Recently I heard a report from a minister who had visited with leaders in the underground church in China. He said that they are willing to travel many hours just to come to a gathering, enduring the risk of up to 3 years imprisonment if they are caught being there since gathering together is prohibited. They treasure the Word so much, although many do not even have Bibles of their own. They will listen for multiple hours, and even days on end in meetings, sitting on hard wood floors, enjoying fellowship and the treasured sharing of God’s Word. They put great value on FELLOWSHIP. They are willing to joyfully endure great hardships, for the sake of the Lord and their great love for Him.
Consider in contrast some people in other places who are not even willing to travel a short distance to attend services, or being willing to forego any conveniences or comforts without harboring a complaining, upset and intolerant attitude. Instead of readiness, willingness, and excitement for special times of FELLOWSHIP, there are often excuses, as well as many other distractions that are given schedule priority.
May our Chinese brethren inspire us. May the Lord help us to become more grateful, sacrificial, and even willing to suffer for the Lord, if necessary.
Fellowship with the Lord, and with one another is to be highly valued and treasured, and of course very important!
FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD RESTORED
Jesus died on the cross – it was about God loving us, and wanting FELLOWSHIP with His people. The barrier of separation because of sin was removed. Jesus restored man back to FELLOWSHIP with God– He can now have FELLOWSHIP with us and we can have it with Him because of Jesus loving sacrifice on the cross.
We have been made in the image of God! We are made for FELLOWSHIP with God and with one another! It’s part of our spiritual DNA!
FELLOWSHIP DEMONSTRATES THE FEAR OF THE LORD
MALACHI 3:16,17 – Then those who FEARED THE LORD [with awe-filled reverence] spoke (often) to one another, and the Lord listened (paid attention) and heard them… So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who FEAR (that FEARED) THE LORD [with an attitude of reverence and respect] and who meditate (thought) on (esteem/had high regard/ honor) His name. “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them MY JEWELS – and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”
Special note: Previously in Malachi 3 verse 5, the Lord says “I will come near you for judgment;… because they do not fear Me, says the Lord of hosts.” In verses 13-15 “Your words have been harsh against Me,” says the Lord,“Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’
14 You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance…”
We see in the backdrop before these verses in Malachi 3: 16-17 that some had become proud, wicked, scornful, and full of complaint. They had fallen away from FELLOWSHIP with God, and stopped serving HIm. Their evil ways brought upon themselves swift judgment by the Lord of hosts!
We see similarities to conditions around us in the 21st Century, these last of the last days in which we live, There is rampant wickedness, and many of God’s people are falling into sinful pursuits. The love of many is becoming cold through spiritual neglect. Many are getting glutted with the cares and affairs of this world. God takes notice! He will swiftly punish the wicked and those who backslide turn away from serving Him, and greatly reward the righteous and faithful! He takes note of those who FEAR HIM! He considers them very valuable! Let’s not be weary in well doing! In due season we will reap if we faint not! (Galatians 6:9)
STEADFAST, UNWAVERING FELLOWSHIP
HEBREWS 10:23-25 – Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 NOT FORSAKING the ASSEMBLING of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so MUCH THE MORE as you see the Day approaching.
Special note: These are the last days. We anticipate the revelation of the Day of the Lord. Notice that “NOT FORSAKING the ASSEMBLING of ourselves together” is not just a good suggestion, or request – it is a command! Let’s not be influenced by those who are falling away from fellowship, and follow their bad manners. Let’s be faithful in regularly gathering for times of fellowship, and help encourage others to do the same. Let’s go to church services, and maintain close FELLOWSHIP with the Lord and one another these days! That helps sustain our spiritual life!
WALKING IN THE LIGHT WE HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER
I JOHN 1:7 – 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.
Fellowship with Him AND One Another / Fellowship with One Another AND with Him
Special note: There are some who focus on FELLOWSHIP with the Lord, but ignore the importance of FELLOWSHIP with one another. Others focus on FELLOWSHIP with one another, but ignore the importance of FELLOWSHIP with one another. BOTH ARE VERY IMPORTANT!
I JOHN 1:3-7 – … that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have FELLOWSHIP with us; and truly our FELLOWSHIP is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your JOY may be full. 5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have FELLOWSHIP with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 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.
Special note: Recently someone confessed giving place to some offenses.They had stopped praying and reading the Bible for a year. They were in very poor spiritual condition, and it was causing many problems in their life and family. What a joy it was to see them humbly confess their sin, forgive the offenses, and return to the Lord!
FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
CALLED TO FELLOWSHIP
I Corinthians 1:9 – God is faithful, by whom you were called into the FELLOWSHIP of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
FELLOWSHIP INVOLVES SUFFERING
Philippians 3:10-11 – …that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the FELLOWSHIP of His sufferings…
A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
If you FEAR GOD, that’s the beginning of an intimate relationship with Him!
