Thursday, 12/2/21 – Discipleship: Fellowships of Fantasy and of the Family of God

Fellowships of Fantasy and of the Family of God

Moviedom of Hollywood and Television has marketed many spins on fellowship since the turn of this century as the following title movie bills reveal:

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Fellowship of the Dice (2005), Rise of the Fellowship (2013), Artifice: Loose Fellowship and Partners (2015), The Fellowship Of The Shamolyn (2017), and The Fellowship of the Farmers (2017).

I’ve seen none of these flicks nor is it my desire. Christendom knows fellowships far superior and has known them since the very first of centuries.

One of the earliest was the “fellowship of the apostles” enjoyed by them and soon after by the 3,000 souls saved at Pentecost (Act 2:42). Included and binding to this fellowship is the reality that all believers are “called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). This fellowship is the church of God amongst whom obedient believers enjoy the “fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” (2 Cor. 8:4). We minister to one another with our giftedness, our physical and practical help in times of need, our emotional and prayer support, and at times our prudent financial aid.

James, Cephas, and John, “pillars” in the Jerusalem church, extended to Paul snd Barnabas “the right hands of fellowship in affirmation of their unique calls to ministry (Gal. 2:9). Shared among us is our understanding, if not intellectual certainly existential “the fellowship of the mystery—the living Christ within (Eph. 3:9), a “fellowship in the gospel” (Phil. 1:5) made possible by the “fellowship of the Spirit” (Phil. 1:5).

In time, as we walk with our Lord, we experience surprisingly, then learn reluctantly, then value profoundly “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10) which bonds us deeper in true “fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:3).

Such superior fellowships require our diligence to retain, to keep pure from other so-called “fellowships” in this damaged and dirty world (1 Cor. 10:20, Ps. 94:20, 2 Cor. 6:14, Eph. 5:11, 1 Jn. 1:6-7).

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 11/17/21 – Pressing on… Big Head, Small Body…

Big Head, Small Body…

This past Sunday our brother James Harrison spoke on “How to be the Perfect Church Member.” He shared with us Four characteristics of maturing church members:

  1. Put up with one another. (Eph. 4:13)
  2. Put leadership in its place. (Eph. 4:11,12)
  3. Put your personal grace to work. (Eph. 4:7,12,14)
  4. Put on Truth – up close and personal. (Eph. 4:15,16)

I loved the analogy given of how a newborn’s head seems disproportionate to its body. Their head is quite large in comparison to their body, but with time and nourishment the body grows to become balanced with it. “Humans grow into their heads,” said our speaker.

What a wonderful God Who builds into our physical experiences such spiritual lessons to guide us. In Ephesians 4 Paul expresses his great desire that the believers “may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ”.

It is interesting to note the run-up to this statement. To what is Paul directing his readers that ends in this climactic statement of God’s desire that we all “may grow up into Him”?

Paul is talking about the structure of Christ’s church. Back in vs 11 he states that Christ gave… He gifted… or called… or provided… persons to serve a variety of functions: “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.” What were they to do? They were “to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (v.12). They were to help believers to grown in their faith, to use their giftedness and serve others too. And these offices, or functions, or callings were to manage His Church until His return… “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ..” (v. 13). They were to help the Body of Christ to grow up into its Head… “to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (v. 15).

“Humans grow into their heads,” James told us. Who is your Head? Is it Christ, or has your ego swollen your own head? Are you growing up into Christ? Are you being built up to become more in proportion to Him?

Press on…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Friday, 10/29/21 – How does God “build His Church”?

How does God “build His Church”?

Perhaps a good place to begin is Jesus’ words following Peter’s great insight that Christ indeed was God incarnate. Jesus had asked the disciples what others were saying about Him. They answered, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matt. 16:14). Then He asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (An important question each of us must answer.) Peter’s response was immediate: “You are the Christ [Messiah, Anointed], the Son of the Living God.” (v.16). Jesus replied explaining this understanding came by revelation of God and that upon this Rock, (Christ Himself), He would build His Church (v.18).

That Christ is the foundational Rock is further demonstrated in the parable of the two foundations (Matt. 7:24-27). Paul is even more specific in writing to the Corinthians. Linking the wilderness wanderings he writes, “they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). He also assures the Ephesians of their inclusion in the household of God stating,

“[You are] …built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Eph. 2:20-22).

And Peter chimes, “As you come to Him, the Living Stone… you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:4,5). Certainly Peter understood that it was not himself, but the Living Christ Who was this Rock, the Cornerstone.

In the above Ephesians passage we see the first layer of construction upon this Rock is “the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” And Christ continues to call and to provide “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Eph. 4:11-12).

