Doing Life Together

Date Preached: August 18, 2019
From the Series: House to House
Scripture: Acts 2:42-47
Notes: Download PDF
Speaker: Gary Combs

Summary

The truth is we need God and we need one another. We are created for relationship. That’s why Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). We were made to love God and one another. We were made to do life together!

In the book of Acts, Luke recorded how the first century church was devoted to doing life together as the body of Christ. We can be devoted to doing life together as the body of Christ.

Transcript

Below is an automated transcript of this message

All right. Good morning, church. Good to see all of you here this morning. We’re starting a new series today, “House to House, Experiencing Your Best Life Together.” I’m thankful for that video testimony from Ryan and Paula Caberoy. We caught them before they moved to Texas. They moved here from Saudi Arabia. They had moved from the Philippines to find a job and they found a job. Not only that, they found Christ in Saudi Arabia; imagine that, a place where Christianity is illegal and meeting in a church is illegal. But they had secret church in a house where they had to collect egg crates to make it quiet enough so they could worship. That’s where they found Jesus. And when they came to Wilson, she took a job as a nurse across the street at the hospital. They were looking for a church that had small groups, and they found one here. And so many of you were sitting here this morning that were in their small group. And I know you feel as I do; I miss them already, but I know that they’re growing in Jesus at their new place in Texas. We’re thankful for them.

Now, here’s the thing; stories like that are all over our church and they’ve been true. These kinds of stories of life change are in small gatherings, house to house. They have been true since the first century.

Our theme verse that accounts for this is in Acts 5: 42, “And every day in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” I want you to notice two things about our sermon theme verse. First, notice their commitment. Notice the commitment of the first century believers. It says that every day they did not cease. In other words, they had a commitment to Christ and to the body of Christ. Then, notice they had a rhythm to their week. It says they met from the temple courts from the temple to house the house, so they had a commitment to meet in large groups like we’re doing right now and then also to meet during the week in a small group because we need both. So they had a commitment and they had a rhythm, and they had a commitment to practice their Christianity together in these large groups like we’re doing but also house to house.

Now, speaking of house to house, have you noticed how architecture has changed in America in recent years? In the early days, you could go to any town in America, you’d see these houses that had small front yards with these beautiful front porches. People would be sitting on the front porch in the evening after work, drinking lemonade or ice tea. People would walk by and say hello and stop. Maybe you’ve heard of this word “neighborly;” they would go up on the front porch, share in talking and sit together. But architecture’s changed. Today we no longer have front porches. We have two-car garages. That’s the feature of the new American home. That way the American can come home from work, take their garage door opener, open the garage door, pull their car in and never have to see their neighbors. They could just go straight in the house. We still have porches; we just put them on the back of the house. We call them a deck, and we surround them with privacy fences, so we no longer have to even acknowledge that we have people living next door. We live in an age where we have 1000 Facebook friends, but we’re lonely.

A recent article in Psychology Today, Dr Frank J.Ninivaggi M.D. says this, .“The newest epidemic in America that now affects up to 47 % of adults—double the number affected a few decades ago… is loneliness. This staggering data has relevance because of its correlation with increased risk for early mortality, risk rates similar to those for obesity and smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Also, the findings relate to adverse health risks such as higher systolic blood pressure, body mass index, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Depression and suicide are also cited.” In other words, loneliness will kill you. It’s like being an overweight smoker. That’s basically what it say it is. It’s got this list of things that being out of relationship, not having relationships with others, puts you in a place that can put your life at risk.

The truth is, God created us for one another. First of all, He created us for Himself. Why did God make us? He made us for Himself. And then He made us for one another. We are relational beings, created so by our father, the Creator. We were made to do life together. When Jesus was asked the greatest commandment. What did He say? Well, he gave a relational answer. He said, “Love, God, love your neighbor as yourself.” You were built, you were made, to do life together. That’s what we’re gonna be talking about for the next four week, house to house, experiencing your best life together.

As we look in the book of Acts, chapter two, we’re gonna hit upon a well-known passage because this Acts 2:42 verse is the DNA of our community groups system, our small group ministry here in our church. As we look at it in this book, I believe the Apostle Luke, who wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote this passage. He described how the first century church was committed to doing life together in the body of Christ. I believe we can experience that same kind of amazing experience of being devoted to these four things.

