VIDEO Christian Fellowship

“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 1:7

We all need friends, and when we become Christians, we suddenly join a worldwide fellowship of friends—friends we will enjoy forever. When the Spirit of God and the love and forgiveness of God fill our hearts, all the barriers sin has erected break down. Then, by the grace of God, husbands and wives, neighbors and friends, brothers and sisters, children and parents, nations and races reunite and reconcile one to another. We become one in Christ.

Are you experiencing this wonderful friendship in your life?

Sometimes we don’t experience this fellowship because we allow sin to separate us from God and each other. This division wreaks havoc in our world. As we cease to share our values, emotions, and the deepest purposes of our lives, we grow more distant, more leery of connecting with anyone. And the lack of abiding friendships in our homes, schools, families, and even churches, causes anxiety, turmoil, and insecurity in our society. The Devil feeds on this division, working toward eternal separation of people from God and from one another.

But Christ stops that work. Christ unites us with God and with each other, creating a great big family, a family in the deepest, most spiritual, noblest, and holiest sense of the word. As believers, we develop a relationship so intimate that Paul describes it as one body. We unite to become the body of Christ.

The deep friendships we can have with other believers bring us great joy here on earth. They reflect the perfect unity Heaven has in store for us. In fact, we can anticipate Christian Communion, which will go far beyond earthly friendship, because we have brothers and sisters we have not even met but to whom we are closely linked through Christ for eternity. In an alienated and lonely world, the worldwide Church has a great privilege and opportunity to show the world true friendship.

I challenge you to build eternal friendships starting today. Can you think of a Christian brother or sister you’d like to know better? Take a step to connect today.

““Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire?””

C. S. Lewis

1 John 1:5-7, Real Fellowship

Friends and Enemies

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Scholar Kenneth E. Bailey told of the leader of an African nation who’d learned to maintain an unusual posture in the international community. He’d established a good relationship with both Israel and the nations surrounding it. When someone asked him how his nation maintained this fragile balance, he responded, “We choose our friends. We do not encourage our friends to choose our enemies [for us].”   

That is wise—and genuinely practical. What that African country modeled on an international level is what Paul encouraged his readers to do on a personal level. In the midst of a lengthy description of the characteristics of a life changed by Christ, he wrote, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). He goes on to reinforce the importance of our dealings with others by reminding us that even the way we treat our enemies (vv. 20–21) reflects our trust in and dependence upon God and His ultimate care.  

To live in peace with everyone may not always be possible (after all, Paul does say “if”). But our responsibility as believers in Jesus is to allow His wisdom to guide our living (James 3:17–18) so that we engage those around us as peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). What better way could there be to honor the Prince of Peace?

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

Where do you struggle to live at peace? How could being an intentional peacemaker interject grace into that conflict?

Loving Father, I was Your enemy and You called me friend. Enable me to be a peacemaker so I can show that same grace to others.

For further study, read Knowing God Through Romans.

Sunday Reflection: Grow as You Go

We mature as believers when we aim to strike a balance between time alone with God and doing life together in the body of Christ

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the scriptures referenced throughout.

How-to guides are all the rage, and that’s no surprise—western culture places high value on the idea of mastering life. But unlike changing a flat tire or roasting your first turkey, authentic biblical discipleship isn’t about technique or skill. And though there are common tools all believers share—spiritual disciplines handed down through the ages—the pursuit of becoming like Jesus isn’t a one-size-fits-all, predictable process.

Our lives take different turns with unique challenges along the way, and God reaches each of us in a manner that speaks to our experiences. Yet there’s one element we all share: the need for other Christians. (See Hebrews 10:24-25.) We can hear thousands of sermons, attend years’ worth of Bible studies and prayer meetings, and spend countless minutes in quiet time. But it’s life together in the body of Christ that gives discipleship its power.

Think about it

• How important to you is doing “life together” with other believers? What steps are you taking to make that part of your daily or weekly schedule?

Limitations on God’s Promises

“Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 31:37)

The people of Israel, in spite of all God had done for them, continually rebelled against Him, even turning to other gods. One might think God would have destroyed them and started again, but He had made a promise first to Abraham, then to Isaac, and then to Jacob that this nation would be His special people, and He would not break that promise.

In our text God reveals the “conditions” under which He would cast off Israel, but they are such that there is no possibility of their being met.

If heaven above can be measured: Neither Abraham nor Jeremiah could have had any concept of the number of stars or the depth of space. Now, with modern telescopes, we see unthinkable distances and even farther and farther as our technology increases. Estimates of the radius of the universe now stand at around 46 billion light-years, and no end is in sight.

If the foundations of the earth [can be] searched out beneath: Sometimes scientists claim they know more about the sun than they do the earth. But in reality, only one percent of the earth’s radius has been explored. The pressures and temperatures that exist deep inside the earth are unthinkably great, and we don’t even know how matter acts under those conditions. The promise to Israel is secure.

Scripture is likewise full of “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4) made to the believer. Our text indicates God’s attitudes toward His promises. We need not worry that He will keep His Word. JDM

Three Gospel Snapshots, part 2

Luke 9:57-62

IN the ninth chapter of his Gospel, Luke relates three incidents from our Lord’s ministry so briefly that we are in danger of passing too quickly over the treasure of truth hidden there. Three characters flash suddenly by; we never hear of them again; the tantalizing brevity of it all leaves us wondering what became of them.

The first of these, much impressed by the Master, declares in a fit of momentary enthusiasm, “I will follow You wherever You go!” Matthew tells us that this man was a scribe, and his offer to follow must have looked very attractive. Until then, only rough fishermen and common working-folk had volunteered; now the prominent were professing! You or I might have seized that proposition before he had finished speaking.

