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Fellowship Together

Living Together   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Intro into series on living our life together in and as the church

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Living Together

In our society today when you hear the phrase “living together” what comes to your mind?
As we start this new series entitled “Living Together” we are going to look at the joys and sometimes the sorrows of our time as a church here on earth and what do we emphasis and do.
We can know from the scripture some of things the early church did. (Act2:42)
Acts 2:42 NASB95
42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
We are a Word church, no doubt about that, we are about Lord’s Supper and prayer too, but how much emphasis do we put on our fellowship?
I’m not saying that we lack, or don’t lack in the area of fellowship in our living together today, but how we fellowship can directly impact others that may come through the doors. I think we all can learn in grow in many areas in our Christian walk.
Like the plan of salvation, has certain things, we see in Act2:42 the certain things that got emphasis in the early church.
Are we practicing all these things in the manner the early church did?
Tonight we are going to look at “Fellowship Together” in light of the scriptures. I hope we can have a greater understanding on the importance of fellowship and the application of it as the Bible speaks of it.
We will look at
The potential problem
Reason for potential problem
Freedom from the potential problem

I. Potential Problem

What If?
What if a trained observer walked in to see us, to make an analysis of us as a church, what would they see?
A body of believers that welcomes all people (contrary to many)
Hopefully would see a warm congregation (contrary to many)
We have to be protective of that so selfishness does not creep in and it becomes about “us” and not “all men”.
This trained observer how would they see our interaction, fellowship outside of the assembly? How about loyalty and consistency of the believers?
How about outreach to others in the community and community involvement?
All of these areas we do well in for the most part but always leaves room for improvement.
The potential problem is as we grow that we loose that “A small country church with a big heart” appeal that we have.
How about how well do we really know each other outside of the assembly? Do we know each others families, cares, concerns? Do we as a body of believers spend time together outside of the assembly? (Act2:46)
Acts 2:46 NASB95
46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
I know how busy our lives can be and are, we are looking at the 1st century early church who too had a busy life but they were of one mind, breaking bread together from house to house. They were doing it together with gladness and sincerity of heart.
Ouch, steps on my own toes here. I have primarily focused on potential believers and new believers and not taken much time to fellowship with our believers here as much as I can, or should.

II. Reasons for potential problem

_________________________________________________________________________________
Church Survey
There was a church survey that was referenced in a book by James Thompson entitled “A Fresh look at Christian Fellowship” and here is some of what it said.
A great majority of the members knew only a small percentage of the people on personal level
Those who gathered were mostly an anonymous group of believers in churches over 100
They were not truly willing to carry the burdens for one another and thought that was the minister, elders job
Expressed little interested in involvement in other members lives outside of the assembly.
They come to worship for their own spiritual gain, growth and not to add to and help others to grow.
We cannot let self-centeredness, selfishness to slip in to our “small country church with a big heart.”
In an overall sense the survey that was done showed that the churches consisted of members who were “self-centered” and therefore there was very little fellowship of any sort taking place.
Again, let me emphasis that I am not suggesting that we have the same problem here, but we have the potential for that problem here.
Some of the reasons for the potential problem
We lived through the “Me decade” in the 70’s where self-love, self anything was in, crime on the rise, drugs and alcohol were growing as a way of escape. It was the time where people were turning to philosophies rather than to the gospel of Jesus Christ. A time of “I’m Ok, Your OK” a focus on self awareness and transcendent meditation and yoga. A decade of rebelling against authority and looking out only for number 1, yourself
This was followed by the “Greed decade” - oh I was a member of that decade that chased the almighty dollar where we always looked for ways to move up and out from where we were and staying up with the “Jones’s” was a common practice.
Both of these produced many who were self-centered and selfish and that carried over into the assembly even today.
Today it is apparent that we live in mobile society, children grow up they move away, new families are moving in, but they are not locals and not too welcoming to them. (experienced that here)
Technology - there are some great benefits to it and some potential drawbacks - we have increased ability to stay in contact and to be in contact with many but with technology you can lose the personality, the emotions behind it. We also can stretch ourselves out were no time is really taken to get to know people (Facebook).
Lack of understanding - when we have a lack of understanding of the scripture and what the scripture has to say about fellowship together we will not truly appreciate our fellowship and our living together .
Society seems to nourish and feed self-centeredness, selfishness in a large part we loose community and fellowship with one another and that impacts our life together as believers. God’s Word and God’s design for our life together, our living together has a different approach and solution to the potential problem