How can we do it? Well, as we look at the text, I think we’ll see four devotions to doing life together in the body of Christ. Let’s look at Acts 2:42-47 (ESV) “42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” This is God’s Word. Amen.

We’re looking for four devotions on how to do life together as the body of Christ. The first one is this: (1) Be devoted to studying the word together. You’ll notice the four devotions in verse 42. They were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. Let’s look at the first one; the apostles’ teaching. They were devoted; devoted is an interesting word in the Greek. It has the idea of continually, steadfastly facing towards a thing, not taking your eyes off of it. It might could be translated “to focus upon.” They were focused on four devotions and because it’s listed first, it has primacy.

They were focused on the apostles’ teaching. This is chapter two of Acts. The Holy Spirit has come in chapter one. In the early part of chapter two at Pentecost, the spirit has fallen upon the apostle Peter. He preaches the first sermon and 3000 people get saved. So here’s a church that’s running 3 to 5000 people in the city of Jerusalem. They’re all Jewish background now because this gospel hasn’t gone to the Gentiles yet.

And so what did they do? They gather in large groups; this is a mega church of 3000 minimum. They gather in the temple courts, which was probably in Solomon’s colonnade, because in those days you could get out of the sun and be in a large gathering. These are Jewish background people and the apostles would teach there. And then they would go house to house and eat together and unpack what they were learning.

What were the apostles teaching? They weren’t teaching from the New Testament yet because it had not yet been written; they were still writing it. They’re the guys that the Holy Spirit was inspiring to write it. So they had the words of Jesus. We know that Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit would remind them of everything He ever said. And so they were preaching the Gospels before they were written because they were the guys that the Holy Spirit would inspire to write it. They were teaching every week regularly, but they were also unpacking Jesus from the Old Testament. So they were preaching Christ from the Old Testament.

Here’s what the believers were doing; they were sitting under the teaching of these sermons that the apostles were preaching and they were going back house to house and working it out together. This was the practice . This was the rhythm of that church that turned the world upside down. It had the most explosive growth of any generation. What would it look like to be a church like that today? Can we do it? We have the same God, we have the same Lord and the same Holy Spirit. We are able to do it.

What is this apostles ’ teaching? It’s not just any teaching, but it’s the teaching of Jesus from the scriptures being applied to a present-day audience. So what do we do in our church? We do the same as they did. That’s our desire. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re just trying to follow what we see in scripture. We do the same thing; we say we’re going to meet in a large group. We’re going to hear the teaching and then we’re going to meet house to house during the week and unpack it together. This is the practice, the rhythm and the commitment of the first century church .

What did it start looking like, because they were devoted, because they were focused on these four devotions? What did they begin to experience? Think about it. Would you like to experience some of these things? The first thing they experienced that we see is in verse 43, “And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” We like saying awesome; that certainly they were getting together and they were saying, ‘This is awesome.’

Do you know what awe is? It’s a sense that something beyond explanation is taking place, something otherworldly that I’ve never encountered before and really have a hard time explaining, but I can sense it is going on. That’s what started happening as they were devoted to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers. It fell upon their souls. Have you ever felt it? Maybe you felt it today. Maybe you’re here this morning and as soon as you pulled in the parking lot, you felt something. Do you know why that’s possible? We were praying today that as people pulled in the parking lot, they would feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. Maybe. as you encountered people at guest services, and they said, ‘Good morning.’ Maybe you begin to feel something like, ‘What is that? What is that thing I’m feeling?’ It’s not a thing. It’s a person who’s called the Holy Spirit. He’s welcoming you here today. We’ve invited Him to be in this room. Do you welcome Him? That’s where the awel comes from.

Some of you might say, ‘I feel like I’ve got chill bumps popping up on my arms.’ The person next to you know might say, ‘I feel like shouting.’ The person next to you might say, ‘I feel like being really quiet.’ Which one of you is right? All of you are right. It hits us all differently, but we all know something awesome is taking place that’s hard to put into words. That’s the first impact that is listed here by the Apostle Luke.

Then, he says in Verse 43, “and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.” The Lord God does miracles but it was being done through their ministry and they were seeing signs and wonders. A sign points not to itself, but to the one Lord. A sign should never point to the apostles or to me or to you. They point to give glory to God.

