God desires to connect us to others within His body to encourage, strengthen and equip us to further His kingdom. The enemy desires to separate and isolate us from others to hinder God’s work in our lives and the advancement of the kingdom of God.
As lovers of God and followers of Christ, gathering together with the community of other believers brings not only a sense of belonging but the sharing of both sorrows and joys, and opportunities to use our God-given gifts for God’s purposes and glory. We were created for community.
COMMUNITY…Coming together in a spirit of unity brings joy!
Shared serving within the community of God is seen throughout scripture and since the beginning of the church.
Jesus had Peter, James and John, as his closest three of the twelve disciples. This example can serve as a pattern for us to follow. Adam needed Eve as a helpmate, and as Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “two are better than one.” (See Matthew 17:1; Genesis 2:18-22)
We are better together!
1 Corinthians 12:27:
All of you together are Christ’s body and each of you is a part of it.
Joyful Fellowship Reminders…
God connects us to equip and strengthen us and others.
The devil isolates us to hinder, weaken and desolate us and others.
God desires us to be in relationship with one another for kingdom purposes and to experience the love, joy, encouragement and growth that fellowship brings.
Fellowship – Greek – koinonia (koy-nohn-ee-ah); Strong’s #2842: Sharing, unity, close association, partnership, participation, a society, a communion, a fellowship, contributory help, the brotherhood. Koinonia is a unity brought about by the Holy Spirit. In koinonia, the individual shares in common an intimate bond of fellowship with the rest of the Christian society. Koinonia cements the believers to the Lord Jesus and to each other.
Acts 2:42 The Passion Translation:
Every believer was faithfully devoted to following the teachings of the apostles. Their hearts were mutually linked to one another, sharing communion and coming together regularly for prayer.
Ephesians 4:3-6 The Passion Translation:
Be faithful to guard the sweet harmony of the Holy Spirit among you in the bonds of peace, being one body and one spirit, as you were all called into the same glorious hope of divine destiny. For the Lord God is one, and so are we, for we share in one faith, one baptism, and one Father. And He is the perfect Father who leads us all, works through us all, and lives in us all!
Ephesians 4:11-16 The Passion Translation:
And He has appointed some with grace to be apostles, and some with grace to be prophets, and some with grace to be evangelists, and some with grace to be pastors, and some with grace to be teachers. And their calling is to nurture and prepare all the holy believers to do their own works of ministry, and as they do this they will enlarge and build up the body of Christ. These grace ministries will function until we all attain oneness into the faith, until we all experience the fullness of what it means to know the Son of God, and finally we become one into a perfect man with the full dimensions of spiritual maturity and fully developed into the abundance of Christ. And then our immaturity will end! And we will not be easily shaken by trouble, nor led astray by novel teachings or by the false doctrines of deceivers who teach clever lies. But instead we will remain strong and always sincere in our love as we express the truth. All our direction and ministries will flow from Christ and lead us deeper into Him, the anointed Head of His body, the church. For His “body” has been formed in His image and is closely joined together and constantly connected as one. And every member has been given divine gifts to contribute to the growth of all; and as these gifts operate effectively throughout the whole body, we are built up and made perfect in love.
In Philippians 2, verses 19-30, we see the Apostle Paul is connected to the Philippian church and in close fellowship with Timothy and Epaphroditus. Timothy was like a spiritual son to Paul, and Epaphroditus was a representative of the Philippian church.
Fellowship within the family of God brings joy to our hearts. Face to face Fellowship over isolation is needed now more than ever. Your community, your tribe, or your small group is not going to automatically show up at your door.
Jesus said seek first the kingdom and all the things you really “need” will be provided (my Matthew 6:33 paraphrase). Seeking the kingdom requires action. Seeking out true community requires pursuing and building relationships with fellow believers.
As we follow the leading of God’s Spirit, He will provide direction and connection, and we will experience more of His kingdom – goodness, peace and joy (Romans 14:17). God’s community brings joy, awakens our God-given gifts, and advances God’s kingdom purposes all for His glory.
Lord, we pray for kingdom connections as Your sons and daughters. As we seek to love and follow You, lead us to the community of God where we feel loved, accepted, encouraged, challenged by Your Word, sharpened for our assignments, and supported in using our God-given gifts. May we experience the joy of fellowship and seeing Your kingdom come in our hearts and homes, and on earth as it is in Heaven, amen.
Many only read a few verses in the Word each day sort of as a mini devotional/good thought or pick me up. However, if we really desire to go deeper and grow spiritually, taking time to reflect and ask ourselves some questions relating to a Bible passage or biblical principle is necessary.
📖🗡As iron sharpens iron, so one man (or woman) sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Questions to ponder from week 7 of the Joy Like a Fountain Bible study/book project.* These questions help us reflect on the joy of fellowship over isolation.
- Who am I faithfully serving the Lord with? Can you think of someone you know who has proven character and faithfully serves the church?
- Can others say of me that I have proven character and integrity in faithfully serving the Lord? Am I serving out of a pure motive of love and obedience to God – not to be seen, or for popularity or for any type of selfish gain?
- Has there been a time when I’ve isolated myself from others, and specifically from others within the body of Christ? What led to this? What was the result?
- Why is it important to be connected to a community of believers in close fellowship? What hinders the consistency of this type of fellowship in your life?
- Do you think believers can grow into mature followers of Christ on their own, outside of being a part of a local church?
- Who is sharpening me and who am I sharpening to bring forth the gifts God has planted within me?
- Who am I consistently around that stirs up or fans into flame worshiping God, prayer and study of God’s Word for such a time as this?
- Have you ever had to overcome offense and a spirit of betrayal – just like Jesus? How did you work through this?
- Do you think there are times when we can be out of balance in the areas of serving within our church and not spending time alone with
God? Or time spent with our spouse and children? Are you more of a “Martha” server/doer type or a “Mary” sit still and listen/ponder type? (See Luke 10:38-42 where Jesus describes Martha and Mary.)
- Am I good at giving honor to whom honor is due? Do I honor the leaders God has placed in my life?
- What is the difference between honoring and idolizing? What are some ways we can honor a pastor or leader without placing them on a pedestal or level that begins to look like worship of a person or a church over the worship of God.
- Take time to reflect on fellowship memories from your own spiritual journey. Write down at least one of your most fond or special experiences within the family of God. Share this within your group. The next time the enemy attempts to pull you away from the family of God, pull this memory back out and let it be a reminder of his goal to keep you from the joy of fellowship.
- A Joyful Exercise:
- Write down the name of someone who has been a faithful mentor or leader in your life. Beyond committing to pray for them, take time to write them an encouraging note to let them know the joy they have brought into your life through their faithful service to God.
*a Joyful Jenny Books project entitled, Joy Like a Fountain…How to have joy no matter what life brings your way!