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Devotional by Ray Stedman for May 7-The Young Church

Topic:The Young Church

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:42

Ray Stedman devotion
Ray Stedman

One of the things the young church devoted themselves to was fellowship. Fellowship means holding all things in common — in other words, sharing together. They began to know and to love one another. Here are 3,000 people suddenly added to a little band of twenty. Most of them probably were strangers before this time. Many of them had come from other parts of the world into Jerusalem for that occasion. They did not know each other. But now they are one in Christ, and they begin to love each other and start to talk to each other, to find out what each other has been thinking and how each has been reacting, and to share their problems and burdens and needs, to talk about these together and pray together about them. There was a wonderful sense of community, of commonality, of belonging to each other. That is the fellowship which is the intended life for the body of Christ.

God has designed that his life should be manifest through a body. If the body is not operating, then the life is not manifest. That means there is no power, because the life of God is always power. The reason the church has been so powerless lately is that it has been so fragmented and broken. We have estranged ourselves from each other. In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul says, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God… (Ephesians 4:30). Then he lists the things that grieve him: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

If that is not happening, then the Spirit of God is grieved. When he is grieved, he does not act. There is no life. The church becomes dull and dead and sterile and mediocre. All this is manifest in an empty ritual, with no vitality in it. God intends that Christians should have fellowship, should share one another’s lives and thoughts and problems — bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. It is not an option; it is an essential. This is why, when the Holy Spirit of God begins to move in any congregation, or in any assembly of Christians, he starts at this point. He begins to heal the brokenness of their lives and their relationships one with another, to get them to admit to each other their malice and their anger and their frustration and their grudges, and to forgive one another. This is when life begins to flow once again through the body of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Father, open my heart toward others and toward you. Break down and melt within me the resistance that I erect against others. Make me to be of one heart and one mind with others in the body, generous in giving, glad to participate in anything that advances this marvelous work going on in the midst of a world which is rapidly drifting into darkness and emptiness and coldness. Thank you, Lord, for the warmth of your Spirit, and for your power and your grace among your people.

Life Application
What is the biblical meaning of ‘fellowship’? When the Body of Christ becomes powerless, what remedy is indicated? Are we committed personally to building commonality among those with whom we worship and serve?

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