When We Fellowship Together

Two bucks sparring

Two bucks sparring in the fall. Photo by Michael Clark

Paul admonished the Corinthian church saying,

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. (1Cor 11:17, ESV2011)

Often we take our coming together as members of Christ’s body for granted. Recently when I needed fellowship, the time was spent talking about the things of this world (weather calamities, mass murders, terrorism, politics, etc.) instead of lifting one another up in Christ. I have been as guilty of this as anyone else. I woke up to this fact when I saw the fruit of my words pulling another dear saint down. She was brave enough to tell me about the effect these words were having on her. As I prayed about this, I came across the following excerpt by T. Austin-Sparks, which I later shared with her and apologized.

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers” [Acts 2:42]. There is a tremendous means of grace, a tremendous enrichment of Christ in the fellowship of the Lord’s people. I believe the enemy will get believers, when they are together, to talk about anything under the sun rather than about the Lord. It is easy when you meet together with the Lord’s people to be carried off with all kinds of matters of interest and not to begin to talk about the Lord; but if you do there is always an enrichment, always a strengthening, always a building up; it is the Divine way. Fellowship is a means of imparting Christ to the believer. And wherever spiritual fellowship is possible, you and I ought to seek it, look after it, cherish it. There are all too many of the Lord’s children today, who have no chance of spiritual fellowship, and who would give anything to have it. The Lord would have us at least two together. That is His order, and there is something in ministering Christ to one another. There will be something lost unless that is so. These are ways in which we feed upon the Lord. (1)

Fellowship in Christ is necessary–even if it is just two or three gathered together in His name–if we are to grow and prosper in Him. Our times of fellowship should be sought out, nurtured and cherished. We should start out our days in prayer instead of being pulled down into the affairs of this world. Satan will do whatever he can to weaken us so that we are not effective to lift others up and encourage them in the Spirit, and we should not be ignorant of his devices.

I often find that the Spirit can use me to speak to others through a scripture He brings to my mind while we fellowship, but like Peter I can be speaking the very words of God and later in an unguarded moment be speaking for the devil (see Mark 8:27-33). James addressed this very thing.

Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing [Grk. katara – literally “downward prayer” or communications]. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Does a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (Jas 3:10-11, KJ2000)

I always thought of this word cursing as something more overtly done with words of anger toward a fellow saint. But as we look at the root meaning of this Greek word, it means any communication that pulls us or others down. How often does both bitter and sweet water come from the fountain in our hearts? This should not be so. Jesus said this to the woman at the well in Samaria:

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, ESV2011)

If we have the Spirit of Christ abiding in us we should always be speaking word of life to one another. As for prayer and how necessary it is to get us on the right track in the Spirit, Sparks went on to explain.

We do feed upon Christ in prayer. To put that in another way, there is an imparting of Himself to His Own in prayer. We may go to prayer in weariness, and rise in freshness; we may go to prayer exhausted, and rise renewed… really seeking the Lord, reaching out, taking hold of the Lord, giving ourselves up to the Lord in prayer, never fails to have renewing, uplifting, strengthening results. You say prayer may wear you out? Yes, but there is a wonderful strength that comes by wearing out prayer. There is vitality given to the spiritual life even in prayer that tires us physically, and we go in the strength of it. Yes, prayer is a way in which Christ is ministered to us by the Holy Spirit. Prayer is a way in which we feed upon Christ; He becomes our life. (1)

Prayer, time spent meditating on the scriptures and fellowshipping in the Spirit is what made the early church such a powerful force in spreading the gospel and lifting each other up. Dear saints, may we all do the same.

(1) http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001510.html

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23 comments on “When We Fellowship Together

  1. dimple says:

    Timely and true. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Michael,

    I was so glad to see that you wrote about this so important issue of how to fellowship in the Spirit. It is true that our old nature is rather inclined to speak about ANYTHING but God unless He has given us some good feelings about Him beforehand. But if we feel blah and empty, how easy it is to lose track and be occupied with worldly worries, fear of the future, sorrow, self-pity, and other discouraging stuff Satan continually offers us UNLESS we run to God in prayer and ask for His help to set us free from all our fallen nature’s (spiritually) destructive tendencies.

    Great post, my brother! ⭐

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Pat Orr says:

    I was delighted to see the blog. I enjoyed the picture – and felt guilty for doing so.

    Fellowship is indeed so wonderful, but so easy to neglect. Even in prayer, I am convicted that I often am just doing my discipline of prayer, and miss true fellowship. Even when together with other saints, I can miss true fellowship. My prayer is to be fellowship minded, not missing the opportunity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Pat, I read read your comment and it is good to hear from you again.

      I think that we who have been steeped in organized religion most of our lives can easily miss the freedom of the Spirit who desires to change our hearts by His love so that prayer and fellowship with the Lord and with one another is a joy and not a formatted task. It was easier for me to see this once I put my communication with Jesus in the context of a relationship of two people who are in love with one another. It also helped to see “fellowship” in the setting of a family where love motivates all that is done and not duty or task. As Paul wrote, “Faith works through love.”

