Finding Strength Together: Committed to Connect to God's People!

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Good Morning! I’m Pastor Wayne and I’d like to welcome you all to the gathering of Ephesus Baptist Church.
It’s nice to see so your smiling faces. If you are visiting with us this morning, please know that you are surrounded by some pretty amazing people. Ephesus is an active faith community on a mission with Jesus.
We don’t all share the same story; in fact, we come from many different paths. But here, we are one people giving our all to love God, love others, proclaim Jesus, and make disciples in our generation.
We have a connect card in the pew in front of you. I invite you to take one and fill it out! Please be sure to include your name, email, and address. If you have prayer needs, you can let us know about those as well.
I promise our prayer team will lift you up soon. You can place those cards in the offering plate when it comes around.

Scripture Memory

Call on Abigail to recite the verse
Galatians 2:20 ESV
20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Opening Scripture Reading

Psalm 139:1–16 ESV
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.


Good Morning,
We are in the middle of a sermon series where we are looking specifically at five commitments that we should make as believers.
Five commitments that have the power to take our spiritual lives to the next level by helping us to grow in our faith.
In the first message we discussed how Scripture calls us to be commited to concealing God’s Word in Our Hearts. Through Ps. 119, we saw the kind of committed devotion we are to have toward the Word of God.
Last week, we discussed how we are called to be committed to celebrate God’s Son.
We learned that genuine worship at the feet of Jesus will far outweigh a lifetime of religious “busy work.” We are to celebrate Jesus everyday in every way!
Today, we are going to deal with a subject that may make some feel a little uncomfortable. We are going to be looking at another commitment we are to make according to Scripture.
We are called to be committed to connect to God’s people!
If you are visiting with us, I want you to know that you are always welcome here. At the same time, today’s text just begs for me as pastor to speak specifically to the brothers and sisters who make up Ephesus Baptist Church, to show us what it means to be a gospel community. So that’s what I’m going to do.
At the same time, if you are a Christian and a member of another church, and you for whatever reason were not able to worship with the church of which you’re a part of today, then I hope you will be encouraged and reminded of what it means to be a member, a part, of that local church.
If you’re a Christian and you are not a member of Ephesus or another church, I pray that you will be convicted today of the importance of the body of Christ, and that you will be challenged to commit your life to a gospel community, a local church, whether it is here with us, or another one in the area, or wherever you might live.
And if you are not a Christian, then I hope you will see the love of Christ today.
Jesus has designed His church to be an expression of His love. And oftentimes, unfortunately, non-Christians don’t always look at the church and see love, but I hope you will see that today, that you might receive His love, and become a part of His church.
Today, we are talking about connecting to God’s People, our primary text will be Hebrews 10:23-25, but we will look at a few related verses along the way.
Join me as we look at what God’s wonderful Word has to say about Connecting to God’s People.
Hebrews 10:23–25 ESV
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 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.

Why do we need to be connected with other people?

Is it okay for me to live life as a hermit? Do I really need anyone in my life? Can’t I prevent myself from hurt by not opening up my life to others?
The Bible would say no!

Because God designed us to be relational.

Facebook has made a lot of money off of this biblical truth because they realized that even when we try to disconnect from the world, we still desire relationships, we need relationships to thrive in life.
God said in Gen 2:18
Genesis 2:18 ESV
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
We literally need each other because God designed us to be relational beings! But also

Because we simply can’t grow spiritually mature without being connected to God’s people.

In Colossians 2, Paul encourages the believers to walk in Christ and warns them to not be deceived by the vain philosophies of worldliness around them.
He said the one who thinks he has arrived on his own at a view of the world opposite of a biblical world view is one who doesn’t hold on to Christ, the head of the Church!
Colossians 2:19 HCSB
19 He doesn’t hold on to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, develops with growth from God.
The relationship we have to God’s Church, to God’s people, determines how close we are to the one who causes us to grow spiritually healthy.
So, today I want to share with you three reasons we should seek to connect to God’s people.

Three Reasons Why We Should Seek to Connect to God’s People

1. The Bible teaches that the Church is God’s family. We belong to each other.

Hebrews 10:23 ESV
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
This is us! The “Let us” in this verse and the next one is referring to the body of Christ, the people of God, the Church.
God’s Church is where Christ dwells with His family. Wherever a man’s family is, that is his home. Wherever a man’s mother and sister and brother dwell, that is his home. When we gather here at Ephesus as His disciples, we must be Christ’s home.
Matthew 12:49–50 ESV
49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Romans 12:4–5 The Living Bible
4 Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.
Ephesians 2:19 ESV
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
Ephesians 2:19 The Living Bible
19 Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.
We were adopted into God’s family by the work of Christ on the Cross!
Romans 8:15–16 ESV
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
We were purchased by Christ’s own blood, therefore we are His! As a pastor, I am called to be on guard for and to shepherd the flock which is also called the church of God.
Acts 20:28 NASB95
28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
So when we read “Let us” in Hebrews 10, it is speaking of the whole family of God to which those of us in the church belong!
In the gospel, we are united. God commands us to hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering. We are to hold fast to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to hold fast to the teachings that flow out of that beautiful Gospel. Why?
Because He who promised all these things is faithful!
We are God’s family and we belong to each other.

