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Healing Choices: A Healthy Dependence

http://bible.com/r/2B.5e

Today I am reading day 350 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:

Healing Choices: A Healthy Dependence

Romans 1:12 When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.

1 Corinthians 12:25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.

Romans 14:19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

In authentic Christian fellowship we learn the art of giving and receiving. We learn healthy ways to depend upon each other.

The Bible says, “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part.” (1 Corinthians 12:25 MSG).

Mutuality is the heart of fellowship: building reciprocal relationships, sharing responsibilities, and helping each other. Paul said, “I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.” (Romans 1:12 NCV)

All of us are more consistent in our faith when others walk with us and encourage us. The Bible commands mutual accountability, mutual encouragement, mutual serving, and mutual honoring.

Over fifty times in the New Testament we’re commanded to do different tasks for “one another” and “each other.” The Bible says, “Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19 NIV)

You are not responsible for everyone in the body of Christ, but you are responsible to them. God expects you do whatever you can to help them.

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Healing Choices: A Shared Life

http://bible.com/r/2B.5Z

Today I am reading day 345 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:

Healing Choices: A Shared Life

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

God intends for us to experience life together. The Bible calls this shared experience fellowship.

Today, however, the word has lost most of its biblical meaning. Fellowship now usually refers to casual conversation, socializing, food, and fun.

The question, “Where do you fellowship?” means “Where do you attend church?” “Stay after for fellowship” usually means “Wait for refreshments.”

Biblical fellowship is experiencing life together. It includes unselfish loving, honest sharing, practical serving, sacrificial giving, sympathetic comforting, and all the other “one another” commands found in the New Testament.

When it comes to fellowship, size matters: smaller is better. You can worship with a crowd, but it’s hard to fellowship in a crowd. The body of Christ, like your own body, is really a collection of many small cells. The life of the body of Christ, like your body, is contained in the cells.

For this reason, every Christian needs to be involved in a small group within their church, whether is it a home fellowship group, a Sunday school class, or a Bible study. This is where real community takes place, not in the big gatherings.

God made an incredible promise about small groups of believers: “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20 NLT)

Spiritual Habits: Meeting Regularly

http://bible.com/r/2B.3S

Today I am reading day 214 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:

Spiritual Habits: Meeting Regularly

We develop spiritual fitness when we meet regularly and encourage one another. When you get together with other believers regularly, this is called fellowship — sharing and caring together in a small group.

Do you ever need encouragement? Life can be tough, and we all get discouraged. The fact is you’re never going to be an effective Christian if you try to go it alone. You need other people.

Snowflakes are frail, but if enough of them stick together they can stop traffic. You can’t do a whole lot and I can’t do a whole lot, but together in a group we can do something. We can have an impact on this world.

In fact, we need to be in constant contact with other Christians. You need more than just a “Sunday fix.’ Every Christian needs a balance between large group celebration/worship and small group fellowship.

You need a big group, but you can’t share prayer requests within a large group; you can’t pray for each other; you can’t even know everybody. So you need to be in a small group, also.

What’s the result of getting together with other believers? “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV)

God Is Real

http://bible.us/r/2B.2d

Today I am reading day 163 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:

God Is Real

ISA 8:17 The Lord has hidden himself from his people, but I trust him and place my hope in him.

1SA 13:14 But now your rule will not continue. Because you have disobeyed him, the Lord will find the kind of man he wants and make him ruler of his people.”

PSA 10:1 Why are you so far away, O Lord? Why do you hide yourself when we are in trouble?

DEU 31:8 The Lord himself will lead you and be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you, so do not lose courage or be afraid.”

It is easy to worship God when things are going great in your life – when he has provided food, friends, family, health, and happy situations. But what do you do when God seems a million miles away? How do you worship God then?

The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seems distant.

Friendships are often tested by separation and silence; you are divided by physical distance or you are unable to talk. In your friendship with God, you won’t always feel close to him.

David probably had the closest friendship with God of anyone. God took pleasure in calling him “a man after my own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14)

Yet David frequently complained of God’s apparent absence:

“Lord, why are you standing aloof and far away? Why do you hide when I need you the most?” (Psalm 10:1 LB)

“Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help?” (Psalm 22:1 NLT)

“Why have you abandoned me?” (Psalm 43:2 TEV)

Of course, God hadn’t really left David, and he doesn’t leave you. He has promised repeatedly, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

To Hear God, Get Near Him

http://bible.us/r/2B.2Z

Today I am reading day 159 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:

To Hear God, Get Near Him

Genesis 6:9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

Noah built the ark in faith. “He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before.” (Hebrews 11:7a NLT) How did he believe these things that had never happened before would actually happen?

