Title: A Growing Fellowship
Purpose: To motivate the congregation to spend more quality time together


Intro:

  1. Where is our Strength?
  2. Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35; 5:12-14; 8:4-8 - The church was tough and growing
  3. Some later lost strength due to persecution, so letters written to encourage
  4. Today, when no persecution, people still lose their strength.
  5. There is a great threat to the church, & we need to identify it
  6. "The greatest threat to the church is not doctrinal or moral, its relational" - Dr. James Hinkle
  7. "Unless the church changes its present form and gets back to community & sharing lives personally, the church is done." - Dr. Frances Schaeffer
  8. The early church had doctrinal & moral problems and survived. Why? Fellowship
  9. In our study on fellowship, found that indifference breeds poor fellowship or vice versa -If you have one, the other will soon follow
  10. We must have a growing fellowship


I. Isolation is not good

  1. God said in the beginning that it was not good for man to be alone
  2. However we prize independence
    1. Our heroes: John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Lone Ranger - ALL LONERS
    2. A lot of it came from the early days: Frontier Homesteading
      1. In the beginning, "independence" was the word
      2. Stake claim, built houses in the middle of the claim
      3. No neighbors for miles
      4. Pictures of homesteaders look crazy and ghostly
      5. Isolation definitely took its toll on people
  3. Text: Numbers 11:11 ff
    1. Moses, a man with full of Godís spirit could not bear it alone
    2. Jesus and Paul were not loners either
  4. Yet we tend to be isolated in our society
    1. In our culture, new job every 3-4 Years
    2. 40-60% of an average town moves in a years time
    3. Donít know nieghbors
    4. Donít know brothers and sisters in the church
    5. Get used to being isolated and independent
  5. Fellowship is a challenge
    1. Think of where you were a year ago, 2 years ago, 3, 5
    2. Think of what people there were in the church a year ago, 2 years ago, 3, 5
    3. Time to reach out or you just might fade out


II. Fellowship is Beneficial

  1. Homesteaders eventually built houses on the corner of their section to be together with neighbors who did the same
  2. Eccl. 4:9-12 - See that the benefits of fellowship are reciprocal, it involves:
    1. (v.9)Working Together - Share in a common goal, cause, works.
      • ILL: When my Mom (who is Korean) sees someone she thinks might be Korean, they start talking like they knew each other all their life.
    2. (v.11)Supporting Each other - Satan throws stumbling blocks of discouragement, doubt, fear, bitterness, pride, envy, arrogance, temptations
      1. Fellowship involves picking your brother up, not kicking him when he is down
      2. If no fellowship, it gets harder and harder to get back up on your own
    3. Keeping Each other Warm - there is a certain closeness, kindness graciousness
    4. Keeping Each other Strong
      • Have to build up to build strength
  3. A rope made up of individual strings twisted together
    1. It works together (if not work, it will dry rot)
    2. They support each other
    3. They are close to each other
    4. Together, they have strength
  4. So we need to get close
    1. A heard someone once say: Find someone in the church with common interests, then you can fellowship them
    2. Problem: THAT IS NOT FELLOWSHIP AS THE BIBLE DESCRIBES IT
    3. Our fellowship is IN CHRIST
      1. Christians have so much in common through the blood of Christ
      2. Too many times we engage in small talk of similar interest & think it is fellowship
      3. If that is what early church did, they wouldnít have lasted a week
      4. Recognize that fellowship goes deeper than that


III. Fellowship is instructed

  1. We shouldnít practice it JUST because it is good, but because it is instructed
  2. Ephesians 4:25 - We are members of one another. Therefore:
    1. Gal 5:13 - Through love serve one another
    2. Heb. 3:13 - Exhort one another daily
    3. Heb 10:24 - Consider how to stimulate (provoke) one another to love & good deeds
    4. More on love:
      1. I Pet 4:8-10 - fervent love, hospitable no complaint, serve w/gift
      2. I Pet 1:22 - Sincere love (not just an act)
      3. I John 4:18 - No fear in love, perfect love cast out fear
        • What this mean?
        • Perfect love - "complete" love
        • How is Godís love perfected in us? , when we return it, it is complete
        • You love someone, take risk, they reciprocate, no fear of punishment (perfect love)
  3. Someone got mad and walked out of the church at the invitation after saying his peace
    1. I went over with a peace offering
    2. He was ready for a fight, but that diffused it
    3. He came back and was able to deal with these things
    4. That is perfect love, God loved you, and wants you to complete it by showing it
  4. Ask yourself: How much fellowship do I have
    1. Do I exhort daily
    2. What have I done to stimulate my brothers to love and good deeds
    3. How sincerely have I made an effort to perfect the love of Christ in me?


Conclusion:

1. Must have a growing fellowship

  1. Isolation is not good
  2. Fellowship is good
  3. Fellowship is instructed
2. What now? CHANGE!! (itís not a bad word, we have to change daily to conform to image of)

3. 3 Steps:
  1. Admit your need for one another
    1. Involves taking a risk
    2. It might be new territory (Exodus, all they knew what was behind, trust)(baby)
  2. Develop deeper fellowships
    1. We are a fellowship not an organization
    2. Need to get VERY close to a few
    3. Prov 18:24 (I had a friend once, said a teacher)
      • Canít develop same level of intimacy with everyone
      • Jesus not devlope same level, but DID NOT IGNORE REACHING OUT
      • He was always saying "FOLLOW ME"
    4. Prov. 27:17 - Have a close friend(s) (someone to share)
    5. Purpose is not small talk, fun things, etc. but spiritual
  3. Make a Committement
    1. "We should" has never accomplished anything
    2. Begin with "I will"
    3. Investment of time (will take time to develop fellowship, not 3 times wk)
      • Begin with your own family
      • Then include another family
4. Attitudes Necessary for it to work:
  1. Openness
  2. Trust (and be trusted not to hurt)
  3. Acceptance
  4. A positive Attitude
  5. Perfect Love
5. World is not our home, WE ARE HOMESTEADING
  1. Canít be a lone ranger on a homestead
  2. Fellowship involves risk, your brothers can hurt you when you open up
  3. Remember that the REWARD outweighs the DANGER