Biblical community

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.03.17

‘Rejoice in being a gifted church’

 

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

 

Spiritual Gifts 101

1. Spiritual gifts come from a supernatural change in us (vs 1-3)

The Holy Spirit gives us truth, life, and the capacity to be fruitful for God

This is a reality to celebrate, to lift our heart and to energize our life

2.  Spiritual gifts come from the triune God who is communal (vs 4-6)

God is a triune being who has always existed as three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

God by nature has always lived in and delighted in community; he has always been communicative and interactive

God’s work in the church flows out of his communal nature

This includes his purpose for the gospel and for spiritual gifts

v7 spiritual gifts are given for the common good (the rest of ch 12 illustrates this)

After v6, the focus remains on the Holy Spirit who distributes spiritual gifts

The context of chapters 12-14 is that the gifts were being used selfishly in Corinth

Instead we should view spiritual gifts through God’s communal nature

3.  Spiritual gifts are the activity of the Holy Spirit

A good working definition for spiritual gifts is found in v7

Believer, you are a gifted person; every believer has spiritual gifts (v7 & v11)

Your gifts are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit (v7)

The Holy Spirit does dwell in us, he does work in us, and he will use us

Spiritual gifts are an empowerment of the Holy Spirit (v11)

The exercise of our gifts is primarily what he is doing

The Holy Spirit uses our capacities, but he works far beyond them

Our gifts are carefully selected in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit (v11)

We should not demean our gifts or feel discouraged by what we don’t have

God is being good in our gifting – so take joy in it

4.  There is diversity in spiritual gifts (vs 4-6)

This is true in the variety of gifts (there is no exhaustive list) and in how they are used

This point is extensively made throughout chapter 12 – why?

We like to systematize our experience and expect others to fit into it

We like to compare, resulting in arrogance or discouragement

With this diversity, we must maintain the following:

(1)  Unity – chapter 12

(2)  Love – chapter 13

(3)  Order – chapter 14

5.  How do we know discover our gifts?

Don’t try to fit into any specific list

Since gifts are manifestations of the Spirit – focus on having a humble and pure heart

Since they are for the common good – be connected to the people of your church

Since each believer has them – be faithful and they will flow from you

 

Applications for Being a Gifted Church

1.  We have been gifted for life together, so let’s share life together

Pursue biblical community – just being friendly at church is not being in biblical community

Be engaged with one another through meaningful listening and sharing

Look for ways to encourage one another in being Great Commandment people

2.  Look for and identify how God is working in one another

Think about your conversations – is there awareness of God’s activity in them?

God is ever active, yet we often don’t feel as if he is, so we don’t live as if he is

If we are not experiencing his presence, we will worship him less

If we are not seeing his faithfulness, we will be tempted to depend upon him less

3.  We are gifted people, so we should want to be a gifted church

What that looks like is up to God, since he is the one who gives gifts

What he does is good, so we don’t need to fear any true manifestations of the Holy Spirit

We should not try to force his activity, but we can make room in our hearts and gatherings for it

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.16.15

Life Together

Acts 2:42-47

This passage has much to teach us about being the Church. We will examine five 5 dominant themes concerning “Life Together”

 

1. Commitment to the Disciplines of Being Mature Disciples (v42)

We usually think of spiritual disciplines on a personal level such as Bible reading and prayer

These are vital, but those listed here are corporate disciplines that the church was “devoted” to

(1) The members were under the Apostle’s teaching

They were being ‘equipped’ as we saw last week in Ephesians 4:11-14

When the whole body is hearing together the teaching becomes shared truths

The members help each other remember them, dig into them and apply them

(2) The members were committed to “the” fellowship

The context is that it was the fellowship of worship gatherings

The entire experience that takes place when gathered is deepened

We easily experience this in worship, yet the reality is that the Holy Spirit is doing this in all aspects of our gathering

(3) The members were committed to breaking bread (Lord’s Supper)

The Lord’s Supper is primarily a corporate celebration

It helps us affirm Ephesians 4, which tells us we have “one body . . one hope . . one Lord, one faith”

(4) The members were committed to “the” prayers

This again is describing organized times of prayers

Prayer affirms that we are dependent on the Holy Spirit

Prayer “together” helps us to keep focused on Christ’s agenda rather than to our many agenda’s

In these disciplines, we see that the church was led by the Holy Spirit, who was devoted to growing them in the context of community

 

