Some mornings, some days, there is just this cloud that makes it so hard to develop a thought. I can see it. I can almost feel it, but it is like I am trying to walk in molasses. This morning is one of those mornings. But in all that I am driven to this thought. This morning the thought was the fellowship of Christ.
When I have a morning like this I pray, I listen to sermons and I try to read. Reading can be hard, but I try with varying degrees of success
until the fog begins to clear. I am not sure if it is the meds or just the remnants of the stroke that cause this cloud, but the thing is I cannot let it stop me from some level of study, though it may prevent me from writing some days, it cannot let me stop from spending time in the word on some level. It would be like deciding to hold my breath because I have a headache.
This morning I started slowly. Kind of like the granny gear in an old work truck. I kind of lurched along very very slowly. First was a sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and then some scriptures and prayer.
The Fellowship of the Believers
Dr. Jones sermon this morning was about the reformation of the church and the scripture he used was Acts 2:41-47
Acts 2:41-47 (ESV) 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
The Fellowship of the Believers
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
As I listened to him read this passage and preach of the love that the people had for one another and their common love of Jesus and the joy they shared loving and discussing the gospel of Jesus Christ the weight began to lift.
I tried one train of thought and the cloud just got thicker so I chose another and found more clarity. It was the last chapter of John. Specifically, the verses 15-19 and 20-23
These verses are the exchange between Jesus and Peter after the resurrection when Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him.
John 21:15-19 (ESV) Jesus and Peter
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
You know I read this passage this morning like a thousand times before but this morning my heart sank a bit.
I thought of the exasperation in Peter’s voice and Jesus’ relentless asking and I thought of all the times I set Him aside for my own selfish reasons. Maybe I did not deny him as Peter did, but I remained silent.
There may have been other believers there and I simply held my tongue when I should have spoken up; then there are those last two words that Jesus says in that passage, “Follow Me.”
Jesus asks Peter these questions, and he asks the same of me. And maybe I get exasperated sometimes. But He does not ask them because He needs to know. He knows my heart. He asks me because I need to know it and I need to know so that I will follow. He knows my heart better than I do and sometimes he needs to prove it content to me.
The other piece to this was what he said next to Peter in John 21:20-23.
After all that discussion where Jesus spelled out even Peter’s death he had a very human question. What about John? What is going to happen to him, and Jesus was to the point but I hear no harshness in his voice as I read it. I hear only love and understanding.
John 21:20-23 (ESV) Jesus and the Beloved Apostle
20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23 So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
That is such an important point. Peter is asking about the path for John and Jesus points out that it is not his worry. Peter follows Jesus, just as John does, and you know the same is true of each of us.
We do not get to decide how someone follows Jesus. We pray that they do. We cannot decide their gifts or calling; we only pray that they might accept it and bear fruit.
I think of 1 Peter 2
1 Peter 2:9-12 (ESV) 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
We have this gift and if we truly believe with all our hearts how can we squander it by allowing the evils of the world to try and snuff it out.
Jones this morning spoke of how when he met a true believer he knew very quickly that they shared the faith. They may not agree on every aspect of doctrine, but they share the fundamental faith in Jesus Christ. He compared it to the men that came to his church during World War II. I remember, after being saved, all the guys at work that I suddenly realized were believers. Guys I had known for 20 or 30 years.
It was amazing how the Holy Spirit showed them to me or me to them and in a matter of seconds, we would be speaking of the Lord and His impact on our lives. That is fellowship. I want to share God’s Word with others so that they might know His love and that they might be drawn to a fellowship that exists nowhere else in this world but His true church, the body of Christ.
Father, help me be a light speaking your Gospel boldly. Help me be a good example of your love to all whom I might meet: believer or unbeliever. Help me be bold in the faith, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.