Sermon: Live the New Life (5): Fellowship

Today Pastor Choi talks about the power of fellowship and importance of gathering in the name of Jesus in the believer’s life.  As the Day approaches, we ought not to neglect to meet together all the more provoking one another to love and to good deeds.

 Live the New Life (5): Fellowship

 

Following is a summary of the sermon:

Live the New Life (5): Fellowship

Matthew 18:20, Hebrews 10-24-25

  • Matthew 18:20
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
  • Hebrews 10:24-25
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 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 approaching.

Introduction:

  • 1996 was a tough year for me and my family.  It all began with my wife losing weight.  At first, it was great news (who doesn’t want to lose a pound or two, right?).  However, as she continued losing weight and became very thin, we began to be concerned about it.  Furthermore, because she couldn’t handle stresses well (part of the symptoms), she began to isolate herself from people including her own family.  Later on, her illness was diagnosed as overactive thyroid.   It was finally regulated through radiation treatment.  Anyway, for about six months, while this was going on, I did as much as I could as a husband and as father.  One night, though, I had enough.  I had to let out my pent-up emotions by opening the backdoor of my house and screaming into the corn field.
  • While this was going on, I had to preach on Sundays.  I still remember one Sunday, during the Passing of the peace, one teenager, whose name was Chris, came up to me and said, “Pastor Choi, how are you?”  I don’t think he knew what was going on in my life at the time.  However, his simple three words of greeting brought me to tears.  I felt like, “Here’s someone who finally cares about me.”  That day, I experienced the power of words.  Furthermore, I experienced the power of gathering together.  Without church and without him being there with me, I would have never experienced the power of words that brought me comfort and encouragement.  That’s what I am going to talk about this morning: fellowship and being together.
  • John Donne once said, “No man is an island.”  The Chinese knew that as well.  The Chinese character for “people” also indicates that we need each other in life.  We rely on each other.  We are interdependent on each other.  We are designed to need each other’s company.  E.g.  After God created Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone (literal meaning of ‘not good’ here is ‘evil’ or ‘wicked’) [Genesis 2:18].  We need each other’s company.  We need to get together even in the context of church, which leads me to Matthew 18:20.

Matthew 18:20

  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
  • For where two or three are gathered: How many people are needed to have church?  Two.  That’s the quorum.  Two or three who have the common faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
  •  in my name: At church, we always gather in Jesus’ name, not in the name of the pastor, not in the name of council, not in the name of the township, but in the name of Jesus, because there’s power of gathering in Jesus’ name.  Where does the power come from?  From His presence and from Jesus Himself.
  • I am there among them: When we gather in His name, Jesus too IS there in our midst.  He is present whenever and wherever we gather in His name.  He also provides His protection in our gathering so that Satan can’t touch us.   E.g. It was fun growing up in Korea in the 1960s.  Every family was having babies after the Korean War.  My neighborhood was swarming with boys and girls.  We even organized our own neighborhood boys’ army.  My brother was second-in-command in that army.  I was so proud of him and, whenever my brother was with me, no boy dared to harass me.  He provided me with protection so that I didn’t need to worry about bullies.  Same with our gathering.  When we gather, Jesus is with us.  When He is with us, because of His protection, Satan can’t touch us.  Sadly, though, we often fail to see and realize this truth in our worship, Bible studies, and committee meetings.
  • Think one more time how precious Jesus’ presence is to us.  E.g. King David wrote our favorite Psalm where he said, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).  He believed that one day in God’s presence was far better than a thousand days somewhere else.  He also said,  “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life (Psalm 27:4).”  Who was David?  He was king.  He was living in palace with gourmet food and all the things he wanted, yet he desired to be in God’s tent in the presence of the Lord.  Oh, I wish all of us had such a longing and desire to be at God’s church with God’s people in His presence!  The good news is this: God provides us with a means to create God’s presence among us: getting together in Jesus’ name.
  • So, what do we do when we get together in Jesus’ name?  We do everything in His name, because there’s a power in His name; we praise God’s name among us.  We pray together in Jesus’ name.  We worship together in His name.  We encourage one another in Jesus’ name.  This leads us to the next verse.

Hebrews 10:24-25

  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 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 approaching.
  • Let us: It invites everyone.  It includes everybody.  It’s not just the minister’s job alone.  Rather, it’s everyone’s (old and young, male and female, members and friends) to stimulate each other to love and good deeds.
  • Consider how to provoke (stimulate, spur, challenge, and rouse) one another onto love and good deeds:  We need to keep praying about fresh ideas to stimulate one another.  We need to come up with creative ways to encourage each other to love more and to do more good.  We can encourage each other by our examples and testimonies to the point where everyone wants to grow in Christ.  E.g. Stella wants to be like Thelma; Thelma wants to be like KC, and so on.
  • Not neglecting to meet together: Two thousand years ago, the author of Hebrews warned us of the coming of the neglect of Christian worship.   In fact, this is Satan’s strategy to keep us from gathering together and driving us into further isolation, loneliness, and depression (by the way, loneliness is one of the biggest problems in our society today).
  • The American church has been neglecting the practice of meeting together in Jesus’ name in the past 50 years.  E.g.  During the 1960s the mainline denominations would have Wed. night and Sunday night services.   Fifty years later, we all dropped those practices.  Nowadays, only Sunday morning services are offered.  Even with that one, the average attendance is now once a month.  At this rate, another 50 years later, we may have no services on Sunday morning on physical premises; maybe only virtual worship will be available encouraging us to worship wherever we are through the internet (by the way, this is already happening).  Folks, by all means, we need to get together in Christ’s name; physically, not virtually, in God’s temple.
  • Encouraging one another all the more as you see the Day of Christ approaching: Church is like a fireplace.  The more we gather together, the stronger our faith will be.  Vice versa.  E.g.  Fireplace.   Each log must stay together for the fire going strong for some time.  Pulled apart from each other, even the log with flame won’t last.  Each one of us is like that piece of wood.  Flame is like our faith.  Our faith gets strong and lasts long when we are together.  Vice versa.

Action Point:

  • Here’s a challenge for the congregation: perfect attendance for the next year.  Make a goal to worship God every Sunday.  As long as you are in town, come and worship with us at our church.  On vacation, worship in a nearby church on Sunday.
  • Tip 1: Be proactive by blocking Sunday mornings strictly reserved for worship.  Do not schedule anything else but worship services.
  • Tip 2: Go to bed early on Saturday night so that you may wake up fresh on Sunday morning ready for church.  Don’t expect that you will be fresh and good when you stay up until 2 a.m.
  • Let us pray: Help us , Lord, to take it seriously to meet together in worship in the name of Jesus.

 

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