The Wisdom of "one another"
Good morning. We are pleased to have everyone here this morning and I'm beginning a new sermon series really that's fundamentally about growing in Christ. And it's a very practical series about how God works in our lives to help us grow in our own maturity grow in our sense of thriving in the Christian walk that God invites us to thrive and I have strength and a have wholeness in our life as Christians to kind of live the Christian Life in a way that's that's attractive and that's a model to others in which our lives are full and good the way God designed them to be until the first sermon in the series is called the wisdom of one another and sometimes we see in our culture the death of common sense if I got the popular phrase and I understand where a lot of that comes from because we see a lot of things are called her that we stay. Wow, you know, we used to not do that sort of thing. We seem to be doing self-defeating things in our culture just as the cartoon illustrates, but as I thought about that, Except I hate to admit it but in my own life and in my own experience and in Christian communities for four decades, I see kind of the death of spiritual common sense. I see us kind of resist practices that are clearly what God would use to bless us and kind of embrace practices that kind of keep us from being blessed by God and I think this first sermon the wisdom of one another will will show us some of those realities. Here's my assumption and I think this comes right out of scripture and I hope to demonstrate that we need one another to follow Christ. God has designed us to follow him together. Now we're tempted because we're raised in a culture born in a culture that is very much. As matter fact were founded on what the Declaration of Independence it is ingrained in us that the highest value is to be independent to not need others to not be interdependent to take care of our own health to take care of our own finances to take care of our own family to take care of our own spiritual walk with the Lord that's kind of in our culture but scripture does not Advocate that sort of Independence is a matter fact scripture Advocate interdependence and that's God's design for how we would follow him and thrive in following him. Look at what Paul says when he's talking about what a mature group of Christians looks like the whole body. He says depends on Christ. Amen. It's all about his work and what he has done then he continues and all of the parts of the body are joined and held Gather in the interesting. So we all depend on Christ but he says right off the bat we are joined. So we're not separate. We're not just a bunch of individuals that happened to collect together and then go back to being individuals are very identity. As a follower of Christ is that we're joined to other followers of Christ and we're held together. Each part does its own work now, we'd love to stop there and say that that's right. That's says there's a scripture for each part does its own work? Let's just leave it at that. But there's a purpose each part does its own work to make the whole body grow and be strong with love? That's God's DNA for what it means to follow Christ. We are designed to follow Christ together. Not as Lone Ranger's not individually where we say. Well, I'll just take care of all of it. And then if something comes up I'll show up and pop in and say give me a little of that and then I'll go back to my own individual life and walk we end up defeating ourselves and defeating an Avenue that God wants to use to bless us in our own lives. Look at what scripture says in addition to the Ephesians passage in Hebrew. The writer of Hebrews says and let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds in that language. We have the ability to provoke one another to a lot of things don't want anybody who's married or got kids or ever held a job or live for a week straight, you know that human interaction can sometimes include the ability to provoke one another to all sorts of things and I love the fact that the writer of Hebrews it says here as followers of Christ as a separate called out group of people with a different identity than those around us. Let us consider think about Ponder how we can provoke one another to what to love and Good Deeds that alone is a beautiful verse of scripture. He continues not neglecting to meet together. We like to think I got it. I'll try to think of that this week. I'll try to think of how I can provoke others to love and Good Deeds but Paul or the writer of Hebrews immediately says Tide right to that tide right to that is community is we is one another you would be stunned and I could probably research this. I almost would be willing to bet on it the vast vast vast vast vast vast majority of scripture when you read it is in plural Paul is constantly saying this is what we should do. You should love one another it is very seldom isolated as a word for an individual. It's always about we and the community and he continues that way he says not neglecting to meet together as is I have enough some but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day approaching. Following Christ walking after him is something God calls us to do together committed Christian friendships are God's answer to loneliness fatigue and discouragement. Now anybody here ever feel lonely or fatigued or discouraged? Can I get an amen? It is so rampant in our culture because we live in a culture that draws Us in the, Breakneck speed of life and we move so fast and we take on so many tasks that before we know it. We just feel isolated and lonely even you can be lonely in a