What is the essence of fellowship?

I would like to start by going through Acts 2:42 because this is where we see the start of the church and fellowship.

42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

 

After Peter’s astounding preaching in Acts 2, that three thousand people received Jesus Christ and were baptized. Starting with this huge number is mind blowing. We’re talking about 3,000 people who are just beginning with their faith; they most probably still have a lot of issues and concerns that they are dealing. They need to devote themselves to hearing sound doctrine, regular fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer in order to keep the faith and grow. When verse 41 mentioned the breaking of bread, it was probably meeting on a regular basis with food. Although it was not just to eat food and be merry, breaking of bread is part of the Lord’s Supper and thus, they were continually meeting with food on the table and having the Lord supper to remind them of what their Saviour has done. This is part of fellowship

Small Group FellowshipWhat is fellowship? When we talk about fellowship it can mean association with people who share the same interest. We can be in fellowship because we have the same hobbies, we like to eat the same food, or we play the same sports. When we talk about Christians who fellowship though, there is only one common interest that should unite us together and that is Christ. The early church modelled that fellowship. After their conversion, they gave their devotion first to listen to the apostle’s teaching. They spent time listening and studying about Christ because they were in fellowship, desiring the same thing – to grow in their relationship with Jesus.

The early church was also constantly discussing things of Christ and encouraging one another.  While they were devoting themselves to the apostle’s teaching they were most probably in constant communication about the things they are learning. They just don’t listen to the message and then go and do their own thing. When you would read verse 42 it says “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to fellowship. Having healthy and facilitated discussions about the word of God is part of a fellowship. It is part of growth. If we are united about “one” thing wouldn’t it just be best to discuss that “one” thing always? If there is a group that loves photography, wouldn’t it be part of their culture to discuss photography? It would be weird to have a photography group and in fellowship, talk about video games? That doesn’t seem right. It’s the same when we are to be in fellowship with other believers, one indication that we are in true fellowship is when we gather together as a group and discuss Christ – what He has done for us, what He is teaching us, how are we getting to know Him more, etc.

One area that we need to develop in our fellowship with men and women of Christ is prayer.  We go to activities that happen within the premises of our church building but when it’s time to have a prayer meeting do we have the same excitement? I believe this is a crucial discipline we need to instil in our fellowship. Prayer should unify us since we are coming together to seek Christ and in prayer, reaching out to Him together. It’s amazing to see a group of believers gathered together in their knees for prayer. In that moment of group desperation, God is glorified because of unity in Christ. Think about it. If you would see a multitude praying to reach out to the lost, they are in fellowship. They share the same battle cry, praying to their Lord and acknowledging that they cannot do this task without divine guidance and help. That’s a powerful sight to see.

My desire for the B1G South ministry is this fellowship. That’s why we have weekly fellowship for singles every Saturday at 6pm. It is to be in fellowship. Aside from being part of a small group fellowship, big group fellowship is also encouraged. Oh, how I desire that I grow together with these individuals as we study God’s word and encourage one another every week. It’s only once a week, it’s not even as regular as the early church which was meeting daily.

I know life can get busy. Believe me when I say, I understand that part of life right now.  Despite our schedule though, I pray that we will not neglect to be in fellowship with other believers. The true essence of fellowship is Christ. He unites us and we gather because of Him. If you want to be in fellowship with other singles, may I just invite you to attend our service every Saturday? If you are interested, just leave a comment below.

The grace of the Lord keep you and sustain you as we wait patiently for His coming. God bless you!

Parable of the Prodigal Son – The Oldest Son

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 has three characters: The youngest son, The oldest son and The Father. The prodigal son represents a sinner who repent while the Father represents God, who is joyful when one comes into repentance. Here we would see the Father’s love to his Son. But what about the oldest son? What lesson what we learn about him?

As we go through Luke 5 we would also see the Father’s love in how we responded to the oldest son.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

This cause the older brother to be and refused to celebrate the return of his Father. But the Father wanted the oldest son to celebrate with them so he pleaded with him. The Father wanted the older son to see the situation as he sees it – His lost brother now found.

