Faithlife Sermons

Forward Together (Church Community)

Following Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:15
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How many of you like to be a part of something?
I believe that most people like to be a part of a group. Whether it is a social group or religious group or an online community, we do better as people when we are a part of a group. We like being with people that have the same interests that we do.
When I was in Junior High I knew that I like football. I had never played before other than backyard football with my friends so I decided that I wanted to try it. I learned real quick that I was never going to be a football player. I needed to stick to watching it.
I liked music and playing instruments so I became a part of the band. When I got to college I became a part of Chi Alpha, a Christian organization on campus. My point is all of us like to be a part of something. The same thing goes for our church community. As we grow we understand that we grow better together than separately.
If you have your Bibles go with me to the book of Ecclesiastes. I want to read from chapter 4. If you are wondering where Ecclesiastes is go to Psalms, then Proverbs and Ecclesiastes is the next book. I want to read 4 verses from chapter 4, beginning at verse 9.
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 NIV
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Here is a thought I want you to think about today. Write this down...

We’ll Only Advance as far as the Community We’re a Part Of.

God never meant for us to be alone.
Genesis 2:18 NIV
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
God’s plan from the very beginning was for all of us to work together in unity and harmony.
Companionship has many advantages. God wants us to develop relationships. Everyone of us needs the love and support that we can get from friends and family. We need each other. As we learn to follow Jesus building a community with one another is important. We can not do this life without each other.
Here are some things to think about when building a faith community with one another. Why do we need each other?
Loneliness is a plague that is cured in community
Confusion is a state that’s steadied by community
Fear is a spirit that gets ejected in community
Obstacles are destroyed and removed in community
Purpose is uncovered and fulfilled in community
Discouragement is turned to strength in Community
My failure is turned to triumph when surrounded by community
Lies are silenced in the collective truth of community
Proverbs 13:20 NIV
20 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
Our world, the bubble we place ourself in, will reflect the company we keep and the community we walk with. That is why it is important that we get connected and planted into the family of God. Who are you walking with this year? Do you want to advance? Then it will be together.
Let me encourage you and I say it every week. If you do not attend our Wednesday night Bible study, you need to start. Don’t think of Wednesday nights as just another church service. We are building a Bible community there. We are studying the word of God and we are praying for one another and building one another up. We have something on Wednesday nights for your children and grand children. In November we will start having small groups on Sunday morning. We will take you through different steps in your christian walk. You need to plan on being a part of these groups.

You Need the Church Community as Much As They Need You.

The church community is essential for your healing and your advancement. We’re better together is true, but it’s even more important than that, we are essential to each other. We’re designed for dependence on God and interdependence on each other.
Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 12.
1 Corinthians 12:12–20 NIV
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
Many times we hurry and skip over this passage. We may think, “Oh, this is a very poetic way to view the church and how each person has a job or a ministry to do.” And it is that but it is so much more than that.
When Paul wrote this to the Corinthian church he was trying to get them to understand the power and importance of the church, so when he calls you a body then he means it. You are essential to me and I’m essential to you. Write that down...

You are essential to me and I’m essential to you.

Can I give you kind of a morbid visual this morning? If a part of your physical body is separated or severed from your body, initially that part of you will look normal, but soon it would be disturbing to look at and will have lost its function and no longer be able to fulfill its purpose.
That is the same for you and me individually, we’re designed for each other and thrive and advance in our connection to the community, not separate from it.
Some people try to make excuses for coming to church by saying, “I don’t need the church to be a Christian or go to heaven.” And while that is true, you will make it into heaven, but chances are high that your life won’t feel the same when you try to do your Christian walk alone.
So, for the next few moments, I want to give you 5 Ways the church community has advanced our lives.
As a church, the best example we are given from scripture on how to be the church is from Acts 2.
Acts 2:42–47 NIV
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
This is the image that we, as a church, strive for. When this is working and we are being the church that God wants us to be, we begin to see 5 ways the church community has advanced our lives.
The first one is...

1. Provides Purpose

Too many times when we look at the church, we look at a small view of the church. We tend to not look at the big picture. We tend to not look at the purpose that God has placed before us in our everyday lives.
In order to be whom God called me to be does not mean that I have to quit my job and join the church. We are not a cult asking you to give up everything. What we are telling you is you have a purpose where God has planted you.
Verse 45 says they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. That means that the early church had lives outside the church. They earned an income that benefitted the church. Verse 46 says they broke bread in their homes, they ate together, they enjoyed community with one another away from the temple. And because the people had a life outside the church, verse 47 says, the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The community you have here at church gives you purpose to go outside these walls and be the church that God has called you to be.
This church community has advanced our lives, it...