crowd. You know, that don't you you can be in a room packed full of people and feel lonely and isolated. It's not about numbers. It's about the pace of our life. Sometimes it before we know it. We're lonely or fatigued and we're discouraged and I think sometimes we say Lord Little help little help here Lord. Truth is I go through my week and there's times when I feel very lonely. And times when I am just bone tired fatigue and times in which I am discouraged. Lord little help unify that prayer will help here and I believe that the Lord Reveals His answer to that prayer in the teachings of scriptures committed Christian friendships are answers are God's answer to loneliness fatigue and discouragement. Think about loneliness in what scripture says look at what 1st. Peter says chapter 4 Peter says open your homes to each other without complaining. Well, that's just meddling in that he's gone from preaching to mail it right there. He says it straight out open your home sweet other without complaining each of you has received a gift to use to serve others be good serving of God's various Gifts of Grace and one translation that talks about being stewards being good stewards of the grace that we have received from God that again God has showered Upon Us Ephesians talk about this. He's just lavished upon us his great grace and hear Peter says we need to be good stewards of that tremendous Grace that God has shown to us had showered upon us all of us. I think if we if we were doing a little testimony time here might say yes, the Lord has been good to me. He has forgiven me time and time again. He has shown me Grace again and again and again, he has loved me and cared for me and hear Peter saying here's how we can be good stewards of that Grace and John said the same thing if we love God then we should Love one another and Peter saying one way to be good stewards of the grace we've received is to open our arms and to use our gifts to serve others and to care for others. That's one way God works in our life to battle loneliness Charlene with her permission. I want to tell you this story a couple years ago. I was in the kitchen and she was prepping a VBS items and I said Charlene it is so great of you to be here every night doing the snacks for the kids. That is such a blessing it was because my wife is a children's Minister and I know how often she's like I need to volunteer and I can't get them people are too busy. They just got too many plates spinning and Charlie took all I'd love to do that do that every night. She was preparing snack and she said let me let you in on a little secret. She said the truth is this is a huge blessing to me. I love being here. I love being around the kids. I love being around others. She admitted there was a loneliness loneliness in her life that coming here and helping with VBS was answering that need and part of way God ministers to us and and deals with loneliness is inviting us and even commanding us to be integrated and involved and connected in the body of Christ to know where gifts and use them to fellowship with others to attend more than just Sunday morning, but get connected at a greater level. That's one of the ways God blesses us again. We can stand up and do testimony Ben Robinson is told me time and time again about years ago when he had a life group that was just the lifeblood of of their own Christian encourage them and built them up and they encourage each other and folks tell me that all the time. Imagine Gary we could have men from the men's group on Tuesday Morning get up and say yeah, this is such a blessing to me because of the regular Fellowship together in the caring for one another Committed Christian friendships are God's answer to loneliness and also his answer to fatigue and discouragement. Look at what scripture says two are better than one now again, this is where I think maybe the death of Common Sense slipped into our own thinking a little bit because this passage in Ecclesiastes is just abundance Common Sense. Look at what Solomon says two are better off than one because together they can work more effectively. Does anyone want to dispute that is that common sense? Sometimes worse fatigued now, he's really going to stop preaching to go to Medellin. Guess what? Sometimes we're fatigue because we insist on doing everything ourselves. Sometimes it's easier. We think it's just easier to do it myself cuz if I have to get up here on Bob, then I'm going to have to you know relationship then become involved and then I'm going to have to know it's just easier if I push my sleeves up and I do it myself. But listen, we are disobeying the example of scripture about the body of Christ following him together. We're putting ourselves and then we're saying Lord little help here. I am worn out. I'm worn out and look I'm guilty of all these things. So if anybody feels like you need to know I got all these ideas from looking in the mirror. That's where they came from. I said this I say Lord will help and I'm sure he says to me, you know what it is in scripture and so were called to be a church to be a people who followed Jesus that are engaged in relationship to one another and many many here do that on an excellent level. And like I said, we could pop up and give testimonies but I want to explain it in the store to way that God kind of answers those concerns we have about loneliness and Tegan discouragement through his word. So Solomon says two are better off than one because together they can work more effectively and then he continues if one of them falls down the other can help him up, but if someone is alone in Falls, it's just too bad because there was no one there to help him again. Then that just scream Common Sense yet. We still but yeah, and we just I did it my way. We just dig in to the independence. That's so much a part of our life where we want to be how many people like to go to somebody else and say that you have some Financial need and you need some help. I mean like to do that. Amen brother amen
