October 2017

From The Pastor's Heart

Have you ever considered what activity or pursuit should be the top priority in a believer’s life?

By Charles F. Stanley

Have you ever considered what activity or pursuit should be the top priority in a believer’s life? Some common answers might be prayer, reading the Bible, serving the Lord, or worship. But how would you determine which one is the most important? In reality, there is one phrase that encompasses all these essentials—fellowship with Christ. It’s a time when we sit before Him in His Word, worshipping, praying, and then responding in obedience to serve Him.

Fellowship is a sense of closeness and communion with someone because of mutual interests. We usually think of it in terms of our relationships with other believers, but our fellowship is first and foremost with God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 1:9; 2 Cor. 13:14).

The only qualification for fellowship with God is salvation. If we have not received Christ as our Savior, we have nothing in common with Him because our sins have separated us from Him. But after salvation, we become part of His family, and He calls us into intimate fellowship with Himself. Yet despite this wonderful privilege, many believers don’t make time of fellowship with the Lord a priority or even comprehend why it’s important.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand fellowship is to see what it looked like in the life of Mary of Bethany. When Jesus traveled to Jerusalem, He often stopped to rest and relax at the home of His good friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). On one of those occasions, Martha was busy preparing the meal, but her sister Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to Him.

Mary wanted fellowship with Christ while Martha focused on serving Him. When Martha became upset that Mary had left her to do all the work, she came to Jesus saying, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40). However, Jesus’ response may have surprised her: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

There are several lessons we can learn about fellowship from this story. First of all, fellowship must be chosen. Mary had two options—she could stay busy in the kitchen, or she could take time to be with Jesus. And each day we face this same choice. If we don’t carve time out of our busy schedule, having private communion with Jesus probably won’t happen.

Second, fellowship includes listening, learning, and loving. Mary’s love for Jesus moved her to humbly sit at His feet listening and learning from His words. Although today we cannot audibly hear Christ’s voice, He still speaks to us through His Word. As we sit with our Bibles open, reading and talking to Him about His Word, He teaches us His ways and guides us in applying His truths to our lives. The result is a growing love for Him, which in turn increases our devotion to Him.

Third, fellowship with Christ demands that we leave some things undone. If we wait until there are no other pressing needs, we’ll never be free to be alone with Jesus. There will always be one more thing to do. That’s why we must be like Mary, who left the kitchen before the meal was served in order to do what was more important—be with Jesus. Serving Christ is essential, but if we rush to serve without spending time listening, learning, and loving Jesus, we may be serving with the wrong attitude, and the result might not be as fruitful.

If we wait until there are no other pressing needs, we’ll never be free to be alone with Jesus. There will always be one more thing to do.

The fourth lesson is that prioritizing fellowship with the Lord may result in misunderstanding. Instead of seeing what Mary did as the best choice, Martha felt abandoned. She didn’t understand Mary’s desire to be with Jesus when there was so much to do. In the same way, other people may not understand why we set aside time to be with the Lord. To them it may seem like we’ve gone overboard on religion or are foolishly wasting our time. Sometimes those close to us may even feel jealous because of our devotion to Christ.

Fifth, negative consequences result if we neglect fellowship with Christ. There is quite a contrast between the peaceful disposition of Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet and Martha’s agitation. Martha was distracted, worried, and bothered, and this is what happens when we take our eyes off Jesus. But fellowshipping with Him in the morning helps us trust Him throughout the day, knowing that He’s working in our lives to enable and guide us in whatever situation we may face.

Many of us are more likely to sit in front of a television, computer, or cell phone than at the feet of Jesus. That’s why we must re-evaluate how we use our time by asking: Is there anyone or anything that is more important to me than Jesus? Other things may seem more pressing, but there is nothing more necessary or rewarding than being with our Savior. Spending time at His feet will enrich our relationship with Him and bring us deep peace and satisfaction. Every such moment is a moment well spent.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. One of our greatest joys here at In Touch is knowing that so many people are being strengthened and encouraged by the teaching of God’s Word. Pursuing this kind of growth is one of the primary ways we sit at Jesus’ feet to listen, learn, and love Him. When we fill our minds and hearts with scriptural truths, we can be confident that the Word will do its work in us.


What happens to my notes

9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.

39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word.

40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me."

41 But the Lord answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;

42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me."

41 But the Lord answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;

42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

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