Something was happening there. Miraculously, life change was happening. Marriages that were in trouble were being made whole. Parents that were disconnected from their children were being made whole again. They were being brought together. People that were struggling with alcoholism and addiction were being set free. People that were dying of some disease or physical ailment were healed. All of these and more; signs and wonders were taking place as the people did what they were focused on: the apostles’ teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer. Don’t you want to get some of this in your life instead of just getting up, going to work, going to sleep, getting up, going to work, going to sleep…

I had somebody talk to me earlier this week, telling me, ‘What is it about people who show up on Monday morning? They can’t wait till Friday; like we live for the weekend.’ Is that your life? Is that what your life is about? Your life is drudgery, monotony? Where’s the awe? Where are the signs and wonders. Where is the miracle? You can’t get that by yourself. You have to know the Lord Jesus. You need one another. You need Him. You need one another. You can’t do the one anothers without one another. You gotta have one another. You gotta have the Lord. You gotta have each other to experience these things. It begins with submission; to submit to the preaching of the word and to say ‘Yes, I will sit under it and I will let it change my way of thinking.’

Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” They set under the apostles’ teaching. Will you sit under the teaching of the Word? Will you let it change you?

They studied it together. They didn’t just sit under it in the temple. They gathered house to house and they unpacked it together. Colossians 3:16 (ESV) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” So we have to have something to share; we need to soak it up. Then, we get together and we share it with one another.

The thing about our community groups that we say is we want to move what we learned on Sunday morning from head to heart. You’re soaking it up right now. We’ve given you a bulletin to take notes in. We’ve handed you a devotional guide, a twenty-day devotional guide that you can start tomorrow and be on your own soaking this up. But when you come together, you bring that which you’ve soaked up. When we say ‘head to heart,’ we’re not saying some weird spiritual way or some explanation. We’re saying how to apply it; learn how to move it into your life so you begin to apply it. And the way that works is you’re just being honest with each other. You’re sitting face to face and knee to knee with a cup of coffee or eating some food together. You start getting real and saying, ‘I’m trying to work this out, but I gotta be honest with you. I am having a little trouble in this area.’ And the person across the table says,, ‘So am I.’ That’s what we’re talking about. Getting together and sharing the word of Christ and beginning to encourage one another, moving it from head to hear, by studying the word together.

Would you do this, which you consider this? Here’s number two. Here’s their second devotion, and it can be ours too. (2) Be devoted to fellowshipping together. Now, when I came up with the word “fellowshipping,” I first thought,’Is this a real word?’ When I wrote it down, it didn’t seem like a real word and so I asked Webster because he’s the guy that tells you if it’s a real word or not. I don’t know how he comes up with it; he just decides it must be a real word. But anyway, it’s a real word. It’s in the noun form. Look at verse 42, “They devoted themselves to the fellowship. Not any fellowship, not a fellowship. The fellowship. What fellowship? The fellowship of the body of Christ. That fellowship, that very specific fellowship. The word, fellowship, is so rich that it I couldn’t just say be devoted to being together because it needed to be that word.

Can I give you the Greek word here? I won’t give you a lot of Greek words today, but here’s one. Koinonia. They were devoted to the Koinonia. Now, somebody once said that here’s what fellowship is; fellowship is ‘two fellas in a ship.’ Okay, that’s not quite it. That would be the world’s kind of fellowship. But when we’re talking about Koinonia, you need at least three in the ship. You need two believers that are part of the body of Christ and you need the Holy Spirit. That’s how you get Koinonia. You can’t have Koinonia without the Holy Spirit. And you can’t have Koinonia without one another.

You could have set closer together to prove to me that you’re convinced by what I’m saying. Look at that big empty section of seats right there. What is wrong with that? By the way, over the next four weeks, we’re not going to play. Not that we ever do. You can’t do the one another’s without two one another. We’re going to get this. You’re going to get this before the mornings over.. You can’t do the one another’s without one another. I am not saying you’re strong, because you’re not. You’re very weak, but you’re going to get it. We’re gonna build you up.

