Lesson 4: ENJOYING THE FAMILY
GROWING THROUGH FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHERS
Parents have found that in many ways it is easier to rear a family of several children than an "only child." With several children n there is an added financial and material demand as well as the demand upon time, but it also has its advantages in the training of the children.
Children must have the opportunity to be around other children before they learn to share, to play, and to get along with others. After being around others, they soon enjoy sharing new discoveries, skills and knowledge. It is much more fun with someone their own age than an older person who already knows what they have just discovered. ed. They enjoy teaching little brother something they have learned to do.
Parents are sometimes amazed at how easily the second child learns to do something it took the first one a long time to learn. The secret is that the older child helped teach the younger or the younger imitated the older one. Children n profit from the experiences of each other. Sometimes a little girl will become a "little mother" for the younger child. She will try to keep him from getting hurt; show love and sympathy when he gets hurt; or call Mother if help is needed.
The little brother is not only profiting from her experience, but the little girl is learning lessons she will never forget.
THE CHRISTIAN NEEDS FELLOWSHIP
Private READING, STUDYING, and MEMORIZING all have their place in the life of the Christian. But you need to meet with others and HEAR the Word of God taught and preached and enjoy the fellowship and strength of other believers. Where do we do this? In God's house: the Church.
LIKE A PEBBLE IN A POND
You need to meet with other Christians just as a child needs to be around other children n. Your fellowship should spread to wider and wider circles until it reaches the ends of the earth.
Jesus chose only twelve from among all His followers. But among the twelve there was an inner circle of three - Peter, James and John. It is important that you find someone of like precious faith, who is interested in the same things. You need someone with whom you can share the things you are discovering in God's Word. As problems arise your friend may be able to help because of his own experience or knowledge. You can be PRAYER PARTNERS. God gives a special promise to united prayer (Matthew 18:19).
Perhaps you do not know such a person. Pray about it. Ask God to send you someone. Usually y someone about your own age and sex is best. However, God might send you some- one quite a bit older (in age or in the Lord) to be a "spiritual" mother or father to you. Sometimes when you talk to a little child it is hard to understand what he is trying to say, so you ask his older brother or sister who can usually explain. Your prayer partner may be able to help you more than anyone else. Work out a fixed time, and plan to meet once a week.
In the first circle of fellowship should be your own family. There is nothing that will unite a family more and help it grow spiritually than fellowship together with Christ. This is some- times called a family altar or family devotions. It is hard to lay down a strict pattern because each family is different. For a true fellowship of the family (joint-participation), it should not be so complicated that little children cannot understand most of it. It is unreasonable to think that a small child could benefit from hearing a chapter read from the Bible when he does not understand most of the words, any more than you would if it were read in a foreign language. A few verses explained will prove more valuable .
The method used should fit the needs of your family, whether it is reading a portion o- the Bible, Bible or missionary stories, devotional guide, or Scripture verse promise box. Broadly speaking, it should include praise, thanksgiving (especially for answered prayer), feasting upon a portion of His Word, and all praying together. Will YOU Start today?
ALL the members of your family may not know the Lord. It is especially difficult if the father is unsaved. You might have a family altar with only a part of your family present, while you pray for the salvation of the others. Work schedules may make it difficult for all to meet together. Set aside a certain time each day - at the break- fast table or in the evening. Make a time and keep it. DON'T get too busy. FAMILY WORSHIP WILL PAY BIG DIVIDENDS.
The next circle of fellowship should be the local church and the group of churches in its fellowship.
Every believer should become united with a local Bible-believing Baptist church. The local church provides many things the Christian needs, and fellowship that cannot be had in any other way. The Bible refers to the church in one main way: As a local body of believers Acts 8:1; Acts 13:1; Philippians 4:15; Philemon verse 2).
First, consider the local church and your relation to it. Make it a matter of prayer as to the church you join. The name above the door will not always tell you what kind of a congregation meets inside the building.