Because Noah could hear God! So how do you do that? You say, “I want to trust God, but I don’t hear him.’ To hear God you’ve got to get near God. You don’t hear God when your mind is filled with a thousand other distractions. You’ve got to get alone with God and be quiet.

The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” That means sit down and shut up. That’s how you hear God and get near to God. You got to sit alone and just be quiet with your Bible, and say, “God, is there anything you want to say to me’? You read God’s Word and you talk to him about what’s on your heart.

Pray — God, I want to listen to you, not the voices of doubt. I want to hear you, and I promise to then obey you. I want to be one of the people that you can use and bless in the next ten years. I want those years to be a decade of destiny for me and my family.

Healing Choices: A Shared Life

http://bible.us/r/2B.28

Today I am reading day 132 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:

Healing Choices: A Shared Life

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

God intends for us to experience life together. The Bible calls this shared experience fellowship.

Today, however, the word has lost most of its biblical meaning. Fellowship now usually refers to casual conversation, socializing, food, and fun.

The question, “Where do you fellowship?” means “Where do you attend church?” “Stay after for fellowship” usually means “Wait for refreshments.”

Biblical fellowship is experiencing life together. It includes unselfish loving, honest sharing, practical serving, sacrificial giving, sympathetic comforting, and all the other “one another” commands found in the New Testament.

When it comes to fellowship, size matters: smaller is better. You can worship with a crowd, but it’s hard to fellowship in a crowd. The body of Christ, like your own body, is really a collection of many small cells. The life of the body of Christ, like your body, is contained in the cells.

For this reason, every Christian needs to be involved in a small group within their church, whether is it a home fellowship group, a Sunday school class, or a Bible study. This is where real community takes place, not in the big gatherings.

God made an incredible promise about small groups of believers: “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20 NLT)

Satan Wants Isolated Believers

http://bible.us/r/2B.11

Today I am reading day 63 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:

Satan Wants Isolated Believers

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Hebrews 13:17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

A church family will help keep you from backsliding.

None of us are immune to temptation. Given the right situation, you and I are capable of any sin. God knows this, so he has assigned us as individuals the responsibility of keeping each other on track.

The Bible says, “Encourage one another daily so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)

We are called and commanded to be involved in each other’s lives. If you know someone who is wavering spiritually right now, it is your responsibility to go after that person and bring him/her back into the fellowship.

James tells us, “If you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back.” (James 5:19 MSG)

A related benefit of a local church is that it also provides the spiritual protection of godly leaders. God gives the shepherd leader the responsibility to guard, protect, defend, and care for the spiritual welfare of his flock.

We are told, “Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God.” (Hebrews 13:17 NLT)

Satan loves detached believers, unplugged from the life of the Body, isolated from God’s family, and unaccountable to spiritual leaders — because he knows they are defenseless and powerless against his tactics.

Church Family: Lab for Love

http://bible.us/r/2B.z

Today I am reading day 61 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:

Church Family: Lab for Love

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

A church family moves you out of self-centered isolation. The local church is the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. It is a lab for practicing unselfish love.

As a participating member you learn to care about others and share the experiences of others: “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor.” (1 Corinthians 12:26 NCV)

Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience the New Testament truth of being connected and dependent on each other.

Biblical fellowship is being as committed to each other as we are to Jesus Christ. God expects us to give our lives for each other. Many Christians who know John 3:16 are unaware of 1 John 3:16: “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (NIV)

This is the kind of sacrificial love God expects you to show other believers – a willingness to love them in the way Jesus loves you.

Don’t Just Believe. Belong!

http://bible.us/r/2B.w

Today I am reading day 58 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:

Don’t Just Believe. Belong!

1 Timothy 3:15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Romans 12:5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

You are called to belong, not just believe.

Even in the perfect, sinless environment of Eden, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18 NIV)

We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves. The Bible knows nothing of solitary saints or spiritual hermits.

While your relationship to Christ is personal, God never intends it to be private. In God’s family you are connected to every other believer. The Bible says, “In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:5 NIV)

Following Christ includes belonging, not just believing. C. S. Lewis noted that the word “membership’ is of Christian origin, but the world has emptied it of its original meaning. Stores offer discounts to “members,’ and advertisers use “member names’ to create mailing lists. In churches, membership is often reduced to simply adding your name to a roll, with no requirements or expectations.

To Paul, being a “member’ of the church meant being a vital organ of a living body, an indispensable, interconnected part of the Body of Christ. We need to recover and practice the biblical meaning of membership. The church is a body, not a building; an organism, not an organization. (Romans 12:4-5)

There is nothing else on earth like the church!

My journey with Christ

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