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Summary: We can fellowship with God and His workers around the world, no matter where we are.

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Part of God’s Team: Our Primary Identity

(2 Thessalonians 3:1-5)

1. Immaturity begins with birth: at first, it is all about us.

2. Some mature more than others.

3.Typically, we then are wrapped up in our families, which are extensions of ourselves. Some never advance beyond this.

4. If so, next stage is local church, then the churches in our nation...but God demands we get even less self-centered -- concern about reaching the world.

5. The local church is healthy when people are committed to it. When they attend faithfully, invite friends, serve in ministry, and support the work with tithes and offerings, the local church is able to go forward. And local churches need folks who will stand by her and take ownership of the church.

6. But churches, like individuals, can become so introverted that they fail to see that their church is part of the larger Kingdom of God. Surprisingly, this introversion seems worse in either very small churches or very large ones, both of which are focused on the numerical growth of their particular congregation.

7. But a church does not exist in isolation. It is part of the broader body of Christ and needs to be contributing toward fulfilling the Great Commission beyond its county, state, or nation.

8. We are in partnership with others, and partnership basically means fellowship. This was true in the early church where churches planted by Paul were concerned not only about their congregation, but also about Paul’s ministry elsewhere. And Paul was not merely concerned about the new churches he was planting, he also cared about the growth of established churches.

9. And though our cultures and situations vary, when it comes to fellow born-again Bible-believing Christians, we are in this together. We cannot share with everyone, but we can share and participate with some.

Main Idea: We can fellowship with God and His workers around the world, no matter where we are.

I. We Share One Another’s MINISTRY Through Prayer (1-2)

• The command to pray is in the present (προσευχεσθε proseuchesthe), meaning "Be praying”

“Be praying”

A. For EFFECTIVENESS (1)

1. SPREADING the Word of God

The Greek word is related to the word for running…the Word of God is the runner, and our prayers help it to pick up its pace…

The Gospel spread at a fast pace in the first century…

Then it slowed because of (1) ignorance of the Scriptures and (2) lack of missionary zeal

We are living at a point in time where the Gospel is spreading faster than ever…

Is Islam the Fastest-Growing Religion? Guess Again

by Dinesh D’Souza

Many people think Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world. Not true. Islam is growing fast, but Christianity is growing faster. Indeed there are twice as many Christians as Muslims in the world today and the gap is becoming larger. Moreover, Christianity has become the world’s only religion that is truly universal.

Islam too has a wide reach, but Islam has only a small presence in the United States, Canada, Central and South America, and Australia. Christianity, by contrast, is strong everywhere in the world except the Middle East. Islam is growing mainly through reproduction, which is to say by Muslims having large families. Christianity is growing both through reproduction and through conversion.

So if Christianity is growing so fast, why don’t we see it? Because the growth is occurring mainly in Asia and Africa. The full story is told in What’s So Great About Christianity but here are some examples. In 1900 less than 10 percent of Africa was Christian. Now it’s around 50 percent. That’s an increase from 10 million Christians in 1900 to more than 350 million today. The story is pretty much the same in Asia. China now has an underground church numbering in the tens of millions. In Korea, Christians outnumber Buddhists and, in a remarkable historical reversal, now send missionaries to Europe to convert the natives. Some Asian and African churches have so many members that pastors have to tell people not to come very Sunday, because there is not enough room in the pews. [source: http://islamdom.blogspot.com/2007/10/christianity-growing-faster-than-islam.html]

American Christians must remember that the U.S. is only 5% of the world’s population…

2. HONORING the Word of God

Rejecting the Word is the most obvious form of not honoring the Word. But also note:

The Word of God is honored not when we dust off a Bible, but when we read it and practice it; we might call this active listening. Our positive response to the Word honors it. Passively listening to do dishonors it. An unopened Bible dishonors the Word. An unread Bible dishonors the Word. Reading the Word as part of a meaningless, dead ritual dishonors the Word.

In Luke 6:46, Jesus asks a piercing question, “Why do you call me, ’Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

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