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Summary: We come together to love, honor, and encourage one another.

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New Life On Purpose: Welcome

Text: Acts 2:42; Phil. 1:5; Eph. 4:2-3

Introduction

1. Illustration: A new Gallup study commissioned by Group Publishing shows that people with close friendships in their church are very satisfied with their congregation, less likely to leave their place of worship, and have a strong friendship with God. Church members who have a best friend at church are 21% more likely to report attending at least once a week and 26% more likely to report having a strong, more active faith in God. 77% of highly satisfied members have eaten a meal with fellow congregants (who are not members of their family) at some point over the last year. Only 56% of somewhat satisfied or dissatisfied members have shared a meal together. Mealtime fellowship appears strongly correlated with high levels of congregational satisfaction. 62% of those who eat meals together report regularly spending time in prayer and worship daily vs. 49% who have not eaten meals with other church members.

2. Perhaps the most encouraging thing that anyone has said to me about New Life was this past September when Pastor John Wooten was our guest. He said that he knew the minute he walked in the door he knew that we loved each other.

3. That tells me that fellowship is one thing that we do very well.

a. Fellowship Requires Commitment

b. Fellowship Requires Partnership

c. Fellowship Requires Patience

Proposition: We come together to love, honor, and encourage one another.

Transition: First of all...

I. Fellowship Requires Commitment (Acts 2:42)

A. Devoted Themselves

1. Luke tells us that the early church “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.”

a. It is vitally important that we join with other believers.

b. Christian television is a great thing, especially for those who are home bound, but it was never meant to be a replacement for being involved in a local church.

c. Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

d. We need to fellowship with one another because we sharpen one another and make each other better.

2. The phrase "devoted themselves" means to "continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty" —Louw & Nida: NT Greek-English Lexicon

3. One of the things that they continued to devote themselves to was fellowship.

a. It was more than just getting together.

b. It was a partnership in the purposes of the Church and a sharing of the message and the work (Horton, 65).

4. 1 John 1:3 (NLT)

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

5. The fellowship that is brought about by the Holy Spirit is very different than that seen in civic groups.

a. There is a vast difference between community participation and spiritual participation.

b. Community participation is based upon neighborly association.

c. Spiritual participation is based upon a spiritual union brought by the Spirit of God.

6. The distinctiveness is this: the Holy Spirit is within the Christian believer.

a. The Holy Spirit creates a spiritual union by melting and molding the heart of the Christian believer to the hearts of other believers.

b. He attaches the life of one believer to the lives of other believers.

c. Through the Spirit of God, believers become one in life and purpose.

d. They have a joint life sharing their blessings and needs and gifts together.

B. Devotion to Christ and One Another

1. Illustration: Recently this word—fellowship—has been in the headlines of our daily experience, thanks to the popular movie adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkin’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In the first book and movie, entitled, Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien describes the camaraderie of a diverse group of people who came together around a central purpose. Called "the fellowship of the ring," their goal is to destroy the power of the Dark Lord that is somehow resident in his ring. The persons in this fellowship are different in many ways, yet they are united in their opposition of the Dark Lord. That is the source of their fellowship.

2. The reason the fellowship of some churches is so weak today is not because they do not have enough fellowship events.

a. Rather weak fellowship is due to the lack of time we spend together doing the hard work of the kingdom.

b. In sharing time as it were in the foxholes of ministry together

c. And in making a difference in the lives of the hurting people of our world.

3. Fellowship is all about devotion.

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