DO NOT EXPECT PERFECTION
No church is perfect. The pastor, the deacons and the members are all human. They will make mistakes and so will you. With all its failures the church is the nearest approach to that perfect fellowship we will have some day in Heaven.
THERE IS A DIFFERENCE
There is no question that some local churches are more like the church of the New Testament than others. Some have drifted so far from the Bible they are Christian in name only.
DO NOT PICK A CHURCH
because it has a beautiful building because of the preacher's personality because your friends go there because of family tradition.
Let us go to the Bible to see what a church should be like. God has given to the church pastors, evangelists, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11, 12). A good pastor will gladly tell what the church stands for and what he preaches and teaches.
1. Jeremiah 3:15 says a good pastor will feed his people with knowledge and under- standing. (I Peter 2:2) says you grow by the Word of God. "ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God" (II Timothy 3:16). DO NOT join a church that does not believe the Bible is the actual Word of God (see II Timothy 3:1-7).
2. Make sure the church upholds the deity of Christ, that He is God. "That Christ died for our sins...that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Cor. 15:3,4). Some churches do not teach this
(II Peter 2:1; I John 4:1,2).
3. Do you have a midweek prayer meeting, and do they pray at this meeting? Is this where they take their problems and disagreements to settle them upon their knees?
4. Is the second coming of Christ taught (John 14:2,3)? Some churches scoff at this (II Peter 3:3,4).
5. Is there a constant effort made in soul winning? Are souls being saved? Are they conscious of the lost in their own community'? So they have a foreign missionary program? Are they supporting their own missionaries (Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 1:8)?
YOU WILL NOT FIND A PERFECT CHURCH
IF the church is true to the Bible and faithful to the Gospel, even though there may be some flaws in conduct and practice, unite with it, contribute toward its spiritual advancement and you will grow with it.
BENEFITS FOR YOU
The program of a church could be divided into three main parts:
1. Teaching and training
This is a large subject and we will consider only a few important points.
TEACHING AND TRAINING OF:
New members (sadly neglected in most churches) (II Timothy 2:2).
The children (Proverbs 22:6; II Timothy 3:15).
Old members (for more effective service) (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Jesus left two ordinances for the church: Baptism and the Lord's Supper. As you enter the church fellowship you will want to be obedient and be baptized (Matthew 28:19: Acts 10:48). It is an outward sign of an inward work of grace, the new birth. It speaks of identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:4). Consequently, it should be for believers only. It could have no significance to anyone who does not believe or who cannot understand what it means.
Be present when the Lord's Supper is observed. "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come"
(I Cor. 11:26).
"GIVING" SHOULD BE A PART OF WORSHIP
There are expenses in operating a local church, and you should assume your part in this. The Jews in the Old Testament were commanded to give a tithe (one-tenth of their income) back to God. There is a much higher spiritual principle given in Proverbs 3:9,10. Honor the Lord with your first fruits. Do not wait until the whole harvest and then give the Lord Mis tithe. The promise is that if you take care of the Lord's work first you will have plenty. You should not get everything you want first and then give to God if you have anything left. As you survey the world, make a list of the different parts of God's work that require financial support. Pray for guidance that God will direct you to put His portion in the places where He would have you put it. YOU SHOULD ONLY GIVE TO CAUSES THAT HONOR CHRIST THROUGH YOUR LOCAL CHURCH.
God give a special promise to united prayer (Matthew 18:19). The midweek prayer meeting should be attended if at all possible. The members who are in business for God will usually be there. This is sometimes called "the hour of power." It is the "spiritual thermometer" of the church. If you are too timid to pray before other people, participate silently. Ask God to teach you to pray (Luke 11:1).
Many activities are sponsored by your church. Start praying that God will give you a place to serve Him. Speak to Him first about it. Be careful that you do not get involved in just "busy work."
The big task is to get the Gospel to the "uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Everything else should have its relationship to that and "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20).
Learn to talk to people about Christ. Help support others who can spread the good news where you cannot go.
