July 30, 2020 | Prayer Guides by Various Authors
Love Others through Church Community
DAY 21 – Introduction
1 John 1:3 “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
From our Discipleship Goals on “Love Others Through Church Community”: We will love others through intentional relationships for encouragement, accountability, and holiness both corporately and individually. The intentionality of these relationships is key to our discipleship as a church community, or family. The above verse spells out this intention very well.
First, we must have fellowship with the Father through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Our sin has broken our fellowship with God and forgiveness through faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is the only way to reconcile our relationship. God intends us to have fellowship with Him in this way. Second, we see the intentional desire for us to share Christ with others so that they may also be forgiven and experience fellowship with God. Third, there is an intentional invitation for others to have fellowship with us. It is an invitation to live together for Christ as a family. This is why we love others through church community.
Over the next nine days we will consider how we love others through church community here at Richland Creek. In doing so, please bear in mind these three questions based on our Discipleship Goals regarding Church Community:
Questions to Consider:
Do I identify as a member of the covenant body of Christ—that is, the church? Do I understand the biblical commands for loving one another and their implications for my life?
Have I developed a regular habit of meeting with other believers for the specific purpose of mutual spiritual growth and accountability?
- Pray for our church community to be intentional and God honoring.
- Pray for God to strengthen me to share the Gospel with others and to invite them into fellowship.
Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
DAY 22 – The Joy of Fellowship
1 John 1:4 “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
In our May Prayer Guide series on “The Fruit of Spirit” from Galatians 5 we defined “joy” as hope in God’s promises. Joy is determined by our position in Christ rather than in our circumstances. This is not fleeting temporal happiness, but an eternal hope that guides us in the Spirit. Our church community is meant to be a source of encouragement in this joy.
In a world where circumstances and situations seem to be constantly and rapidly changing, where can we turn for hope? Science, medicine, politics, and social media give little hope and no real joy. We can turn to God and to each other for the joy of hope. God is unchanging and worthy of our trust. He is the only source of truth. His promises are certain, here on earth and through eternity in heaven. We can take comfort in Him and, therefore, be able to comfort one another. In the midst of this pandemic, our joy and hope in the Lord can be contagious.
Church Community is part of God’s plan for how we are to love one another. We can love others through encouragement, edification, rebuke, mourning, and much more through the joy of fellowship. The joy we derive from hope in God’s promises not only connects us with Him, but also connects us to each other.
Questions to Consider:
Do I have hope in God’s promises? Do I share my joy and hope with others?
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to increase my joy in God’s promises.
- Pray that I would share the joy and hope I have with others through church community.
- Pray for those I know who are hurting or sick to be comforted and encouraged.
1 Thessalonians 2:19 “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?”
DAY 23 – Walking in Light
1 John 1:5-7 “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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.”
There’s an old saying that goes: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Imagine hopping in your car and just driving with no destination, GPS, or map. Your whole family is riding with you, plus your closest friends are following along in their cars. When your kids ask, “Are we there yet?” you could answer however you like because you don’t know where “there” is. This would not be the best way to take a trip, nor is this concept a good way to love others through church community.
We are called to “walk in the light.” God is that light and we are to live according to His truths, while also helping lead others to do the same. If we are walking in darkness, outside of His truth, we do not have fellowship with Him. And as in the trip analogy anyone joining us on this journey would also be heading into darkness. Our fellowship must be in the light, centered on God and His truths. If we follow anyone or anything other than God, we are certain to end up lost and in darkness.
Real church community focuses on God’s Word and shines a light on our sinfulness. It encourages us to repent and walk in the light of God. It allows us to love one another in a Christlike way.
Question to Consider:
How do I know if I am following God’s direction?
- Pray that I would walk in the light of God’s truth, repenting of sinful patterns that lead to darkness.
- Pray that I would love others and help lead them to follow God, having fellowship with Him and other believers.
1 John 2:10 “He who loves his brother abides in the light.”
DAY 24 – Walking in Love
John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Love is not something best kept to ourselves. Love yearns to be obvious. It is to be expressed, shared, and celebrated. In the above verses, Jesus gives a new commandment to His followers: “love one another as I have loved you.” The love of Jesus was very obvious: He lived a very public sinless life and died a very public death to be the sacrificial payment for sin. His love was sacrifice. This same love toward one another should also be obvious.