      Love you in Christ,
      Michael

      Like

  4. Alan Haungs says:

    I am NOT against Topical Gatherings. But it can be rare that saints simply get together and talk with each other in personal terms regarding their walk with the Lord. I have seen the meeting form WORSHIPPED and meeting shape/style preserved at all costs, regardless of the saints need The real treasure are the called ones themselves, not the events they attend..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Well said, Alan. When people and their agendas or pet soulish topics control a time of the saints gathering, the Holy Spirit will be quenched from moving freely in their hearts. I also have seen the Spirit move in a meeting and then those in control want to either quench it or capture what happened and clone it under their control. The Holy Spirit wind can not be contained either way.

      Yes, my brother, we who move with the Lord and follow Him as His flock are the treasure…

      “And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the jewels of a crown, lifted up as a banner over his land.” (Zech 9:16, KJ2000)

      Like

  5. Ken Burgess says:

    OUUCCHHH!!!! The TRuTH, truly does hurt. But HE also heals and makes whole which leads to HOLiNESS.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks, Ken. Your comment reminded me of this prophesy from Hosea…

      “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he has torn, and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” (Hos 6:1-2, KJ2000)

      Yes, OUUCHHHH! But what a healing as we surrender to the Sergeon’s hands.

      Good to hear from you again and that you have survived all those hurricanes down there.

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kenneth Dawson says:

    Yes Mike you are so correct–I had an experience this morning at church when what I heard in Sunday school was what the Lord needed to get across to me so I went to the restroom while I was on my way to the sanctuary and the Lord said you can go home now you got what you need–Now go apply it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Well done, Kenneth. It is so important to listen to the Spirit in all the ways He speaks to us and it is so easy to get into a routine of listening to teachers only so we can have our ears tickled and miss HIS still, small voice.

      Like

  7. Judi says:

    🙂 Like* for this post and the comments and Love in Christ to all His saints!
    I’m doing a “snoopy dance” in the spirit – well at least in my soul – LOL! So happy to see your post today.

    Hahaha I LOVE the picture and verse just below of 1 Cor 11:17, Michael! Perfect symmetry! Regarding using the bucks sparring It brings also to my mind: Psalm 73:21-23 (ESV)
    “When my soul was embittered,
    when I was pricked in heart,
    I was brutish and ignorant;
    I was like a beast toward you.
    Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.”

    We can be “like a beast” before the saints as well. I have unfortunately been as such more often than I care to recount…so I can relate to what you have shared about dialogue that brings the hearer DOWN rather than builds them (or us) UP!

    Quote from TAS:
    “Fellowship is a means of imparting Christ to the believer. And wherever spiritual fellowship is possible, you and I ought to seek it, look after it, cherish it. There are all too many of the Lord’s children today, who have no chance of spiritual fellowship, and who would give anything to have it. The Lord would have us at least two together. That is His order, and there is something in ministering Christ to one another. There will be something lost unless that is so. These are ways in which we feed upon the Lord. (1)

    I think that even by commenting we can “feed upon the Lord” since as TAS explains it needs TWO at least to be called “fellowship”. The Lord’s order.
    You spend time preparing the “meat of the word” here – the blog post – and we bring the bread, sides and desserts aka “Comments”.

    1 John 1:1-4 (ESV)
    “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—
    >>>that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.” <<<(added the arrows to illuminate verse 3 in particular)

    Thank you for letting Christ be formed in you and sharing with us the process 🙂 Judi

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Judi, thanks for the scriptures you shared. “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” As I read this again John seems to be saying that real fellowship with the saints is dependent on our seeing and hearing as we have fellowship with the Father and the Son. We cannot give away what we have not received from them. It is better to remain silent than to offer the sacrifice of fools (Ecc. 5:1-2).

      Thanks you for your words of encouragement,

      Michael

      Like

  8. K.d. Jackson says:

    Good to hear from you Michael, thank you for sharing these words. I have never read much from brother Sparks, but thoroughly enjoyed his writings here. Be well brother.

    Yours in our Lord and Friend, Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for your comment, K.D. In the place God has me at this time, T.A. Sparks seems to quite often hit the nail on the head. He had a depth of spiritual understanding like few Christian authors I have ever read. I get excerpts of his writings in a daily devotional email from “Open Windows.” Here is a link to the subscribe page if you are interested. It is free and there is never a pitch for donations, either, and he would not have had it any other way…

      http://www.austin-sparks.net/PHPlist/?p=subscribe

      Good to hear from you again, my brother,

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  9. A beautiful post, Michael. I could not help but be reminded of the countless times your reference to a Scripture verse enlarged and enriched a discussion.

    While I entirely agree that our time in fellowship with other Christians should focus on Christ, I do think it is helpful for Christians to examine world events in the context of their faith. Though we are not of the world, we are in it. We cannot help but be impacted by mass shootings and other atrocities.

    We cannot turn our backs on such things. Nor, I think, does the Lord want us to do that. Tragedies often afford us opportunities to witness and to share God’s love, both with believers and non-believers alike. They shape our character, and test our faith.

    Thank you again for your insights.

    With love,

    A. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Anna, we are to be in the world, but not of the world. Coming together and praying for and even reaching out to those being hurt in these tragedies is good as long as we do so in the power and love of the Lord. Once we allow them to pull us down into a soulish mindset is where we no longer do anyone else or ourselves any good. Like Jesus said to the disciples, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”

      Liked by 3 people

  10. mariatlee says:

    Michael,

    May that your voice echoes far and wide and reach as many ears, ears that truly hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. This is such a refreshing post and your humility and zeal for the Lord Jesus touch me. Rak Chazak V’ematz!

    Maria

    Liked by 1 person

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