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Illustration results for fellowship

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GOD'S GREAT FAITHFULNESS

You can find hope in your darkest hour through the faithfulness of God. Harry Teuchert knows this is true. For years Harry had been a successful publisher of materials for churches. Everything in his life seemed to be perfect: A lovely home, a family, a solid future; but all this suddenly collapsed. Harry's wife told him she was leaving him. She was in love with someone else.

Devastated, Harry tried to cope, work, continue with his life, but this tragedy was too overwhelming. Despite all the other good things in his life, Harry felt like a complete failure with nothing to live for.

He was on the road to meet with a church about their anniversary publication. Arriving early, Harry sat down in the fellowship hall. Suddenly, he began to think about suicide. His life was over. All was finished. As he sat at a table, he began to cry intensely, holding his head in his hands. The more Harry wept, the more he was convinced that his life had ended. He would continue no more. He was beaten. It would be so easy to end it all.

In total despair he looked up, and noticed a faded poster on the far wall. In that picture was the image of a man in the same despair Harry was going through -- Head in his hands in complete anguish. Then, as Harry studied the poster further, he noticed a smaller image in the lower right corner of the poster: Three crosses, on a hill, surrounded by a dark sky. Beneath the center cross these simple words were inscribed, "I know how you feel; I've been there myself."

While staring at those words, Harry fell to his knees and prayed, "God, help me." Suddenly God touched Harry with a new flood of hope. He got up telling himself, "I'm going to beat this thing. I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me." Harry got on with his life. And today he is serving the God who came to him in his moment of greatest trial.

(Original source unknown - found in christianglobe.com sermon "Help Me Make It Through The Night" by King Duncan - John 3:1-21 - 2005)

The Lord used a faded poster to remind Harry of God's great faithfulness. And I hope He uses Harry's story to remind you.

(From Rick Crandall's Sermon "God's Great Faithfulness")

 
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Ken Pell
 
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In his book, “Imagine Your Life Without Fear” Max Lucado gives some significant insight when he says,

"Questions can make hermits out of us, driving us into hiding. Yet the cave has no answers. Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries, when we mix, mingle, confess and pray, Christ speaks."

 
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BUILD CHARACTER INTO YOUR CHILDREN

David Kraft was a big, strong man -- all muscle. At the age of 32, he was six feet, two inches tall and weighed 200 pounds. He had been to seminary and ended up working with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, because of his athletic background.

Then he was diagnosed with cancer. It wracked his body, and over a period of time, he dropped from 200 pounds to 80 pounds.

When he was about ready to pass from this life into eternity, he asked his father to come into his hospital room. Lying there in bed, he looked up and said, "Dad, do you remember when I was a little boy, how you used to hold me in your arm close to your chest?"

David's father nodded. Then David said, "Do you think, Dad, you could do that one more time? One last time?"

Again his father nodded. He bent down to pick up his 32-year-old, six-foot, two-inch, 80 pound son, and held him close to his chest, so that the son's face was right next to the father's face. They were eyeball to eyeball. Tears were streaming down both faces, and the son said to his father, "Thank you for building the kind of character into my life that can enable me to face even a moment like this." (Ron Lee Davis, "Introducing Christ to Your Child," Preaching Today, Tape No.92)

Men, I dare you to be that kind of father (or grandfather) to your children. Dare to build into them the kind of character that will enable them to face anything in life. Then you will be a real leader, not only in your home, but among your peers, as well.

(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Loving Leadership, 6/17/2010)

 
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AN ARM AROUND ME--COMMUNION MEDITATION

Jackie Robinson was the first black person to play major league baseball. Breaking baseball’s color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. Players would stomp on his feet and kick him.

While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he made an error. The fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.

We are sometimes like Jackie Robinson, full of shame. Sometimes, like Jackie, our shame is from nothing we've done. Sometimes our shame is from our own sin and guilt. And like Pee Wee Reese, Jesus comes and slips his arm around us, and bears our shame for us. ...

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DRIVE-THRU FELLOWSHIP

This week I read a story about a pastor traveling with a Brazilian seminary student. Along the way the pastor asked the student if he would like to stop for a cup of coffee. The student said, "I would be honored." So he swung into a Starbucks, went through the drive-thru.

Once on their way the student was very quiet and when pressed about his silence he said, "I thought you were asking me to be your friend. I thought we were going to sit together and share life."

Living in fellowship is basically, sharing life... all of life.

(From a sermon by Monty Newton, The Making of a Compelling Christian Community, 8/24/2012)

 
Contributed By:
Daniel Harman
 
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FELLOWSHIP @ THE NEIGHBOURHOOD BAR
Research that shows the more friendships a person has in a congregation, the less likely they are to become inactive or leave. I once read about a survey of 400 church drop-outs who were asked why they left their churches. Over 75% of the respondents said, “I didn’t feel anyone cared whether I was there or not.”
These are shocking results, especially as church should be one of the most caring places in the world!

The neighbourhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give His church. It’s an imitation, dispensing alcohol instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is a Permissive, Accepting, and Inclusive fellowship. It is Unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets and they usually don’t tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know & be known, to love & be loved & so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers.

 
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Victor Yap
 
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One of the most powerful prayers in the midst of suffering I have read was uncovered from the horrors of Ravensbruck concentration camp. Ravensbruck was a concentration camp built in 1939 for women. Over 90,000 women and children perished in Ravensbruck, murdered by the Nazis. Corrie Ten Boom, who wrote The Hiding Place, was imprisoned there too. The prayer, found in the clothing of a dead child, says:

O Lord, remember not only the men and woman of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us: Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering, our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.

 
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GETTING PAST YOUR PAST

Consider Charles Colson, the aide to Richard Nixon who was sent to jail for Watergate. As as a result of his experience as a convicted felon, Colson founded Prison Fellowship, now the world’s largest Christian outreach to prisoners and their families. Prison Fellowship has more than 50,000 volunteers working in hundreds of prisons in 88 countries around the world. A ministry that has blessed millions of people got started twenty-five years ago because Charles Colson committed a crime. God’s eternal purposes for that man included even the sin that sent him to prison. It was a part of God’s plan from the very beginning.

But the story that matters most to you isn’t Peter’s, or Paul’s, or even Charles Colson’s. It’s yours. And what I want to say to you this morning is that the story of your life has not been ruined, not by your sin or anyone else’s. God’s good plan for your life is not buried under the mistakes of the past. God has a plan for your life, a good plan, a wise plan, a loving plan, a sovereign plan, and that plan is still in effect. You haven’t missed it. He is working ...

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Troy Borst
 
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ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
1. Materialism
2. Pride
3. Self-centeredness
4. Laziness
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
6. Envy
7. Gluttony
8. Lying

Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).

 
Contributed By:
Bill Sullivan
 
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Last week, Bernie came to the church door. He showed up about five minutes before I was getting ready to leave for an appointment, and my first response to his arrival was, oh, no, not now.

Bernie had been drinking – I could smell it on his breath. He was sweating profusely and was a little bit shaky, though he spoke clearly without slurring. Bernie asked if I could help him, and I asked what I could do for him. He said he was an alcoholic, and he needed a ride to Hillcrest Hospital, because he’d been part of a 12 step alcohol program, and had “fallen off the wagon.”

I thought, OK, I can take him to the hospital on my way to my appointment. I was relieved he hadn’t asked for money, because we cannot give any money to someone who has been drinking.

In my five-minute ride to the hospital, where I dropped him off at the emergency room, Bernie told me he really loved Jesus, but was having a hard time staying off the alcohol. I told him that admitting himself to this program at the hospital was a good step, and that I was sure the Lord would help him. Bernie was clearly hurting physically, but seemed genuinely touched that I would help him in this small way.

When we got to the drop-off point in front of the ER, Bernie thanked me – almost excessively – for helping him. He reached over across the seat and wanted a hug. Smell, sweat and all, I hugged Bernie, and he hung on tightly for a moment as I assured him of God’s love and care for Him. As he stumbled away from the van, he called back for me to pray for him, and I assured him I would. And I did, as I drove on to my appointment – I did pray that Bernie would find help and find compassion from the Lord.

And the Lord spoke to me clearly that, despite my initial attitude, all Bernie really needed was compassion.

I watched as Bernie sort of stumbled into the ER at Hillcrest. I was ashamed of my initial attitude, and the Lord said to me clearly: all he needed was a little compassion. All he needed was to be treated with respect and dignity.

And at that moment, I knew God would have me bring this message to TCF this morning.

We’re in a time in our fellowship when we need this reminder - of the source of compassion, and of how God uses us as His tools of compassion.

You may have heard the phrase, “Been there, done that” – it’s the title of this message. It’s a phrase that represents the idea that someone has already experienced something. When someone says that to you, it means they have some understanding of what they’re discussing with you. In some ways, it might mean that they have sympathy for you, maybe even real compassion, if that’s what’s called for.

In the vernacular, it mostly means they can relate to you and your experiences, and admittedly, it’s often a dismissive way of expressing that, whether good or bad, they’ve “been there, and done that.”

In our Christian lives, in times of difficulty or suffering, it’s often helpful to talk to someone who can relate to your experience. Now, I’ve never been an alcoholic like Bernie, but I know what it is to be hurting, for different reasons than Bernie,
and more importantly, I know the source of real compassion, and real comfort.

His compassion and comfort are revealed in His Word. The Word of God is living and active, and it’s for this time and this place, whenever and wherever this time and place might be.

God can speak to us through His Word, just as clearly as I’m speaking to you, by using these words written almost two millennia ago.

2 Cor. 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

 
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