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Posts Tagged ‘fellowship’

1 John 2:27 But as for you, Christ has poured out his Spirit on you. As long as his Spirit remains in you, you do not need anyone to teach you. For his Spirit teaches you about everything, and what he teaches is true, not false. Obey the Spirit’s teaching, then, and remain in union with Christ…….

Matthew 23:10 – Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ….

These verses talk about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within each of us as followers of Christ. He is within us to comfort, teach and lead us.

I see a common problem among those of us who follow Christ these days. We talk about Jesus as a person from the past and seem to learn about him only from books, pastors and the so-called spiritually educated. We know it in our head, but do not act on the fact that Jesus is alive and it is his Spirit that lives within each of us as his followers. We have a living relationship and daily fellowship with him through his Spirit.

HolySpiritwithin

The bible says that he gives us his Spirit and we do not need anyone to teach us. The Spirit will guide us into all truth. We need to let that get deep down within us and quit looking to only books and people to tell us what they think about Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit to teach us and lead us into his truth.

We Christians get so caught up on which pastor, evangelist or Christian leader to follow. We listen to this one or that one, read books from this guy or listen to tapes by that woman. We attend a fellowship because we like the pastor, or we will drive miles to listen to a popular TV or radio evangelist.

Yet God says we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all fellow-servants. We are not to be called leaders in an authoritative way, no one is higher up than anyone else. Leadership is done in love and from experience as equals. Those who have been walking with God longer can encourage those who are newer in their walk.

We do not need anyone to teach us because we have the Spirit of Christ within us, the true living Word lives in each of us (1 John 2:27).

We can learn and be encouraged by reading the bible with the guidance of the Spirit. We can learn and be encouraged through fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet we seem to forget the most important truth which is the Spirit is within us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

In Christ we are all his children, no one should be looked up to or revered more than anyone else. We should stop putting all our hope in other people and listen to the Holy Spirit who is within us to teach us his truth and guide us in the way he has for us.

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Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

We were created in the image of God. This means we were created by a perfect, loving God and we were good in the sight of God. We are made in the likeness of God, that is, three in one, spirit, soul (mind) and body.

Unfortunately evil entered the human race and we lived under the curse of the law because of the fall of man through Adam. Our spirit, soul and body were then subject to trying to earn salvation by following the law which we could not do, eventually leading to death.

Because of the fall of Adam and sin entering the world we lost the fellowship with the Father that we were intended to have. That does not mean that God stopped loving us. That does not mean that we became terrible people who were seen as nothing but sinful and incapable of doing anything good. Yet the fellowship between our loving Father and the human race was broken and needed repaired. Something we could not accomplish by good works and effort.

The answer came through Christ and the grace He provided. Because of the work of Christ we were made new creatures in Him. Our old sinful spirit was crucified and buried when he took our sins to His cross.

We now have a new righteous spirit within us and our fellowship with the Father has been restored. We still have a soul (mind) that needs renewed and an earthly body that will one day be changed into a spiritual body, yet at this moment God sees us as the righteousness of Christ who lives within us by His Spirit. The goodness and fellowship with the Father that we were originally created with is restored, not by anything we can do but because of the love of the Father for each of us.

Naturally speaking we will never be perfect on this earth, but because of the grace of Christ God sees us spiritually perfect already.

This does not mean we should do whatever we want because there are earthly consequences for our actions, but now we live for God and do what pleases Him out of love and not out of obligation. We now take up our cross daily and follow Him allowing Him to increase as we decrease.

We now have a restored fellowship with the Father that was intended from the day God created the human race. When you make a mistake it is covered. We do not have to repent each time but we can acknowledge we made a mistake and thank God for His grace that covers it.

I have found a good thing to do after allowing my mind or body to take control is to verbally or mentally confess ‘I am the righteousness of God’. Doing this will help us to remember God’s gift of grace and get us focused on our spiritual position in Christ.

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We hear a lot of talk about thinking outside the box or doing things outside the box. Many of us as christians these days think of the box in a different way.

Many of us when we hear something about the box or outside the box we think about the modern-day church. We think of a building where like-minded believers gather once a week to worship and learn about God.

The traditional church today is basically known as a box or four walls of brick, mortar and wood where people come in and separate themselves from the world and from believers of different interpretation and beliefs.

outofthebox

When we talk about outside the box we are talking about living outside the walls of modern-day religion and the traditional institutional church. We talk about no longer participating in the weekly service, listening to one person do all the talking while we sit there silently looking at the back of head of the person in front of us.

Fellowship to us is not sitting silently. Fellowship is communicating and associating with fellow believers as a regular way of life each and every day. Meeting together as God brings about the opportunity, getting together for a meal or in our homes to talk and get to know one another.

To us church is not a building or an organization with its doctrines and interpretations, meetings and such. Church is the people who are following Jesus on a day to day basis, loving God and loving others. It is living outside the walls of a building and accepting people who not only believe like us but people who see things differently than we do.

Does that mean that being in the box and worshipping inside a building is wrong? Does it mean those within the box are not trying to follow Jesus? Of course not! God works within the building and outside the building. Many good things happen within the organization, but for some of us we feel there is a better way.

