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Being Steadfast - Part 3

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Being Steadfast in Fellowship

Matthew 12:22–30 NKJV
22 Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” 25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

One of Satan’s Go-To Weapons is Division

Why? Jesus told us in this passage that satan understands that a house divided cannot stand.
In fact is it the second weapon we see him use against mankind after sin entered the world.
The first was fear.
Genesis 3:8–10 NKJV
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
The second was division.
Genesis 3:11–12 NKJV
11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
From the Church Answers website by Thom Ranier:
The fights shown below, however, are a bit unusual. Indeed, most of them are downright absurd. I picked 25 of my “favorites.” They are listed in no particular order. The parenthetical commentary is my own.
Argument over the appropriate length of the worship pastor’s beard (I think I saw a verse in Scripture that indicated it is to be no more than 1.5 inches longer than the pastor’s beard.).
Fight over whether or not to build a children’s playground or to use the land for a cemetery (I’m dying to know the resolution of this one.).
A deacon accusing another deacon of sending an anonymous letter, and deciding to settle the matter in the parking lot (The church could have sold tickets to this event and raised a lot of money.).
A church dispute of whether or not to install restroom stall dividers in the women’s restroom (I’m calling unfair on this one. The men should have their stall dividers too.).
A church argument and vote to decide if a clock in the worship center should be removed (I think this one is a timely argument.).
A 45-minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers (This one is an official cabinet meeting of the church leadership.).
A fight over which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer (I just want to know who took the pictures.).
A petition to have all church staff clean shaven (No church planters are allowed.).
A dispute over whether the worship leader should have his shoes on during the service (I vote for shoes, shirts, and pants.).
A big church argument over the discovery that the church budget was off $0.10. Someone finally gave a dime to settle the issue (I have to admit this issue is ten times more important than the church missing a penny.).
A dispute in the church because the Lord’s Supper had cran/grape juice instead of grape juice (Of course it should be grape juice. It’s right there in Hezekiah 4:11.).
Business meeting arguments about whether the church should purchase a weed eater or not. It took two business meetings to resolve (Wow. This fight was really whacky.).
Arguments over what type of green beans the church should serve (I could have resolved this conflict quickly: none.).
Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. Members left the church in the latter example (Perhaps they started a new church: The Right Blend Fellowship.).
Major conflict when the youth borrowed a crockpot that had not been used for years (I bet it was a bunch of crocky old adults.).
An argument on whether the church should allow deviled eggs at the church meal (Only if it’s balanced with angel food cake for dessert).
An argument over who has the authority to buy postage stamps for the church (The members were licking their wounds over this issue.).
A disagreement over using the term “potluck” instead of “pot blessing” (I get it! The concept of luck contradicts the theology of a sovereign God. This issue is very serious. Good luck trying to resolve it. ).
A church member was chastised because she brought vanilla syrup to the coffee server. It looked too much like liquor. (Beth Moore confessed she was the culprit who brought the syrup. Don’t you know, Beth, we Baptists cannot have vanilla syrup at anytime? Chocolate is fine though.).
An argument in church over who has access to the copy machine (I think a calendar should be made where every church member has at least five minutes access to the copy machine each year. You can have a business meeting to vote on each five-minute increment.).
Some church members left the church because one church member hid the vacuum cleaner from them. It resulted in a major fight and split (Thus the Second Electrolux Church was born.).
An argument over whether to have gluten-free communion bread or not (I thought gluteny was a sin.).
A dispute over whether the church should allow people to wear black t-shirts, since black is the color of the devil (Are you sure he’s not red? That’s what I’ve heard.)
A fight over whether or not to sing “Happy Birthday” each week (I’ve got an idea. Alternate it with the doxology.).
An argument over whether the fake, dusty plants should be removed from the podium (Just give them a little water. They should be fine.).
Yes. These issues are silly; many are absurd. But they are all distractions from what we should be doing in our churches. In that sense, they are really great distractions from the Great Commission.
The Enemy is a master at division. And if he can get you to think you are somehow righteous in your position, he’s really got you.

Here’s a fact: God hates division.

Proverbs 6:16–19 NKJV
16 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.

Scripture warns us to guard against division.

Romans 16:17 NKJV
17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
1 Corinthians 1:10 NKJV
10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 1:11–13 NKJV
11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Division occurs when we get out of the Spirit and into the flesh.

1 Corinthians 3:2 NKJV
2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;
1 Corinthians 3:3 ESV
3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
Galatians 5:19–21 ESV
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Christ gave us the formula to “nip it in the bud!”

We must actively dismiss differences.

Matthew 18:15–17 NKJV
15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

We must walk in fellowship with God - and man.

1 John 1:5–9 NKJV
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Why does the enemy want to keep us apart?

The enemy is afraid of a united church!

Matthew 18:20 NKJV
20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Acts 2:42–43 NKJV
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
Acts 2:46–47 NKJV
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 NKJV
9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

There’a a synergy of power when the church is united.

Leviticus 26:8 NKJV
8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.
1 Corinthians 12:12 NKJV
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
Acts 4:31 NKJV
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
THE CYCLE OF DIVISION AND ISOLATION

We must be steadfast in fellowship!

Hebrews 10:24–25 NKJV
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Matthew 9:2 NKJV
2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
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Do it again, Lord!!!!
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