We hate that don't we we hate it. We hate it. If we get in a bind where I can know what I will just starve first before I we hate that we're so it's so ingrained in us to be independent and to do it ourselves that we end up short-circuiting the ways in which God wants to bless us. If one of them falls down the other can help him up, but if someone is alone and Falls, it's just too bad because there's no one to help him. If it is cold to can sleep together and stay warm, but how can how can you keep warm by yourself to people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone a rope made of three cords is hard to break in that beautiful, since two people can defeat an attack that one couldn't handle own if I wanted to do that. And if your marriage is under attack, if your walk with God is under attack it if you're striving to be a faithful Christian is under attack. Do you think you would defend against that attack better with at least one brother and sister in Christ who knew about your struggle who shared your prayer request and you can call and say I'm struggling with this isn't that just kind of common sense? But the adversary games are great victory in all of our lives and hearts when we just kind of defiantly say, I'm just going to keep it to myself. I'm never going to tell anybody else. I'm embarrassed. I don't I don't need help. I can do it by two little girls say that to me all the time. It is ingrained in the human heart and One side of the coin when she asks we love, that's an independent seed is good, but we can easily it slips into being a strength becomes a fault and we don't honor the wisdom that God pours out in scripture to allow him to bless our lives. Galatians 6:10 right now Paul says there for every time we get the chance let us work for the benefit of all starting with the people closest to us and the Community of Faith. God calls us to help each other to serve one another to Bear one another's burdens and to immediately start by looking around at those at that are close to us right in the Community of Faith. Committed Christian friendships are God's answer to loneliness fatigue and discouragement. Look at what the scripture say. Keep being concerned about each other as the Lord's followers should and that's Hebrews 13:1. Do you know what the last verse of Hebrews chapter 12 is because the, you know, the chapter headings in the verses were just added later. So the thought of the author right before this command is our God is a consuming fire. Our God is a consuming fire. So in the midst of this discussion that we must take seriously that God has provided for us. This kingdom is what he's discussing this kingdom of God, which is unshakable. It's different than the kingdom of this world and we should live and move and have our being inside the kingdom of God, which is unshakable and live out the values and the truce of the kingdom of God as opposed to the values of this world because our God is a consuming fire there for continue. To love one another as followers of the Lord should one of the first thing that follows on the heels of that. Our God is a consuming fire is that we should be living out this ethic with one another that we love and care for one another as the Lord followers should 1st Peter 3:8. And now this word to all of you. You should be like One Big Happy Family full of sympathy sympathy toward each other loving one another with Tender Hearts and humble Minds in that beautiful. We are called to follow Christ together. It is not an individual sport. And it where we just kind of meat we do that check the American culture. Sometimes we put certain Christians on pedestals, you know, when they get books and they'll Bill they'll sell out stadiums for people to come here one individual Christian talk about something in the reality is God calls us to follow him together as a family because we need each other. You need Brothers and Sisters in Christ to encourage you to keep you from being lonely took to give you a hand when you feel fatigued and to lift you up when you're discouraged. Laugh Romans. 12:15 says with your happy friends when they're happy and share tears when they're down. Now that little short verse is thick and Rich and deep with the secret to a good and full life following Christ. Because in that versus the assumption that we have Christian friends and that we're close enough with those friends that they would call us and say guess what we just won the lottery. You don't come over it's going to be a party like all parties or they call us and say come over we've got to share something with you and we got to tell you what the doctor said and they lean on you for a time that might have tears. And that's the richness that God calls us to to walk in this life that we would have committed Christian friendships. Sometimes called Community sometimes called Fellowship throughout scripture called the church. That's the definition of the church. It's not really a service that you attend is not really an activity that you get credit for its this cluster of relationships where you care for each other you encourage each other you laugh together when there are things to laugh about and You Weep together when there are things to weep about that. Answering of the prayer. How do I thrive in my walk with