Don’t miss this: Jesus is saying that all will know that you are His disciples if you love one another. If you ever wished there was a way to tell if someone was really following Christ or not, this is the way. This is not to say that a disciple will never get angry or sin against another person; rather, it is a permanent, reliable, and discernible way of life.
Loving others through church community begins with faith in Christ’s love and redemptive work on the cross. The sacrificial love that puts others before ourselves is absolutely vital in becoming disciples who make disciples. With this, it will be obvious to all that we follow Jesus.
Questions to Consider:
Do I love Jesus before myself? Do I love others before myself?
- Pray that I will walk in the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.
- Pray that I sacrificially love others before myself, putting their needs first.
- Pray that I will grow in my discipleship through church community.
Jude 20-21 “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
DAY 25 – Gathering Together
Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Looking at the verses above, they may be more pertinent than ever to Richland Creek in this COVID-19 season. They also have never been more challenging to us all. How can we all assemble if we can’t all meet in the same place at the same time? How can I stay connected to our church community from home? In this unique time, and in the post-pandemic future, it is imperative for us to stay connected to God and each other.
The reasons for the importance are at the beginning and end of this passage: “consider one another to stir up love and good works” and “exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching.” Church community should stir up our love for one another and good works, such as evangelism, benevolence, prayer, and so on. Exhorting, or encouraging, one another is like a cool breeze on a 95-degree plus summer day. It refreshes our souls and strengthens our minds to focus on God. And yes, “the Day” when Christ returns in glory is approaching; it is closer today than yesterday.
Take advantage of all the ways to connect during this season. There are Zoom virtual Life Groups, streaming worship services, video testimonies on social media, and more. Take time to make a phone call or send a text or email to see how someone is doing. Gathering together may continue to look different for a while longer, but our love for one another need not change.
Question to Consider:
How can I gather together with other believers during this season?
- Pray that I will gather with other believers, either in person or virtually.
- Pray for God to show me who I can reach out to in this season.
- Pray that I would stir up love and good works within our church community.
Acts 2:44 “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common”
DAY 26 – Growing Together
Philippians 2:1-2 “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”
It can be easy to see and measure the growth of plants. Most plants will grow toward the sun because that is how God created them to grow. There is unity of purpose and direction as they grow together. God also desires that we would grow together with unity of purpose and direction. However, unlike plants, we get to decide these things. Growing together as disciples of Christ is a significant part of church community.
Growing together requires us to be like-minded, grounded in God’s truth to shape our thought process. “Having the same love” means trusting in Christ and experiencing His sacrificial love for us, while also demonstrating that love to others. “Being of one accord” means that because our hearts and mind are aligned with God and His truths, our direction and actions will also be aligned. Think again of a plant growing toward sunlight; its roots are firmly planted and its leaves take in carbon dioxide, enabling the very tip of the plant to reach toward the sun.
“Fellowship of the Spirit” is always rooted in God and His Word. We are planted together as a church community, growing closer to Him and to each other as disciples. We can love one another in encouragement and edification by growing together in the Lord.
Questions to Consider:
How am I growing in my relationship with God? How am I growing together with other believers?
- Pray that I will grow closer in my relationship with God.
- Pray that I will seek to grow together with other believers.
- Pray that I would encourage and edify others as they grow.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other”
DAY 27 – Studying Together
Romans 15:4-6 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Life Groups at Richland Creek are such a valuable and necessary part of church community. Studying God’s Word together is a rich and fruitful addition to our own personal study. What a blessing to hear from teachers committed to sharing what God has laid on their hearts! What a joy to hear the input of fellow students in considering the text! Most of all, what a privilege it is to develop authentic relationships with others in order to be a disciple and to disciple others!
Studying God’s Word primarily helps us to know Him and to understand His promises and plans. This is true both individually and corporately; however, there is an extra element when we do this together. There is a unity of spirit, heart, mind and even speech when we study together. It is in these smaller groups that perhaps the most meaningful and beneficial discipleship will take place. As we really and honestly get to know one another, we open up to true brotherhood and sisterhood. Our love for Christ and each other can truly link us together.
Loving others through church community is regularly born and nurtured in our Life Groups of all ages. The connections made through studying together unify and challenge us to grow as disciples of Christ and as a church family.
