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Ou Family Will...Part I

We Will Love, Pray, and Serve One Another

Church Family #1

In an advertisement a while back, I saw a plaque with a number of wood pieces. The top piece had the words, “Our family will…” Below that piece were several more, each with one thing families should do.

When I saw the advertised plaque, it occurred to me we are a family. A church family. So, I thought, maybe the wording on the plaque could form the basis of a series of sermons, each Sunday for three weeks considering a few of the things families should do.

Just so you will know, the characteristics and the Bible references that will be used come from the plaque. But the comments about the characteristics and references are original. Far be it from me to present what someone else has prepared.

For today, our family - our church family - will… The word “will” becomes a challenge. These are things we are to do. Things we should do as a family. Let’s take the challenge and make sure we as a church family are doing these things. Our church family will love one another, our church family will pray for one another, our church family will serve one another.

Our family will love one another.

In the Bible, there are a number of kinds of love.

There is physical or romantic love. 

There is family love. The affectionate bond that develops between parents and children or brothers and sisters.  

There is the kind of love that is the emotional bond experienced in deep friendships. That is the most general type of love in the Bible, extending to love for fellow humans and caring about, respecting, and having compassion for people in need.

And there is a perfect, unconditional, sacrificial, pure kind of love. That is the love Jesus demonstrated in being obedient to His Father and to all humanity in the way He lived and died.

Our family - our church family - will love one another. The need for that is taught in I Peter 1:22. “Love one another earnestly from the heart.”

Thinking of that - applying that to us as a church family - which of the types of love are we to have for one another? 

Not romantic love, but can we - will we - have the affectionate bond that brothers and sisters are to have?

We have thought about this a few times over the years. We have considered the fact that brothers and sisters do not always get along very well .

Remember the old Bonanza TV shows? Hoss, Little Joe, and Adam often argued and fought.

My sister, who is older and was a whole lot bigger than me, liked to pick on me. One of her favorite things to do was dig her finger nails into my wrists. I thought that was way short of a loving thing to do.

Brothers and sisters do not always get along, but almost always, if someone else picks on one of the them, the other will come to the defense. That is what we should do. We should have that kind of love when Satan attacks.

We should have the kind of love brothers and sisters are supposed to have. We should also have the kind of love described as the emotional bond experienced in deep friendships. That is how close we should feel to each other, especially as that grows to the perfect, unconditional, sacrificial, pure kind of love displayed by Jesus. The kind of love that will look beyond shortcomings. The kind of love that will lead us to sacrifice for each other, including the sacrifice of time - the kind of love that is pure, as in wanting only what is best for each other, as in respecting the rights of others more than demanding our own way or demanding recognition for ourselves. 

That is how loving we are to be as a church family, which is also taught in I John 4:7. “Beloved.” That word indicates that while this is something we are expected to do, it is presented as a friend or family member would present it. “Beloved” is a term of endearment. A term of love. “Beloved, let us love one another.”

Again, the challenge is the same. The challenge is to love one another. But in I John 4:7, there is a reason for loving one another. We of course know the benefit of loving is receiving love in return. That is the way it is supposed to work. I can assume that since I love you, you will find it easier to love me. But here is another reason to love. “Love is of God.” He or she who loves “is born of God and knows God.”

You know what that is? It is a restatement of what John recorded in his Gospel. John 13:35. These are words of Jesus. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

How will the world know we are a Christian congregation. We can say we are. We do say we are. That is important. But more important is proving what we say by how we love one another in this church family.

At a recent Wednesday evening Bible study, I asked those in attendance to write down some examples of times love was shown in this congregation. The purpose in sharing these is not to brag, but there is evidence we are obeying what the Bible teaches. That is a good thing. The examples written down can be an encouragement to keep obeying.

Hospital visits were listed as an example of love in our church family.

One person wrote that the sending out of bulletins when someone misses a service is a great way to show love and caring.

The recent “going away” reception for Chad was listed as an example of love in our church family.

One person wrote that following an accident a few months ago and later losing a son to death, he and his wife were shown love through cards, calls, and one-on-one comments.

Another person shared that when his wife died, much love was shown to him by the people of Fellowship Church.

Hugs and prayers were listed as displays of love.

One person wrote, “Leonard has invited us to his house on a number of occasions for fellowship and dinner.”

There was a comment that the love of our church family extends beyond our walls, specifically donating items and volunteering to serve lunch to those in need at the People’s City Mission.

Our church family will love one another. We do love one another. We need to continue to love one another. 

Our church family will pray for one another. 

For this one, how about a quick review of part of a recent message on prayer? A message where the point was made that prayers are to be spoken for all people, all people including all the saints, saints being those who accept Jesus as Savior - as in other Christians, including those of us in this church family.

If you remember the message, there are, in I Timothy 2:1, a few different types of praying listed. 

Supplications, which refers to praying through the eyes and heart of God so what we ask for is pleasing to God.

 Prayers, which refer to talking with God about things only God can satisfy, such as spiritual strength, forgiveness, and confidence in help now and Heaven later.

Intercessions, which means to enter into the presence of God and personally speak up for someone else. Speak up in asking for help for that someone else.

And thanksgivings. Our prayers are to include thanking God for His answers to our prayers and in general for all the good  things He gives us.

Supplicate, pray, intercede, and give thanks for all men. For all people. For all saints. For each other in our church family. That is what we are to do so that together we will grow ever stronger in our faith.

That includes, according to Hebrews 13:7, praying for the leaders of the church. Those who speak the word of God. Most especially preachers and teachers come to mind. 

As discussed in that earlier message, things to pray about concerning our leaders are that they will have opportunities to preach for Jesus, that they will have the courage to preach boldly, that their bold preaching will be effective.

