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Posts Tagged ‘fellowship of the church’

Praying for Families and Fellowship

September 12th, 2017

21 Days of Prayer
Day 10: Our Families and Our Fellowship

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

We need one another.

God did not create us to be isolated from others, rather in our creation He placed an inner need in each of us for family, friends, and for family of believers as well. We often forget this and think that as long as we have entertainment, books, diversions, livelihoods, money, etc., that we are complete. But even a Christian who knows Christ personally still needs other people.

The first God-ordained institution of human society is the married couple and their family. In the wisdom of God, the first institution was not the schools, not the government, not the civic club or political party, not even the church. It was the family.

It is still to be that way today. A long observed truism is: “As goes marriage so goes society.” God planned for every child to have both a mother and a father who loved each other and their children. It is a commitment that our church has made to help our families, to help marriages, and to strengthen them.

The church of Jesus Christ is also a family - “God’s household” (1 Tim. 3:15) - and we need to appreciate one another as brothers and sisters. The Christian family needs to love each other, spend time together, develop meaningful relationships, and celebrate the new members that God brings to us.

Just as a human family celebrates both the elderly and the newly born, so the church family celebrates all people. Most often this closeness is celebrated in our small groups ministry, but there can be other relationships develop as well - some quite spontaneous. There we experience love, friendship, encouragement, and personal sharing.

• Pray for marriages in your church - the good to be better and the troubled ones to be healed
• Pray for families and for children in the families
• Pray for the broken families in your church - the children especially need support and encouragement
• Pray for the fellowship of your church, for oneness, closeness, and love
• Pray for divinely enriched friendships among the people
• Pray that the people may encourage one another

Blessings!

Pastor David

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Dwelling in our Hearts

March 25th, 2014

…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…

Ephesians 3:17

The phrase is filled with meaning and each major word is significant - Christ is in our hearts through our faith, and not there as a sojourner but as an inhabitant. He dwells. We receive not just a new nature at our conversion, but a new Inhabitant in that new nature - the Lord Jesus Himself. Yet the phrasing is somewhat unusual in that it can be suggested to mean something contrary to other teachings of Paul.

First, what does it not mean: He is not describing an event or a process subsequent or in addition to salvation. He has written very plainly about this matter in several places. Ephesians 1:13 he clearly stated, “After you believed you were sealed in him with the promised Holy Spirit.” And unless someone suggests, as Pentecostals do, that the words “after you believed” mean an additional experience to salvation, Paul explains it abundantly clearly in Romans 8:9, “No if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” or he does not belong to Him. Again, some will try to dance round even this verse by saying that at salvation we receive Christ and later on we may receive the Spirit, at a Second Blessing or at the Baptism of the Spirit.

That this represents a polytheistic thought and not a monotheistic thought should be clear enough to avoid it, but many do not and are caught up in this type of teaching. Though there is a two-fold nature of the Christian life - the experience with regard to the afterlife and the experience that is earthly, or, as we may say from John 10:10b, how to have life and how to have life in the here and now in abundant supply - to make this a two-step procedure is to add to Scripture.

The Scripture is abundantly clear that we receive the Spirit at salvation. Peter said, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). But, again, someone will complain that here water baptism is required in addition to repentance to receiving the Spirit. A simple examination of the phrase in the original language makes it very clear that that was not the meaning. “Repent” in this passage is plural, a command to all, but “be baptized” is singular, meaning that it applied only to the one who repented. It was repentance and faith that brought salvation and that brought the experience of the baptism of the Spirit. But this should be clear from Acts 10:43-44, where Peter preached the remission of sins through Jesus and the Holy Spirit fell on those present before they were baptized by water.

In this passage Paul is also not saying that Christ might dwell in the heart as opposed to the mind. The word heart in Scripture consistently means more than our emotions - it is generally a broad concept that includes what we call the soul of man - the mind, emotions, and will. The mind is more limited normally in its definition, but not the heart. Proverbs 8:5 describes an “understanding heart.”

What he is describing is the result of a life of faith and of a Christian fellowship characterized by faith. Faith helps increase faith. Unity in Christ is one of the great themes of this letter of Paul, and he specifically says “hearts,” referring to the assembly, not just to the individual. Christ is to be at home in our hearts and in our lives, as well as in our fellowship. He is not an intruder nor an interloper. Faith is the attitude that makes this possible. Paul was, in this sense, praying for the increase of faith among the people of God, resulting in an awareness of Christ’s constant abiding presence in His people.

We normally do damage to scripture when we take concepts that are clearly linked together and separate them too far from one another. To separate faith from love and hope, for example, does violence to the ideas of all for in the Christian experience they are joined together. If we would have faith, then we should have love and it is the love of God for us that builds and strengthens our love, as well as our faith and our hope. The Christ who indwells us - as individuals and as a community - is also the Spirit, the Spirit of the Father, as well as the Spirit of Christ.

Later in Ephesians 5 we read the application of this prayer:

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-21)

Through the faith of individual Christians the awareness of presence of the Lord is built up in the church as a whole. When Christians believe in Him, submit to His rule of love, seek to love Him and serve Him in return, trust in His words - then the Lord shows His presence among us. The faith of one believer encourages the faith of others. Your faith, therefore, is very important to the church.

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