My dad, John McLarty, has always been one of my BEST and most FAVORITE teachers! (Well, maybe not when I was a rebel teen.) 😬 My dad is a man of godly wisdom and is an expert at using simple examples to explain deep truths. Recently, dad shared a message with the Bible study group that he and my mother, Lynn, host in their home. Later he shared the message with the entire church. On a side note, if you have not seen their testimony it is an amazing story!
The message dad brought was so powerful and inspirational, that the Lord led me to write a devotional about it. What follows is a summary of the message. I pray it moves you like it did me.
In Dad’s words:
God challenged me after hearing a message about what Christian relationships should NOT look like; that is—”biting and devouring” one another—and thus, led me to study what Christian relationships SHOULD look like. After all, if satan has the nerve to stand before God Almighty and accuse His children; it should not be shocking that he accuses us to each other in order to rip us apart! Revelation 12:10 Even satan knows the critical importance of Christian fellowship! Thus, we must have a WORKING plan to overcome the negative thoughts we have towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.
To counter the offensive of our enemies, we must PLAN and INITIATE deep and abiding fellowship-BONDS!
We were not called to live life in a remote cabin, in solitary contemplation with creation, or solo meditation. Rather, Christ instructed us to GO and SHARE the Gospel, and disciple other believers. (Matthew 28) This means that fellowship among believers is ESSENTIAL—even to bring a fuller love and joy into our own life. The Bible says:
That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the LIGHT as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:3-7 NKJV
Note that our love needs to be HOLY which is manifested by living in loving obedience to God’s Word. We can’t be staggering around drunk telling people about Jesus, or conversely, presenting our own form of self-righteous love. God’s love and holiness belong to Him and are only manifested by those who have BOTH accepted His gift of salvation and who live in loving obedience to Him.
“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” 1 John 4:12-13 NKJV
So what should this extraordinary love look like in our local church. In other words, how is it manifested by you and me? Well, the “one another” commands give us a great place to begin:
- Love one another. John 13:34
- Pray for one another. Romans 12:10
- Be like-minded, one toward another. Romans 15:5
- Greet one another. 1 Corinthians 16:20
- Serve one another. Galatians 5:13
- Bear one another’s burdens. Galatians 6:2
- Forbear one another. Ephesians 4:2
- Forgive one another. Ephesians 4:32
- Submit yourselves one to another. Ephesians 5:21
- Consider one another. Hebrews 10:24
Even if we’re following just half of these “one another” commands, we are going to be a long way into having those coveted deep and abiding relationships. Relationships within the church are God’s plan for us. It’s also an important way to SHARE and EXPERIENCE God’s love for us. The work of the ministry in collaboration with precious brothers and sisters—make our experience in the church rich and fulfilling. Our church community becomes the hub of our entire life. It is where we have our strongest bonds. They are the people we look forward to seeing the most. Like a band of soldiers engaged in warfare—we are tight. Our siblings in Christ are the people we gravitate towards, we miss, and we prefer. And—equally important—it is the warm fireside of our church family to whom we invite the starving and lonely souls to join in the experience of Christ’s love.
We are bound together by a common cause in Christ and love for each other! So…what are some general applications to this idea of generating fellowship with other Christ-followers?
We must be joined in membership to a local church and faithfully assemble together. (There is no fellowship or accountability in a so-called universal church.) We commit to engage in home-based Bible studies, fellowships; prayer groups; in-depth Bible study groups; meeting for coffee, lunch, prayer, bike rides, walks; visiting the sick and caring for the poor; performing the hard work of the ministry; discipleship, outreach, etc. We initiate relationships with each other and bring new Christians into our homes and into our hearts.
I just want to encourage all brothers and sisters in Christ of the importance of this fellowship of the believers because it gives rich and deep meaning to our life in Christ. Love and appreciate each other. Make a PLAN to cultivate deeper relationships in the unity of our Savior.
“By this ALL will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:35 NKJV
We would love to hear your thoughts about this devotional. Did God speak to you or challenge your daily walk with him? Or is there a topic that you would like Kimberly to cover or expound on? Please share with us in the comments below.
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