The FEAR OF THE LORD is the beginning of knowledge, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. A proper FEAR OF THE LORD helps us to truly come to know the Lord, and develop an intimate relationship with HIm.
Special note: Intimacy is different than just a casual relationship. It is really getting to know someone, not just about them. It involves a deep love relationship. You want to know anything and everything about them. You want them to receive the very best possible from you. You honor them.
Proverbs 2:1-6 … 4 If you seek her (wisdom) as silver, and search for her as for HID TREASURES; 5 Then shalt you understand the FEAR OF THE LORD, and find the knowledge of God...
Special note: Let’s treasure our relationship with Jesus and HIs Word! Let’s highly value it, and seek Him with all our heart!
THE SECRET OF FELLOWSHIP
Ephesians 3:9-11 – and to make all see what is the FELLOWSHIP of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the ETERNAL PURPOSE which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord…
FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD BRINGS JOY AND SATISFACTION
Psalm 63:1-5 – O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. 4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with JOYFUL lips.
IN HIS PRESENCE IS FULLNESS OF JOY
Psalm 16:11 – You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of JOY; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Special note: The Lord is the source of ETERNAL PLEASURES! Moses was willing to sacrifice the temporary pleasures of Egypt for eternal riches and rewards. (Hebrews 11:25,26) He was laying up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:21-22). The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field… (Matthew 13:44).
SACRIFICES OF JOY
Psalm 27:6 – And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of JOY in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
SERVING WITH GLADNESS
Psalm 122:1 – I was GLAD when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
Special note: The Psalmist didn’t say “I was sad” or “I was mad” — he said “I WAS GLAD”!
Psalm 110:1-4 – Make a JOYFUL shout to the Lord, all you lands! 2 Serve the Lord with GLADNESS; come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
THE JOY OF OUR SALVATION
Psalm 51:12 – Restore to me the JOY of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Isaiah 12:2-3 – Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ ” 3 Therefore with JOY you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
THE JOYFUL SOUND
Psalm 89:15 – Blessed are the people who know the JOYFUL sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.
Isaiah 31:10 / 51:11 – And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, With EVERLASTING JOY on their heads. They shall obtain JOY AND GLADNESS, And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Special note: There is still time. “Now is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). The call goes forth to those have wandered away from the Lord — “Come back to the Lord!” He will have mercy and abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)
GOD’S WORD BRINGS JOY
Jeremiah 15:16 – Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the JOY AND REJOICING of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.
John 15:11 – “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your JOY may be full.
Special note: Is your life lacking JOY? Spend time in God’s Word, and in fellowship with Him and His people. It makes a big difference! Hopefully one of your goals this year is to at least read all the way through the Bible once, and portions of Psalms/Proverbs and the New Testament multiple times! It is life-transforming! Your life will be greatly blessed and renewed!
THE GARDEN OF THE LORD
Isaiah 51:3 – For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
GREAT JOY TO ALL PEOPLE
Luke 2:10 – Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of GREAT JOY which will be to all people.
KINGDOM OF JOY
Romans 14:17 – for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and JOY IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.
A FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS JOY
Galatians 5:22 – …but the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…
Psalm 149:2 – Let Israel REJOICE in their Maker; Let the children of Zion BE JOYFUL in their King.
GATHERING TO JESUS
Genesis 49:10 – …and unto Him (JESUS) shall the gathering of the people be.
Special note: It is all about Jesus! When we gather we are gathering to Him, not just people. Our fellowship centers in Him!
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 – …concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our GATHERING TOGETHER to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled…
Psalm 102:15-16,21-22 – So the nations shall FEAR THE name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth Your glory. 16 For the Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory. To declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem, 22 When the peoples are GATHERED TOGETHER, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.
Matthew 23:37 – (Jesus: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Special note: It is so sad when some are not willing to gather together unto Jesus!
JESUS OFFERS FELLOWSHIP WITH US
Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I (JESUS) stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine (sup; eat together; have dinner with; share a meal) with him, and he with Me.
FELLOWSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER
Matthew 18:20 – For where two or three are GATHERED TOGETHER in My name, I AM THERE in the midst of them.”
Matthew 18:19 – “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
EMMAUS ROAD FELLOWSHIP
Luke 24:15,32 – So it was, while they conversed (communed; talked; talked) and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them… And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
Let’s not just be believers – but “belongers”! Everyone needs a spiritual family. That’s one of the reasons why God created the church. When God saves you and adopts you into his family, he intertwines your life with the lives of other believers…(1)
Special note: Where do you belong? Get planted in fellowship somewhere, in a God-fearing, Bible believing local church. Those that are planted in the house of the Lord will flourish and be fruitful (Psalm 92:13,14).
