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Preacher: Pastor David Ball
Scripture: Acts 28:11-16
Christian community is one of the most powerful gifts that God has given us. Being in fellowship with other believers gives us hearts of Thanksgiving and Courage. It is only in community that we see the grace of God at work in other people. We were never meant to be alone. Jesus modeled the importance of community in His own life of ministry, by calling disciples to join Him in His mission and sending them out in the world two by two. We are not meant to live out our Christian journey on our own. Avoid Christian community at your own peril, but embrace it and find the thanksgiving and courage you need for a life on mission with Jesus.
So for the ones who are most astute Among Us you’ll notice that uh this uh section of Acts we actually read last week um and for those who are are with us for the first time just so you know we are nearing the end in fact one more Sunday of an act series that we’ve been in for over a year uh and so it’s uh very exciting as we as we come to the end and see all that the the Lord is going to do uh but today I went back before uh ending next week because uh today’s a special day in in the life of the church we uh at the first service this service we’re welcoming two new members uh to church of our savior and then at the at the 11 o’clock service we’re going to be baptizing two children and one adult and so praise the lord it’s it’s a time of of real encouragement and celebration and I felt like this uh little bit at the end of what Chuck preached from last week uh it speaks a bit to the importance of of Christian Community in the believer’s Life uh in fact I don’t think that that Chuck covered this little little bit much last week in his sermon at all but the truth is we need Christian Community we need it we desperately need it and to avoid it or to neglect Christian Community as a believer in Christ you do at your at your own Peril and we’ve learned that throughout uh throughout the the book of Acts but you know uh if we look back to the time of the pandemic I don’t know if you saw any of the uh statistics there and some of you may have experienced yourself but uh a third of all churchgoers just stopped going to church and you know for many reasons but the the real alarming fact has been that of those third that stopped going it’s been very slow to for people to come back to come back they’ve just stopped going and therefore they’re they’re not having Christian Community in their life but the truth is the scriptures tell us that that it’s not good the very first thing that God said was not good is it’s not good for man to be alone and so he made Eve as a helper for Adam it means we are made for Community we’re made for relationships we need it we were made and created this way Jesus modeled in his own Ministry and Life Community didn’t he he he called the disciples to himself and he walked in life for three years in Ministry talk about a fellowship group right uh they walked with in life together in deep and and meaningful ways when Jesus sent the them out on on Mission did he send them alone no he sent them out two by two because we need Community we need it it’s important part of of who we are and and this text this morning and Paul’s life really speaks to the importance of Christian Community in our lives and I want to look at it uh for just a few minutes this morning before we get on the real get on to the real fun stuff this morning of welcoming some new members here to the Church of our savior uh but finally after all this time we know that God had called Paul to Rome right that this is where he was going and Paul made his appeal way back in cesaria uh he had made his appeal to Caesar because he was getting a uh he was getting a bum job done of Justice by uh by the the Roman authorities and the Jewish authorities back in Jerusalem and cesaria so he appealed to to Caesar and he’s been granted his appeal and after a a long and slogging truck Trek he has finally arrived uh in Rome and that’s what we hear about uh and in starting in verse 14 uh as Luke is is recounting the account as he traveled with Paul he goes uh as they arrived this is what we’re told actually verse 15 and the brothers there when they had heard about us came as far as the Forum of apus and three taverns to meet us on seeing them Paul thanked God and took courage Paul thank God and took courage Paul’s been through a lot hasn’t he you know from the time he left and and set sail from uh from cesaria and finally arrived he left in the uh in the fall which was a bad idea right because uh when they left they encountered the the nor Easter storms and it was just a a sledge to try to get through and it was perilous uh and Paul’s been through all of that and then they finally arrive just you know so you have some perspective here it’s now the spring of the following year so this has been like six months-ish uh that he’s been going through all this just to try to get to to Rome uh on this he’s been through in unjust imprisonment he’s been through uh this strong Seas which eventually uh well first and then he had to face a mutiny right uh there was a mutiny on that ship uh and then there was the Shipwreck itself before finding another ship and being being rescued and finally uh making it here there was lots to be discouraged about wasn’t there there was lots to be discouraged about I mean God had told him that he was going to Rome and God had spoken to him along the way but man when you’re in the midst of that kind of storm that kind of shipwreck in your life it’s pretty pretty easy to get discouraged isn’t it you ever feel that way in in the storms of life even even though you know God’s there you know that you know you you you you’ve maybe gotten some insurances from the lord it’s still hard easy to get get discouraged and uh easy to uh to be dismayed in the process and it’s