The older brother said to him:

‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

Look at how the older brother reacted. We can learn two things from the attitude of the older brother. First, his focus was always on his performance when he said “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.”

Look at how angry the oldest brother is. He used the word or term slavery, and in confidence even mentioned that “NEVER” has he disobeyed his Father. Which is very unlikely for the following reasons: contempt for his Father’s actions and his refusal to celebrate with his Father – he refused to go in. This is truly in comparison to the disobedience of his younger brother who disobeyed his Father but his emotions is just too blown up to exaggerate and say he has never disobeyed his Father.

Next is that we can see he was somehow expecting something in return for his work when he said “yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.” All those years of labour seems that it was motivated by what He can get from his Father.

And again, he was comparing himself with his young brother with scorn when he said “but when this son of yours.” He didn’t mention the youngest brother as “my brother” but “when this son of yours.”
This shows three things that the oldest son were really focused on:

  1. His work and possible rewards
  2. His performance compared to his younger brother
  3. His own business and never took the time to understand his Father

The oldest son represented the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus also talking to. When we look at Luke 15:1-2

15 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. 2 Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

The Pharisees in the time of our Lord were the popular group. They were extremely accurate and minute in all matters appertaining to the Law of Moses. When Jesus in his story introduced the elder brother, it is a clear illustration of the scribes and Pharisees. Just like the oldest son, the Pharisees and scribes were guilty that their outward actions was only important since their inward attitudes were abominable.

They had no sense of sin and no interest in repenting sinners – it was all about them. Just like the character of the oldest son: hard working and obedient but was lacking heart in how he responded.

But look at how the Father reacted to all of these things.

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

We first have to realize that, technically everything that the Father owns was already for the Oldest Son. The share was already divided.

  1. Was he never disobeying the Father in hopes of getting his Favor and to get more from his inheritance?
  2. Wasn’t all that he was working for was for his benefit as well?
  3. Did he realized he (as a son) has the freedom to ask for the young goat?
  4. Did he not know that his Father can willing give what he requested?

That’s why the Father said “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”

Friends, if you would try to think about how the oldest son acted – have you not the same?

  • Are you still moved when someone comes in repentance and gets to know the Lord?
  • Have you been too caught up with performing?
  • Focus is on doing the daily Quiet Times and not the reason why you are doing it
  • Too much focus on the performance on ministry and no longer about God or his people
  • Working for eternal rewards when that is just an additional prize when the prize has always been getting God alone.
  • Are you quick to compare yourself with other people?
  • Do you not take the time to actually know how your Father feels about you and his people?

Again, the main focus of the lesson is in the response of the Father and his love for his son. The Father representing God who is eager to forgive, and joyful when one comes into repentance. Even with the oldest brother, he responded in a loving and patient way.
He is just waiting for you. Waiting for you to open your heart to him. Listen to what He wants you to know – know that he loves you no matter what! Whatever you have done. Whatever mistake. Whatever you have, he loves you and he just choose to.

He is just has love for you. He is not disappointed, but only has compassion for you. Psalm 103:8 – The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my message during the B1G South True Life Retreat entitled “True Love”. If you want to read my experiences during the retreat you can read it here: Day 1Day 2, and Day 3.

Parable of the Prodigal Son – The Father’s Love

Let me ask you this question, “what is true love?” Or let me rephrase the question: have you experienced true love?” Singles love to talk about this four-letter word but on a serious note – there is more to life than a relationship. I want you to know and experience what True Life is. A life that experiences True Love only through one person.

There is someone tugging in your heart, telling you – “are you looking for true love? Look at me.” Perfect love can only be known and experienced through one person. Satisfaction and completeness can only be found in the Lord.

In Luke 15:11-32, we’ll find the parable called “the parable of the prodigal son.”  But what is a parable? Based on Wiki – a parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters.

A parable is a type of analogy. Or simply put, a parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson.

Jesus frequently used parables as a means of illustrating a lesson. Such stories help provide rich symbolism to the lessons he wanted to teach. And in this parable we would see three characters. Let’s start with verse 11.

