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what is it?
2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and
fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
dictionary defines fellowship as “partnership,
that is, (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse,
or (pecuniary) benefaction.
The Greek word has been translated communicate or communication,
communion, distribution, fellowship.
The Vine's dictionary
defines fellowship as "communion, fellowship, sharing in
Fellowship means partnership or working together to
achieve common goals. Often
fellowship is the term used for financial contributions to the needs of
other Christians. The early
church had “all things common.”
In Acts 4 and 5, it has been pointed out that communism (communal
living) didn't work then and it won't work now.
That is probably true, but I suspect in the millennial kingdom,
it will work. Some have said
that fellowship is best described as fellows in a ship.
In a ship, the crew has to know how to work together and each
member of the crew must carry out his or her responsibilities for the
ship to make a safe sure journey. When
the storms come, each member of the crew must know what to do and how to
do it. They work together to
keep the ship sailing. If
they don't work together, most likely the ship will sink.
It seems to me that in Acts 2 doctrine is mentioned
first because if a group of Christians don't agree on the basic
doctrines of the Bible they are not likely to pull together in the work
and worship of the congregation or church.
One of the ways that a church expresses fellowship is by
remembering the Lord in the breaking of bread and by praying together.
Notice that those that continued steadfastly in this way, had
received the word gladly and had shown that by identifying with the Lord
we Practicing New Testament Fellowship today?
Have we a proper understanding of what fellowship is
today? Normally we associate
it with coffee and snacks between meetings.
This is a place to put visitors at ease and it is nice time to
socialize with other Christians but I don't think that is the definition
of fellowship in Acts 2. I
think Christians are or at least should be
in fellowship or agreement when they partake of the Lord's
supper, when they pray, when they encourage preachers financially, and
when they share their means with the poor.
Unfortunately, the Christians in 1 Corinthians 11 were partaking
of the Lord's supper without truly being “in fellowship.”
They were disorderly and were not considering one another.
The Lord considered that to be serious enough that some of them
were sick and some had died. They
must have been Christians who had died since Paul says they were
sleeping and that seems to describe the death of Christians.
I personally enjoy the
company of other Christians. We
entertain them in our home and we like to be entertained.
But unless those times of socialization lead to spiritual work
for the Lord including times of prayer for specific needs, we are
probably not experiencing true fellowship.
We cannot experience fellowship with unbelievers according to 2
Corinthians 6:14-15. We may
enjoy their friendship but we cannot work together with them to achieve
spiritual objectives since we are not in agreement with them.
Fellowship is probably
better associated with working and worshiping together than it is with
simply socializing together. It
certainly isn't defined by the word “fun” though working for the
Lord can be fun. Often it is
not fun even though it is satisfying.
It is not simply friendship although we usually become close
friends with Christians with whom we experience true fellowship.
Fellowship is one of the
Four Pillars of the New Testament Church
The pillars of a new testament church are doctrine,
fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.
All are necessary to have a healthy church.
Notice that fellowship is just as important as the other three
because fellowship is the grace that keeps the local church strong and
vibrant. When true
fellowship is missing, often the church loses its “first love” and becomes a man –made organization rather
than a Spiritual
organism (that is, it is no longer a body that works together).
A church without fellowship can be proud of its heritage without
realizing that it cannot live on what others have done.
The church may become so lukewarm that the Lord spews them out of
Let those of us who are saved strive to maintain
Scriptural fellowship so that the Lord can use us as part of a local
congregation. To say
that we are in fellowship in a local church when we are not in agreement
with its doctrines and practices and when we don't really pray together
is reason to question whether we are where the Lord would have us to be.
A church where the participants are in agreement and that is
unified in its Scriptural endeavors will be the church that the Lord can
commend and use for His glory
for the week of February 4, 2018
The Simplicity of the
he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be
saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
you will be saved, you and your household."
(Acts 16:30-31 NKJV)
Heaven or Hell?
Most of us who are
believers wonder just what it is that the Lord wants us to do after we
are saved. We worry about
our gifts and our mission. We
get a lot of teaching on knowing the will of the Lord in our lives.
But while struggling with some of these issues is extremely
important, the matter of helping others find the Savior that we know and
love is always of primary importance.
Whether we are support staff or out on the front lines, we all
want people to understand the Gospel and to trust in the Lord.
Their eternal destiny depends on it.
Believing the Gospel saves people from eternal damnation and
prepares them for an eternal home in heaven.
We never lose sight of the fact that the Gospel that saved us is
the Gospel that can save others.
What is the Gospel?
The Gospel is
summarized by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (NKJV),
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I
preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by
which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to
you; unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all
that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to
the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third
day according to the Scriptures.”
When Paul refers to
holding fast he is dealing with a problem that we all deal with when
people say that they believe. Have
they been convinced that the Gospel is true and do they believe it
because it is true or do they think that by believing it they are making
it true? We don't make the
Gospel true by believing it, but we do make it effective in our lives.
Once we find out that the Gospel is true, we will have no trouble
holding fast (or being completely convinced) that Christ died, was
buried and rose again the third day to save us.
