Fellowship in Good and Bad Times
Fellowship in Good and Bad Times
By Paul R. Blake
First century Christians had fellowship in suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Paul was driven to know Christ, and to do that, he realized he would have to have fellowship with the Lord in His suffering (Phil. 3:10). While he was not pursuing crucifixion, he understood that when he endured difficulty on behalf of the Lord’s cause, he was sharing in Christ’s suffering.
Peter reassures his readers by telling them that the hardships they bear with in Christ are evidence that they have much in common with the Savior. “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings” (1Peter 4:12-13). The Hebrew writer pointed out that his readers were punished simply for being companions of evangelists (Heb. 10:32-33). In fact, Paul wrote that he was happy to bear with the afflictions heaped on him for preaching salvation to the Corinthians (2Cor. 1:5-7). In each example, there was a common principle and action shared in fellowship, between sufferers and Christ, between companions in Christ, and between preachers and followers of Christ. Fellowship in suffering is based on our common faith in and response to opposition to the faith. When we share the suffering and hard times together, our strength is multiplied by our fellowship together.
Since fellowship is giving a share, receiving a share, and sharing, fellowship in benevolence is manifested when one who has abundance freely offers aid to one who is in need. There are no limits placed on the fellowship individual Christians may have with others who are in need. James measured an individual’s religion, not just by the sins he avoids, but by the works of benevolence he does (James 1:27). While local churches are limited by Divinely approved examples and Divine implications to benevolence for saints only, Christians are free to help persons from all walks of life as they have resources (Gal. 6:10).
Once again, it is difficult to measure the impact fellowship in benevolence will have on others. It was essential in the first century when travel was risky, restaurants and markets were few, and hotels were rare. Preachers who traveled from city to city depended on disciples who would open their homes, sometimes for months at a time; and, when the evangelist moved on to the next city, would find himself well supplied for the journey by his host. Christians are often admonished in scripture to practice hospitality. The immediate effect of hospitality is fellowship in the form of sharing one’s home and food with guests. But that is not the only impact hospitality has on fellowship. I remember many of the Gospel meetings I have held over the years, not by the church building I preached in, nor by the check I received at the end, nor even by the number of visitors in attendance, but rather by families who took me into their homes to spend the week with their family and by the members who invited me into their homes to share a homemade meal. My dearest friends and fellow evangelists are often those who spent a week in our home while holding a Gospel meeting. I will be warmed in my heart for the rest of my life by the fellowship in benevolence shared with me by other Christians through hospitality.
By Mike Palm
"...Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation." (1 Pet. 2:12)
An elderly man was walking along the edge of the water and stopped occasionally, picked up something, and tossed it into the ocean. He then walked a few more steps, picked up something, and tossed it into the ocean. A young jogger had been running along and was watching the man. Finally, his curiosity got the best of him. He stopped, and went over to the old gentleman and asked, "Excuse me, what are you doing?"
The man answered: "I am saving the life of these star fish. The storm washed them ashore last night, the sun will be up in thirty minutes, and then they will all die. I am throwing them back into the water to save their lives." The jogger was a bit astounded. He said, "Old man, don't you know that you have thirty miles of beach ahead of you and that millions of those star fish were washed ashore last night. What possible difference do you think that you are going to make." The old man took another step, picked up a star fish, and as he hurled it into the ocean, he said, "Son, it will make a difference in that one's life!"
Let us continue to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, for in so doing, we will not only save our own souls, but will make a difference in someone else's life.
By Heather Auman
As I am discouraged
A psalm of your gospel I read
Before I lay down to rest
Beautiful words soothe my weary soul
Comfort and joy, peace and hope
Come to my mind through your promises.
From the waters I rise
A new creature born again
Filth and flesh, pain of heart washed away
Pure, finally pure.
The Lord looks down on me in kindness
The Lord can see my heart’s true hope
The Lord will be my strength
My power comes only through Him.
I have what I need
I have more than I will ever need
I will be content with what I have
And praise His name for such blessings.
God is forever and forever
He is the absolute and always
His right hand encloses existence
His eye sees to the heart of the atom-
Yet He has chosen to look upon His servant
Yes, even this poor wretch He loves.