Here’s what we’re working on: this word Koinonia, this fellowship. Notice in verse 44; we’re going to start working out the outcome of the four devotions and you’ll start seeing in verse 44 the outcomes, and it seems to be outcome specifically from Koinonia. From the fellowship of verse 44 all who believed and worked together. You have to get together. You have to sit together, be together, eat together, do things together. Some of you are sitting here right now thinking, ‘But I don’t like doing that.’ That’s your problem. The sin nature does what Adam and Eve did; it hides from God and it blames one another for all their problems. Go back and read it in Genesis; sin makes us isolate, hide and pull away. But when we’re right with God, when we love God, we also love one another. It changes us. We recognize our need for fellowship for Koinonia.

Notice in verse 44, “they were together and they had all things in common.” The word common is the root of the word, Koinonia. They had all things in common. In other words, they said, “micasa sucasa.” My house is your house. My car is your car. My groceries air your groceries.

Some of you get really nervous. Now I see now why you set so far away that you can get to your cars quickly when I start talking like this. I don’t know about you, but my car is my car, mi casa or whatever you’re talking about is mi casa. It’s my house. But here’s what starts happening. People start saying stuff like this, ‘My community group and the members are closer to me than my blood relatives. They’ve done things for me that my own family has never done. When I’ve been out of work, they brought groceries to my house. When I needed a baby sitter because of something happening, they came knocking at my door.’ What is this? This is called Koinonia and it’s called the fellowship. It’s called the thing that happens when we’re right with God and right with one another, and we start sharing all things in common.

They even went so far, it says, to selling things so they could meet needs. If you want your needs to be met, really met, the way God does it, he doesn’t usually just drop it out of heaven. He doesn’t parachute needs into your front yard. That would be coo, but here’s what he does. He does it through his people. If you want to hang out with His people, your needs are gonna be met.

We have this thing online, on Facebook, called Have a Need, Meet a Need. I see things happening there all the time. Somebody will post that they need something and then a whole bunch of people tag in and say, ‘I have something you can have’ or ‘You can have mine’ or ‘I’ve got two; you can have this.’ There’s the church being the church. That’s awesome. There’s the Koinonia. We’re devoted to one another. It gives us accountability. It encourages us.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV) “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet 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 down, we lift each other up. “And all the more as you see the Day (capital D) drawing near.” What does that mean? That’s the day that Jesus is returning. He’s coming soon so we shouldn’t meet less; we should meet more so that we get accountability and encouragement.

When we gather, we recognize, as I’ve been saying, the presence of the spirit in our midst. Listen to this blessing from Paul to the church of Corinth. This has been a benediction; a few would decide if you want to receive it, because I’m gonna give it to you right now. In the name of Jesus, listen to this, a benediction. 2 Corinthians 13:14 (ESV) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ; that’s the forgiveness that’s free, that you don’t have to earn. Grace is unmerited. Favor and grace; do you want some of that? The love of God; the unconditional love of God. And then here it is; the Koinonia; the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Did you get that? That’s coming your way, brother. That’s coming your way, sister. It’s yours. You can’t have Koinonia without the Spirit, without the love of God and without the grace of Christ, because He is one Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Jesus prayed. “Father, make them one as we are one so the world will know that we are one.” That’s beautiful. Community groups could also be called care groups. Some churches actually call them care groups. Some churches called them life groups. We call ours community groups. They all do the same thing if they do the DNA of Acts 2:42; we think that’s where we get our DNA for our community group.

Sometimes somebody will leave our church and we’ll check on them because we miss them. After a few Sundays, we’ll call them up and say, ‘You okay, John? We’ve been missing you and Mary .’ They will reply, ‘Yeah, We’re not coming back. We just didn’t get connected.’ That just hurts. You didn’t get connected; did you attend a community group? Did you join a community group? Do you know why you didn’t get connected? It’s because you didn’t try. If you want to make friends, you gotta be friendly. If you want to do the one another’s, you’ve got to get next to one another. If you keep isolating, you’re not going get connected.

Watch the animal shows on TV. Watch National Geographic when they’re in Africa. One antelope has its head down eating grass and the herd leaves. That’s when the lions come. He raises up and realizes he’s in danger. What did he do wrong? He forgot to stay with the herd. Don’t be the antelope.