2. They Experienced Wonder Over the Greatness of God (v43)

The realities of our life in Christ are the same regardless of how we feel, but when we have a sense of God, we are better at being steadfast

Awe of God also encourages us to push forward in our mission

Satan continually attacks our perspective about God

Biblical Community reinforces our sense of God, because He is displayed in it

We experience the blessing of the Holy Spirit working through each other’s gifting

We see God’s activity in one another (v43 the apostles works)
And we have it affirmed in us from others

3. They Cared for One Another (vs 44-45)

This was far from casual or mere friendly church engagement

The members of the body were taking responsibility for their role

The care given was what people could do, for those they could serve

People gave intentionally from what they had, rather than from their leftovers

We have different gifts and resources, but we should share a similar commitment

What would be the quality of care at your church if everyone had your involvement?

How effective would the ministry of your church be if everyone served like you?

How well could your church go forward if everyone had your approach to generosity?

4. They Shared Life Together (v46)

They were together in worship (the Temple) and in their ‘homes’

They shared time and life together

We don’t necessarily need to do new things to be together, we can try to be together in what we already do

Christ whom they served, had brought them together in his kingdom

Fellow church members are not part of a life segment, like the circle of friends we know in our kid’s soccer league

The church is our ‘forever family’; these are the closest human connections we will ever have

Biblical community is community based on biblical characterlove, patience, forgiveness, humility, gentleness and reconciliation

However, biblical community is also something much deeper and amazing

Biblical community is part of the supernatural union we have in Christ (John 17:20-23)

What Jesus prayed is beyond our comprehension, and our present experience

But we must get this – because it is God’s mission for us

This realization should radically affect how we approach church life

It should affect our commitment to this body that the Holy Spirit wonderfully formed us into

It should affect our unity which overshadows the fact that we will disagree and fail each other

 

5. The Result is That This Church Had An Impact (v47)

The context of v47 is that God used all we read in vs 42-46 to bring rich fruit

People were forever changed and God was eternally pleased

Let’s seek to become the church Christ made us to be

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.09.15

 “Our Unity & Peace Together”

Ephesians 4:1-16

 

By Eric Huber

 

The world seeks after peace, but it is builds off a false premise.

The world believes that humanity is basically good.

The thinking is: if we could just meet the physical and emotional needs of people, then we would live in unity and peace. There would be no more wars and no more conflicts.

The problem is that the world ignores the deeper spiritual reality of our fallen nature.

We were created to image God to the Creation.

We were to reflect His character and love for the Creation. But we did not want to submit to God.

We wanted to be God. We sinned and rebelled against God. The conflicts that we now have with one another are simply the fruit or symptom of our conflict and rebellion against God.

If we are going to have unity and peace with one another, we must first have peace with God.

And peace with God can only come through Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace who has promised to return to inaugurate the fullness of His Kingdom.

When He returns He establish peace in the world for every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.

There is this future reality of His perfect Kingdom, but those who are in Christ are citizens of His Kingdom now.

Christ rules over us in and through the local church. It is in the church that we are to have a taste of His goodness that is yet to come.

We experience God’s future promise in the church, in our shared life together as we love, serve and forgive one another because God in Christ forgave us.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1

“…to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Our calling is our inheritance with all the saints in Christ (Eph 1:18).

We are to live in light of the eternal life that God has given us. We are to love and care for one another just as Christ loves and cares for us who are united to Him through faith.

Paul says we should be, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

God does not call us to manufacture unity and peace.

He has already given it to us in union with Christ. He calls us to maintain the unity and peace we already have.

We can have disagreements with other Christians about some important, but secondary issues in Scripture. However, those disagreements should not divide us because we have united as one body in Christ.

God has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit that unites us to Him and to each other.

He has also given us the gifts of the Spirit for the purpose of serving one another. Each of has been given, “the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7).

God gifts us not primarily for our own personal benefit, but for the sake of the body, His church. And so we should use our gifts to serve one another in the local church.

God has also given the church His Word.

The Bible is what should shape our life together.

God has also given the church pastor and teachers who proclaim the Word in order that the whole church is equipped for ministry together.

It is so we might grow into the image of Christ. God’s intent is that we grow together into Christian maturity.

And so we need to be ready and willing to speak truth in love to one another.

As we do that we are functioning in the way that God designed for us to be: dependent on Him and interdependent on one another.