If we are believing in our believing or in anything besides the
Lord Jesus, our believing will be empty or in vain.
The Background of
Paul and Silas and
been put in prison for casting a demon out of a girl who had been
bringing her masters profit by fortune telling.
She must have had some demonic insight since once the demon was
cast out of her, she had obviously lost her power.
Her masters were upset with Paul and Silas and had them thrown
into prison. However, they
sang and prayed while incarcerated.
The Lord sent an earthquake and freed all the prisoners which
meant that the guard would likely lose his life for losing the
prisoners. He came to Paul
and Silas trembling and asked “What must I do to be saved?”
Whether he was asking for his physical life or his spiritual life
is perhaps something that could be debated.
But he got a spiritual answer.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
The message was believed by him and by his whole household that
night. That was quite a
revival! Apparently because
Paul and Silas did not leave, the magistrates did not punish the jailer.
So he got his life saved physically and he got his soul saved
eternally by a simple request and a simple answer.
A Simple Request and
a Simple Answer
To believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ simply means to trust the Lord.
It doesn't mean to believe about Him.
It means to believe Him. There
are those in the Bible who seemed to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
but never really did trust Him. But
simply put, when a person trusts the Lord by trusting His promises that
person has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
We can't believe on the Lord when we are still telling the Lord
how to save us, but we can believe on the Lord when we let Him tell us
how to be saved.
Confusing the Issue
When people ask us
how to be saved, we all try to explain what Paul meant when he told the
jailer to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
I don't mean to be too technical but there is no improving on the
simple truth that we need to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be
saved and that everyone who does believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is
saved. We may say that we
have given our hearts to the Lord, we may say that we made a decision
for Christ, we may say that we invited the Lord into our lives, we may
say that we called on the name of the Lord, we may have responded to an
altar call; but no matter how we say it, the only ones who are saved are
those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Believing on the Lord
Jesus Christ always works because the Lord says it does.
for the week of February 11, 2018
SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE HAS ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE
GOSPEL TO THE POOR; HE HAS SENT ME TO HEAL THE BROKENHEARTED, TO
PROCLAIM LIBERTY TO THE CAPTIVES AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO
SET AT LIBERTY THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED; TO PROCLAIM THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR
OF THE LORD."
(Luke 4:18-19 NKJV)
There are broken
hearts in Parkland, FL this week. Time
will sooth some of the hurt but the broken hearts will never be truly
mended. Losing loved ones to
accidents, disease, old age, and natural disasters is a part of life.
My family lost two infants. One
was lost in an accident and one was lost to whooping cough.
I don't think my family ever really recovered from the effects of
those losses. But those
broken hearts can hardly be compared to those suffering because of a
young man who took a semiautomatic assault rifle to school and who
methodically killed 17 people, most of whom were children.
The impact on the families involved is just hard to imagine.
Anyone who doesn't cry with those who are crying because of this
senseless act of evil simply doesn't have a heart.
The argument that nothing can be done means that the US, the most
powerful and innovative country in the world, has finally met a problem
it cannot solve. We are
sending men to outer space (and a car apparently).
We have put men on the moon.
We are making strides against all kinds of diseases.
The one thing that might help heal the broken hearts of the
families that have lost loved ones is if FINALLY, people in the US and
congress admit that we have a problem and then come together to do
something about it.
The Lord's Broken
I am reminded of the
Psalmist saying in Psalms 69:20, “Reproach has broken my heart, And I
am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was
none; And for comforters, but I found none.”
This was the experience of David but it was also the experience
of the Lord. Those who were
affected by the Parkland massacre were affected by one man.
They have had the community and the country come together to
mourn and sympathize and in some cases empathize.
The country has tried to unite behind the brokenhearted.
But it was not so with the Lord.
He was completely forsaken by his countrymen and his family and
his friends. Bullets are
devastating but I believe that being charged with doing wrong when
you have done your best to do right and then finding out that your
friends are afraid to support you is perhaps just as devastating as
bullets. Even the Lord's
disciples forsook him and fled when that unruly rebellious mob came to
deliver the Lord to Pilate after He had been betrayed by Judas'
hypocritical kiss. Then if
that weren't enough the LORD was forsaken by the Father for those three
I am personally glad
for the people who have a conscience and who try to alleviate the pain
that so many experience in this world.
When I see obituaries for those who have died young, when I see
amber alerts, when I see news on natural disasters, I am always reminded
that there are people even today who are hurting because this world is
just built that way. Ever
since Satan decided to go on a rampage against the Lord in heaven, there
has been war between good and evil.
Often it seems that evil wins.
And while, right now, people are ready for something to be done;
likely nothing will be done because we are constantly reminded that guns
don't kill people, people kill people.
Of course cars don't kill people either, but we do try to make
them safer so that people are not killed by those driving them.
We make the young take driver's education courses and we license
all drivers so that the people driving cars will not kill themselves or
others. Cell phones don't
kill people either, but we do try to limit their use in cars so that
idiots (like me) will not use them when they should be paying attention
to the road. But most likely
we will stay with the platitudes that mean nothing and we will do
nothing and hearts will continue to be broken.