I would check on somebody, asking them, ‘Were have you been?’ ‘Oh, I was sick and you didn’t check on me.’ ‘Are you in a community group?’ ‘ No.’ Now, we’ve got the gifts of the spirit, but we’re not mind readers. We’re commanded to do the one another’s. And if you don’t do one another and you get sick, we don’t know because you’re not connected because you’re not trying to be connected. You’re hoping you can sit in that seat by yourself on Sunday morning, show up late, leave early and get out of your car before anybody touches you or says anything to you. And then when you get in trouble, you’re blaming the church because that’s easy thing to do. Come on, now, listen to me. I’m telling you the truth in love. I want us to be one. I want us to get this stuff. Be devoted to the apostles’ teaching, to the koinonia and to the fellowship. You can’t do the one another’s without one another. Okay, that was a weak muscle, but you’re starting to build it up now.

Number three (3) Be devoted to breaking bread together. Be devoted to breaking bread together. We’re still in verse 42, “they devoted themselves.” They were continually focused on the breaking of bread, not a breaking of bread. Not just any breaking of bread; the breaking of bread. The fact that it says the breaking of bread causes us to think it may mean the Lord’s supper. It may primarily mean that, and certainly I think it includes that. My interpretation is it’s both and not either, or.

Some of you love to read commentaries. I recommend that you find a couple of good commentaries when you’re studying a book like the book of Acts. If you’re reading one, you’ll find a commentary says this is definitely the Lord’s Supper. You’ll open up another one, and it will say that it is definitely was a love feast, the agape feast where they were eating together. What I’d like to do is take these two guys and just kind of put them in the blender. I think it’s both; we’ll make a case for it now.

I think it includes the Lord’s Supper. But then, as you go down into Verse 46 it says, (and I’ll read it to you from the new King James,) “continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” This sounds like more than the Lord’s Supper. In fact, there was a practice.

If you go over in Second Corinthians and read about this, there was a practice. If they would have the Agape feast followed by the Lord’s Supper, so they would do both. And that’s my conviction about this. So, first of all community groups, shepherd’s leaders of community groups, you are released to do the Lord’s Supper in your community groups. You don’t need my permission. If you think you did, you just received it. If you need instruction, come to one of us and we’ll show you how to do it. It’s not hard, or you could just go to the Scripture and follow the instructions there. The main thing is that you’re together and you’re breaking bread and you’re recognizing the body of Christ broken for you. So it’s both.

Here’s the thing we know about about eating together. Don’t you know this, if you sit across the table from someone and you find out what they like and what they don’t like, that’s good. You may ask, ‘Where’d you get that recipe?’ You’re eating and drinking together; you’re watching one another and you’re eating together. Barriers begin to go down. There’s something about eating together that causes you to share a life together. And so all of our community groups, we ask you to keep these four devotions in balance. Eat together, maybe do the Lord’s Supper together, and it results in verse 46, “glad and generous hearts.” They receive their food with glad and generous hearts.

Do you want to be glad? Do you want to experience generosity, break bread together, bring to a common table what you have. Bring your special recipes from your grandma’s and bring it together. People may say, ‘That’s good. I’ve never had that before.’ ‘Oh yeah, my grandma taught me how to make that.’ It just breaks down barriers. It’s a beautiful thing to eat together and to share a life together.

In the book of First Corinthians, chapter 10 it says that when we eat together, we should remember the Lord’s body and blood that we should remember that real life comes from Him. It says here, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (ESV) “16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” That’s Koinonia, is it not?

Let’s look under the hood at the Greek word for participation. Okay. Is it not Kononia? Is it not fellowship in the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break? Is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread,, and we who are many and one body, for we all partake of the one bread or the one loaf. So we eat together. We recognize the body and blood of Jesus. We do it at the end of every one of our large gatherings at our weekend service is.

Even when you’re just eating a common meal together, even if you’re not doing the words, we should always recognize the giver of life. And we share life together when we break bread together. Remember in the book of Luke, where the two disciples were walking on the road to Ameaus; Jesus had been crucified. They had witnessed it. They’re broken hearted. ‘What will we do now? We thought he was the Messiah. But now he’s dead.’ They were commiserating together, and Jesus comes walking up beside them. I find this a hilarious story and so beautiful. Jesus comes up and He says, ‘What are you talking about?’ And they tell him. ‘Have you been hiding under a rock; you did not know about Jesus being crucified?’ Jesus says, ‘No, tell me about it. ‘ They didn’t recognize Him; they were talking to Him.

