Do you ever feel like something’s missing? It might not just be something…it might be someone that’s missing. You could be one group away from changing the future of your family and changing your ability to make a difference in this world.
Every time you change jobs, enter into a friend group, join a sports team or sit with a new group at lunch, you are entering into a culture and a community with an identity, a language and a protocol that will affect your life.
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)
Everyone has a part of their story with hurt or pain in it. There are also people who have found freedom in the midst of those difficult situations. Almost all of those stories, in the bad parts and in the good parts, in the before and after, in the destruction and restoration, both the bondage and freedom result from the group of people around them.
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)
How do you become wise? Be around wise people. Wisdom here doesn’t mean book-smarts, because you can get good grades and still not be wise. Wisdom here means good judgement, humility and acknowledging God in all things. The way you get that is by who you are around.
Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.
You will become like those you spend the most time with. If you hang around those who are passionate, positive and faith-filled, you will become more passionate, positive and full of faith. If on the other hand, you hang around with people who are negative, sarcastic or critical, you’re going to stoop to that level.
Chances are you want to be rich in wisdom, not wisdom impoverished. When we think of poverty, we normally only think of one specific thing, but there are three different types of poverty.
- Material poverty
Someone who is lacking money and possessions and the ability to provide the basic necessities is material impoverished.
- Spiritual poverty
You can have material wealth but if you have no eternal hope, you are spiritually impoverished.
- Relational poverty
It seems the more financial blessings people have, the more they are losing the blessings of relationships. If you’ve ever been to a third world country, you know about this. At first, you see their physical condition and you feel sorry for them. Then, you discover their hope and their values as family and friends and you start to feel jealous of them.
We’re losing the blessings of relationships and there’s a lot of reasons why. One of them is that in our society we celebrate and strive for independence and self reliance. We don’t want to depend on anyone to the point that we forget that to be self reliant is to be distinctly non-Christian. God did not create us to be independent or self-reliant, but instead, but to be dependent on Him and the people in His family. Jesus died for us and loves the church and we, together, are to serve one another, love one another and lift one another.
In our culture we have so many external blessings and yet so many people, internally, are relationally impoverished. Here are three reasons why so many people are relationally impoverished today.
1. Increased mobility
We don’t stay in one place very long anymore. The average American moves once every five years. If you’re between the ages of 20 and 40, you move, on average once every three years. It’s difficult to have long-term, committed relationships when we don’t stick around.
2. Modern Conveniences
Things like air conditioners and automatic garage door openers have massively changed the landscape of friendship. Before the air conditioner, people hung out in front of their houses because it was cooler outside and you would get to know your neighbors. Now, because of garage door openers, you can pull right into your house. You can live in the same neighborhood for years and never get to know the people next to you.
3. More and more media
Media can be a tremendous blessing, but at the same time, it’s not the same as face to face contact.
So many of us are going through life surrounded by people, yet, with no one we could call if we really needed to talk.
We start thinking something’s missing, something’s wrong or something is not as is it should be. It may not be something that’s missing, but it might be someone that’s missing. It may even be that it’s not someone that is missing, but it could be a group of someones is missing from your life.
You might be one group away from changing the course of your destiny.
You might need to be in one group of strong, committed believers. People that you do life with in the highs and in the lows, those who lift you, pray for you, encourage you and always have your back. You might honestly be one group away from changing the future of your family, changing future generations and from changing your ability to make a difference in this world. You might be one group away from finding freedom. You might be one group away from kicking that addiction. You may be one group away from changing the course of your destiny.
The kinds of groups the Bible talks about don’t happen by accident. They are a group of devoted people making a commitment to grow in Christ and grow in relationships.
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
You don’t just stumble into a group like this on accident. You create it and cultivate it in an intentional way. Here are three things we cultivate in our small groups at Rock Brook.
1. Small Groups are a place to connect with others.
“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” Romans 15:5-7
You can’t have a Biblical community if every time you meet or get together you wonder if you are getting anything out of it. To really be fulfilled in godly community, to really be fulfilled in your friendships, to get anything out of it, you will have to think of what you can give, not what you can get.
Small group can be a place to find encouragement and renewal every week. However, it may not feel that way every time because we are all imperfect people meeting together. There are times when forgiveness is tough. Someone might do something and it might rub you the wrong way. You might get offended or maybe feel excluded. But pour out grace to these people and know they aren’t trying to offend you. Prepare yourself, there will be people who offend you this week, go ahead and forgive them right now. Don’t be surprised by it. Forgive them in advance. We are all broken. We all need forgiveness. We all need each other.
2. Small Groups are a place to grow together.
We all want to grow in our faith, that happens collectively. We’re better together.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17
Do you know how iron sharpens iron? Sparks fly, metal clanks together, it’s active. It’s worth it though. You are sharper today because of the wise people in your life. Growing isn’t easy. Wisdom isn’t easy, but it’s a lot better than harm. The cost of growing together in the context of healthy, godly relationships is great. The cost of not doing it, is greater. The cost of wisdom is great, the cost of harm is greater.
“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
Light and salvation from God doesn’t only mean fellowship with God, it means fellowship with others. It doesn’t only mean peace with God, it’s means peace with others.
3. Small Groups are a place to protect each other.
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sister.” 1 John 3:16
When you give up your time for great relationships, you give your life. Your time is your life. There’s nothing more precious in life than time.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
Now, don’t miss the connection between Satan and the lion. We have a spiritual enemy who wants to devour us, to pick us off, to steal, kill, and destroy everything that matters to the heart of God. We live in a battleground. Our enemy comes to attack, and destroy everything that we know. We have each other’s backs and we’re at each other’s sides. We can fight and we can be in there with one another when the enemy comes, we do not roll over.
You have to build that group before the lion comes.
You don’t know what’s coming in your life, but you don’t want to fight it alone.
You don’t want to fight cancer alone.
You don’t want to hurt financially alone.
You don’t want to parent alone.
No one knows how the lion has a hold of you today, but don’t hold to it in any longer. Sometimes we want to hold our sin in, and try to beat the devil alone in hopes to then talk about it from a conquered state. It doesn’t work that way. We fight our battles in community. When you have community, it is so rich and satisfying and so meaningful.
At that point, the unbeliever starts looking on and sees how we love each other, how we take care of one another and how we care about each other.
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. – Jesus (John 13:35)
Check back and review what we talked about last week. How did the Go & Tell series affect your life? Are you having any gospel conversations? Is there someone with whom you can have a gospel conversation?
Hear the Word
Read: Acts 2:42-47
1. “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)
Think over your life, your family, your friendships. How have you seen this truth demonstrated in your life? Have you ever done anything you regret because of the influence of people around you? Have you ever grown in wisdom because of the people around you?
2. Are you experiencing any relational poverty in your life? What would you say was the major cause of relational poverty in your life?
3. A small group of honest and godly friends in your life accomplishes a lot of things. Of the three mentioned in this message, which do you need in your life the most right now and why? What would you say a great community of friends look like?
4. In what way do you need help from your group to fight the lions that you’re facing?
Tell Someone Else
When it comes to relationships, you ultimately receive back what you put in. You get what you give. Who can you connect with? Who can you pray for? Who can you help grow? Who can you protect? Who can you listen to? Who around you could use your experiences, encouragement and love?
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