easy to fall into Despair and to think there’s really no hope at all especially when we’re on our own but what’s what’s interesting here and Powerful I believe is that what happened when Paul encountered uh these these Brothers and Sisters in Christ because that’s what the word it doesn’t just mean men it means uh Brothers and Sisters in Christ when they came when they heard heard Paul was there and they came to meet him what did it do for Paul it filled him we’re told with Thanksgiving and with courage Thanksgiving and courage Christian Community filled Paul with courage and thank and a Heart of Thanksgiving even in the midst of all of the struggle even knowing that this he still was imprisoned things are going to get hard and they’re going to get even worse like death worse um uh but he in this moment is filled with Thanksgiving and he’s filled with courage because of these fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that came to join him and to meet him there what what a powerful testimony to to the importance and the power of Christian Community in our lives and and I say this not just for the new members who are coming in to join us and and and for those who are going to be baptized entering into the the bigger family and Body of Christ it’s so important for each and every one of us and to avoid it and to neglect it is to our own Peril but let’s look at each of these uh for just a moment and how the Christian Community as they came around Paul were able to fill him with such Thanksgiving and such courage well first of all let’s look at Thanksgiving the the word itself that that’s translated here the the Greek word is Eucharist uh it’s the Eucharist right you don’t I usually talk about the Lord’s Supper because people now nowadays hear Eucharist and they don’t know what the heck you’re talking about right there’s already this guy standing up here in a dress and now he’s talking of these words I don’t even know uh and so I talk about the Lord’s Supper for for the most part but but e Eucharist is part of the you know it’s the great Thanksgiving it’s celebrating uh what God has done uh and it’s made up of two words good and Grace good and Grace and so what Thanksgiving is in this context it’s uh it’s it’s gratitude for God’s good grace that’s been at work in the world and so for Paul this community of Believers that came to see him was an example of God’s good grace that was at work you know when when we try to do life on our own when we isolate ourselves every one of our problems they just they just kind of Stack one on top of the of the other and they become more burdensome and more burdensome and the more and more the more they they just break us and they can lead us into despair especially when we’re just living in our own world right we can’t see the greater picture of what’s God’s doing but what God what Paul got to see when these Believers came around him uh and met him there was not only Thanksgiving that hey there’s some people here that are for me and everyone’s not just against me it wasn’t just that it was that Paul got a picture to see the grace of God that’s been at work in the Roman Church that was growing you know a year before this Paul had written his letter to the Romans he had he had heard about the community and some of the issues that were going on there and so he wrote to the church there that was that was growing and now that they’ve come out to see him guess what he sees God’s grace is real man it’s real and you know how I know I I know I’ve experienced myself but sometimes the more we experience it you know it can get can seem like a fall far off distance sometimes can it but then these people come that are examples of people that have been transformed by the gospel of grace in their own lives what an encouragement to Paul to say this all hasn’t been in vain I’ve suffered a lot I’ve been through a lot but God’s working in their lives which means he’s at work in this world God is alive the resurrected Jesus is moving and working in a powerful way and what did it do in his own heart it gave him a Heart of Thanksgiving you know it can be hard sometimes to feel Thanksgiving can it you know I know especially as Thanksgiving is right around the the bend here and you know that it can be a hard time for for a lot of people who’ve lost loved ones who’ve been going through difficult times this year are struggling maybe there’s broken relationships in your life and it’s so hard to find uh just a an just a a glimpse of of thankfulness in your own heart this is when we need other people around us we need Community we need to be talking about you know I always hate when you go to when you go to Thanksgiving dinner and there’s always that one person who’s like hey let’s go around and everybody talk about one thing you’re thankful for right cuz I’ve always feel like oh crap what am I thankful for am I thankful at all and I suddenly you know I I go into like a a little bit of panic goes within me like this better be good you know it’s better and I’m the pastor you know then and I’m the one who has to pray right because you know the the the the the the paid professional always has to be the one who does the prayer at Thanksgiving uh but it feels like this major burden but you know it does even though I feel that in that moment you know the truth is you know as silly as it sometimes can be as people go around and start talking about things they’re thankful for it has it has a powerful effect you’re like wait a minute there are things to be think thankful for there’s things that maybe I didn’t see in the moment and when you’re in the Christian Community what that means is God’s grace is at work in the world even if I can’t see it right now God is working in a powerful way in people’s lives transforming people and it gives us hearts of Thanksgiving and we’re told in the scriptures that we’re to be thankful always and so we need help with that Christian