Then, He starts telling them about the Messiah from the Old Testament. He starts teaching them how the Messiah had to die; they were stirred in their hearts and their hearts caught fire. They said, ‘Stop and eat with us.’ He says, No, I need to go.’ They begged Him and so he stopped.

When Jesus was at the table with them, He took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized Him and He vanished from their sight. They didn’t recognize Him before, but when they heard the blessing of the bread, which they’d heard Him do before and saw His hands, they knew it was Him.

My mother died in 2001. She’s with the Lord Jesus now. I still remember her hands , the hands that fed me and changed me and the hands that blessed me and helped me when I was sick. I still remember her hands. I can close my eyes right now and I can see them. You know, there’s something about people you look up to, whether it’s a parent,a grandparent or someone that you admire. You study their hands.

I used to sit on my father’s lap and he would put his hands around me like this. As I sat in front of him, I would look down at his hands and I would put my hands inside of his. I can remember his hands, too. My mother used to look at my hands and say, ‘Your hands look just like your daddy’s hands.’ Hands are always kind of unique; even our fingerprints.

They recognized the Lord’s hands. As He broke bread, they recognized the body of Christ. They recognized His voice. He prayed this prayer that every Hebrew child would know. It’s called the Baruch The prayer over the bread. “Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, ha-motzi lechem min ha-eretz. Amen. “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who bringeth forth bread from the earth.” Amen. There’s something special about eating and drinking together and recognizing the giver of life together.

Number four; our final devotion (4) Be devoted to praying together. We’re looking at verse 42 again. We see the final devotion, the prayers. They were devoted to the prayers, not just one prayer, the prayers, all kinds of prayers. They were devoted to praying together. Verse 47 begins to kind of unpack how that looked, “praising God and having favor with all the people.” There was something about these prayers that resulted in worship, in oneness.

David Mathis, in his book, “Nine Profits of Praying with Company,” said, “Praying together is one of the single most significant things we can do to cultivate unity in the church. There is a unity that is given to those who are partners in Christ and share spiritual life in him. … praying together is both an effect of the unity we share in Christ, and it is a cause for deeper and richer unity. It is not only a sign that unity already exists among the brothers, but also a catalyst for more.”

If you’re already in a community group, are you praying together? And one of the things I recommend is as often as possible? I think you should change things up and keep it interesting.

Guys, when you were dating your spouse or single guys that still need advice, I’m gonna give you some right now. Don’t pull up in the driveway and honk your horn. When she gets in the car, don’t say, ‘Honey, I’m in a big hurry; my laundry is in the back. I was hoping I could drop you off at the laundromat and do my laundry. That’s kind of what I had in mind for the date tonight and I’ll pick you up on the way back. I will try to get you a Pepsi or something.’ Okay. How many ladies are signing up for that date? I’m going to marry that guy, right? Not many, right? If you say yes to that, we need to talk because you have some self esteem issues.

I don’t know what it is, but that’s what we do to God. That’s how we date God. We give Him our laundry list. That’s how we talk to God. So we need to get together and learn how to pray. Get with the older Christians; they know more about prayer than you do. It develops your prayer muscle. Get together and pray. Don’t just pray your laundry list; begin to pray to the point where it turns into praise. One of the ways that you can change it up so you don’t do the same thing every time, sometimes pray just men . Men go in one room and women go in another room. Regardless of what the world says, men and women are differen; we pray different. If kept together, prayers are ‘surface stuff.’ As soon as the men and the women separate, you can hear the women in the other room crying and the men crying harder because we just start telling the truth. Try that. You don’t have to do it like that every time. But there’s a rhythm to that. All kinds of prayers.

Here’s the thing. Healthy things grow. I want you to hear this. Healthy things grow. The reason churches don’t grow is because they’re not healthy. Why aren’t they healthy? It’s because they’re not devoted. They’re not devoted to one another. Because ‘you can’t do the one another’s without one another. I’ve tricked you there. I threw that one in the middle and you weren’t ready. You guys are still not ready. You’re going to get it before you leave. You’re gonna get it.