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

Here we would see three characters:

  • The youngest son
  • The oldest son
  • The Father

This is really a shocking request. Because even though it was perfectly legal for the youngest son to ask for his estate, it was as though he was saying to his father – “my inheritance is much more important than your life” or “I just wish you were dead” when he said “Father, give me my share of the estate”.

But you would see the father graciously fulfil his son’s request. During that time, the eldest son receives twice as much as the other sons. So when the youngest son asked his father for his inheritance he was asking for 1/3 of his share.

If I was in Father’s shoes, I think would be a hard question to swallow. First, thoughts would be raging in my head as to what would happen if I gave his inheritance now.

  • Will he be wise in spending it?
  • Does he want to leave his house and try to be independent?
  • Why would he want it now?
  • Does he desire this so much that he has no regard for my life?

And you can see clearly in verse 13 why the Prodigal son wanted his inheritance immediately and what he did with it.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 

No time to think. No time to ponder if what he was doing was correct. He just wanted to do what he wanted to do. He just took everything he had and left.

He wanted to enjoy his freedom from his father and brother.He wanted to have his own way. He refused any association or relationship with his Father since he choose a life of sinful indulgence.

When read “squandered his wealth in wild living:” this was living in pure immorality and living a debauched lifestyle. Being unwise in how you handle money is not a bad thing, but where you spend your money is completely different.

So the youngest son was spending all of his money and he was spending it satisfy his sensual pleasures. And after he has spent so much to experience his so called “freedom” – he then hit a wall.

14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.

His problem was that, not only had he already spent everything, but there was a severe famine in the land. So what was he left to do?

He took a job to feed the pigs, and we all know that pigs during that time were considered unclean animals. This shows pure desperation. More so with what he was thinking in verse 16.

16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

He was already thinking and considering eating the pods that pigs were eating.

I know when we’re hungry we can eat just about anything. Sometimes we don’t even know if the food we’re eating is really good or if it just seems that way because we’re so hungry that it tasted good.

But this is entirely a different thing since the pods may be edible for pigs but not for humans. No one gave him anything. Even begging was not an option for him.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 

We can see here that the youngest son’s family is really well off. They have servants. They have food. Which brings us back again to that desire the youngest son had. He just really wanted to have his own way despite what he already has.

Normally, you will never be able to appreciate what you have unless it was taken away from you. And so, the youngest son came back to his senses.

18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 

Repentance starts with acknowledgement.

He understood the gravity of his sin that he said he has sinned against his father but also against God (against heaven). He even practiced what he would say to his father.

Therefore, he carefully took the time to really think about what he has done which led him to assess his worth.  – to be servant rather than a son.

True repentance does not mean just acknowledgement but action has to follow. If he had stopped with acknowledgement that is only regret or remorse. Verse 20.

20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

He did something and came to his sense and just like a man, took responsibility for his actions.

“But while he was still a long way off” signifies that the Father had been waiting. The Father had been hoping.

I can imagine it as the Father works on his field every afternoon, at exactly 4pm he would always look beyond his field in hopes of seeing his son coming back home. He was still full of hope and just waiting for his son to come back to his senses. And when the actual moment happened, he ran to his son. The Father felt only one thing – compassion. There was no:

  • “Disappointment on what the son has done”
  • “Regret for giving him his inheritance”
  • “I know you will come back because what you did was right”

The Father only felt, again, one thing – compassion.

He did not wait anymore for the son to reach him, but with much love and compassion for his son, he was the one who ran to him. He ran to him, threw his arms and kissed him.

The word kissed here in Greek really means kissed him earnestly. He was so happy and overwhelmed with joy that his son was back. The son spoke the line he had been practicing and personally the son acknowledged his sin to his Father

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But look how the Father responded to the son’s word in verse 22.

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’…

The Father didn’t even comment about what the son had done. What is important for the Father is that the son has come back to him. He did not even ask what happened and what the lesson to be learned was.

If that was me, I would have asked those questions. But that was not the important thing at that moment for him. The most important thing is that the son has come back – what was lost is now found.

  • He gave the ring as a sign of sonship
  • The “best robe” as proof of his acceptance back into the family.
  • Servants did not wear, rings, shoes, or expensive garments.