For my wife and me, along with thousands of others, we have moved outside the box. We have become very unsatisfied with the man-ordained organization and of separating ourselves according to denomination, doctrine and interpretation. We feel that when Jesus said he would build his Church he was not talking about any type organization, denomination or man-led system.

For us Church is people who daily live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is daily depending on God and His Spirit for guidance, learning and understanding. We love God and want to show that love to others by loving our neighbor, whoever that may be. We want to be loving, kind and accepting to everyone, not just to those of our particular group or belief.

acceptandlove

If you are inside the walls of a traditional church organization and you are happy there, stay there and serve God as He leads. If you are in a church and are unsatisfied, or if you have left the organization and are questioning your decision please do not feel guilty. Put you trust in God and seek the guidance of the Spirit.

Realize that the Church is the people of God. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves with your brothers and sisters, which means we need one another for fellowship and encouragement but we do not have to be in a building or organization sitting and listening to one person do all the talking. Feel free to walk outside the box and love each and every one of those God brings into your life day by day.

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I think I have been involved in church for nearly 60 years. I know my parents took me to church the first Sunday I was home from the hospital and ready to be out.

I have so many good memories over the years of growing up in church. When I say church I am talking about the building, the organization, the traditional religious system that we all think of when we say church.

I remember all the usual parts of church like going to Sunday school, Vacation Bible school, Children’s church, Junior church and Youth group. I liked going to these activities and I never asked to stay home or miss them. Actually I was disappointed if I was sick and could not go.

cookies

In the first church I was part of I remember during Sunday school the main thing I was taught (at least in my eyes) was how to eat a cooking with my finger through the hole in the middle. I do not think my parents were to happy with that and it was not long afterward that my parents moved to another church where I stayed for another 20 years.

There we were taught all the traditional bible stories and were rewarded with pins for good attendance. I enjoyed learning and was presented a bible for doing so well with quizzes and attendance. I enjoyed meeting new kids my age and getting to know them although it took a long time to do since I only saw them for an hour one day each week.

I was always part of Vacation bible school each summer. My mom helped as an assistant or a teacher and I enjoyed hearing the bible stories and making crafts. I remember at the age of ten I accepted Christ at Vacation bible school. I can remember listening to a nice older lady talk about how God loved us and sent his son to die for us. I remember raising my hand when she asked if anyone wanted to accept Christ as savior, then I walked up front and was led in a prayer. Even at the age of ten I realized that just because my parents were Christians I needed to make a decision for myself. It was the best decision I ever made.

As the years went by I moved up to the Youth Group and the various activities young teenagers get to do. I can remember one time I was on the phone with our Youth Leader for well over an hour as he tried to talk me into going on a youth camping trip that I wanted nothing to do with. He was sure he was going to talk me into going but in the end, I won out and did not go. I wondered why he spent so much time trying to convince me to go when he could have talked with three or four other kids who may have really enjoyed it.

Of course as a teenager we would always find the best seat in the Sunday morning worship service, which was the back row. I think the pastor was just happy we were even in the service at all. I also was on the church basketball team and met more new people. I thought it a little weird that many of the kids on the church team were hot-tempered and foul mouthed. I knew that most were not regular church attendees and they only came to church during basketball season. I also knew they were required to be at church as often as possible if they wanted to play. Once basketball was over I never saw them again until the next season.

piano

Once people found out I could play the drums and the piano they quickly enlisted me to play for special services and the children’s church. I did not want to do it since I was extremely nervous about being in front of people, but I felt I would be wrong to turn down using my ‘talents’ for the Lord.

Once I said yes to something the ball really started rolling. Next I was helping with Junior church, going on youth conference trips out of state, doing visitation with the pastor and then added to the Administrative Board. Wow, that was an eye opener.

I had always had a high regard for the church board members who were the ‘backbone’ of the church. I thought what spiritual people they must be to be entrusted with the plans and happenings of the church.

It did not take long to see that what went on in the monthly meeting was certainly not very spiritual. I had never seen so much arguing and disagreement in my life up to that point. Needless to say I did not stay part of the board very long. I decided to leave that to the much older and wiser people (who knew how to argue much better than I).

Well, so much for the early years of my church attendance. It was pretty typical and non-eventful, but I really enjoyed the experiences. I learned a lot and met many people who I enjoyed being around, although most of them I never saw outside of the church building or church planned events. This pretty much brings us up to my church history as a young adult which will be discussed in the next article. Can any of you relate to similar experiences?

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Fellowship is an important part of living as a follower of Jesus. Fellowship with other believers can be encouraging and helps build one another up.

When we hear about fellowship today we usually think of church. Several churches even have the word fellowship in their name.

According to the dictionary fellowship means friendly relationship; companionship; an association of persons having similar tastes, interests; friendliness.

