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Archive for the ‘fellowship’ Category

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Philippians 1:7-8. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: True Christian fellowship is a combination of devotion to, delight in, and desire for each other.

 

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This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on 1 Peter 5:12-14. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Even in persecution, we’re to stand firm in and by God’s grace, which can only happen as we stand together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

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What are we telling people when we take them a meal? The Responsible Father blog’s piece called “Seven Messages in Meals” explores that question. Taking meals to those who are sick or bereaved is a simple yet very meaningful act. It’s a demonstration of God’s love and concern. You can read the post here.

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When we come to church on Sunday mornings, how can we give more and get more from it? Should we simply come and sit or come and serve? The answer should be obvious. Michael McKinley of 9Marks recently posted some helpful comments from Colin Marshall on the subject.

Before the service

  • Read the passage in advance.
  • Pray for the gathering
  • Greet newcomers (act like you’re the host)
  • Think strategically about who you should sit with
  • Arrive early

During the service

  • Sing with gusto (even if you can’t sing)
  • Help with logistics (if there’s a problem, help fix it)
  • Don’t be distracted
  • Listen carefully
  • Be aware of your facial expressions (you may affect others and discourage preachers)

After the service

  • Connect newcomers with others
  • Get newcomers information
  • Start a conversation about the sermon
  • Ask someone how they became a Christian
  • Stay late

These are all excellent practical suggestions about how our time at church can be made more meaningful. We come to worship our Lord, but we also come to serve one another.

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Some time ago, I was asked, “How can I grow closer to God?” My answer involved presenting a simple analogy.

The human body needs nourishment, air, and exercise to be balanced as it grows and thrives.  What’s true physically is also true spiritually – we need the same things to grow and thrive in a balanced way as Christians.

We need nourishment to grow closer to God. The greatest source of nourishment is the Bible – the Word of God. 1 Peter 2:2-3 says, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” We have to have regular intake of God’s Word if we would grow spiritually and draw closer to God.

We need air – our bodies need air and so do our souls. The air our souls need is prayer. We need to breathe constantly (if we don’t we die), and according to the apostle Paul we need to pray constantly. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, he tells Christians to “pray without ceasing.” Prayer not only rhymes with air, but it’s just as necessary for us to grow near to God.

Just as our bodies need exercise, so do our souls. If we don’t exercise, we become flabby and weak – physically and spiritually. Spiritual exercise means to put into practice what we know, and the best way to do that is through regular attendance at church and fellowship with other Christians. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Worshipping, serving, giving, celebrating the sacraments, and living life together in a community of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is what’s involved in exercise.

All three are needed for a balanced physical and spiritual life. If we have only one, or even two, we won’t grow and we’ll be unbalanced.

How can we grow closer to God? Nourishment, air, and exercise.

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We come to church to worship God – there’s no question about that. But we also come to church to work.

We come to work in the sense of serving others and helping them grow in maturity as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. As it says in the book of Hebrews, “let us spur one another on to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24-25). We do this by being intentional and deliberate when we’re at church. We look for those who need prayer or a word of encouragement or a listening ear or a well-chosen word from God’s Word, and then step up and meet the need.

The cry of a worshipping worker is “What can I give?” and not “What can I get?” While it’s true that a worship service is all about God, it’s also true that He uses us to strengthen and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ at the same time and in the same place.

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Colin Marshall has written an excellent article called “One-to-one prayer and Bible reading” at The Briefing. It’s a tremendous idea and very simple. I need to do this more.

(Hat-tip to Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds)

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