Do "good works." These are profitable (Titus 3:8). But use them as an opening to tell of God's unspeakable gift. This is the greatest thing you can do.
The Church is spoken of as the Body of Christ. Me is the Head. "Born-again" Christians make up His Body, the Church (Ephesians 4:4; 5:23). Christ prayed "that they also may be one in us" (John 17:21). He wants them unified in love and purpose (John 13:35; Romans 15:5-7; I Cor. 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:16.
Every church member has a ministry in the local church. "And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you...And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular" (I Corinthians. 12:21,26,27).
Your love and fellowship should not stop there, but should go on to the uttermost part of the earth, to the newly converted native who will some day share eternity with you and your Lord.
YOU are in the center (Luke 6:38).
THE FIRST CIRCLE: Your family; prayer partner.
THE SECOND CIRCLE: Your church; church group
(I Cor. 1:9;
THE THIRD CIRCLE: Your church's missionaries and other outreach ministries.
As you view the whole scene, everything should be done as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23).
Assignment: Extra Blessings:
I Cor. 1:9 Luke 6:38
Col. 3:23 Heb. 10:25
II Cor. 9:7,8 Matt. 28:19,20
1. Abraham and Joshua were too busy doing the work of God to have time for family worship Gen. 18:19; Josh. 24:15. True False
2. God holds parents responsible for training their children (Eph. 6:1-4).
3. The Church:
I Cor. 12:12,13(a) is called the Body of Christ
I Corinthians 12:27(b) has Christ as the Head of the Body
Eph. 4:15(c)has "born-again" believers as members in particular of the Body.
4. The word CHURCH is used in the New Testament to refer to a local body of believers Gal. 1:2; Philemon verse 2. True False
5. The New Testament never tells Christians they should meet together for worship and instruction (Heb. 10:25). True False
6. Hearing the Word preached will strengthen your faith and help you grow spiritually (Rom. 10:17): I Peter 2:2. True False
7. I Thess. 5:12,13 teaches that you should esteem your pastor and spiritual leaders highly in love for their work's sake. True False
8. What will help keep unity in a church (Col. 3:14)?
9. Matthew 28:19,20 teaches that the church's main commission is to raise the stand of living of people who are less fortunate than we are. True False
10. The early church (according to Acts 2:40-42; 13:1-3) preached, baptized, taught (continued in the apostles' doctrine), fellowshipped together, broke bread, prayed and sent out missionaries. True False
11. According to Acts 16:30-33 and Acts 2:41, the new Christian waited several weeks before being baptized. True False
12. II Cor. 9:7 teaches you are to give:
True False (a) as you purpose in your heart, not grudgingly or of necessity but cheerfully.
True False (b) whatever you have after bills.
True False (c) what the church asks of you.
13. If you sow bountifully you will reap bountifully (II Cor. 9:6). True False
14. Paul recommended that the church members at Corinth should lay up systematically and regularly on the first day of the week, if they had any money left after paying bills (I Cor. 16:2). True False
15. Where are you told to lay up treasures (Matt. 6:20,21)?
16. What did God give for you (John 3:16)?
17. What will He give you (Rom. 8:32); (Phil 4:19)?
18. (Ephesians 2:8-10 teaches salvation is a gift, but you are created unto
19. Good works are unprofitable to the Christian (Titus 3:8). True False
20. Colossians 3:23 teaches you should do all things as unto
Matthew 5:16 teaches that it should glory to
21. What prepares a Christian for every good work (II Tim. 3:15,17)?
If you do not have a prayer partner, have you started praying for one?
Are you an active member of a local church?
Are you making your "giving" a matter of prayer?
Are you praying that God will use you in His service?
How many chapters have you read in your Bible the past week?
22. Have you memorized:
I Cor. 1:9Yes No
Col. 3:23Yes No
II Cor. 9:7,8Yes No
23. If you want extra blessings learn:
Luke 6:38Yes No
Matt. 28:19,20Yes No
Heb. 10:25Yes No
John 13:34,35Yes No