you? How do I grow in my relationship with you? Now one more thing. I want to mention next week before we wrap up this morning next week. I want to address one of the biggest things. I think that often weighs us down and discourages us as Christians that we seldom talked about and what that is is when we have friends or neighbors are Or family or loved ones who don't know the Lord or they're falling away from the Lord and it just weighs on her heart and scripture speaks to that truth to look what Paul says in Philippians. He says above all else you must live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ then whatever I visit you or not. I will hear that all of you think alike. I will know that you're working together and that you were struggling side-by-side to get others to believe the good news. And so next Sunday. I want to talk about how do we together as a group work side-by-side to help others believe the good news because I know the truth is that's one of the things that sometimes ways our hearts and discourages us and we need each other. It doesn't need to be a secret that we've got a child for our friend or brother sister who's on her heart because of their distance from God and so I want to talk about that next Sunday morning. How does God teach us in scriptures to work together to help others come to know and believe the good news. But this morning I want to close talking about the importance of committed Christian friendships. That's the very DNA of the church that we would have relationships with one another. The wisdom of one another throughout scripture 58 times God commands us to love one another to care for one another to Bear one another's burdens to share our prayer concerns with one another just do out to confess to one another and by anybody here confess your sins to another brother and sister in Christ. Now I might as well be asking if I'd open up their checkbook and tell me how much they gave in the past 9 months, right? That's just you just don't ask that question that we block what God would want to do in our life to bless us. Do you think if I'm struggling with sin and I find a brother in Christ that I can come to and confide my struggle with do you think I will feel less lonely? Do you think that sin will start to fatigue me less attractive Asian says that when you bring send out into the light by confessing it, it loses its power is power over us is in the shame that we feel because it's unconfessed sin. But if I go to a brother in Christ since I looked I'm struggling with this and I send an and I confess it to him and he reminds me of the Forgiveness of Christ and also we commit to be held accountable to one another and I'm going to keeps coming to him and he's going to keep holding me accountable to walk to repent to walk away from that since you think that does a little something for my fatigue. Don't you know that holding that secret in will wear you out you'll spend all your energy hoping nobody finds out. You've been all your energy worried about that. It will wear you out and you will feel isolated and lonely and discouraged and that's one of three dozen things that we could point to that. God works in our life to bless us when we come alongside another brother and sister in Christ. Now if you guys know me, I'm kind of a happy-go-lucky guy and I I try to be all about the good news, but I couldn't help but end and and hopefully the very end will lift it up again, but I want to head on something a little bit a little bit heavy and serious because this weighs on my heart I was blessed enough and I'll share this story before I was blessed enough to visit Tanzania Africa years ago and go on a safari at one point. There were a couple of lines that came right up to our group and we were all in the bus with the door shut saying. Okay. We'll see you on the other side. That's all we want to do. And one of the guides told me he said you see that big big herd of buffalo over there. He said they're following them and he said they will follow them for days or even weeks and what they will do. Who is they will wait till one of this herd kind of gets distant from the rest of the herd kind of drifts off paying attention to something or not staying with the group. You're my mom always told me stay with your group. That was one of the rules growing up right whenever you going to go stay with your group and these lines will watch until some one of those animals gets separated or isolated and then as soon as that one little animal gets separator isolated from Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Those who can come alongside you and care for you. What they do is as soon as you get separated, then they cut it off they circle around I watched if you're if you're morbid, I want you can Google lie on your attack Buffalo and there's all these videos out there and I watched a 10 minute video that was a three-hour edit of these for 5 lines waiting for this one little Buffalo to get separated and then when it did they cut it off and then they slowly nipped at its heels and try to get it not as stable and then they jump on its back a little bit and lay it down it shake them off. It was big and strong at the beginning of this video and then they would jump on his leg a little bit more and they would Pace themselves. They take turns your turn you go get him for a while. They wouldn't wear them self out and over three hours. They eventually got to the point where its legs went fine. You just knew It's over. It's on the ground and heartbreaking. Scripture says this discipline yourselves. Peter says keep alert like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour.