And in that process, we become a healthier church.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.02.15

Responsibility for Life Together

 

I Corinthians 12:12-26

Last week we looked at 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, and saw that we are “Gifted for Life Together”. Now we continue with vs 12-26: we have a “Responsibility for Life Together”

 

We Are Saved into a Community Formed by God (v12-13)

We are part of a community that will be forever knit together

Every believer is baptized by the Holy Spirit into the universal church (v13)

Because this community is birthed and fed by the Holy Spirit, it is a wondrous community

In the local church, we pursue life together based on the realities of the universal church

Together we are people being transformed into the beauty and glory of Jesus

God empowers each of us in the church to impact one another in this process (Ephesians 4:16)

The Great Commission tells us every member is assigned to the overall work of making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20)

Many Christians have more struggles and less contentment, because they neglect what we are here for

vs 14-26 Indicate There Are Two Forms of Neglecting the “Body”

 #1 Don’t PULL Away from the Other Members (v14-20)

Each member has a responsibility to others we should not avoid

Any attitude that diminishes this responsibility is anti-biblical

The church includes you and cares for you but it is not about you

This is one of the most destructive deceptions in the American Church today

All too many come expecting to be made happy; they come to church as consumers to be impressed, rather than as members to serve

Other Christians pull away through another lie – which is to believe their role is not important

If we think our involvement doesn’t matter, we will remain on the edges

v17 gives an absurd picture to explode that lie: Imagine if whole body were an eye

This is an obviously laughable and grotesque thought; of course we need different members in all their different roles

Paul immediately follows the absurd with the encouraging (v18)

God who loved saving you, also loves to use you, so he made a place for you

Your place is chosen by God, you are gifted for it by God, and you are empowered to fulfill it by God

 

#2 Don’t PUSH Away the Other Members (v21)

We all have a ‘need’ for one another

This is not simply God’s idea for life; it’s how he designed your life

To deny our need for one another is not only unloving, it’s inaccurate

v22 Takes it further, those you think you don’t need are ‘indispensible’

This is because the process of becoming fully healthy as believers or as a church requires biblical community

It’s indispensible to have people speaking into our lives and growing with us

What “seems” to be weak versus necessary in our thinking is often inaccurate

We judge by human effectiveness, but the indispensible is a matter of what the Spirit is accomplishing in and through us

It’s not our place to judge how important roles are, it’s our place to fulfill them

What affects one member of the body is meant to affect us all (vs 24-26)

This is why church discipline sometimes involves the whole church

This is to protect the whole from corruption and it is to bring care from the church to the member who is “spiritually sick”

The Spirit who unified us to Christ, also unifies us to one another

Church unity goes beyond what normally joins people together

The unity of Christ’s body should be stronger than any source of division

A unified church body will be a deeply caring community

If you are not connected it is almost impossible to provide care

Unless you are all in, these things will be marginal to your heart

In order to take these things seriously we must find ways apply it

As a church, we want more than to merely nod our heads in agreement with what Bible says

We should want to take ongoing action to apply these truths in our lives – and in our church

 

As a member of the body, what condition are you in?

Are you a Missing member who shows up sporadically?

Are you a Lame member who attends, but is inactive?

Are you an Infected member who is involved, but your attitude creates pain in the church?

Are you a Cancerous member who holds to your sin, which by nature always spreads?

Or, are you a Healthy member who is involved, growing, caring and fruitful?

DRIVE-THROUGH CHURCH?

 

Our church is in the midst of a series of sermons on Biblical Community.

In the coming weeks we will be renewing our Membership Covenants together. These messages are mean to refresh how we look at our commitment to one another and to God.

Biblical Community is a value at Greentree which receives significant  attention year round. This is because the Bible gives it significant attention.

To be biblically accurate, we not only need to affirm biblical truths, we also need to give truths the same emphasis that the Bible gives them. For example the Gospel should receive far more emphasis than ‘end times’.

On Sunday we entered two weeks of looking at Biblical Community through 1 Corinthians 12. With that in mind, I encourage you to read this article by Daniel Hyde recently posted at Ligonier Ministries.

The article entitled “The Church is Not a Drive-Through Restaurant”, leans heavily on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.

However, it doesn’t matter what text or topic your church is currently preaching, Hyde’s thoughts are worth taking in. The Church is always in a battle against having its members view it according to the prevailing culture rather than the Bible.