In Revelation 21:9-27 John describes his vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God, the final construction of God’s kingdom. Here John describes the city’s magnificence, it’s gates and twelve precious foundations. “I did not see a temple in the city,” he says, “because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (v.22). Temples, synagogues, churches – these all serve as “embassies” while we, His “ambassadors,” dwell here, but none are necessary in our true homeland.

I mention this because I see a parallel in how Christ builds His Church… specifically in its multi-layered foundation. Christ the Rock, the only Foundation upon which anything lasting can be constructed, the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the offices of pastors, deacons, elders, teachers, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the “living stones” of each believer, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the written Word of God, the remembrance of the communion table, and the profession of faith in baptism.

All of these He provides for His Church, His Bride, you and I, ”…God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:14-15).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Monday, 10/25/21 – Pressing on… There is a Call to Know Christ

There is a Call to Know Christ

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” writes Paul. Why? “since as members of one body you were called to peace.” The Church is the Body of Christ and Christ is its Head. Every true Christian has become a part of that Body. It is a great Body, a Body extending through all present, past and future time and space. And Christ is the Head of that one Body.

I don’t know about you but I’m very grateful when all the parts of my body have the same interest in mind: the health and safety of the whole body. In fact when parts of my body become at war with other parts of my body something is wrong. I usually have to go and see a doctor!

And I’m also quite content to have just one body. Two bodies and one head would be very difficult to manage. Perhaps you have seen some unfortunate persons whose physical bodies developed wrongly in the womb. What should have been one became more than one. Life is most difficult indeed for persons with such bodies.

But the Church, the family of God, is one Body, and as one Body Paul is saying it has been called to peace; it is to function as one with one Mind and one Spirit. “Peace” is something its members are to allow to take rule. He says “Let the Peace of Christ rule…” [because] “…you were called to peace.”

This past Sunday our brother James Harrison shared with us from the book of Philippians. He spoke to us of Phil. 4:7 “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

On both a personal level as a believer, and on a corporate level as the Body of Christ I wonder if perhaps what makes this “letting” of God’s peace rule difficult is that we try so very hard to understand it. We set up understanding as a gateway to allowing God’s blessings to manifest in our hearts and in our minds.

But we do not need to understand it; we need only to be in vital union with the Head… with Christ. “He Himself is our peace,” Paul wrote in another place (Eph. 2:14).

Do you want to know Peace? We are called to peace.

Do you want to know Christ? Our brother James’ first point this past Sunday was just this. There is a call to knowing Him. Know Him, and you will also know Peace.

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Friday, 9/24/21 – Friday Question: “What is the Christian response in this present pandemic?”

What is the Christian response in this present pandemic?

To find clarity in responding to this question I believe it helpful first to remove any aspect of what a government may request or require and respond first to the question “What is the appropriate Christian response when it finds itself in the midst of a devastating pandemic?” What option is most Christ-like?

  1. The church makes no accommodations and continues to gather unprotected.
  2. The church closes in order to remove all possibility of infection by meeting together.
  3. The church takes appropriate precautions to make meeting together safe.

There is a fine line between faith and presumption. There is a great difference between trusting God and tempting God, between acting in wisdom and acting in folly. God protected Paul when by chance he was bitten by a viper (Acts 28:1-6) and He turned this incident into an outcome to His Glory. But He does not extend such protection to those who willfully expose themselves.

It is my conviction that the 3rd option is the appropriate Christian response. It assumes nothing by presumption, does not tempt God, and is in no way acting in folly. Now, if a government asks or imposes upon a church to select this same option does that fact now make this option less appropriate, less Christian?

The death toll of the 1918 influenza pandemic fell somewhere between 50 to 100 million souls. Many churches closed to preserve their societies. The Black Plague of the mid 1300s is said to have slain 1/3 of the then world’s population. Thinking the plague God’s punishment for sin Christians held huge processionals of up to 2,000 people which lasted as long as 3 days. Such gatherings only worsened the spread taking many more lives.

Brothers and sisters we must consider the glory of God. Do we wish to show this world the love of God or the stubbornness of man?  “What would Jesus do?” is always a most informing question. He the great Healer who endangered no one, Who rendered to Caesar, Who submitted to Pilate, He in Whom neither accusers nor state could find fault except falsely – what would He do? Paul wrote that without love one’s actions were useless. “Love,” he said, “always protects… always perseveres” (1 Cor. 13:7).

We are not being asked to bow to an idol, to cease our praying, or to deny our Lord. We are being asked to act in love and in wisdom, to continue in our worship of our God in such a way that may result in the health and safety of many — alive in body that by our prayers and safe ministry we might also by Christ make them alive in spirit!

Much more could be said, and some will disagree, but let us agree to seek the Face of our God, subdue the rages of our flesh, and love one another deeply.

Press on…

Here’s some links that may interest you…

Pandemics and Public Worship throughout History

How the Church Responded to Previous Pandemics

Pandemics and the Church – What does History Teach us?

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.