Summary: This seventh in the series deals with the idea that Christianity was designed by God to be lived in Community with others.
12 Secrets for Abundant Living
This week we are continuing in our series for the New Year - 12 secrets for abundant living. Remember that this whole series is based on 3 very important principles.
1. God has a plan for your life - Jeremiah 29:11 says “I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
2. There is a battle engaged for your life - Jesus said in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
3. Too many of God’s people are losing the battle - Marriages, children, finances, life.
Over the last 4 weeks we have looked together at our first eight secrets. If you need a refresher they are on the back of your notes sheet and tapes are available if you want to catch up.
This morning let’s get right to it and look together at secrets number 10.
Secret #10 - Abundant life is found in Community - What I mean by this is that Christianity is meant to be lived in Community. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Community is a common theme throughout both the Old and New Testaments.
• It starts in Eden - “It’s not good for man to be alone…”
• It follows in the preservation of Israel. Israel was preserved as a Nation. Feasts and fasts, celebrations, and sacrifices all revolved around bring the people together in one place - preserving a unity of Nation.
• In the New Testament when Jesus prepares His disciples for going out in ministry He pairs them up.
• Each time the Apostle Paul heads out on a missionary journey - he teams up with others to make the journey.
God designed us to work together in community and that community is the local church. I think this is why there is so much derision in churches - the enemy works overtime to keep us upset with one another. [Letter I received just yesterday- making accusations about our church members] Here’s the inconvenient truth. (as Al Gore puts it) Most of those people who won’t enter the Christian Community won’t enter it not because of who Christ is but because of who we are. You see if he can keep us out of fellowship with other believers he can keep us from the abundance that God has designed for us.
Understand that I am not saying you cannot be a Christian if you don’t go to church - any more than I am saying that going to church means you’re a Christian. My grandmother was a wonderful Christian lady and I remain today one of her legacies, but after my grandfather died she never set foot again inside the Greens Cross Baptist Church. She just couldn’t. The pastor visited weekly. She watched a two or three preachers on TV but was not in fellowship with the church. Was she a Christian, yes, was she living in abundance in her walk, no. What I am saying is that it is difficult to reach the abundant life that God wants for you at any time but it is nigh on impossible outside of fellowship with the local church. Here’s why:
• Community is accountability - It is in the local body of believers that we find accountability and challenge for our spiritual walk. Wise Solomon wrote “Iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.” Galatians 6:1-2 - “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Woe to the one who falls who does not have another to lift him up. I shared with my membership class this morning that one of the expectations you should have of your church is accountability. That if you get off track someone will come alongside to help you. Theology, lifestyle, integrity - but we are not policemen we are brothers and sisters.
• Community is encouragement - When we come into community we find encouragement to weather the difficulties of walking a Christian walk. I told you last week that this life we live is no bed of roses, well it’s in community with other believers that we find the encouragement we need to weather the storm. We pray with each other, counsel each other, comfort each other and challenge each other. The writer of Hebrews encourages us with these words. Hebrews 10:24-25 “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”