40 Days of Discipline


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Title:  40 Days of Discipline:  Day 21 – Fellowship

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:1 – 8, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context:

Thank you very much for your comments yesterday!  Today, we continue our focus on the Discipline of Fellowship.  In yesterday’s context, we saw that the word fellowship often relates to having things in common in Christ.  One of the important things we should strive to hold in common is the mindset of Christ.

Bible Passage:

Today’s passage is Philippians 2:1 – 8 (presented above).  In the passage, the Apostle Paul conveys some key essentials for fellowship.  Clearly, Jesus is the perfect model of the traits required for effective fellowship.

Question:

Based on the passage, what are some of the essential traits you would expect to see in your local church if the members are committed to fellowship?


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40 Days of Discipline:  Day 20 – Fellowship

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42, New International Version)

Theme:  The Local Church

Context:

Thanks again for all the great comments as we considered worship!  As we now turn our attention to the Discipline of Fellowship we will begin by considering some questions about the role of Fellowship in your local church.  First, some brief background on fellowship.

Koinonia is a transliterated form of a Greek word, which is often translated as fellowship in the New Testament.  Fellowship has a range of meanings, but many relate to having things in common in Christ.  What’s for sure is that fellowship is much more than getting together for social events. 

Primary Questions:

  1. Does your local church teach about the biblical principles of fellowship?
  2. Is fellowship used with intentionality for spiritual growth and evangelism?
  3. Do your local church leaders serve as good role models where fellowship is concerned?
  4. Would you characterize your local church as a place where trust has a high premium?

Optional Secondary Questions (if you have the time):

  1. Does your local church facilitate small group settings to facilitate fellowship?
  2. Is diversity (across physical and other dimensions) and inclusion encouraged in your local church?

Your Feedback:

While you are not expected to share your answers to the questions above, we would still love to hear from you.  Based on your answers to the questions, what is your general observation about how local churches relate to fellowship?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 21 – Fellowship

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:42 – 47)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

Because of the pandemic, some of us are relying more heavily on small groups and technology for fellowship.  As we close out our discussion on the Discipline of Fellowship, I want to make a plug for small groups.  Small groups increase the potential for deeper relationships. Whether there is a pandemic or not, God wants us to stay connected, and His love provides a much stronger signal than any wifi network!    

To illustrate some of the benefits of fellowship in small groups, I’ll share a personal story.  I am currently considering post-retirement options and I want to be sure that my decisions are aligned with God’s mission.  Over the last few weeks, I have had two important decisions to make that required advice.  On both occasions I knew exactly who in my Men’s small group I could consult with and get sound advice.  Knowing who to consult with was easy because our small group is an ideal place to get to know others and be known by others. 

The Biblical precedent for fellowshipping in small groups is captured for me in our passage today.    

Please read the passage above and answer the questions below. 

Questions:

Why did the fellowship of the early believers contribute to such an effective witness? 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 20 – Fellowship

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  (Hebrews 10:24 – 25)

Theme:  If not You, then Who?

To all our commentators, I can’t thank you enough for your contribution to our review of the Worship over the last three days. You really made a tremendous difference.

Today we turn our attention to the Discipline of Fellowship.  Social distancing due to Covid-19 has caused many to think more deeply about the importance of relationships.  Thankfully, technology has allowed us to stay in contact with friends and associates.  However, most of us have had to be much more selective with our fellowship list, and it is possible that Christian fellowship has suffered. 

Often when Christian fellowship is discussed, the focus is on feelings (e.g., what is the level of affection in the community).  Feelings and emotions don’t tell the whole story where Christian fellowship is concerned though.  As you can see in our passage today, fellowship is also very much about doing (i.e., how the community executes God’s mission).  If we are going to be successful in carrying out God’s mission, we need effective fellowship to spur us “on toward love and good deeds”.

Hopefully we are making Christian fellowship a high priority even during the pandemic.  The need for us to execute God’s mission isn’t lessened by the pandemic.  In fact, in many circumstances the need is greater. 

Please read the passage above and answer the questions below. 