Let’s be sure we are not falling into that trap which is detrimental to the church and displeasing to God.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.26.15

Gifted for Life Together

 

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Spiritual gifts are an individualized aspect of Christian life. In Corinth, their use was selfish, divisive and creating classifications. Paul corrects them with a richer understanding of biblical community

 

#1 We Are Gifted By A Trinitarian God (vs 1-6)

God is a Trinitarian being (vs 4-6)

One God who always existed as three separate, yet equal persons

This is not an awkward doctrine; it’s transcendent

It ought to be celebrated, because it is part of God’s glory and beauty

Paul makes this emphasis here, because it brought needed clarity

God by nature has always lived in and delighted in community

A Trinitarian God has never been alone; he has always been communicative and interactive

The biblical emphasis on community is driven by God’s very nature

Paul wanted us to see the rich reality behind the scenes, which is that our individualized gifts are meant to reflect God’s communal nature

 

#2 We Are Gifted in Diversity and Uniformity

A three-fold diversity of spiritual gifts is described (vs 4-6)

There is a wide range of spiritual gifts; no list is exhaustive (Romans 12, Ephesians 4)

Paul here lists the gifts that were being misunderstood and misused

The presence of gifts doesn’t indicate maturity, how we use them does

Our concern is not to be for gifts that we don’t have, but to use what we were given

Despite this diversity, all gifts contain threads of uniformity

The “same” God empowers them all; the gifts in us are to work harmoniously

All gifts are given to serve one kingdom and it’s not ours!

All gifts have the same purpose which is to serve and strengthen the church (v7)

 

#3 Our Gifting is Holy Spirit Driven v11

The Spirit’s operation in us is contrasted v2 to ‘mute idols’

The Holy Spirit works in power: every simple gift is the activity of God who is Almighty  v11 

The Holy Spirit works in wisdom: distribution of gifts flows out of his eternal plan  v11  

The implication is that someone extraordinary is at work in us and through us

Regardless of our weakness, we have manifestations of the Holy Spirit

Regardless of our ignorance, we have the right gift(s)

This knowledge brings expectation in our service and activities for God

v6 the Holy Spirit empowers the activities wherever our gifts serve him
God never sends us to serve him on our own so don’t act like it

Do you want your giftedness to flourish (even if not sure which you have)?

Based upon v7 there are two keys for us:

(1)  Have a soft heart for the Holy Spirit to use

(2)  Be involved in the lives of the people of your church

 

Application of Our Being Gifted for One Another

1. Our presence is important

Our presence is meant to be enriching

The Church (your brothers and sisters) are weakened by your avoidance of church life

Our presence not simply important in church services, we need to be active in sharing life together

2. Being creative is good, but cleverness doesn’t drive fruitfulness

Reliance on the Holy Spirit is the engine of fruitfulness

We show this reliance through submission to God, and prayerfulness in all things

3. Our gatherings (at all levels) always have a supernatural element

We ought to be in expectation as we gather and the gifts are multiplied

Our gatherings are an orchestration by God of his gifting to all

We have been Gifted for Life Together – so let’s BE together

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.19.15

Transformed Community

 

Colossians 3:12-17

by Paul Long

 

What should you wear to church? 

In Colossians 3 Paul describes a way we should dress that will absolutely transform the community of our church.

He gives us qualities of a transformed community that should characterize our life together. 

Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Meekness and Patience

These virtues are like articles of clothing we are to put on as Christians. 

It is within our relationships that these virtues must be put on, and it is within our relationships that we grow in the practice of these virtues. 

Let’s look at each virtue and see how putting each on transforms our community.

1.  A Compassionate heart

Compassion is how we feel about and toward one another. 

Putting on a compassionate heart means that when we see or hear about those that are in need we are moved to do something.  That means we need to be aware of what others are going through.  Compassionate hearts flow from the compassion we have been shown by our Father.  Psalm 103:13

2.  Kindness

Kindness is speaking and acting with tenderness and sensitivity. 

3.  Humility

Pride threatens community life.  When we are prideful we compete with others for glory.  Pride is a concern for my own personal glory and greatness.  Humility is the opposite it’s living for God’s glory.         

Humility is deferring to others –counting others as more significant.  We allow the needs of others to rise above our own.  Phil 2:3

4.  Meekness

Meekness is strength under control.  When we are hurt or offended, though we could retaliate, we don’t.  We respond with grace and gentleness.  The meek are willing to put up with what others throw at them. 

