Fellowship

Fellowship and companionshipI have, for a long time known that Christ is living in me. (My Testimony) But that does not mean that I like being lonely.  If Christ is in us we are never alone, but we can feel lonely when we are without other human companionship.  God built us to live as groups in many ways.  some of the groups we live in are in school, church, the family unit, neighbors and even roommates.  Companionship is important, but fellowship is even more so.  The bible tells us this:

“There was a man all alone;
he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
a miserable business!

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:8-12)

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

These verses are a bit deep in interpretation, but that’s why fellowship is so important.  Scripture may mean something very important to one person and it may be God’s task for us to make that meaning know to some or many others.  Fellowship is how we do this for God.  This is how we know that God does not want us to be alone, so He gave us the Holy Spirit to help us to live godly lives and we will not ever be alone, though we may sometimes feel lonely. (Acts 1:7-8)

But fellowship is more than just not being alone.  We should be practicing all the good things we know in gladness and serenity.  In closing, remember what Paul writes:

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  (Ephesians 4:25-32)

The Good Ol’ Days

I recently heard a cover to a song published some years ago by a mother-daughter duo named “The Judds”, the song called “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days)”. The song says exactly that: “Grandpa, Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days”. I thought for a very long time that I was maybe born 20 years too late. I longed for the simpler times where there was no technology except for NASA and when I thought people were happier. I listened closely to that song and realized I was completely wrong. God knew what He was doing bringing me here at His time and on His terms.

I grew up in a meager environment where I wore hand-me-down clothing, carried brown-bag lunches to school and never enjoyed that “new car smell”. Half of our back yard was vegetable garden and we ALL worked in it to put away for winter, when times would be leaner. But we were never hungry and my parents worked hard, my father sometimes working two jobs, so we would have money to buy school supplies and me, my corrective shoes.

As I moved on in life, I married and my wife and I were able to have quite the extravagant lifestyle. However, I discovered that, for Christians, sometimes having more is not a good thing and God will take it away. We had a lovely 1800 sq. ft. chalet style home on a wooded lot with a huge deck, a 20′ by 40′ in-ground pool a 30 foot camper and a boat docked at a nearby lake. We lost all of this, in part, due to my carelessness. I once owned what I call a fancy SUV which I had to give up for a small economical car I could afford to feed. I have moved 3 times in the last 2 years, each time to a smaller and more basic house (the last 2 renting).

The apostle Paul wrote: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-12) I too have learned to be content in my surroundings. As God provides for us, we should also be content with what He has provided.

Many of us look to these days as being close to the end of the world, sinful with corruption, prostitution, thievery, deception and nearly complete chaos. I tell you, read your Bibles and you will find that all of these sinful ways existed back to Sodom and Gomorrah and even before Noah. This is why God destroyed mankind in the great flood. In “The Revelation”, we learn that the earth will again be destroyed but this time by fire. Jesus described the end of the age in Matthew 24. I tell you that we are all in the right place and at the right time – God’s time.

It has been difficult for many to accept these times. I am ashamed that I too have participated in some of the arguments and outright rage happening on Facebook and other Internet websites. There is no need for this behavior. If you don’t like what someone is saying you can unfollow or unfriend them, then you won’t be witness to anything else they say. As I have started doing this I have become much more tolerant of Facebook folk. If you don’t like what is in the news, political philosophy or violence on network television, use the OFF switch.  Nobody can force his ideals on others, others must accept ideals from one another. That’s a freedom neither enjoyed nor tolerated by many other nations.

This is a fallen world. The good ol’ days are in the past. We need to recognize the signs of our generations. While past generations may have enjoyed what would have appeared to be an easy-going life, every generation has had it’s sins, transgressions and tribulations. Live your life in righteousness as instructed by God’s Word. Let the other guys fight it out amongst themselves. We will all leave this world behind us one day. Make sure you travel in the right direction, in the path of Jesus, our Savior.

Righteous Charity

Righteous CharityWhat in the world is righteous charity?  A while back, I had a neighbor who would constantly tell me all of the charitable things they had done in recent past. I considered it bragging. It is wrong to be self-righteous in the company of others, about doing charitable deeds. This includes contributing money, helping the elderly and/or assisting in an organized event such as a Thanksgiving food drive. True righteous charity comes to you when you do these things from the goodness of your heart, expecting absolutely nothing in return. When you do this, the Holy Spirit will dispense upon you a feeling of great peace, love and a level of satisfaction that you pleased God; a satisfaction that you cannot obtain by yourself.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matt 6:1-4)

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
(James 4:10)

“Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:2-4)

(Also see Charity)