The son said “I am not worthy to be your son” the Father responded “You are my son – that’s all that matters – and your back.” The feast was the father’s way of showing his joy and sharing it with others.

Friends, this is the main focus of the lesson. Again a Parable is the simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. The lesson is in the response to the Father. The Father represents God, eager to forgive and joyful when one comes into repentance. Look at how the Father represented God:

  • Waiting for you
  • Waiting to show His Compassion for you
  • Waiting to Restore You

He is constantly waiting for you and has nothing but compassion for you. The Lord right now is tugging at your heart. Wherever you are in your walk with the Lord, He is just right there willing to welcome you back. The father did not point out the mistakes that the son did. He just wanted to celebrate. For the Lord, there is great joy when we come to him and come back to our senses because of our sin. He longs for us. He desires us. He wants to have a relationship with us and He is willing to forgive whatever we have done. Because at one point, we have become like the prodigal son.

The prodigal son represents a sinner who repents. Just like the prodigal son, haven’t we gone our own separate ways? We want to be free – free to do whatever we want and indulge in our own sensual pleasures. The Prodigal son wanted to enjoy his freedom from his father. He refused any association or relationship with his Father. Have we or are we acting the same?

  • Wanted his inheritance now
  • Wanted to be away from his Father
  • Wanted to go his own way

I remember a time in my life where I can be considered that Prodigal son. I didn’t want to have any association with Lord. I just wanted to do what I wanted to do. I did not want to feel supressed. I wanted to feel that this is my life, that I was in control. I was not carefully thinking about what I was doing. Just like the Prodigal Son, what I have was never realized. I never thought that I was already in the right place when I was with the Lord. So in that time, I decided to backslide – turn away from God and just do what I wanted to do. I revolved my life around my girlfriend. I went on drinking sprees and lived a life of pleasure. I remember, whenever my family would go to church I would deliberately miss the service. I’ll join them in the car to go to church just so they won’t notice me missing church and once we arrived at church I will just separate from them and just wait outside or be in another place. I never wanted to be inside the service. Do you know why? Because I knew my father is waiting for me. I knew God will call me again with his love. I knew he will tug at my heart again and whisper to me – “It’s ok, just come back to me. I miss you.” So I tried avoiding it at all cost. But just like the Prodigal Son, I hit a wall. A severe famine or problem came into my life. My so call “true love” ended.  It may seem like one of the usual break-ups that I had with my girlfriend, but this time it was different because somehow she told me we needed to break up because God was telling her to let go of me. I didn’t want to because like I said I revolved my life around her. So when that happened, my whole world crumbled. I felt lost and I even felt like getting angry at God. It took me days, trying not deal with the pain that I was experiencing. One night, my family and I were watching Adam Sandler’s movie entitled “The Longest yard.” Has anyone watched that movie? It’s an American sport comedy film. Everyone was enjoying the movie and laughing while I was giving all effort trying to seem happy but I just couldn’t contain what I was feeling. So I said to myself “I needed to face this.” I went to my room, locked the door, went to my bed and bowed as low as I can on top of my bed and cried to the Lord.

That was my turning point. I never cried so hard in my life – while asking for forgiveness for going my own way and just wanting to indulge in my own sin. And until now, every time I remember that moment I am always at awe at how God can easily forgive a sinner me.

That was the start of my journey. As I came back to my senses and asked for forgiveness for him. In his own way I know he was rejoicing because he knows that life is nowhere else but him with.

  • That True love can be found only in him.
  • That true love is willing to forgive whatever sin.
  • That true love never runs out.
  • The true love that restores.

And because of that true love I am where I am right now. I’m not perfect, I still make mistakes but his grace and love is always there to pick me up. His love is always there telling me – “I love you. You made a mistake. You’ve asked for forgiveness. I forgive you. I love you just because I love you.”

Now that’s true love. Again, let me ask you a question:  “Where is true love”? Satisfaction, completeness and true love can only be found in the Lord.


Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my message during the B1G South True Life Retreat entitled “True Love”. If you want to read my experiences during the retreat you can read it here: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

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