And listen to the next part of 13:7. 

“Consider the outcome of the lives of the leaders.” Wow. What a responsibility leaders have, to make sure that how they live is righteous.

“And imitate their faith.” Whether we want it or not, there are some who will follow our examples. Again what a responsibility leaders have, to make sure that how they live is worthy of being imitated.

Let me throw this in concerning leaders. I read this quote from St. Francis of Assisi. “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.” May we represent the Lord well whether our preaching is by word or by example. 

Do not leave praying to chance. Instead, let us be intentional in praying for one another, including our leaders. Let us take seriously the responsibility to pray that we will all live in ways that will lead others to a closer relationship with the Lord.

At that recent Wednesday evening Bible study, I asked those in attendance to also write down some examples of times they were prayed for by others in this congregation. Here is a sampling of what was shared on that topic.

One person wrote about prayers spoken by this church family for a family member with a medical condition and various medication options. The progress has been slow, but positive. As that person wrote, “It is hard to put into words the feeling you get knowing others are sharing in your needs.”

Another person wrote, “When I was ill and undergoing medical tests, I was prayed for and the results were positive. I felt very thankful and blessed.”

Someone else is thankful for prayers when a grandfather passed away, including prayers for safe travels to attend the funeral.

One person expressed appreciation for prayers concerning a son and a granddaughter.

The one who wrote about love shown following an accident and the death of a son wrote, “Prayer was the strength that got us through those times.”

An example of praying shared by one person expressed appreciation for prayers when a daughter was on a missions trip.

Another person wrote that last year, he or she had his or her first surgery. The congregation prayed. “All went well and I had an excellent recovery.”

One more. “Vera Gene chose me as her prayer partner probably 20 years ago. I felt so honored.”

Our church family will love one another, Our church family will pray for one another. We do pray for one another. May we continue to pray for one another.

Our church family will serve one another.

A Biblical example of a church family serving is found early in the Book of Acts. In chapter 1 of Acts, the ascension of Jesus from earth to Heaven is reported, as is the selection of a replacement of Judas Iscariot. Judas was the disciple who killed himself after betraying Jesus. In chapter 2 is recorded the disciples being filled with the Holy Spirit and what may have been the first sermon given by Peter. A sermon that was so effective, 3000 souls were converted to faith in Jesus.

The result of that one sermon puts my ministry to shame, but listen to what those new believers did. Listen for which things can be applied to the call for a church family to serve one another. The new believers devoted themselves to the teaching of Jesus’ disciples. They devoted themselves to fellowship, enjoying regular meals together and Communion together and praying together. They had all things in common as they sold their possessions and distributed the proceeds to whoever had need. Together they praised God.

Actually, all those things are examples of the members of the early church serving one another. Each member made sure to give or do what he or she could to help others grow in their Christian faith.

And it was not just money and food that were used to serve one another. In the Bible are a few lists of spiritual gifts that are to be used to help one another. Among them are preaching and teaching, pastoring and leadership, evangelism, administration, hospitality, giving, mercy, faith, healing, discernment, languages.

No saint - no Christian - has all the spiritual gifts, but every saint has at least one. It is the responsibility of each saint to use whatever gift or gifts the Holy Spirit gives.

Why? According to Paul, who wrote the lists, to equip each other for the work of the ministry. The goal is to have all saints involved in ministry. And for building up the body of Christ. Together we are to grow in spiritual strength. And so that we can attain unity, knowledge, and spiritual maturity, all of which we can pray for in our church family. All of which will be achieved as we love one another.

Another specific way to serve one another is this. James lists “visiting orphans and widows.” May I add to that visiting those who have lost brothers or sisters or nieces or nephews to death - or children? All those people need encouragement. Let’s serve those who are suffering the deaths of loved ones.

At the recent Wednesday evening Bible study, I asked those in attendance for a third thing, which was to also write some examples of times they have been served by others in this congregation. Here is a sampling of what was shared on that topic.

“I love to take Communion and am always grateful for Karen’s preparation and the ones who serve it.”

One person wrote that cleaning the church and mowing the grounds are examples of being served.

Another shared that everyone is helpful anytime anyone needs anything.

One wrote, “I have been on both sides of this - being helped and helping in various areas, including helping people move and picking up people needing rides.”

And this. “Being part of this congregation enables me to serve people. I so appreciate the many times we are allowed to serve and be served. Opportunities to serve are open to all and not just a few.”

We as a church family are to love one another. We as a church family are to pray for one another. We as a church family are to serve one another. In fact, praying for and serving one another are two ways to display our love.

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Next week, a few more things we as a church family are to do. For today, let’s remember - let’s strive - to live up to the challenge that we will love, that we will pray, that we will serve ,thereby pleasing God as we help one another stay true to the Lord.

The closing song is two verses of We Are God’s People. To match the theme, we will change that to We Are God’s Family, but as we sing, let’s rejoice that we do have love, prayers, and service in our church family. Let’s be dedicated to continuing that, becoming more loving toward one another, more prayerful for one another, more anxious to serve one another. We Are God’s Family.

We are God’s family, the chosen of the Lord,

Born of His Spirit, established by His Word;

Our cornerstone is Christ alone,

And strong in Him we stand:

O let us live transparently,

And walk heart to heart and hand in hand.

We are the family of which the Lord is Head,

Called to obey Him, now risen from the dead;

He wills us be a family,

Diverse yet truly one:

O let us give our gifts to God,

And so shall His work on earth be done.

We will love one another. We will pray for one another. We will serve one another. Lord, thank You for helping love, prayer, and service to already be evident. Help us to keep all that going - for our good, so others will know this church family is Christian, and for Your glory. Amen.

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