Questions:

  • How have you prioritized Christian fellowship during the pandemic?
  • What challenges to Christian fellowship have you encountered and how have you addressed them? 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 21 – Fellowship

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.  God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.  And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3 – 10)

 

Yesterday we reflected on the potential for Christian fellowship to positively impact a world in need.  Today as we conclude our focus on the Discipline of Fellowship, I am reminded that the genesis of this 40 Days of Discipline journey was the fellowship a group of men in Trinidad & Tobago experienced approximately 10 years ago.  The group, called New Trench Warriors, demonstrated the significant impact Christians can have on the world when fellowship works.

The passage above, written by Paul while in prison, captures how deeply the Apostle felt about Christian fellowship.  Please prayerfully read the passage and answer the question below.

 

Question

Have you experienced Christian fellowship similar to what the Apostle Paul Describes?  Please share your experience.

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 20 – Fellowship

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.  45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42 – 47)

 

Today we turn our attention to the Discipline of Fellowship as we continue to focus on our theme: A World in Need.  In the 80s and early 90s there was a popular sitcom on TV called Cheers.  The sitcom took place in a bar and had a very memorable opening song, which included the following lyrics:

“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name

And they’re always glad you came

You want to be where you can see the troubles are all the same

You want to be where everybody knows your name”

 

I believe there is a lot of truth in the song but unfortunately a lot of people believe this kind of camaraderie is easier to achieve in a bar than in a church.  Shouldn’t the quality of our fellowship be attractive to a world in need?  Our passage today paints a picture of how attractive fellowship can be.

Please prayerfully read the passage above and answer the question below.

 

Question

How can our fellowship attract a world in need and point them to the Saviour?

 

 


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 21 – Fellowship

10Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  11If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.  If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen. (1 Peter 4:10 – 11)

 

As we continue to discuss the discipline of fellowship, we recognize that Biblical fellowship is about a lot more than coming together to have a good time. Of course, having a good time together as believers is important but there is a lot more to fellowship than that. A broader perspective must contemplate how God uses the combination of the gifts he has given us for his glory. Just think how much we miss out on when we refuse to play in an orchestra where the master conductor has perfect knowledge of our gifts.

Please read the passage above carefully and answer the following question.

 

Question

How are you using your gifts in fellowship to glorify God?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 20 – Fellowship

20“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20 – 23)

17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17 – 18)

 

Just as we are enjoying our time discussing worship, it’s time to switch to the discipline of Fellowship.  Let’s face it, many of us are not as committed to fellowship as we should be.  So, as we contemplate our theme of God’s glory, I am providing two passages of scripture to encourage us to a higher level of commitment.

In the first passage (from John 17) Jesus in His powerful prayer leading  up to His crucifixion says that He has given believers the glory He was given “that they may be one” as He is with the Father.  There is a clear premium on unity, and I would argue by extension, a clear premium on fellowship.  If we seek to live out the unity Jesus has with His Father, we must be committed fellowship.

The second passage (from 2 Corinthians 3) says we are being transformed into God’s image with “ever-increasing glory”.   As believers, we are all in an important growing process together.  I believe, therefore, that we should cherish the opportunity to do this transformation journey in fellowship, not as a lone wolf.

Please read the passages carefully and answer the following question.

 

Question:

How highly do you value fellowshipping with believers?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 21 – Fellowship

7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

 

Quite frequently, when we discuss the topic of Fellowship we focus on getting together for an event, and often to have fun.  Of course, we know that Fellowship is much more than that.  It evolves from a common identity for believers manufactured by our savior.  As is evident from the passage above, Fellowship has less to do with “delight” than “the Light”.  Further, it is more about an ongoing journey (“if we walk”) than occasions – a journey that often involves common suffering instead of fun.

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible verses above.

 

Something to think about:

Is the concept of walking together with other believers (i.e., doing life’s journey together) a sufficient feature of your life?


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40 Days of Discipline: Day 20 – Fellowship

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, (Hebrews 10:24)

 

We are now halfway through our 40 days journey.  I hope you have been able to consistently dedicate 15 minutes a day to spending quality time with God.  Today we turn our attention to the Discipline of Fellowship.

As we consider our identity, it is important to note that we cannot be our best without fellowship.  Simply put, God does not expect us to go it alone.  Further, we shouldn’t use our personality type (e.g., the classic, “I’m an introvert.”) as a reason to opt out of a clear Biblical directive for Believers.

Please prayerfully reflect on the Bible verses above.

 

Something to think about:

How much of a priority is Christian fellowship in your daily life?