when you lean on one another, you will find strength to carry on and overcome all obstacles and struggles. When you fellowship with God, you will remember that it is by God’s mighty power that we gain strength and have the ability to overcome our bad circumstances and reach the other side which has prosperity, health, healthy relationships, joy, peace, love, happiness, and all other good things in life that come from God. Wouldn’t you rather experience that (peace, joy, love, prosperity, health and everything else good in life that comes from God) then continue to struggle on your own and possibly not make it through to better days because of your lack of faith in God and his ability to see you through all your troubles? Following Jesus does not exempt us from problems, but when we put our trust in God and remain faithful to him and stay in the body of Christ (including fellowship with other believers who are members of the body of Christ), God promises that our trials and tribulations will be temporary and to restore all that was lost during the times of struggle and that we will be better off than we were before the problems started.
Every day is a learning experience from the day you are born until the day you die and no changes take place overnight (especially positive ones), but if you keep trying to be more like Christ and have a heart towards God and pleasing him, then you will see small improvements day by day that will lead to major improvements over time, until finally you reach the day you overcome those obstacles that had been holding you back from being victorious temporarily. When you stand firm in your faith through all trials and terrible circumstances and keep in fellowship with God and other believers, you will have victory through God so he can have the glory he deserves. The worse your circumstances look to you, the greater the victory so that God’s glory will be that much greater and all will see and know that it was God who turned your situation around and brought you out of or through those horrible circumstances and set you on solid ground (peace, prosperity, health, joy, love, etc.) to a place of abundance, or overflow to help others in need with in the areas where you experience overflow in God’s blessings. If everyone in the world all followed Jesus (and lived his way, obeying God’s laws and commandments) and had fellowship with him and the Father and with other believers, then the world would be a much better place. There would be no (or a lot less) violence, starvation, homelessness, stealing, pain, sickness, or anything else that currently plagues the human race (and the rest of the world’s inhabitants including all animals and plants) due to all of the great sin going on in it – including violence and stealing, sexual immorality, murder, and all other sins people of the world continue to commit constantly and every day against God. You can be one less person who conforms to the ways of the world and lets God renew your thinking and transform you to be more like Christ so there is more harmony, love, and peace in the world and all you do will be pleasing to God as you learn his perfect will – Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” It is possible that if enough believers realize how little time is spent in fellowship with each other and with God and start banding together to fellowship more, that we can all work together (all believers all around the world) and make the world a better place to live. Remember the change starts in you, so devote time to fellowship with Jesus and God daily.