2. As God’s family, the Bible commands us to strengthen one another.

Our response to the Gospel provides power to love others and to strengthen our collective endurance in the Christian life.
The original audience of this book, were a persecuted people who were struggling to keep it all together.
They were weak when they should have been strong. God is speaking into this people to encourage them to press on and find strength in the Gospel together.
We are to lay hold of Christ together and never let go, not even in the slightest. No persecution, real or feared, was to lessen the ardor of these believers for Christ.
Hebrews 10:24 ESV
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
As Christians we have a corporate responsibility to strengthen each other. We must concentrate on the needs of others and not only on our individual needs.
We can stir up people toward either good or bad works. Other words that can be used to render the idea of “stir up” are “stimulation,” “incitement,” “spur” and “provoke.”
I like the word provocation here, because Hebrews calls us to provoke others to be a practical expression of love and an attractive display of unselfish deeds.
A Christian is his “brother’s keeper.” We are responsible to one another for what we can do for one another.
Consider one another get to know one another, be interested in one another, be ready to serve one another, but especially to be interested in the spiritual well-being and the progress of spiritual growth of those who are united to us in the Christian fellowship.
Spiritual gifts, virtues, experiences, are never to be thought of as personal possessions: they are for the mutual edification of the body.
Are you using your gifts to strengthen your brothers and sisters in Christ?

3. The Bible encourages us to embrace Christ’s family as our own.

Loving one another will not just happen. It needs to be worked at, even provoked, in the same way as good works.
It stands to reason that no provocation to love is possible unless suitable opportunities occur for the stirring up process to take effect.
Hebrews 10:25 ESV
25 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.
The words, not neglecting to meet together, presumably refer to worship meetings, although this is not stated.
God may have left this ambiguous in order to allow for other gatherings of a more informal kind, like various small group ministries and ministry teams.
Some had evidently been neglecting to meet with their Christian brothers and this is seen as a serious flaw.
Christian assemblies are intended to have a positive and helpful outcome, i.e. encouraging one another.
Do you realize the immeasurable influence for good that can be fostered by the powerful example of right-minded people moving in the same direction together.
The New Testament knows nothing of the lone ranger Christian. Close and regular fellowship with other believers is not just a nice idea, but an absolute necessity for the encouragement of Christian values throughout God’s word!
Do you know and live by the ABC’s of Christian Community?
A is for accountability.
Do you regularly invite other people into your life to challenge you, to provoke you to make love and good works a priority in your personal relationships with others, especially with unbelievers?
True gospel community will keep you growing stronger as it challenges, rebukes, encourages and provokes you to be more like Christ.
B is for belonging.
Do you have a sense that you belong, that people will miss you if you weren’t around, that you matter?
True gospel community will love you so much that it would hurt to be disconnected from it.
C is for Caring
Do you feel like people care about you in a deeper sense than you could ever get from a social club or organization?
True gospel community where you are held accountable and experience a sense of belonging naturally cares for each other. It doesn’t have to be programmed in us. We don’t have to force it or fake it. People care for people they know well.
How well do you know your church family? How well do they know you?
Regular togetherness with believers is an essential ingredient in Christian growth.
Real love, unity, and blessing is found in connecting with God’s people, the church.
Sadly, we live in a time when people are voluntarily forsaking the blessing of togetherness. They are choosing to neglect the gathering of believers.
I’m talking about people who claim to know Christ, not unbelievers. We expect unbelievers to neglect gathering with believers, but not those who claim to be our brothers and sisters.
You know the Hayes Barton Christian. The David Jeremiah Christian, etc. They can fill up on God’s word apart from Christian community all day long, but at the end of the day they will never grow and progress spiritually without the provocation of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Sadly the same thing can happen in the gathering as well. We begin to pick and choose what service to attend, what gathering to be a part of. We meet, but we hold people at a distance never really letting them get to know us. We never really get to know them.
God’s word says “Let Us” because it means all of us who believe. We are together in Christ. Shouldn’t we live like it.
Jesus was teaching church discipline in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 18 with the sole purpose of providing the church with a way to restore a person who was reverting back into their former way of life.
Matthew 18:20 ESV
20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
This isn’t a promise about every prayer gathering, it is promise to the church that wants to get serious about its relationships. It is a promise about accountability, belonging, and care. It is a promise about restoring family to its rightful relationships.
Jesus will always be walking among His golden lampstands, His family, His church. Will we be walking as a family with Him?
Church we are called to be committed to connect to God’s people.
What if we took God’s description of the local church as family seriously?
What if we decided to provoke each other to pursue Christ more zealously, to love one another more sacrificially, and to share the gospel more boldly with others by ministering together in our community more frequently? What would happen? What would God do through Ephesus?
Hymn of Invitation
Softly and Tenderly
Hymn No. 312
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