Come together; you want to be healthy. Healthy things grow. Here’s a saying. I want you to think about, “If we will BE the church, Christ will BUILD the church. Christ didn’t tell us to build the church. Here’s what he said to Peter, “Upon this rock, I will build my church.” That’s what Jesus said. What’s our job? To BE the church; His job is to build the church.

Look at the last verse, “and he added to their number day by day those that were being saved.” The Lord, he will add if we will BE. He will build if we will BE. Healthy things grow. What keeps anything from being healthy? When it is out of balance, You have to have a balanced diet. You have to have balanced exercise. We know these things are needed physically .

Spiritually, it’s the same. If you want to be a church that has the kind of results that the first century church had, if you want the life changing miracles in your life, in your marriage, in your relationships, then be devoted to one another and pray together. ‘I don’t know what words to say.’ Open your mouth and say one sentence prayers. If you have a new person in your group, shepherds, don’t pray like champions in front of them. For their first time, if they get there, and you pray with those 30 minute prayers, everybody passes out. The new person is thinking, ‘I’ll never be able to pray. That person is some kind of Olympic level gold medalist prayer person.’ When a new person comes, a suggestion would be to say, ‘Let’s just go around the room and pray for one thing. One thing you’re thankful for.’ Teach each other to pray by praying all kinds of prayers. Then, as you grow, your prayers get more muscle and you learn. Be the church. Be devoted to all kinds of prayers.

Ephesians 6:18 (NIV) “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Paul was speaking. He’s talking like a Southerner right here, ‘praying all kinds of prayers.’ With this in mind, be alert. Always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Be devoted to prayer, in all kinds of prayers and pray for one another.

James 5:16 (ESV) “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Listen to James; therefore, confess your sins. In other words, be real. Share your struggles don’t just pray for Grandma’s next door neighbors hangnail. You’re sitting there and it’s your turn to pray, so you’ll pray for your grandma’s next door… because you don’t want to come clean and say, ‘Pray for me. Pray for me because I’m struggling in my marriage.’ We don’t say that because we don’t want people to know us. Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed .

The prayer of a righteous person has great power. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. There are over one hundred “one another” commands in the New Testament. And you can’t do even one of them without Christ because He makes it possible for us to be part of one another, and you can’t do even one of them without one another. That’s a little better. Still, not quite where we need to be, but you’re closer. You can’t do the one another’s without one another. You can’t even do one of them without one another. You have to get together and be devoted to one another. But it starts with being devoted to Christ and saying that we are members of His body.

I want you to think about a couple things over these next few weeks. One is to do the devotion do the daily devotion. That will build you up so you have something to give to one another. Another is to attend the four services You can check off the first one; you’ve been here for this one. If you’re trying to get a last minute vacay in or something and you’re gonna miss one, go online. We usually have the vimeo up by Sunday evening. Go online and and watch it so you’ve got something to share with one another. You can come and bring what you’ve learned and what you’re struggling with. You need to do some of these things if you want to experience what we’re seeing; the Lord offering signs and wonders, needs being met, praise and favour with people outside the church and the Lord growing our community group. If you want to see these things, be devoted to one another by being devoted to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship and the breaking of bread and prayer. You can’t do the one another’s without one another.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, thank you that you make us right with the father. I pray right now for the person in the room that wants to be right with God. And you know, as you came in today that you haven’t been praying for you right now. Would you pray with me? Thank you for Jesus. Thank you that he died on the cross for my sins and that he was raised from the grave and lives today. I invite you now, Lord Jesus, I invite you now to come into my life and forgive me of my sin and make me a child of God. I want you as my lord and savior. The Bible says if you pray that, believing, he will save you and you make you a child of God, I’m praying for you right now. Others are here today and you would say I know Christ as savior, but I’ve been isolating. I’ve been hurt by someone and I have pulled away. I haven’t learned how to do forgiveness. I haven’t learned how to reconcile. But I’m here today, Lord, and I’m confessing right now. Lord, I recognize that I need you. . Lord, today I make a commitment to do something about that. t We lift these prayers up to you knowing that you make it possible for us to experience the relationships that you designed us for. We pray in Christ’s name, Amen.