I grew up in the organized church and thought for years I was having good fellowship every time I attended a Sunday morning service. As time went on I began to question if we were actually enjoying good fellowship or not. If fellowship was a relationship or companionship with others how was that being obtained by sitting in a pew every Sunday looking at the back of someone’s head? We never really showed friendliness just sitting there and we never knew if the person in front or back of us had the same tastes or interests. How were we having fellowship when we just sat and listened to a select few run the program?

sundayservice

After my wife and I decided to leave the organization and live outside the walls of religion we wondered how we would find fellowship with others of similar tastes. Truthfully it did not take long. God started bringing people across our paths in places and at times we never expected.

We were sitting in a local cafe one morning relaxing and drinking our morning coffee when we noticed two men at the next table. One was a young long-haired rock group looking person talking with an older gentleman. We could not help but hear their conversation at times and we kept hearing them talking about God and life in Christ.

After some time of listening we decided to politely ask about their conversation and found that the younger guy was in a christian heavy metal band, had left the traditional church a few years ago and was living outside the walls of religion like us. This was an encouragement to us because it showed us that God will bring about the people for fellowship any time and in any place.

We have met many people over the past two years who have similar tastes and interests on our path outside the walls. We have joined in with people many times at a restaurant or in our homes for fellowship and food. Most of the time it has only been 3 to 5 people, but we have had so much more meaningful fellowship with others outside of traditional church than we did sitting in the typical service.

As written in 1 Corinthians 14:26… what then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

To my wife and me the church mentioned here is not a building of four walls with a select few people running the program on a set day and time. The Church is a community of Christ followers who have a friendly relationship and associate any day, any time, any place when Christ brings them together to lift up Christ and his love, to encourage one another and to get to know the tastes and interests of each other.

communityofbelievers

Obviously fellowship can also happen with people of different tastes and interests, different faith, different lifestyles. We can be loving and accepting of all as we get to know and understand each other and treat each other with kindness, respect and friendliness.

Yet fellowship among believers is needed for us to be encouraged and built up. As mentioned in Hebrews 10:25… not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near. This verse in no way says we must assemble in a building with a set program on a set day or led by a select group of people. This verse just means as followers of Christ we need each other. We need time together getting to know one another, build one another up in Christ and live a life that shows the world the good news of the gospel, which is that God loves each and every one of us.

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Galatians 2:16 – nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus…….

We Christians sometime spend our time trying to obey the Ten Commandments when in actuality we do not need to be trying to keep the law at all.

GraceandLaw

We will go to church every time the door is open, tithe our ten percent, we do not smoke, drink, dance, go to movies, we look down on and condemn those who do not do what we feel the Bible commands. We feel guilty every time we mess up and think God is going punish us if we do not do everything we have been told is ‘right’ to do as Christians.

What happened to grace? What happened to being saved through faith in Christ and Him alone. It is not Jesus and baptism, not Jesus and church attendance, not Jesus and tithing, we are saved through faith in Christ and his grace. It is Jesus plus nothing. We have been restored to fellowship with God through Christ by his death and resurrection. That does not mean we just live our lives doing whatever we want, but we live out of love and in the freedom we have through grace. We do things because we love God and love others and no longer out of obligation or trying to follow the law.

Let’s stop laying all the rules and regulations on ourselves and others thinking that will make us better people. Let’s live in the power of His grace through the Holy Spirit, loving God and loving others, letting God lead us in the way He wants us to go and enjoying the right standing we have with our Father.

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Many times when I mention that my wife and I have left the organized church, people assume something happened to hurt us or make us mad.

Just to be clear on this subject, neither one of us have ever been abused or hurt by the church. Neither one of us are mad about some event or some person at church.

After nearly sixty years in the organization, and after the last ten of those years feeling that something is not right with the system, we made the decision to leave and follow Christ outside the walls of religion. To be clear, that is our decision and we certainly do not expect everyone to agree and do the same thing. Many people are part of the organized religious system we know as church who truly love God and want to serve Him.

We believe the Church is a community of people and not a building nor a service held one day each week with paid professionals leading the service. We believe the Church is each of us who follow Christ and see him as the head. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and each of us are equally functioning members making up his body.

We believe forsaking not the assembling of yourselves means we need one another. We live each day having fellowship with those God brings us together with, no matter where it happens. We never truly found real fellowship when we sat in an organized service for an hour looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us. We believe true fellowship is not just sitting together with other people in a room, but it is daily loving, encouraging and praying for one another and meeting the needs of those we are able to help.

Church

The temple in the Old Testament was only a shadow of what was to come in the New Testament. God now lives in us as his temple, and he is our leader rather than another human being we call pastor. There is no hierarchy in the Church today. Each of us are equally important parts of the body and able to teach, encourage, build up and pray for one another. It is truly a priesthood of all believers, not a one man show. Those with specific gifts for helping the Church are not better or more spiritual than the rest. They are brothers and sisters who walk along beside those who need encouragement. They are those who have learned a spiritual lesson and are there to help those who are still learning. They are servants more than they are anything else.

So when I say that we have left the church, it is only the building and organization I am talking about. We left, not because we were mad or hurt but because we believe the religious system most people call church is far from what God is building. He is building a group of people who will daily follow Him outside the walls of religion and organizations of men, loving God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, loving their neighbor and accepting all they meet along the way.

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