III. Freedom from Potential Problem

I know I have gone on for sometime now without a lot of scripture. As I mentioned this is an introduction to a series so the rest of the message tonight will be full of scripture.
The Church- be a fellowship free from self-centeredness
When we hold to the truth of the Word we will be
Hospitable
1 Peter 4:8–9 NASB95
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
We do this by keeping fervent love for one another, for when we do it looks over and covers out sins our shortcomings.
When we have fervent love and are hospitable then we will care for one another
(A good place to look) 1Cor12:12-26)
We are one body with many members (v.12); one Spirit (v.13)
We all have different parts to make up the body (v.14-17)
God placed each of us into the body as He desired (v.18)
We all need each other (v.19-25)
1 Corinthians 12:26 NASB95
26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
So we are to have fervent love, be hospitable and know we are all connected in one body and then another attribute to protect us is to
Pray for one another (Jam5:16)
James 5:16 NASB95
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
Restore one another (Jam5:19-20)
James 5:19–20 NASB95
19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Jam5:
When we do these things we are looking and caring for the body, the health of the body as a whole. And yes that does mean at times we must
Admonish one another (Col3:16)
Colossians 3:16 NASB95
16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
To admonish is the warn, to reprimand sternly, to advise or to urge earnestly.
And you sure can’t leave out love. (Gal5:13)
Galatians 5:13 NASB95
13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
We are to love one another in the freedom what we have as a body, a fellowship, as a family living together.
These spiritual truths with earthly applications are displayed and exemplified in the early church
In Jerusalem (Act2:42-46)
Acts 2:42–43 NASB95
42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
Acts 2:44–45 NASB95
44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Act2:44-45
Acts 2:44–46 NASB95
44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
Acts 2:46 NASB95
46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
Then there is the example in the church in Antioch (Act11:27-30)
Acts 11:27–28 NASB95
27 Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius.
Act
Acts 11:29–30 NASB95
29 And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea. 30 And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders.
Even in their own poverty they proportioned to send a contribution for relief.
The proof in the churches of Macedonia (2Cor8:1-5)
2 Corinthians 8:1–2 NASB95
1 Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, 2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.
2 Corinthians 8:3–4 NASB95
3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,
2 Corinthians 8:5 NASB95
5 and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.
Even in affliction God’s grace was shared, they gave beyond their ability of their own accord, but it started with them giving themselves to the Lord to do His will first.
Paul spoke also of the churches in Achaia (Rom15:26)
Romans 15:26 NASB95
26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.
When we know and follow the teaching of Christ and the doctrine of the Apostles then we have true fellowship with one another in our living together today. These things come from an understanding of kingdom, being a part of the kingdom and the results, consequences of being in the kingdom.
The kingdom consists of those who love the Lord and their brethren - this is expanded on in Mk12:28-34 which I encourage you to read on your own.
This fellowship with God (our vertical relationship) (2Cor5:20)
Mk
2 Corinthians 5:20 NASB95
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
The apostles as ambassadors make a heart felt appeal to be reconciled with God, but if we put too much emphasis on this we can lack the outward look and forget about the needs of others. Let us be sensitive to the needs of others spiritually and physically so to help them vertically.
Then there is the horizontal relationship with each other. (Eph2:14-16)
Ephesians 2:14–15 NASB95
14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,
Ephesians 2:16 NASB95
16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
This reconciled relationship that breaks down walls that once divided us, it is important that we work on this too, but not neglecting the former the veritical relationship too.
So drawing this to a conclusion, since this is introduction hopefully we will be able to cover many issues about our living together.
Tonight we have looked at the importance of fellowship and protecting the fellowship so not to become selfish or self-centered. The dangers of what can happen when and if we do.
(Insert a slide that says Living Together)
But as for application tonight (application and invitation)
first if you are not a member of the fellowship of believers tonight is the night to do it.
If you are a member you are challenged to take a few minutes and search yourself if there are areas discussed tonight that can use your own personal improvement on.
Take time to pray for each member by name, we are small enough we can do that as well as those on our prayer list.
Look at announcement slides to see if there is a current need or if something mentioned in the announcements.
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