Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

03/19/2017 A.M.

 

Community...Fellowship...Togetherness

Acts 2.42-47

 

Today we continue our series on Seven Functions of Godly People.

Seven functions that...

    • Set us apart...

    • Make us peculiar...

    • Seven functions... Seven attributes... Declaring to others that we belong to God...

 

Worship... Holiness... Community... SPIRITUAL maturity... servanthood.... Witnessing... Influence

 

This morning, we’ll examine Community... Fellowship... togetherness... One-anotherness... Tonight... Jeff will address the subject of Holiness.

 

In the animated movie.... Ice Age... Three unlikely companions unite on a common mission to save a baby boy... The three were...

• A Mammoth named Manfred...

• A Sloth named Sid...

• And a Saber-Tooth tiger named Diego.

 

In their effort to save the lost child... The three end up expressing their love and concern... Not only for the lost... But for one another.

 

When Manfred the Mammoth saved Diego the Tiger... Diego asked...

• Why did you do that?...

• Why did you risk your life for me?...

Humbly the Mammoth responds... That’s what you do when you’re part of a herd... You look after one another.

 

Then Sid the sloth muses aloud... I don’t know about you guys.... But we are one strange herd.

 

One strange herd! Perhaps a good description of the church... A mixture of people...

• With different personalities...

• Different backgrounds...

• Different ideas...

• Different interests…

• Different cultures…

• Different dress….

• Perhaps different languages…

 

Who might never hang out together... Except for the fact that we have something in common... A love for Jesus… A faith in God.

 

A love and faith so strong that we are being transformed to become like Him...Have His heart... Mind... Attitude... Disposition... and Behavior to the point that... Our old nature... Our old INSTINCTS… Old interestS… are dying and we’re becoming completely different people as we allow God to… Remake…Remold… reshape… Us into the image of His Son.

 

A common love for each other,

A common gift to the Savior,

A common bond holding us to the Lord;

A common strength when we're weary,

A common hope for tomorrow,

A common joy in the truth of God's Word.

 

There’s a Bible word for this special fellowship... It’s KOINONIA....

 

First... Biblical fellowship means we share something With Another...

For instance... If you are without something that you really need... And I share mine with you... We have fellowship... We COMMUNE... We are a Community.

 

Secondly... The term means that we share IN Something.

If some of us are going through an emotional experience... A pain... A problem...A loss... A joy... A celebration... And another joins with us in that experience...Participates in our... Pain... Joy... Loss... Celebration... Etc... Then by definition we have had fellowship with one another… A fellowship that allows us to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice.

 

Thirdly... Fellowship is a participation… in an effort... In a work... In a purpose… With others.

 

If I have work to do...  A purpose to accomplish... And you come alongside me and assist me in that by adding your...Talents... Abilities... Gifts... We have jointly participated in fellowship.

 

As a church… We sometimes Worship and serve God… Together... As a fellowship.

 

Number four... Fellowship is belonging to one another...

Romans 12.4 & 5 says... Just as each of us has one body with many members...And these members do not all have the same function... So in Christ we who are many form one body...Listen now… And Each member belongs to all the others!!

 

Perhaps the best description of this community is found in Acts Chapter two... They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 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, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

 

Perhaps the song we sing says it best…

 

We're part of the family that's been born again;

Part of a family whose love knows no end;

For Jesus has saved us and made us His own,

Now we're part of the family that's on its way home.

 

When a brother meets sorrow we all feel his grief;

When he's passed thru the valley we all feel relief;

Together in sunshine, together in rain,

Together in victory thru His precious name.

 

And tho some go before us, we'll all meet again;

Just inside the city as we enter in;

There'll be no more parting, with Jesus we'll be

Together forever, God's family.

 

And sometimes we laugh together, sometimes we cry;

Sometimes we share together, heartaches and sighs;

Sometimes we dream together of how it will be

When we all get to Heaven, God's family.

 

For the rest of the lesson... We want to talk about practicing community...

How to enhance and protect... Our fellowship... Our one-anotherness.

 

It’s foolish for us to think that we can live together in perfect harmony... WE CAN’T!! Satan is working overtime to disrupt and destroy our family fellowship.

 

God knows that... So... He provides help... Paul says I am writing you these INSTRUCTIONS so that you will know how we ought to conduct ourselves in God’s household... In God’s family... Which is the church of the living God...The pillar and ground of the truth.

 

What are some ways we can enhance and protect...

Our Community... Our fellowship... Our togetherness?

 

First...be honest with one another...

Preachers...Elders... Care Group Leaders... Teachers... If you see me...

• Doing something...

• Harboring... Cultivating... An attitude or behavior that’s dangerous to my spiritual health... Or that’s a threat to our unity... Love me enough to be honest... Love enough to correct...Love enough to protect our community.

 

Scripture says... Speak the truth in Love.

Solomon says... An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

 

Satan knows that lies disrupt and destroy Christian fellowship... So... When stressful times come... And the fellowship cord is strained... Be careful to never stretch or distort the truth... It can be devastating.

 

Now know this... Truthfulness is not a license for rudeness... Listen to Paul... Do not rebuke an older man harshly... But exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers... Older women as mothers... And younger women as sisters... With absolute purity.

 

always put on Humility.

Pride... Smugness... Self-righteousness... ARROGANce…Me- centric thinking and living… Destroys fellowship... Togetherness...One-anotherness... Faster than anything I know… Listen to these admonitions from Scripture...

 

• Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought... But rather think of yourself with sober judgment...Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud... But be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

 

Clothe yourselves with humility towards one another... Because... God opposes the proud... But gives grace to the humble.

 

• Do nothing... Do not behave...Out of selfish ambition or vain conceit... But in humility... Consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests... But also to the interests of others.