Question to Consider:
Am I studying the Bible on my own and as part of a Life Group? How can studying together help me grow as a disciple?
- Pray that I will study the Bible on my own and as part of a RCCC Life Group.
- Pray that I will seek unity of spirit, heart, mind, and speech.
- Pray that I would encourage and invite others to join a Life Group.
2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”
DAY 28 – Praying Together
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Rejoicing all the time. Praying all the time. Giving thanks in everything. How are we doing with these three things? Well, maybe we do them some of the time. Life is busy, and it can be truly difficult to find a reason to rejoice or give thanks, especially during this pandemic. This may be the case, but it is the will of God for each of us. Praying together is an excellent way to love others through church community.
Praying with and for others demonstrates that we love them, not just that we say we do. Through faith in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit we can pray as often as possible, knowing that God hears us. When we pray together, we are uniting our hearts and aligning with God’s will. There is something about hearing the prayers of others that further tears down the walls between us. There is a vulnerability there that pulls us closer to each other and to God.
We encourage you to pray regularly with your family and your Life Group. We also welcome you to join us for monthly prayer services (usually the 4th Sunday of the month) and to download these monthly prayer guides to assist you as you pray. Praying together is a blessing and a privilege for our church family.
Questions to Consider:
How is my prayer life? Do I pray with and for others?
- Pray that I identify as a child of God who needs to pray privately and with others.
- Pray that I understand that as we pray, we are not changing God’s mind about circumstances, but allowing Him to align our thoughts with His.
- Pray that I develop a regular plan of private and corporate prayer.
Colossians 4:2 “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving”
DAY 29 – Serving Together
Galatians 6:9-10 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Do you want to know how to find out what really makes a person tick? Serve with them! Serving together in ministry can bind people together in a way that, at times, even goes beyond a Life Group. There is something special about applying the things we are studying in Life Groups and hearing in sermons in an immediate, visceral way. To truly love others through church community we need to serve together.
On one level, ministering to others has great benefit as part of our personal discipleship. After all, every Christian is gifted and called to serve within the church (1 Corinthians 12). Yet on another level, serving as part of a team builds upon our own discipleship by partnering with others for a shared goal. It is in many ways a picture of the “one accord” concept in Philippians 2:1-2 and Acts 2:1. There is also an incredible sense of fulfillment that comes through serving God and people. If you are part of a Creek ministry, you know what that is like.
Please prayerfully consider how you can serve the Lord and our church family. Some of our regular opportunities are on hold in this pandemic season, but we look forward to them coming back stronger than ever soon. Join us as we love others through church community by serving together. You will be glad you did!
Questions to Consider:
How does God want me to serve Him and people? What are my spiritual gifts?
- Pray that I identify as a servant, following in the footsteps of Jesus.
- Pray that I understand my own spiritual gift(s) and my indispensable role as part of the body of Christ.
- Pray that I develop a regular plan of serving the Lord and people, for God’s glory.
1 Corinthians 12:7 “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all”
DAY 30 – Accountable Together
Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
These days we are wearing masks to keep our germs to ourselves and to protect others. They may be uncomfortable at times, but right now they are necessary. However, sometimes we may wear a different kind of mask—one that keeps our lives to ourselves and protects others from seeing who we really are, one that is oddly comfortable and that seems necessary. That mask is the facade of pride, the inauthenticity of character, and the shield of shame and judgment. Loving others through church community requires authentic accountability.
As Christians, we need to be authentic with one another. We are called to live as Christians, rather than to casually live like Christians. We all need others to hold us accountable. This starts at home with your spouse if you are married. It is also wise and beneficial to have a few other same gender believers with whom you can be open and genuine on a regular basis. This level of trust has to be earned and be reciprocal; therefore, it can take some time to develop. Authentic accountability can greatly help us stay on track in our discipleship, encouraging us in our strengths and challenging us in our weakness.
Please prayerfully consider to whom you would be accountable and who might be accountable to you. Iron does sharpen iron, and an authentic disciple will sharpen an authentic disciple. Accountability demonstrates how much we love one another.
Questions to Consider:
Who am I accountable to? How can I be trustworthy?
- Pray that I understand that I am accountable to God for my sins.
- Pray that I would identify and pursue accountability partners in order to grow as a Christian.
- Pray that I would live as a Christian, rather than like a Christian.
Romans 14:12-13 “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”