Community isn’t just an option it’s absolutely necessary but that’s not the only thing that Paul was filled with right he was also filled with courage he was encouraged he was filled with confidence uh that word it means to be emboldened by the strength of God by faith through the work of the Holy Spirit that’s what it means to have courage to have courage and there was something about this group gathering around that helped EMB Bolden him that the Holy Spirit worked in him when he saw them it encouraged him it gave him courage and boldness because I think again he looked at that and he said hey my I’ve been doing this you know the Lord called me to this I’ve been at this work I’ve dedicated my life to it and there’s real fruit of what’s Happening Here God is moving in other people’s lives the gospel is working it’s transformative and it gave him courage as he knew what was ahead of him what he was going to have to face the continue struggles death itself was just around the door it also Alo showed him that that he wasn’t alone you know Faith seeing God the faith of others and God’s grace at work in them it gives us courage it gives us courage to realize God’s still working you know that’s one of the why testimonies are so important for us to hear testimonies from people for us to hear how God’s working in their lives because you know it can be so hard to have the courage to share our faith with others can it so hard you know because you know why it so feels so hard because the devil doesn’t want us to do it we’re we’re we’re fighting against hell itself and so of course we’re going to feel like it’s hard and we don’t want to do it but when we see the in Breaking of the kingdom of God in people’s lives and we hear about it it has this emboldening and Cur you know courage it gives us courage and embolden power of the Holy Spirit comes into us and like God is working and I’m just a part of it I can share it emboldens us we need to hear testimonies I encourage you those who are who are joining the church today uh you know talk to them here tell them they’ve got testimonies to tell because part of becoming a member of Church of Our Saviors I require you to give your testimony to me because Lord knows I need some encouragement um and I need courage I need to hear it I need to be reminded God’s still working ask them talk to them meet with them have coffee with them ask them you know how how God’s worked in their lives and maybe you get the chance to share how God rescued you how the kingdom of God broke into your life and the gospel of grace transformed you and rescued you from your sins we all need courage and it happens in community God the Holy Spirit Works in our hearts and give us gives us that courage it’s why it’s so important if for here at church of our savior we want you to join a fellowship group not just because you know we want everybody to be in a group and you know it’s enables us to you know check some Box off of being a successful Church uh because it’s matters that much just coming to church isn’t enough it’s important but you need we need to be in deeper connection and relationship with each other we need to be hearing each other’s testimonies you need to find a fellowship group or a small group we have a men’s group that that meets during the week we have a women’s group that we meets during the week There’s opportunities to get into smaller groups to share Community together and how incredibly important that is in a life with Christ we need help with having thankful Hearts we need courage in our lives and the Holy Spirit Works in each of us to see God’s grace working in our lives we need each other friends avoid Christian Community do it at your own
Peril because the truth is the more isolated we become the more discouraged we become the more weak we become the more cynical we become about life and the further you go down that rabbit hole despair is the end result when we join in fellowship with one another in community and hear about God’s grace at work and the life of others sharing life Faith prayer testimonies together it has that power to give us Thanksgiving to give us courageous Hearts seeing how God’s working in others that and knowing that he’s at that same work in us even if we can’t see it friends we ultimately have this grace in this gift in our lives of Christian Community because Jesus and his greatest moment of need and his greatest time of needing to see God’s grace at work and others for his own encouragement he was abandoned he was alone but he did it for us because he loves us amen because he wants us to be filled with that embolden strengthening of the holy spirit that only comes in surrendering Our Lives to his grace and mercy friends receive his grace and his Mercy the Forgiveness of your sins receive him by faith get connected with one another in true community that you might have thankful hearts and you might be emboldened with a new courage for the mission that God has called us to let us pray heavenly father thank you for this day thank you for the new members who will be joining this morning we thank you for the the souls who will entering into your greater family and baptism at the 11:00 service Lord thank you for this encouragement of knowing that you were at work that you’re transforming lives Lord will you fill our hearts with Thanksgiving even if we can’t experience it ourselves right now Lord let us see your grace working in other people that we might give thanks to you for all that you’re doing and Lord will you give us that courage that only comes from hearing other people’s stories seeing how you’re working in their lives knowing that you’re working in ours as well and you want to continue to reach more and more people with the hope of the Gospel to rescue them from Darkness to bring them into your glorious light will you embolden us to share our faith with others and Jesus we pray this in your mighty mighty name. amen