 

No wonder Jesus said... The greatest in the Kingdom is the one who serves... Because it cultivates unity... It promotes One-anotherness... It enhances fellowship.

 

Unity is protected by focusing on what we have in Common... Not our differences.

 

Church...How long would our marriages last if we constantly focused our attention on our differences?... Not long... RIGHT?

 

Genuine fellowship is found in the fact that we share a common....

• Hope... Forgiveness...Salvation...

• A common... Father... Lord...Savior... Spirit...

• A common... Faith... Baptism...Love... And future in Heaven.

 

Romans 14.19 reads... Let us make every effort to do what leads to... WHAT?.... Peace and Harmony...Peace and Mutual Edification.

 

Here it is church... Conflict is a sign that our focus has shifted...

• From our mutual blessings to our own personal preferences...

• From important spiritual matters... to trivial disputable matters.

• Matters that usually have to do with money rather than souls.

 

Listen to Paul’s plea... I appeal to you...Brothers... In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ... That all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you... And that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

 

Be courteous to one another.

• Within the church family... Courtesy is respecting our differences...

 

• Courtesy is overlooking innocent and trivial quirks and annoying traits of a brother...

 

• Courtesy is being mindful of the feelings and convictions of another.

 

Indeed... Unity... Togetherness... COMMUNITY... is destroyed by those who are inconsiderate of others... Their feelings and convictions.

 

Romans 12.10 has the antidote... Be devoted to one another in brotherly love... Honor one another above yourselves.

 

May God help us to live like Jesus... being... Mindful...Respectful... Considerate... toward others... all others... Amen?

 

Community is enhanced and protected by confidentiality.

 

Gossip destroys one-anotherness... Ruptures relationships.

God hates gossip…

• God hates whispering….

 

• God hates holy huddles around the CHURCH BUILDING… Regardless who participates in them… Preaching staff… Eldership...Deaconate... or Congregation.

 

• God hates our MALICIOUS meddling in ONE ANOTHER’S affairs.

 

• God hates those who sow discord among the BRETHREN.

 

Solomon says... A perverse man stirs up dissension... And a gossip... separates close friends... Destroys fellowship!

 

Church...Know this this morning... Gossip is like receiving stolen property... We become guilty by listening... Receiving!!.. So don’t!!

 

I urge you to tell others… Tell others… I do not want to hear Gossip… Because it destroys our fellowship... And makes our worship something less than pleasing to God.

 

Number six… We must be realistic in our expectations of one another.

Church...We must know this... There is a difference between the real and the ideal.

 

I lived most of my life in Fayetteville... And it always intrigued me that there was this constant battle between....

   • The idealism of the University Community on how a city ought to be run...

   • And the reality of everyday city government.

   • The college taught idealism.. They thought that idealism could become reality.

   • But realism... The truth... Was found in the actual needs and problems faced in providing city services day-in-and-day-out.

 

Bottom-line here is that we are going to disappoint one another... Even hurt one another from time-to-time...

   • When we understand this, we’ll be more likely to protect our fellowship.

   • When we forget this and start demanding ideal perfection of one another... Relationships will be in danger.

 

Mark this down... Divorcing a church... Leaving a congregation at the first sign of disappointment or disillusionment... Is usually a mark of our own immaturity.

 

Ephesians 4.2 reads... Be Humble.... Be Gentle....Be Patient... Making allowances for one another’s faults... WHY???... Because of your love... To protect the fellowship.

 

We must place the interest of others before our own.

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others…We can’t hear this too often.

 

Jesus gives us the Golden Rule... Treat others... As you want to be treated.

 

Are we willing to put others first in order to protect our family circle... Not everybody is!!

Not everybody loves the church more than themselves.

 

We must choose to encourage...Rather than criticize.

Criticizing... Complaining... Being judgmental... Destroys togetherness.

 

Which one of us would stand on the sidelines of the Bentonville Tigers... And shout criticism... Put-downs... Complaints... Discouraging... Judgmental... Words to the team?

Why...Because we know the effect it would have on the players...

 

So...Why is it that we do this in the church... And expect any other results?

 

Listen to these Scriptures…

Do not judge... Or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand... For the Lord is able to make him stand.

 

You... Then... Why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

 

Church...Four things happen when we start judging one another...

• We lose fellowship with God...

• We expose our own pride and insecurity...

• We set ourselves up to bejudged by God with the same unfair critical judgment we bind on others.

• We weaken the fellowship and togetherness of the church family.

 

Let me read how one of the modern speech translations renders Romans 14.19...  Let us agree to use our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words... Don’t drag them down by finding fault... Amen?

 

Be willing to forgive.

Inspite of everything we can do... We will... At times... fail... and hurt… One another.

The answer then is simply to say... Forgive me... I forgive you.

 

Be kind and compassionate to one another... Forgiving each other... Just as in Christ... God forgave you.

 

Nothing...Protects... Fellowship... Togetherness... Community... Like forgiveness.

Satan cannot operate... In an atmosphere... In an economy of... Sincere forgiveness.

 

Indeed...We are a strange herd... A Royal Priesthood... A Holy Nation... A Peculiar People... Who belong to God.

• Our purpose is to save the lost...

• To love and serve one another...

• To be community... God’s family... His household of believers....

As we conform to the image of His Son.

 

How do we respond to the lesson?

 

For those who are not children of God… We give you the opportunity to become His child this morning by expressing your faith in God by… Genuine Repentance...Confession of Jesus’ name... And being born again in New Testament Baptism.

 

As His child... Our challenge is to do all we can to enhance and protect...Our Community... Our Fellowship... Our One-Anotherness.

 

Come ‘join the herd’... As we stand and sing together.