When asked in conversation whether or not they are married, no husband or wife would reach for a photo album or rummage for a legal certificate to support their answer or prove their status. Rather, they would talk about current experiences—the privileges, the joys, perhaps even the challenges and the struggles of life with their spouse. So it is in the Christian faith: our expressions of its reality ought to be directly related to our present experience and not merely our past conversion. Keeping near the heart of God strengthens our relationship with Him and provides us with fresh reminders of His grace and mercy.
This does not happen by accident. Spiritual drift is a constant and often unnoticed danger in our spiritual lives. In order to prevent us from drifting and abandoning the love we had at first (Revelation 2:4), the writer of Hebrews warns and invites us to “pay … closer attention to what we have heard”—namely, the message of the gospel. When we immerse ourselves daily in the reading and memorizing of God’s word, our affections are stirred, and our gaze remains fixed on Jesus’ atoning work on the cross.
We must, though, combine the ministry of the word with faith. It is possible to sit under the word of God and yet to remain impervious to its truth. All kinds of information may rattle around in our heads without ever reaching our hearts or commanding our wills. But when we combine gospel truth with faith, then we strengthen and experience our relationship with God, in the present tense.
Committing ourselves to gathering with God’s people also encourages daily continuation in the Christian life. Luke tells us that the early church devoted itself to, among other things, “the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship” and “the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42). Why? Because they understood that the gathering of God’s people in worship and for the study of the Scriptures is one of the key means that God has ordained to ensure that we don’t become spiritual castaways.
If you sense yourself drifting today, do not give in on the one hand to the temptation to believe that all is lost, or on the other hand to the temptation to think that it does not matter. Return again to the Shepherd and Overseer of your soul (1 Peter 2:25), and ask for a fresh outpouring of His Spirit, who is able to strengthen and equip you as you pursue an abiding relationship with the Father through hearing over and over again the glorious truths of the gospel.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
The Fellowship of the Believers
42And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe5 came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
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