THE EARLY CHURCH WAS STEADFAST IN FELLOWSHIP
Acts 2:42-43 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and FELLOWSHIP, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then FEAR came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
I Corinthians 15:58 – …my beloved brethren, BE STEADFAST, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
REMEMBER TO KEEP THE SABBATH
Exodus 20:8 – “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
Special note: Reserve 1 day a week for the Lord. It is the Lord’s day. It is not negotiable. It is easy for many distractions and temptations to sidetrack us. Let’s not invest our time and money in wrong places. Let’s make keeping the Sabbath a priority, and keep it holy!
Leviticus 19:30 – ‘You shall keep My Sabbaths AND REVERENCE My sanctuary: I am the Lord.
Special note: Notice the connection between Sabbath keeping and gathering in the house of the Lord for worship.
Leviticus 23:39 – …on the first day there shall be a sabbath–rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath–rest.
Special note: In the Feast of Tabernacles, the 1st and the 8th day were a sabbath-rest. Jesus rose on the 1st day of the week. In commemoration of His resurrection the early church met on the 1st day of the week. When we meet on the 1st day, on the 8th day, the 15th day… we are into a sabbatical cycle of the 7th day (every 7 days).
Isaiah 58:13-14 – “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, 14 Then you shall DELIGHT yourself in the Lord;and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
choose friends that fear the lord
Psalm 119:63 – I am a companion (friend) of all who FEAR YOU, and of those who keep Your precepts (commandments).
2 Corinthians 6:14-16 – Do NOT be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what FELLOWSHIP has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agree ment has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Ephesians 5:11-14 – And have NO FELLOWSHIP with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light….
Special note: If the people around you are dragging you away from your faith in God, leave them! Choose companions who are willing to sincerely serve the Lord!
JUDGMENT IN THE HOUSE OF GOD
I Peter 4:17 …the time has come for JUDGMENT to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Psalm 19:7-11 – …9 The FEAR OF THE LORD is clean, enduring forever; The JUDGMENTS of the Lord are true and righteous altogether…11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is GREAT REWARD!
Revelation 15:1-4 – Who shall not FEAR YOU, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For YOUR JUDGMENTS have been manifested.”
Psalm 1:4-6 – (vs 1-3 –blessings upon the godly)… The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the JUDGMENT, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
2 Peter 3:16-19 – … beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the JUDGMENT seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Special note: We will all make our own personal appearance before the Lord to give account. There will be no other representative option.
Hebrews 9:27 – …it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the JUDGMENT (after this comes certain JUDGMENT – AMP)
Special note: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last! (2)
Jude 22-23 – …on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others SAVE WITH FEAR, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Romans 1:18-25 – For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
2 Peter 2:20-22 – …if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
Hebrews 10:26-31 – if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain FEARFUL expectation of JUDGMENT, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will JUDGE His people.” 31 It is a FEARFUL THING to fall into the hands of the living God.
FELLOWSHIP – GETTING ALONG WITH EACH OTHER
FELLOWSHIP OF THE SPIRIT
Philippians 2:1-4 – Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any FELLOWSHIP of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my JOY by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Matthew 5:22-24 – I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the JUDGMENT. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council.
Special note: “Raca” defined — it is a term expressing contempt and scorn for someone
Matthew 5:22-24 (Cont) – But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 18:15 – “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother…
Matthew 18:34-45 – (parable of the unmerciful servant) – …his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not FORGIVE his brother his trespasses.”
BRIDGES (Bridge to the Islands and Nations…)
Build bridges of loving communication and unity (instead of walls of separation)!
A missionary serving either in Africa or in the South Sea Islands (not quite sure) reported the following story —
They were teaching on the joy of giving, and how people sometimes give gifts to one another as acts of love and friendship in remembrance of the Lord’s wonderful gift of salvation – in times of joyful celebrations. “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, the Bible says (Acts 20:35).
Some time later, a young man in the village came knocking on their door with a very special gift. He was a poor young man, and gifts there on their village were not easily available. He had traveled a long ways to a distant, remote place – which took many hours to reach on foot, to find a very beautiful gift to give them. It was a lustrous seashell that was not only very beautiful, but rare and precious.
Of course the missionary was overjoyed, and thanked the young man for giving them such a beautiful gift, that had been brought so sacrificially from such a great distance. The young man lovingly replied, “Long walk part of gift!”.
“LONG WALK PART OF GIFT!”
Special note: Let’s remember the importance of our loving sacrifices, and gifts of fellowship to one another. Let’s not take our times of precious fellowship together for granted. Let’s highly esteem it, and continue to be faithful, God-fearing worshipers together. Let’s have great appreciation for those who have made a “long walk” so we could experience salvation (Jesus, as well as His messengers). Thank God for Jesus and the people that He sent to take a “long walk” that have personally blessed our lives...
Let’s always FEAR GOD, and maintain close fellowship with the Lord and one another!
- Special acknowledgement to Rick Warren in his book “Better Together”, p.69, paragraph 2.
- Special acknowledgement to Missionary C.T. Studd for this famous quote.
- Special acknowledgement and thanks to Evelyn Asuncion for assistance with this message, and for sharing it at our online service.