The reality is the adversary is constantly looking for someone. to devour someone who's not staying connected with a few brothers or sisters in Christ to hold them accountable to encourage them to build them up. He's looking for someone who kind of disfellowship to kind of gets on the outside of the church instead of the inside of good healthy relationships. And that that worries me that that worries man. So I challenged us to think long and hard about our own lives and how God is working in our life. If we're struggling with loneliness fatigue discouragement. Is it possible that part of the answer to Lord? Give me a little help here is that you don't have good healthy relationships with Brothers and Sisters in Christ within you can call on in the midst of a crisis or struggle. Could that be part of the answer now? There are always other exceptions and and you need to know the elders and staff. We are all available for anybody in need to be a listening ear into being encouraging word at all times until they're always exceptions to the rule but in general God calls us to have healthy relationships with one another so that there's this ongoing encouragement in our life through Brothers and Sisters in Christ on a regular basis anybody that's been in a good life group or a great Sunday school class and they know the richness of that sort of thing that feeds into our life and I worry in our culture today. There's this trend that says I don't really need the church. I don't really need others. I'm just going to do it my way and the danger is that you slip off from the group and you think you're fine and the adversaries thing. This is good. This is good. Now I start having that person at work. Just take a little interest in them. And then maybe I can get up get a foothold of their marriage and and break it down or or or maybe I'll bring a financial crisis into their life and they've got no one close to say this surprise me and I need help. I mean the adversary is he is he's prowling about looking for someone to devour. So I beg you here. Here's the application for us. Look we don't have to wait until heaven for healing and hope God provides healing and hope Here and Now God's help is all around us. Look around for a moment. Look at your friends and neighbors right here God's help is all around us healing and hope is not something that we have to say, maybe one day maybe one day that God will work in my life. And I feel like a thriving Christian look we ain't we can get testimony. So many folks are doing this. Well in the church already women who went on the women's retreat and if you continue to stay connected together, can I get an amen? They've seen the fruit of this sort of experience being away together or treat and building each other up encouraging each other and then they came back and said we're going to stay connected we're going to we're going to be a group that we can meet Lee text each other or email each other a post or whatever. Their form of communication is a I need prayer for this or this is worrying me and ask any of them. They could they could testify we can have some testimony hear about this truth that God does work and answer those prayers when we're struggling with loneliness fatigue discouragement often answer those prayers when we get engaged in good healthy relationships are Brothers and Sisters in Christ. So let's make a pact. We make a pact with me this morning if anybody hear you don't have to raise your hand for this part, but if you've said yourself, yeah, I'm struggling with loneliness or 40 good discouragement. And I'd like to I'd like to walk in the direction that the solution that let's make a pact and here's the pack prayer aware care and two-way. That's what the p a c t stand for if we pray about this specific issue. Then we want to say Lord Make Me aware of others with needs make me aware of my needs. Okay, that's the awareness part and help me care for others and help me receive care. What house would be quick to care for others, but look you might being a stage in your life. Right now. We're what God needs to do for you and wants to do for you is provide care. You may not be capable of giving care right now because of what's going on in your own life. And God is longing to provide care for you. So begin to pray Lord Make Me aware of what my needs are and help me see other other people need but help me also and that's what the two weight stands for that it works both ways. It's not simply it's not simply okay, everybody sign up and start caring for others. It may be the case that your next step is to let somebody else care for you. That may be the next step for you. Which means Getting into a friendship with a brother or sister in Christ. And growing that friendship to a life group or Sunday school or Bible study. Maybe somebody who's not even here this morning. That's okay. The kingdom of God Is Bigger Than You might have a brother or sister in Christ that you meet with for coffee somewhere else wants week because of your life Dynamics and all I'm saying is a preacher is eventually bring them here.
It's okay. If I start somewhere else find a brother and sister in Christ, that can be your encourager that can be your Advocate that can build you up. And if you're in a position of strength and health then ask God to help you spot somebody that you can pour into. Because that's one of the ways that God works in our life. I'm going to buy the worship team to come forward now and then during this time they'll be folks available in the front and the back if you've got prayer needs your life may be such that you say I don't know where to start. I don't know who I would ask that. I need help today. I haven't got time to pray 6 weeks and bought that friend look. That's what I'm here for. That's what our elders are here for will be folks on our protein that are in the back. We would love to have you during the song Come and pray with us come up front and pray with all the folks or just come let us know. Hey, I haven't eaten this area and let us serve you at because we can't help if we don't know we can't help if we don't know so we want to know and you can trust us. We will keep your confidence. We we we are accountable to God. That's a high level of accountability and we will honor that because of who he's been in our lives. We want to be good stewards of the Grace has Peter said the grace of God has shown to us. We want to be good stewards of that Grace and serve others in his name into his glory because we believe that God's design for us is to thrive and not have things that are hidden that are that are weighing us down that are discouraging us, but instead be built up and encouraged so during this song as we sing, please stand as we sing Our closing song or our song of imitation, and I'll be in the back you not to be on display upfront with me. I'll be in the back. You can come to me with any decisions or prayer concerns or any of our other poor folks will be in the Worship Center. Thanks.