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Posts Tagged ‘Christian fellowship’

Relating to Each Other in Trust and Integrity

September 13th, 2017

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring you to God … I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge, and competent to instruct one another. (Romans 15:7,14)

The fourth core value that the Vision and Mission Team identified in 2008 is: We relate to one another with trust and integrity

Christians can be confident in one another because of the work of Christ in each or our lives. We can believe the best in our fellow Christian and in spite of our many weaknesses we know that God will complete in each believer what He began at their salvation.

One of the interesting things of the apostles is that they always saw Christians in the highest possible terms. Despite the problems the churches were dealing with, despite their weaknesses, when they wrote to them they described them positively. For example, Paul wrote: “To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ” (Col. 1:2); “To the saints … the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1); “to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy” (1 Cor. 1:2). This was typical of the positive way they saw each other in Christ.

The habit of some to criticize, to find fault, and to doubt whether anyone can really improve or change, all falls away at the power of the cross. Through the cross we learn that none of us is able to save himself. We all are fallen creatures. But God is at work in Christ redeeming us.

Because of the love of Christ and the power of His Spirit, we can see each other positively - not in light of our failures but in light of the power and grace of God.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:16-17)

Now we can relate to one another positively and honestly, in hope and confidence, not negatively in suspicion and doubt. And because we treat others positively, they will treat us the same way.

  • Pray that God would wash away from our memories old disagreements and old pains of betrayals.
  • Pray that in the place of doubt we would have hope for one another
  • Pray for those who serve on committees and in ministries in our church, that we would all see each other in light of the progress we have found in Christ, and not in the light of our old failures of the flesh.
  • Pray that we might be worthy of respect and trust.
  • Pray that we might deal with one another honestly - not lying for some personal advantage, but trust in God and simply telling the truth.
  • Pray that God may give you patience with others, even as He gives them patience for dealing with you.
  • Pray that we would be kind, positive, and uplifting with our words with one another.

21 Days of Prayer 2017 , ,

Paul’s Prayer for the Thessalonians

September 28th, 2016

Now may God our Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13, NET Bible)

When you pray for people, what do you ask God for on their behalf?

Often we stumble in this area because we do not know what to pray for. I highly suspect that many of us, when we say to our friends, “I am praying for you,” really do not pray at all. We mean it as some sort of encouragement to the individual, and not as a real promise to pray.

But those of us who are sincere in our desire to pray still must know what to ask God for on the other person’s behalf.

1 Thessalonians was likely Paul’s first epistle to any church, so it was written more by Paul the Missionary than by Paul the Theologian or Paul the Writer. He went on to write at least twelve more, including his letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. But in this first letter to Thessaloniki he comes across with the passion of his personal ministry still fresh on his heart. His theology is perfect and inspired of God, yet when we compare his prayer for the Thessalonians with his prayers for the Ephesians (1:15-23; 3:14-21) and the Colossians (1:9-14) we see that his prayer for the Thessalonians was more practically stated.

He prayed for practical help for them: The specific prayer was that God would allow either Paul or his companions to reconnect with the Christians in Thessaloniki. Timothy had just recently returned from there with good news about their community (3:6). We can easily imagine that not all the news was good, no doubt there were some disappointments as well. Yet Paul emphasized the good news, to encourage them to see the positive work of God’s hand and not the negative.

Every church and every Christian needs a pastor and a teacher, someone to encourage them, to manage the church, but also to minister to souls. When praying for a fellow Christian we should pray that they find a church where they are fed the Word and encouraged. No doubt, just as there are imperfect churches, there are also imperfect pastors. It is best if we all look beyond the weaknesses of one another and to see the hand of God strengthening us.

He prayed that their love for one another would increase: Left to our own thoughts and feelings, we will naturally migrate toward those people in the church with whom we have worldly things in common - not necessarily worldly in the sense of evil, but in the sense of life experiences and interests. We will befriend people of our same nationality, or people who we enjoy being with, or who have similar accents, similar interests, etc. There is nothing wrong with this, but this was not what Paul was praying for. These things will usually happen without prayer.

His specific request was that they would have an increasing and abounding love for one another that came from the Lord - the love of divine origin that is redemptive in nature. Our churches are in great need for this type of love. Often it is expressed in terms of respect for one another, or for a prayer burden for each other, or by a surprising affection and concern.

God’s Spirit will, if we will walk with Him, put people on our heart. Let Him give you a passion for your fellow Christians, a burden and concern for them, a love for them that can only be explaind in terms of God’s divine presence within us. The Christian community should be marked by a divine love that is patient and kind and considerate.

When we pray for people, we should not just pray that they find a new Christian friend who they can connect with, but that their hearts may be turned toward the Christians whom they already know - and theirs toward him. We should not only pray, “Lord, give us fellow Christians we can love!” It should also be, “Lord, give us love for the Christians You have given us already!”

He prayed that their hearts would be established blameless before God: The NET Bible used the word “strengthened” but the ESV and other translations, use the word “established.” The original in the Greek, sterizo, means to be stable, fixed, unmoved. Paul prayed not that they might just be better than they were, but that they would be permanently fixed before God in the purity and blamelessness of their hearts.

Later in the letter, he prayed again for them, that they would be “blameless” - irreproachable, faultless, no cause for correction or censure - and said that God in His faithfulness would do it (5:23-24). This points not so much to doctrinal purity as to moral purity - that the work of God would be of such magnitude in their hearts that they would live pure and clean lives before Him. And that they would do this not in spurts and spasms, but in an established and secure way.

Are not these three concerns common problems we each deal with as well. We may pray for any Christian, and for ourselves as well:

  • Lord, give them (or us, or me) teachers and pastors who will minister to their soul, who will feed them the pure milk of Your Word, who will be faithful to call their attention to weaknesses, whether in belief or behavior, who will challenge them to live for You and to follow You.
  • Lord, give them love for the Christians around them, and that the Christians around them might have a love for them as well.
  • Lord, establish them blameless before You in their moral choices and daily lives.

1 Thessalonians, Prayer , , , ,