The Lord came to
“heal the brokenhearted.” While
I believe this world will continue to break hearts, not only with guns
but in a multitude of other ways as well, the Lord really does have the
answer. The one whose heart was broken, did not take up arms, He did not
call the angels that were at His disposal, He didn't call for revenge,
instead He died the just for the unjust.
He forgave those who crucified Him.
I personally believe
that the only real solution for a broken heart is offered by the Lord.
Unless the heart of man is changed by trusting in the worth and
work of the Lord Jesus, there will be no cure for this brokenhearted
business. This world does
not need more guns, we have enough of those.
This world needs the healing power that has been offered by the
Lord. We need to believe
that our creator knows best how to heal a broken heart.
We need to believe that our problem is bigger than guns, it is a
problem called sin. When we
face our sin, we will be able to look to the Lord for the solution.
Sin has broken all of our hearts in some way and at some time.
We need to trust the Lord who says that He came to “heal the
While the Lord has
the spiritual answer that does not mean that we as a society should sit
back and assume that “nothing can be done”.
It may be our child, our friends, our neighbors or even us who
will be affected by the next massacre if we continue to “do
nothing.” Then will we be
satisfied with “doing nothing?”
for the week of February 17, 2018
Does Anything Really
47:9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The days of the years of my
pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the
days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of
the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their
Our life is a
We would say that
Jacob lived for a long time. He
was 130 years old when he was presented to Pharaoh by his son Joseph.
He still had 17 years to go since he died when he was 147. We
don't hear of him having cancer or arthritis or heart disease but still
he doesn't seem to think that life has been a lot of fun.
Various translations give a different spin to the phrase “few
and evil”. Some think he
was saying life was difficult or hard or that it was not pleasurable.
And likely all of that was true.
And even though we would think a life of 130 years was long,
Jacob saw his years as “few.”
Life is like a Vapor
James in the New
Testament looks at life as a “vapor.”
Some have said that James is comparing life to the steam rising
out of a tea kettle. It is
there and then it vanishes.
In the Old Testament
before the flood there were people that lived to be nearly 1000 years
old. But one thing happened
to all but one of them. THEY
DIED! Enoch of course was
the one exception. He walked
with God and God took him without dying.
I suspect that even for those who lived for nearly a millennium,
at the end their lives, life likely seemed to be just a vapor that came
and then disappeared. The
early years of life do not seem that way.
It is only as one realizes that life and its opportunities are
now in the rear view mirror of life and not somewhere down the road that
the brevity and futility of life begins to grip us.
The Meaning of Life
I am sure that all of
us have wondered about where we came from, how we got here, and where we
are going. We have wondered
about the purpose of life. When
we are young, we are glad when we finally reach maturity so we can
“make our own decisions.” Life
holds promise and hope. When
we get older we wish we were younger (although most of us do not really
want to live life over). We
can see that even if all of our dreams have materialized and if all of
our goals have been accomplished and if we have achieved great success
and wisdom, we still must die. The
preacher in Ecclesiastes seems to sum it all up by saying that all is
vanity and chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
No matter how
fulfilling life may be while we are living it, looking back most of what
has happened can seem somewhat pointless. If we are farmers, we buy more
land to plant more corn to feed more pigs to buy more land to plant more
corn to feed more pigs. Life
becomes an endless cycle of challenges.
All of us worry about the responsibilities of raising families
and paying the bills and trying to teach the next generation how to
avoid some of the things we have done wrong.
Then we worry because the next generation is doing the same
things we did only they are making different mistakes.
And the cycle begins again.
We intersperse the
mundane, the difficult, and the “evil” with vacations,
entertainment, parties. In
some cases we use alcohol and drugs to keep from thinking about the pain
that often afflicts us. We
want life to be enjoyable and even for those who have plenty of time for
“fun”, even that seems to be pointless after a while.
Some of us may not find life enjoyable but we do find it
fulfilling as long as we use it to serve others.
But even so, at the end of the road we die.
Is there Hope?
Does life have to be
depressing or is there “HOPE?” If we define hope in a Biblical way
as being something certain and pleasurable that we can anticipate, then
there is hope. It is not
found in this life no matter how good our life may seem to others.
I am thankful that I have had it “good” in this life.
I have lived in the best 70 years this country has had to offer.
I have lived in the best country that this world has offered.
But even so, when I see how quickly life passes, I have to admit
that this thing called “death” is still pretty depressing.
I realize that I must break away from the important things in
life do my taxes, to pay my bills, to take care of maintenance on my
house, to keep more and more doctor appointments and to plan for “the
end.” But the end for me
is not the end. It is just
the beginning. For those who
are saved it is the beginning of something great.
It will be the best vacation we have ever taken.
It will be the most fulfilling vacation we could ever imagine and
it will last forever. For
those who are not saved it will also be the beginning but they will wish
that eternity wasn't eternal.
John 5:24 says,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in
Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment,
but has passed from death into life.”
You can depend on this truth.
You can take it to the bank.
Depending on this verse will change the life whose years are
“few and evil” into a life of hope that is eternal.
for the week of February 25, 2018