Do you struggle with being meek?  Consider the meekness of your Savior, the greatest example of meekness the world has seen.  Jesus was all powerful, yet submitted to God’s will completely. 

5.  Patience

Patience is how we respond toward others when they are not acting the way we want.  Patience is being long suffering when we are being insulted or hurt. 

1 Corinthians reminds us “Love is Patient.” Our love for others is expressed when we are patient with them.  If we are not patient, we are failing to love and we are failing to grasp God’s love and patience toward us. 

Patience is often tested in the context of community. 

Losing our patience is sin that needs to be repented of.  In the context of confessing our sin of impatience to God, we should be reminded of his patience with us.  2 Peter 3:9, 1 Tim 1:15-16

God is patient.  How many times since become a Christian have you messed up?  How patient has God been with you? 

 

Practicing these virtues will transform the community of our church,

At some point someone in this church will do something that bothers, offends or hurts you. 

In addition to putting on these virtues we are to be

[13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

One way our community is transformed is that we are able to bear with one another’s shortcomings and quickly forgive one another’s faults. 

When we are slow to forgive we must look to the cross.  In v13 we are instructed to model our forgiveness after the forgiveness God has shown us.

What offense of yours is God still holding onto?  What have you done that God has not completely and totally forgiven?  God has completely forgiven us – we should forgive others in the same way. 

What offense are you holding onto today? 

Like a good belt – love binds every virtue we have put on together in perfect harmony  v14

Love is the motivating factor behind each virtue Paul mentions.  Love is the strength behind bearing with one another.  Love is the reason we forgive. 

Paul says v15 let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body

The word “rule” literally means to umpire.  In our church community peace is to be our umpire.  The peace of Christ is to be the decisive factor in our lives – it should be given preference over all other concerns and interests. 

We are called to relate to one another in a way that shows the peace Christ provides for us by his death and resurrection  v15

Our community is transformed by word ministry and worship ministry.  vs 16-17

“Let the word of Chris dwell in you richly.”

We do this on an individual and corporate level.

We individually allow the word of Christ to dwell in us richly as we read the Bible. 

There is also a corporate word ministry – as we gather together to hear the word preached and speak the word into one another’s lives. 

Part of our life together is word ministry.  It is when we teach and admonish one another.

Teaching can be gathering as the church body to hear the word preached OR sharing with your small group OR the simple act of speaking a word of encouragement into the life of another believer. 

To admonish is to speak a word of correction or warning, to strongly encourage someone in a direction or choice.  Admonishment is the application of teaching in our lives. 

As we teach and admonish we do it “in all wisdom”, wisdom that flows from the word of God we have allowed to dwell richly in us. 

How we teach and admonish matters. 

That brings us back to the five virtues, and love as the motivation for all of our interaction together. 

A transformed community is a community that overflows in worship to God v16 

When we allow the word of Christ to richly dwell in us, it will overflow and transform our community. 

How is your life transforming this community of believers? 

How is your life transforming the world around you?

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.12.15

A loving community is not optional          

1 John 4:7-12

Christian life begins with love for God and each other. In 1 John 4 we are given 5 reminders for us to affirm about love in the Church

1.  God Gave Us A New Life That Loves (v7)

Love is part of the DNA of our spiritual birth

Our new birth is a work of the Holy Spirit in which love for God has been imbedded in us

This needs to mature, but it has been put in us

This challenges us:  are we truly born again – is our spiritual heart beating?

This encourages us:  a supernatural capacity to love is already in us

To love when it’s hard, it is a matter of cultivation not creation

We will have a powerful impact if we use this love that God has given us (John 13:35)

2.  When We Fail to Love, We Have Failed to Understand God (v8)

If we are not a loving person, we don’t grasp what God is like

v8 tells us that God is love; which means those who follow him will love

Showing love for people is not attraction-based, it’s character-driven

Any truth that doesn’t fulfill God’s purpose been distorted

So if we learn theology without being dominated by love, we don’t grasp these truths as well as we think

We can talk fluent Christian,  but God calls us to live Christian   

3.  If Love is Biblical, It Will Flow With Sacrificial Action (vs 9-10)

Inactive love is the absence of love. If our heart stops beating, we are not alive

vs 10  God sent his Son, to pay our debt of sin   

When vs 7 says “Let us love one another” it is an action statement 

Most people think ‘I’m a loving person’; but what standard are we using?   

