Posts tagged ‘communion’

Lest You Become Weary

Whenever there is film of a marathon race, they like to show the participants as they get near to the end of the race. I have yet to see anyone stopping to do some shopping, or to play a quick game of basketball during the race. That doesnt happen because the runners are fully focused and what they need to do. I think that maintaining our focus is one of the reasons for our communion at the Lord’s Table every week as well. Hebrews 12 talks about things we can do when we take the bread and the fruit of the vine that will help of run with endurance.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NKJV)

First, we take encouragement from those who have run the race before us. We also build one another up as we partake of the emblems each week together. This is not something we do alone. It is, as Paul described it in 1 Corinthians 10, a communion in the body and blood of Christ.

Second, we should reflect on our lives and determine that because of our love for Christ and our gratitude for the price he paid, we will lay aside every sin that so easily ensnares us. As we remember the brutality of the suffering that He endured, we are reminded of the awfulness of our sin and resolve to turn from it, lest we be ensnared in it again.

Third, we must focus on Jesus, who is our supreme example of endurance. Think about what He went through. Think about his focus stayed on the joy at the end, when he would be able to redeem his bride and spend eternity with us in heaven. And as we consider the hostility He endured for us, it will help us to endure the trials we go through and not become discouraged and weary. He died for me; I will live for him.

Take time today to focus on Jesus and what he has done and resolve anew to never quit, but rather to run with endurance and finish well.

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The Fellowship of the Refreshed

Have you ever been around someone who left you feeling refreshed? A special brother or sister in the Lord whose name instantly brings a warm smile to your face? Wouldn’t we all want to be thought of that way? Paul had a brother like that in the church at Colossae named Philemon. At the beginning of this little epistle, Paul puts it this way:

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (Philemon 1:4-7 ESV)

There are a couple of keys to living like Philemon that I would like to bring to your attention in hopes that we can emulate them.

1. Philemon’s love and faith were first of all in God. The priority in his life was his vertical relationship with God, and because of that, his relationships with his fellows believers were right, too.

2. Philemon made a point of sharing his faith. We should not jump to the conclusion that this just means telling others about Jesus, although that is a part of it. His faith, according to the context here, was also shared with his fellow believers. He was living out Hebrews 10:25 and not just showing up for each assembly, but never missing the opportunity to provoke others to love and good works. The word for “sharing” in the original Greek is koinonia, and is translated in other verses as “fellowship” or “communion” and speaks of a mutual interchange of encouragement.

3. Because of the first two things, Philemon was a joy and a comfort to others. He was truly a refreshing man to be around. That sort of lifestyle is contagious and benefitted the rest of the church.

So why are we told about this particular brother? Because I believe we need to be reminded that, while attendance at assemblies of the congregation are important, it is not enough to just show up. It is also not our aim to show up in order to see what we can get out of them. Rather we are to be motivated by love for God and our brothers and sisters in Christ to come and refresh one another. We are to live out our faith in fellowship with one another, in true koinonia fashion, and so build each other up in Christ.

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Have You Prepared A Room?

Jesus and his disciples had come to Jerusalem, as the Law required, to eat the Passover together. He knew this Passover would be the last he would share with them, and desired a place apart from the crowds which followed Him everywhere, where He would have intimate time to share what was to be the first Lords Supper meal. Mark describes it this way:
“And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.” (Mark 14:13-16 ESV)

Just like with his disciples today, Jesus desired a special place in which to commune with us and participate in a memorial feast. Our hearts must be a room prepared for His presence.
Our hearts and minds need to be focused on Christ and what He has done for us. This is not something that will just happen on its own. We have to be intentional about it. By our preparation we show that this is quality time, where we can slow down and meditate on Him and the sacrifice of love that was given for us.

With the preparation completed, Jesus was able to take time to establish the feast that would symbolize the sacrifice that is the basis of our fellowship together. He would show them symbols that would soon be a weekly reminder so they would never forget.

And so it is fitting that the church, brought together by the covenant pictured in the bread and fruit of the vine, would also be born in an upper room. The disciples returned as directed to Jerusalem to wait for their enduement with power from on high.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)
So there they were in the upper room in one accord, praying for the promised Holy Spirit. This same Spirit was the one that the Lord had promised would lead them into all truth (John 14:26).
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:1, 2 NKJV). What had begun I. A room now filled the entire house, and would soon fill the earth. The truth would go forth, the Spirit bearing witness with signs and wonders to the authenticity of the message they were bringing (Hebrews 2:4). How fitting that the room that witnessed the establishment of the meal that would serve as a reminder of the covenant we have with Christ would be the place where the church was born and the Apostles would receive the Holy Spirit that would lead them into all the truth that would sustain her. And that truth is with us today, in the New Testament that was written through them.

So as you prepare your inner room, like that first upper room, for the Lords Supper, meditate not just on the new and everlasting covenant in His blood, but upon the communion that we have in that covenant and the Apostles doctrine that we have received in the New Testament for us today. Make your heart furnished and ready for communion with Christ.

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Community + Unity = Communion

Community + Unity = Communion

I want to take a look at an essential aspect of partaking of the bread and fruit of the vine each week. That has to do with our unity as we partake together. Let’s begin with what Christ accomplished in this regard on the cross.

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”(Ephesians 2:11-16 ESV)

Before we were baptized into Christ and He added us to His body, our lives were characterized by separation and alienation. But now, because of the blood that was shed for us on the cross, we have been spiritually united with each other in our covenant with God. This was just one more critical thing that Christ accomplished for us. We have fellowship with each other based on the shed blood of Christ. Preserving that unity is critical, since it was made possible for us at such a high cost!

That covenant bond of blood is what Paul was referring to in 1st Corinthians 10:16-17:

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10:16, 17 ESV)

Do you see how special it is that we come together to participate in this feast each week? Without the unity we have through the our reconciliation to God through the blood of Jesus, we cease to have “communion” and have degenerated down to just having a ceremony.

Look how foundational this is in the next chapter (11)!
“For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.”
Now with this disunity as the context of what was going on when they ate the Lords Supper, Paul concludes with these instructions:
“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:18-20, 27-29 ESV)

Did you see that? In proper context, when Paul talks about not discerning the body, I think he was referring to failing to discerning that we do this together, in unity, as communion. That is also why we don’t just stay home and serve these emblems to ourselves.

So when we partake of the emblems, let’s remember to not only reflect on what Christ has done for us personally, but also on the reality that we are partaking of this as one family, one body, in an d with Christ. For He promised that whenever two or more are gathered in His name, He is there in our midst.

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