Pastor Andrew – The ministry of the Word is people oriented and God centered. Last week we heard the from Pastor Jon how important the preaching of God’s Word is to the church! The Word of God is the content which the Holy Spirit uses in the life of each believer to conform them into the image of Christ. However, the public preaching of the Word is not the only means by which God’s Word in communicated into people’s lives. God also uses the relationships of individual believers to aid the sanctification process. As believers build relationships with other believers those lives should intersect with God’s Word. Believers who live out an active faith on God’s Word can do nothing less than share their relationship with the Lord with those around them! This quality of relationship is what the Bible calls fellowship. It is also another means by which individual believers are conformed to the image of Christ. God has used the holy walk of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to challenge, encourage, and cultivate my spiritual walk repeatedly. In my life, God has used those with whom I share a close bond as a kind of accountability to a holy walk. When I spend time with my brothers and sisters in Christ, with whom I share the LIFE of Christ, it spurs me to be faithful in my spiritual disciplines. Countless times when I feel prone to wander from the Lord and pursue fleshly desires, God has graciously used the fellowship of my wife, family, and church family, to prod me back to the light of God’s Word. Maybe this has been your experience too?
Robert Robinson wrote in his famous hymn, Come Thou Fount:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it.
Fellowship is key to the Christian life! Here, are two examples from Brianna Noller and Abraham Reynaga bearing testament to how God has used the fellowship of other believers to aid in their conformity to Christ.
Brianna Noller – Everyday, Monday through Friday, I sit in chapel from 10:00-10:50 and listen. I sit and listen with about 4,000 of my fellow school mates, but there are times when I feel like I am the only one in the room and that the speaker is speaking directly at me. One such experience recently during our mission’s conference. The guest speaker was Tony Merida, one morning he asked us if we were awe-filled with God DAILY. The Lord used this speaker to help me check my heart and reevaluate my mindset. This simple reminder/challenge has changed how I come to God’s Word, interact with Him in prayer, and even how I interact with others about God. Another way the Lord has used fellow believers to conform me to the image of Christ is through lunch on Sundays. I attend Shawnee Hills Baptist Church and after the sermon on the ride back to school and during lunch we are able to edify one another and encourage one another through sharing our thoughts and comments about the sermon. This helps me to really focus on what was said and ways that I could apply it in a very real way. I appreciate these fellow believers that the Lord uses to grow me closer to Him.
Abraham Reynaga – For those who don’t know I have only been a Christian for a little over a year now. But even prior to my salvation, God was using believers to share His Word to me. I remember receiving a text from a friend the day after my first visit to Grace, which said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the FREE gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.” Even though, I had NOOO idea what that meant to me, God’s word was actively working inside me as I would constantly go to that verse to try to figure out what did that mean to me. As a result, this conversation about God’s Word would result in my salvation and the beginning of my conformity to Christ. Since the day that I became a Christian, life has not been perfect, truthfully there has been so much that is happened in the last year that I can’t believe it has only been 1 year. It’s so easy to allow ourselves to be brought down by events that don’t seem to go our way, but even during the hardest times God has used fellowship to lift me back up. God has used so many in my life even up to this point and though I wish I could mention all of them, the one that it all started with was a gentleman named Tom W. Tom and I started meeting together for bible study shortly after I became a Christian which was a huge encouragement for me to continue to grow in my knowledge and relationship with God. Tom has never pointed to a certain direction and said to go this way or that, but he has always pointed to the Word of God when I needed clarity the most. As we know, the Word of God presses us to look to Christ, not to our own self. And by fellowship we can exhort one another daily with the truth of God’s Word, rather than the experiences of the world, which will help us discover our purpose to be conformed to the image of Christ.
“Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13