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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

DAILY ENCOURAGEMENT TUESDAY - FELLOWSHIP IN THE CHURCH.

“Our love to God is measured by our everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays.” - Andrew Murray.

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. - Acts 2:42.

It was no coincidence that this verse was written in this order; TEACHING leads to FELLOWSHIP; fellowship leads to COMMUNION; communion leads to PRAYER; prayer leads to fellowship with Him.

What is meant by fellowship in this verse? Gossip? Cups of tea? Tours? No. What is being referred to is something of a quite different order and on a quite different level.

"They met constantly to hear the apostles teach, and to share the common life, and break bread and to pray. A sense of awe was everywhere. All whose faith had drawn them together held everything in common. With one mind they kept up their daily attendance at the temple, and, breaking bread in private houses, shared their meals with unaffected joy as they praised God" (Acts 2:42-47, New English Bible).

That is fellowship as the New Testament understands it, and there is clearly a world of difference between that and mere social activities. The Greek word for fellowship comes from a root meaning common or shared. So fellowship means common participation in something either by giving what you have to the other person or receiving what he or she has. Give and take is the essence of fellowship, and give and take must be the way of fellowship in the common life of the body of Christ.

Christian fellowship is two-dimensional, and it has to be vertical before it can be horizontal. We must know the reality of fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ before we can know the reality of fellowship with each other in our common relationship to God (1 John 1:3). The person who is not in fellowship with the Father and the Son is no Christian at all, and so cannot share with Christians the realities of their fellowship. - James Packer.


I once was asked by a friend, what my ‘proficiency’ was in Church Planting (Jean and I are in our 12th Church Plant in 20 years), and I replied: “Acts 2:42-47.” These are the verses that have underpinned our ministry in our Church plants.

We have gotten accustomed to the blurred puffs of gray fog that pass for doctrine in churches and expect nothing better. From some previously unimpeachable sources are now coming vague statements consisting of a milky admixture of Scripture, science, and human sentiment that is true to none of its ingredients because each one works to cancel the others out.

Little by little Christians these days are being brainwashed. One evidence is that increasing numbers of them are becoming ashamed to be found unequivocally on the side of truth. They say they believe, but their beliefs have been so diluted as to be impossible of clear definition. Moral power has always accompanied definite beliefs.


Great saints have always been dogmatic. We need a return to a gentle dogmatism that smiles while it stands stubborn and firm on the Word of God that lives and abides forever. - A.W. Tozer.

When we receive solid teaching (especially the teachings of Jesus), then the rest of the principles follow from this one verse; resulting in; awe, many wonders, miraculous signs, unity, giving, joy, excitement, sincerity, praise, worship, happiness with all the people, and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved! What a wonderful God we serve!

A survey of hundreds of pastors has allowed us to compile a preliminary list of measurable quality factors in the life of a congregation in ranking order. The twelve factors are:

1. Bible knowledge. Church members are increasing in their grasp of the teachings of the Bible. They can integrate this with a theological system that enables them to apply the Bible's teachings to their life situation.


2. Personal devotions. Members spend time daily in prayer, Bible reading, meditation, and other personal spiritual exercises.

3. Worship. Members regularly participate in the worship services scheduled by the church.

4. Witnessing. Members regularly attempt to share their faith in Jesus Christ with unbelievers.

5. Lay ministry. The lay people of the church are engaged in such ministries as teaching and discipling. In some cases this happens through consciously discovering, developing, and using their spiritual gifts.

6. Missions. The church actively supports missions, organizing and sustaining a strong program for recruiting, sending, and financing home and foreign missionaries.

7. Giving. Members give an appropriate portion of their income to the local church and/or to other Christian causes.

8. Fellowship. Members are growing in their personal relationships with each other through regular participation in church fellowship groups of one kind or another.

9. Distinctive life-style. Members generally manifest their faith in Christ by living a life-style clearly and noticeable distinct from that of non-Christians in the same community.

10. Attitude toward religion. Church members regard their involvement in the church primarily as a service to God rather than a means to fulfill personal needs.

11. Social service. Members are serving others outside the congregation. This includes direct personal involvement with the poor and needy, or in programs designed to help the needy.

12. Social justice. Either through the congregation as a whole or through specialized Christian agencies, members are striving to make changes in sociopolitical structures that will contribute to a more moral and just society. - C. Peter Wagner.

Loving Father, I thank you for your word that teaches us that fellowship with each other is important. Help me by the power of the Holy Spirit, to continue to live out, all of these principles. In the wonderful Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Be encouraged!
GBYAY

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