We are not a loving community, because we love the people we like

We are not a loving community, because we love when it’s convenient

A loving church practices what God shows us about love

Love keeps the gospel agenda in view, it “lays down our life” for others

Love seeks Christ’s work in people – even when they let us down, or we are busy

4.  Love Inspires (v11)

The most astonishing acts of love in universal history have been carried out for us

Now that we experience this love, our love should be inspired!

God’s love is boundless – this inspires us to be generous with grace to others

God’s love pursues us – this inspires us to take the initiative to express love

God’s love endures – this inspires us to persist when being loving is hard

5.  Love Transforms (v12)

God’s love right now is transforming us, it is ‘perfecting’ us!

This is an absolute, concrete fact about every believer

Life is a struggle, so let’s struggle together and make it struggle for Christ

If we set our sights low, that’s a false Christianity

If we are satisfied with tepid love that’s a wasteful life (I Corinthians 3:11-15)

If we refuse to take steps, that is unfaithfulness

As love transforms us, God uses it to transform the people around us

What a motivation!  God’s transforming work overflowing our life into the lives of others

Don’t take this next thought lightly, let’s overflow in as many lives as possible

Think how much greater this overflowing work will be, when it’s done in a community together!

WHY DO WE REMAIN IN DISCOURAGEMENT? (Part 2)

Last week, we began a series that looks at reasons why Christians remain in discouragement. Today we look at the second reason:

#2.  We remain in discouragement, when we are disconnected

When we are disconnected from God

We remain in discouragement when we think God has pulled away from us. Yet, God has promised that his covenant presence “will never leave or forsake us”.

Remember God is the One who came to us and initiated the relationship we have with Him. This was not something we prodded God into

When we are convinced of God’s commitment to be with us, we are encouraged to keep working at that relationship.

~ Whenever we open His Word, it contains His heart for us.

~ Whenever we come in prayer, He is listening to us.

~ Whenever we worship in Spirit and truth, He is pleased with us.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus showed us the importance of persisting in our connection with the Father. Matthew 26:44 tells us Jesus “went again and prayed the third time, saying same words”.

Jesus pursued the Father as long as his heart remained burdened. Do we expect that we will need to do less?!

Yet even in prayer discouragement tries to follow us

This happens when we make our problem the primary focus of our prayers. We talk to God, but we are looking at ourselves. Our prayers seem to reinforce the weight of our burden

This is because we are making God a servant to our desires. Then we are deflated when God doesn’t fulfill our expectations. Instead prayer should be about worshiping God’s greatness and his faithfulness which he has shown we can trust.

When we are disconnected from God’s people

The local church is a significant way in which God has chosen to minister to us. We see this vividly in the Body of Christ word picture found in I Corinthians 12

How can we expect to be encouraged in God, if we consistently remain in disconnect from God and His people?

These are not just matters of negligence, they are sins of omission. In fact, they are violations of what Jesus calls the two Greatest Commandments!

We were created to be involved with God in the context of the Church community. Leaving discouragement involves becoming more engaged in biblical community with God and with His people

WE ARE TAKING A FRESH STEP

This article grabbed my attention immediately

“The Big God in Your Small Group”

I saw it on the Desiring God Blog and it dealt directly with an issue we recently discussed in our Community Fellowship.

Although we have a strong group that has remained consistent for many years, we recognized we still have work to do in building more community and interaction outside of our scheduled meetings.

We talked about being more intentional in how we connect with one another as individuals, couples and families. Our desire is to deepen our relationships, bear one another’s burdens and simply know what is going on in each others lives.

What especially encouraged me was that the youngest couple in the group initiated this conversation.

Here was a couple with their hands full with life: they have two preschool children and another on the way; the husband operates his own business; and they serve in church – yet they recognize the need for and want deeper biblical community.

Do you have this heart?

Are you willingly to take steps to make it happen?

One of the comments made in our discussion on sharing life together, was how much we all enjoyed a recent gathering when we went around the room updating the group on what was happening in our lives.

It helped us to feel we really know what is going on in one another’s lives. I know it help me to have better clarity in how I can pray for the other members of my small group.

The greatest encouragement we can have in pursuing deeper community with one another is that God will be right in the middle of it. Scripture tells us that He wants (expects) biblical community to happen. This mean God will give us grace for it (and that will be needed). It also means God will bring fruitfulness to it (and that will be wonderful).

As you read the “The Big God in Your Small Group”, ask God to inspire you in how you share life with the members of your church – they are your forever family!