Jesus did not so hastily accept this distinguished convert. He calmly replied, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.” He was saying, “Before you so lightly rush into this adventure of following Me, count the cost. Do you realize that it means surrendering your home comforts, position, reputation, and career as a rabbi to be the despised disciple of a hated ‘fanatic’?”

There it ends. But in a flash it portrays a type all too common: the easily excited, emotional enthusiast, quick-on-the-trigger—a rapid beginner who stalls on the middle mile when reality reveals the actual cost of the thing he has undertaken. The Christian adventure is no romantic excursion for the glib-and-gushing type.

This man was too eager; the next two are not eager enough. The first meets Jesus’ invitation to follow Him with a condition: “First, let me go bury my father.” Whenever a man starts off with “ifs” and “buts,” he has not made a full surrender. Their name is Legion who want to follow Christ but who have not fully let go of something dead they want to bury. Somewhere in their lives there is a carcass of money or lust or cherished evil, or even something not bad in itself (such as this man’s dead father), but which is a millstone that holds them back from absolute dedication. They want to go back, they think, to bury it, but they fall in love with it all over again and never become a disciple.

So Jesus says, “Let the dead bury the dead.” It sounds harsh, but it is the Divine condition. “Give up these dead loves of the old life! If you mean to follow Me, I will have no fondling of these carcasses of earth!” And many a soul has never joined the procession of the redeemed because still he lingers among the graves of this world’s decaying treasures!

The third man merely wishes to tell his family goodbye; surely there is no harm in that! Yet back comes the stern rejoinder: “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” The danger was this: if the man went home to say farewell, his relatives and neighbors would have cooled his ardor—any man who has tried to serve the King in a matter-of-fact environment knows that full well. “Don’t get worked up over this new preacher. This is a fit of fancy and will soon blow over”—thus they would have talked and toned his fiery idealism down to the drab luke-warmness of those average souls who never see the Heavenly Vision.

So, with this plowman figure (v. 62), Jesus said in substance: “If you are going with Me, let us go. But My road is not for those with their feet turned one way and their head another, who ever look back, like Lot’s wife upon Sodom. My kingdom is no place for the man with the backward look!”

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise.”

Exodus 1:1-14, 22

Our reading will now take us back from the land of Uz to the land of Egypt, where we left the chosen family in Goshen.

Exodus 1:1

The Lord knoweth them that are his. The names of the godly seed are precious to his heart.

Exodus 1:7

Thus the ancient covenant that Abraham’s seed should be many received its first fulfilment. God is not unmindful of his promises.

Exodus 1:8

Out of sight out of mind; a man may confer on a nation permanent advantages, but he cannot hope for permanent gratitude. Those who serve man are generally rewarded with forgetfulness.

Exodus 1:10

The ungodly always try to make out that God’s people are a dangerous set, but indeed, if they would treat them kindly they would find them the best of neighbours. It is only when they wilfully stumble at this stone that it breaks them. The Egyptians tried to prevent the increase of Israel. Vain was this attempt. Pharaoh might as well have tried to stem the sea, or prevent the rising of the Nile. Jehovah had determined that the people should be multiplied, and no policy of kings and princes could prevent it. Great was the monarch’s worldly wisdom, his plan had in it both the subtlety and cruelty of Satan, and yet he was but a fool, and his schemes failed at every point.

Exodus 1:12

Unscrupulous and determined as the enemies of God’s people have been, they have nevertheless been unable to achieve their design. The church must spread, and spread too by the very means made use of to destroy her. There are herbs which increase rapidly when they are trodden upon, and true religion is one of them.

Exodus 1:13-14

This was with the view of degrading them, crushing their spirit, and lessening their vigour, but the cruel device succeeded not. No weapon can prosper against the Lord’s chosen. Hard labour is after all less injurious than pampered indolence. Better slave in a brick-kiln than canker in laziness.

After a futile attempt to procure the murder of all the male children by those who attended at their birth, Pharaoh passed a tyrannical decree which is thus recorded.

Exodus 1:22

Murder was thus called in to make an end of the elect people, but it was in vain. The Lord of Israel was greater than the King of Egypt, and proved more than a match for all his plots and plans.

What though to make our numbers less

Our foes their wisdom try,

The more our enemies oppress,

The more we multiply.

Then let the world forbear its rage,

Nor put the church in fear,

Israel must live through every age

And be th’ Almighty’s care.

The Delusive Glory of This World’s Kingdoms

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Matthew 4:10

The delusive quality of all human glory is taught throughout the Bible, and with bold emphasis in the New Testament. It has been taught also with great clarity by the saints and faithful brethren since the days of the apostles.

Satan once tried to bring about the downfall of Christ by offering Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory in them.

In presenting to the Man Jesus the glory of the world he was shrewdly taking advantage of a known weakness in the human race. The trick should have worked, and it would have worked but for one thing: This was no fallen man Satan was attempting to seduce. It was a sinless Man full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whose penetrating glance pierced the world’s attractive exterior.

Beneath its gaudy allurements He saw the corruption and the decay. He knew its glory was but bait to catch foolish victims. He knew its bright promises were all lies. Our Lord saw what other men could not see. He saw not beauty but death, a garish death that must be purchased at the price of the soul. What He saw revolted Him—He would have no part of it!

All this Jesus knew; and Satan for all his wisdom did not know that He knew it. The devil is familiar with the Bible, but still he did not know or he would not have attempted the impossible, and that to his own confusion and permanent loss of face!

Here is sufficient proof that the devil is wise—but not wise enough!