Summary: What’s involved in the purpose of fellowship within the church.

“I hear you.”

-->It’s a phrase that has entered our familial language, our personal conversations.

-->It’s an idiom that means more than just acknowledging that was said out loud registered on the meter reading of our auditory nerves in our ear.

-->It can mean, “I agree” or “I know what you mean” or “I feel the same way” or “I understand what you are saying” or “You’re right about that” or “I join with you in that sentiment.”

<>We all need that sort of affirmation. We need to know that others “feel our pain,” that they understand our feelings, that they are validating what we’re experiencing, that it’s a normal or shared human experience.

-->Quote: C .S. Lewis once said, “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!’”

-->Quote: Aristotle said, “Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

<>You see, God “wired” us with that need for affirmation and support, the need for encouragement and empathy from others.

-->Then He designed the church to provide that need.

-->We call it “fellowship,” two fellows in the same ship.

I invite you to open a Bible and turn again to Acts, chapter two.

-->Quote: Henry Durbanville once said, “A friend is the first person who comes in when the whole world goes out.”

Today we come to the final message in the series, “Pursuing Purpose,” examining the five purposes of the church.

-->We’ve looked at the purpose of worship (“Reaching Up”), the purpose of evangelism (“Reaching Out”), the purpose of discipleship (“Growing Up”), and last week we looked at the purpose of missions (“Reaching Across”).

-->Today we look at the purpose of fellowship...”Lifting Up.”

I want us to look at what’s involved in fellowship...what God provides for us THROUGH one another.

-->When we really “H-E-A-R-” one another, we lift one another up, and we provide to each other...

1) H-ELP.

----->We provide tangible support.

---------*Acts 2:44-45 -- “and all those who believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.

---------*Acts 4:32,34-35 -- “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them...for there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land our houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.”

-->The Greek word for “fellowship” comes from a root meaning “common” or “shared.”

<>So, fellowship means common participation in something either by giving what you have to the other person or receiving what he/she has.

-->Last week we saw that missions involves providing practical help to people in need.

------But when the help is needed by another believer, when we help them that function is actually a part of our fellowship together.

-->The best example of fellowship by way of helping was provided by the early church

------They “pooled” their resources to give help to those in need.

------They organized themselves to be sure they would take care of the widows and orphans among them.

<>Helping another believer in need is a built-in desire and attribute of every believer, coming from the Holy Spirit within us.


----->Exhorting, comforting, and lifting one another up.

----------1 Thessalonians 5:11 -- “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another...”

----------1 Thessalonians 5:14 -- “We urge you, brethren...encourage the fainthearted, help the weak; be patient with everyone.

----------Hebrews 10:25 -- “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.”

-->When we’re truly “sold out” to serving the Lord, to allowing Him to conform us to His image, uncompromisingly willing to go where He leads us to go, we’re going to encounter great opposition.

-------We’re going to suffer...we’re going to be persecuted...we’re going to be opposed...crucified by the world.

-------Paul calls it knowing “the fellowship of His suffering.”

-------It comes with the territory, part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

-------But sometimes it really hurts...and we need “hugs” / encouragement from other believers to help us through.

-------*ILL>Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play major league baseball. Breaking baseball’s color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed 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.

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