Monday, September 10, 2018

Connection Sunday 2018

One of Paul’s greatest concerns was division within the fellowship of believers. He addressed this in 1 Corinthians accusing them of picking sides to follow their favorite leader: 1Co 3:1-9 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building

What were they doing? Separating from God’s building and dividing into their own little shacks.

A man was shipwrecked and lived for years alone on an obscure, uncharted island. One day a ship came by, saw his signal and sent a rescue party ashore. He showed them around the island. He pointed to a small hut. "This is my house." Then he showed them another hut. "This is where I go to church."  They asked about a third hut. “Oh, that’s where I used to go to church."

Paul believed division within would destroy the church, more than outside enemies.

He wrote: Eph 4:1-3 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

Unity was his essential goal. But unity is more than just staying together. You can tie two cats together and not have unity. Paul had much more in mind.

He laid this out in Philippians: Phil 2:1-2 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  

"A great unit, whether it be sports, the military or any organization, shares the same heartbeat."

Four areas our hearts ought to beat together:
1st area – Same Mind: Let the mind of the master be the master of your mind. It’s called being on the same page.

Phil 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 
Word attitude means: the exercise of the mind
·       Mind controls thoughts.
·       Thoughts control actions.
·       Actions reflect identity.

2Co 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 

The battle for unity begins in my mind, to take captive or takes control over thoughts raised up against: Phil 4:8 whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute 

Are my thoughts denying what’s true, what’s right, what’s best because they’re what I want to be true, right or best? That’s why we should never argue over opinions or preferences.

How are we protecting our minds? Seeking God’s thoughts and God’s ways.

2nd area of heartbeat – Same love: Phil 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Christian love is selfless love.

Luke 6:32-33 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 

We’re called to a higher obligation of love. Because, by our love, we also define ourselves: John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

If Jesus is going to have our love define us, we’d better work on loving. In fact, it’s such an important part of the fellowship of a church, Paul says it’s the glue that holds us together. Col 3:14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

1Pet 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Love makes us tolerable. I may not like you or your actions, but I can love you and even lay down my life for you.

How are we protecting our fellowship? Loving.

3rd area of heartbeat – In Spirit
Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

John 16:13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth;

The Spirit is the One who leads us to the truth, reveals what we need to know and shows us what we need to do. He convicts us of what’s wrong and convinces us what’s right.

How do you unify in the Spirit? Eph 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. 1Thess 5:19  Do not quench the Spirit; Agree not to disagree with the Spirit.

1Cor 2:9-12 THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM. For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 

If we are led by the Spirit, we should agree about what we believe about the Bible, who God is and how He does what He does. The Spirit will not tell one person one thing and another something else.
During WWII the P-38 Lightning was one of the most effective planes for the United States. The United States gave some to the British, but their pilots were not as effective as the American pilots. It wasn’t their skills. We left off the supercharger. The P-38s are more powerful with the superchargers. In the same way, we are not living life to the fullest without our supercharger… the Holy Spirit. 

How are we protecting our power source? Yielding to Him. Not grieving or quenching Him.

4th area of heartbeat – Intent on one purpose:
Rom 15:5-7 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. 

With our unified mind we declare Jesus is our Lord. With our unified voice we honor our God beyond all else. It’s like us all cheering for the same team. We know no one around us but when we cheer for the same team suddenly we’re family. When we’re family, we accept one another as we have been accepted by Jesus.

The Samurai sword is considered the best sword in the world. These warriors needed a sword that was hard enough to hold its sharp edge, but at the same time soft enough not to shatter on impact. The skill is fulfilling both needs in one sword. The forging process involved taking multiple layers of hard and soft steel, heated, folded and hammered together over and over again. A sword can have thousands of paper-thin laminations of hard and soft metal. Then the sword is tempered in cold water. The result is a weapon with extreme pliability and a blade that will stay sharp.

Just as Japanese sword makers hammer together layers of steel to produce a sword that will meet Samurai demands, God forms a church out of…us. Some of us are brittle, fragile, carrying hurts from years of abuse and misuse. Others are pliable, soft, loving, caring, supportive. Some are strong from years of testing and study and relying on God. Some are weaker, because they are young in the Lord or negligent in their growth. But all of us hammered into the one blade to make us an incredibly strong church.

In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy demands that Linus change TV channels and then threatens him with her fist if he doesn’t. "What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?" asks Linus. "These five fingers," says Lucy. "Individually they are nothing, but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold." "What channel do you want?" asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, "Why can’t you guys get organized like that?"

2Cor 10:3-4 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 

The minute we begin to minimize the importance of who we are, what we believe, what comprises our fellowship, how important the Holy Spirit is and what is our ultimate purpose, we become weak and vulnerable. But together, we are strong and divinely powerful.

Aesop’s Fable: In the forest, there lived four oxen. They were very good friends and always went together to graze in the fields. However, every time they went, a hungry lion tried to attack them. But they withstood his attack by fighting him as a team and the lion fled to another forest. One day, the four oxen began fighting among themselves. They started going to the forest separately. When the lion returned, he saw that the group was divided. He planned to take advantage of this situation. Finding the first ox grazing in the fields alone, he crept from behind and ate him up. The next day, he attacked the second ox and killed it too. On his next trip he killed the third and then the fourth. Had the four oxen stayed together, they wouldn't have lost their lives. Moral Lesson: "United we live, divided we will be killed.” Or from a more modern version: "United we stand, divided we fall". 
Or as Jesus said: Matt 12:25 A house divided against itself will not stand.

How are we protecting our purpose? Staying united.

  1. How are we protecting our minds? Seeking God’s thoughts and God’s ways.
  2. How are we protecting our fellowship? Loving one another.
  3. How are we protecting our power source? Yielding to the Holy Spirit. Not grieving or quenching Him.
  4. How are we protecting our purpose? Staying united.

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