2. Calls Me Beyond Where I Am

Do you ever feel like you don’t feel like it?
Our natural tendency as humans is to stall and settle or slip backward into old ways of living and habits, but when you’re connected into the family of God, you’ll find your life continuing to progress even when you’re not feeling like it.
Does anyone watch the old westerns that come on TV? Like all the old TV shows and movies about cowboys. Gunsmoke, The Virginian, Bonanza. What about Eastwood movies like, Outlaw Josie Wells, The good the bad and the ugly, or Pale Rider. Anybody a John Wayne fan, True Grit, Rio Bravo and the Alamo.
In just about everyone of those movies you are going to see a stagecoach at some point or another. Think of those stagecoaches for a moment, they have a team of horses tied together to pull the stagecoach. If you are a horse and you’re tied to other horses then whether you’re feeling like running that day or not, you better run or get drug on the ground. And while that won’t happen in the church, there’s a powerful principle that we need to grab onto.
If you want to advance, keep yourself serving and connected on teams and to the church family, because you want to keep your life in that space where there’s a level of demand put on your time and energy so that it forces you to keep moving forward on the days you don’t feel like running.
But it’s not just about you running when you don’t want to. Consider also the reality that there will be days when your friends at church don’t fell like running either and that’s when you then get the chance to be that for them.

3. Exposes Blind Spots and Pitfalls

Have you ever been driving down the road and you look back in your mirrors and you think no one is coming but when you go to move to the other lane you hear someone honk at you and then you realize that that person was in your blind spot and you couldn’t see them.
That happens in life as well.
There are going to be times in our life that as we are going along and we slip up or mess up if you will. That is when we need people in our circle around us that will see and give you insight about the areas that you cannot see.
The key here is that you stay committed to not be offended when that correction and challenge does come your way. Be someone who invites input and correction into your life and then most importantly, be someone who listens and applies that wisdom. You have to let people close enough to see stuff.
If you don’t let me close to you, I can’t help you. We have to spend some time with each other.

4. Brings Joy to My Life

Look at the end of 46 again and beginning of 47. It says...
Acts 2:46–47 (NIV)
46 ...They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people...
The world we live in currently is one of the most “connected” from a technology standpoint, but also the most lonely from a relational standpoint. The community we get connected to is for advancement and all of that, but it’s also just simple about connection and relationships. Our lives are more rich and full when we have great friends in our world to do life with.
The more connections we have the happier we are. Even the introverts desire to have relationships with people.

5. helps Me Overcome and Find Victory!

The community of the church that God put us in, picks me up when I fall and throws the party when we cross the finish line in victory! To overcome, we need each other.

Don’t Think of the Church Community as a Bunker to Retreat to But a Team/Family to Charge the Enemy Lines With

We are in a war and we need each other to go to battle with us.
There is a power story and picture of how the church works in tandem with the power of God to transform our lives. Go to John chapter 11.
John 11:38–44 NIV
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
This is a powerful story of the supernatural power of God at work! And I love that, but notice how after Jesus does the powerful raising of Lazarus from the dead, he then says to those standing there, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Too many people get their life and breath restored and brought back to life by an encounter with Jesus, but to walk in freedom, you’ll need your family, your brothers and sisters in Christ. We will only advance if we’re willing to allow others to speak into our lives.
If you want wisdom for your marriage? It’s in the house.
Need insight for your business? It’s in this group.
Do you need relationship help? It’s in this community.
Do you need freedom? It’s in the body of Christ.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by sin? The community of Christ is here to point you to Christ!
Trapped in addictions, or your old ways of living? Breaking chains is the specialty of the community.
I fully believe that your next breakthrough, your next level, or freedom, or growth, whatever it is is found within the community. The strengths and gifts you need to break out of where you are, in the coming together of the body of Christ. Community holds the ingredients for your freedom and breakthrough... And someone else’s freedom is going to happen through God’s gift in you.
So, what’s holding you back from getting planted and connected here at Cliff Terrace? Maybe you had a bad experience with a church or some church leaders over the years have got you a little bitter and jaded.
If you’re not connected, this is a huge and key first step to take. Find a place to volunteer and become a part of the connect group on Wednesday night. Make plans to go through the classes that we will begin in November. Plant yourself and don’t move for anything.
Let’s Pray!
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