The Word is My Life
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
My Words are life to those that find them . . . . Prov. 4:22

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May 2018 Fellowship

From My Life’s Journey                                                                               May, 2018

Topic:  Foundations of the Faith: Fellowship

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). The Message Bible says it this way: “But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” Let’s explore this shared life.

Ladies, I write on a topic this month that I don’t think I’ve ever addressed. Most of my writing relates to our relationship with God and growing in Him. This month I write about our relationship with each other in the body of Christ. I truly feel that in this season God desires that we connect in an “iron sharpening iron” way with other believers (Prov. 27:17). In a society where trust levels are shockingly low, God wants His people to draw near to each other so as not to miss out on growth and edification that occur when like-hearted and like-minded Christians connect. We see this in Acts 4:23 when the disciples returned to the comfort of like-minded believers after suffering persecution for teaching about Jesus Christ.

Ladies, I am an introvert. That is someone who is energized by being alone, reflecting, pondering, and enjoying an inner world of deep thought. Yes, I am talkative, but I am still very much an introvert. Extroverts, on the other hand, enjoy an outer world of engagement and interaction with others; they are revived and energized by meeting new people and connecting with large numbers of folks.

I share this information because those of us who naturally draw away might be in for a course correction from God. Personally, He is flipping the script on this introvert by requiring her to reach out beyond herself for the next level of life and ministry. “The Word is My Life” Training Ministry is expanding and will become a non-profit corporation. Non-profits have boards that make decisions regarding the organization and its work. This is new for me because all ministry direction I’ve received for 16 years has come from God. Now He is saying, “Expand … and connect with others to do so.” This is a step of faith. And not only that, God has instructed me to speak with others about these next steps. He says, “I will shape the expanded vision for the ministry as you engage with and learn from others.” Every person I’ve spoken to thus far has added a new insight or perspective. God is showing me a new way - a more excellent way - that requires relationship and fellowship. I’m excited, I’m receiving help, and I’m growing.

What does the Bible say about all this?  Remember the story of Moses and how He counseled all the Israelites himself. His father-in-law Jethro advised him to call forth elders to handle the small matters (Ex. 18:17-23). Moses needed others to help; doing everything himself was not wise. Also, consider the story of Lazarus. When Jesus called Lazarus to come forth from the dead, he returned to life, but then Jesus required something else: Others were to loose the grave clothes that bound Lazarus (John 11:44). Jesus did His part, and He required others (the body of Christ) to participate in the full manifestation of this resurrection miracle. We need each other.

Some of you might say, “Iris, I get the point. You are challenging us to draw near to others in the body of Christ - for fellowship, to help each other, and to build each other up. But I’ve been hurt in the church by Christians. I prefer to stay to myself - thank you.” I understand your concern. Let me help: When we carry hurt, it can quickly become offense that leads to a bitter root. Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) warns, “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”Friend, I resist offense in my heart; I do not want trouble or the flow of God’s grace in my life to be blocked. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Our brother Joseph knew this well. He held no offense against those who did him harm … and God promoted him (Gen. 50:20).

In all Biblical teaching, though, there should be balance. Avoid harmful people or situations if possible, but if you land there, quickly release any offense. Keep in mind what God taught me: “Iris, you are a stranger passing through on this earth. When you are offended, you’ve placed too great an expectation on someone other than Me. Redirect your focus.” When I redirect my focus, I realize I actually lack nothing because God takes great care of me, and I am developing the fruit of the Spirit - especially longsuffering, gentleness, and self control (Gal. 5:23). In this day, let’s be a supernatural, unifying people who are led by the Holy Spirit with hearts that bless and are free of offense.  

Lastly, as we choose fellowship, author Jonathan Cahn shares that we can see the face of God in others - the nurse who comforts a patient, the crossing guard who helps a child cross the street, the believer beside you in church. I have seen the face of God in many. I will never forget experiencing Him through the female pastor who loosed my grave clothes during a season in my life when I was Lazarus. Through fellowship, God uses other believers to reveal Himself to us. Don’t miss out on that!

Pray about this ministry letter and your level of connection to believers in God’s body. For those who don’t have a prayer partner, I would humbly, yet strongly, encourage you here. My life has been tremendously blessed by joining with another in prayer. Ponder this: Jesus said the greatest commandments were to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37-39). I wonder if He wanted us to have sincere fellowship within the body of Christ because some of our greatest blessings would come through these relationships. Think on these things.

Ever onward, ever forward~

Iris Barrett, Ed.D.

“The Word is My Life” Training Ministry