Right Hand of Fellowship

IDOK DEVOTION FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 19, 2010

The Right hand of fellowship.  What is it? And is it more than just shaking hands with folks around you in the pew when the Pastor says to say hello to 11 people you haven’t spoken to yet this morning?

A question was asked of me today via Beth Moore in her book, John 90 Days With The Beloved Disciple.
How well is the right hand of fellowship being extended in your church, especially with people of different viewpoints?

Good question, wouldn’t you say? And how would you answer it?  Perhaps like me, you would need a bit more information before you could answer that.

Since it’s not the meet and greets we do on Sunday morning during worship service, what is it?  Beth (Moore) enlightened me today and hopefully, I can adequately pass it along to you.

Let’s begin in Galatians 1 at verse 15.  It’s Paul recounting his saving encounter with JESUS.

Galatians 1: NIV15But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. source 

You may recall the account in Acts 9 when Saul (Paul) is saved Ananias is not thrilled about paying a visit to Saul, but in obedience he does.  And some days following Paul went to Arabia for about 3 years and then he returned to Damascus and then went on to Jerusalem.

18Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. 19I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.   source

AND THEN.  Galatians 2:   1Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also.  source

Fourteen years.  Fourteen years later, he returns to Jerusalem.

9James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.  source

And there it is.  THIS time, this time he is given the right hand of fellowship.  Seventeen years after his saving encounter with JESUS, he is accepted by the Church Leaders.  Seventeen years after salvation the Church Leaders recognized the GRACE OF GOD that had been given to Paul, that he was indeed the real deal and at that time they acknowledged his ministry, granting to him as it were, God’s Speed to go and minister.

So what is the Right Hand of Fellowship?  It is recognizing the GRACE OF GOD in a person, seeing that God has anointed him or her to minister in His Name and doing all you can, all you are led by the Holy Spirit to do, to send that one on their way with love, prayers, and resources to minister the GRACE of GOD within them.

Wow! Talk about waiting for a promotion! Talk about waiting for your ministry to be recognized and supported!

Let me close with a quote from Beth’s book:

. . . Paul, a former religious madman who approved the murder of Stephen and helped fuel a persecution that resulted in James’ death; Barnabas, the son of encouragement, who risked getting hammered by the early church by building a bridge between unlikely brothers.

That’s just it.  We’re all unlikely brothers. In Christ’s church, the pillars were never designed to match. Each one is distinct. What need would cookie-cutter disciples meet? None of us were meant to match. We were meant to fit together. Two identical puzzle pieces don’t “fit”.  Oh, that we would celebrate that difference.

Fourteen years lapsed between the time Paul first tried to fit in with the apostles and when he finally received the right hand of fellowship.  I’d like to suggest the hand didn’t come a moment behind schedule. What use would God have had for Paul if he simply turned out to be another James? Another Peter? Another John? His mission was distinct. And so, Beloved, is yours.  God knows what He’s doing! Trust Him. God is busy making you someone no one else has ever been.

And all that being said, if you remember anything about this lesson, remember this: GOD IS BUSY MAKING YOU SOMEONE NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER BEEN.  STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS IN THE BODY OF CHRIST! CELEBRATE WHO YOU ARE IN HIM, NOW TODAY, AND KEEP ON CELEBRATING DAY AFTER DAY UNTIL YOU MAKE IT HOME.

ABBA,  I am here in the Name of Your Holy and Righteous Son, JESUS.  Only in His Name and His Righteousness do I come to pray. Only in His Name do we your IDOKs come to pray for each other, asking that the GRACE You have given us be evident, recognizable in us.  I pray that You will take this lesson and apply it individually to the hearts and minds of Your people and that all that You desire will be accomplished in us.

We pray for our IDOK Troops, asking that You protect and keep from harm each one of them. We pray for courage and peace for them.  We pray they will be quick to rely on You and to seek You with all their hearts.  We pray they will be honorable in their conduct neither shaming Your Name or this Country.  And we pray for those who are waiting here at home for them to return, that they too will seek to live honorably and will find You faithful to them in all ways.

And we pray for each one on our lists, wanting only Your best for each one and asking that it be so.  And now I pray for rest and peace for us all.  Amen and amen.

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