We Need One Another

By Bobby Blakey on May 15, 2022

Romans 1:8-12

AUDIO

We Need One Another

By Bobby Blakey on May 15, 2022

Romans 1:8-12

Well, hello Compass HB! Great to be back here with all of you! No place I'd rather be than opening up the Bible with all of you here at Compass HB. And I want to thank all of you who were praying for me on the trip to Dubai. And so, I was not here last week, but I was not slacking. I was preaching at a church in Dubai, Redeemer Church of Dubai, it's called. It's a church of over thousand people with people from sixty Different countries that go to this church. And so, Jesus is building his church there. Most diverse place I've ever seen is Dubai. But I'm going to need your guys’ help here today, not just because of the jetlag, but because, if you haven't noticed already, our young men and women, our college age underground ministry is gone on a retreat. And so, yeah, there's over hundred and seventy souls at this retreat in Ventura right now. So, well, I've already heard about people professing faith in Jesus Christ at this retreat. And so, they're going to be coming home today. But I don't know if you notice these young people, they bring some energy to our services. Okay, so I'm going to need your help. All right? So, can you guys bring some energy to the service here today? Can we do that? All right!

Well, then I want to invite you to open your Bible and turn with me to Romans chapter 1. And we're going to start continuing our study of Romans. We went through the Introduction before around Easter, but we're going to go through this line by line. We're going to go through it very slowly; make sure we don't miss anything. Because this is Paul's teaching. He's introducing himself and teaching the church in Rome. He found out this is different than any of his other twelve letters. He writes thirteen letters in the Scripture, and this is the only one that's not a follow-up to something. This is an introductory teaching letter. And so, he's going to say here in Romans 1:8, and we're going to read all the way to verse 15. I hope you’ve got your Bible with you. And I'm going to ask that everybody would stand up for the public reading of Scripture. In fact, I'm going to ask everybody out on the front lawn, or watching this online, if you would open the Bible, stand up and read it along with us. This is the Word of God. And we need to hear what he has to say here today. Please follow along Romans 1:8.

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”

That's the reading of God's word, please go ahead and have your seat. And in classic Paul style here, he says, first in Romans 1:8 and we never get to a second in the entire book, right? Because once this guy gets going, he's just, he's going here. And what he says, the first thing he wants to say, is, I think, My God, through Jesus Christ for all of you. So, the first thing he wants to say is he's thanking God for them. And specifically, you can see the reason he thanks God for them is because of their faith. Now, this is something that is a big deal to Paul. It's a way that he thinks, and I'm hoping that we can learn to think that way, if we don't already here today. If you see somebody who has faith in Jesus, they didn't just wake up one day and decide to have faith in Jesus. No, somebody came and preach the gospel of Jesus to them. Somebody was praying for them. And then God had to open their eyes so they could see who Jesus really is, see how he died on the cross for their sin, and rose again. And then on seeing Jesus, God saved them out of their sin and gave them a new life in Jesus Christ. That's what happened. So, when somebody has faith, our go-to reaction should be, Oh, thank you God for saving even this person. Now, this is how Paul thinks. And it makes sense that Paul thinks this way, because Paul didn't assume that if you win – this is a big mistake that a lot of people are making these days – they assume that if they just move to any town, or go anywhere, they're going to find a good church where there's people preaching the gospel, studying the Bible, and loving one another. They just assume that that's out there. See, Paul, he went to a whole bunch of towns. He didn't even know if anybody had faith in those towns. He started praying, preaching the gospel, seeing people get saved. See, and Jesus built his church. So, he doesn't take it for granted. He sees somebody who's got faith. He's like, I know where that came from, that came through somebody preaching the gospel, praying for them. That's God's work. Thank you, God for that person having faith. And so, he thinks this way. And he says this in nine of his thirteen letters. He writes, I thank God for you, specifically, for your faith.

So, I went through every one of Paul's letters, and you're able to see him say this in nine letters. That means he only doesn't say it in four of them. He doesn't say it in 2 Corinthians because he starts that one out saying he's despairing even of life, like he feels like he's about to die, and Galatians they're deserting the gospel for works. And so, he's astonished. They're listening to a false gospel. So, he doesn't say it there because he's addressing crisis, is why he doesn't say. He also doesn't say it in 1 Timothy, or Titus. He doesn't start by thanking God for them because he's saying, You guys need to go get elders in these churches and straighten these churches out, because these churches are going to swerve away from the faith. So, he doesn't always say in a crisis, but when he's writing the letter to God's people, first thing he wants them to know is I thank God for your faith, because he's not taking it for granted. And in fact, if you're taking notes, I'd like for you to pull out that handout and take some notes if you could.

Point number one: Don't take God's people for granted. Let's get that down. Don't take God's people for granted. They didn't just show up. And they didn't come out of nowhere. They haven't always been there. If there's a group of people getting together in the name of Jesus, we should thank God for their faith. Because the whole reason people believe in Jesus is God opens their eyes to see Jesus, to hear the gospel. And God is the one who saves our souls and gives us that regeneration, that new heart, that Holy Spirit. That's God's work. If you see somebody who believes that's God's work. You see somebody getting baptized, praise the Lord. You see somebody that you know that's growing and maturing in their faith, thank God. You see somebody going through a trial, and they keep on trusting Jesus all the way to the end, through their trial, thank God for their faith, because he is surely at work in their lives.

And so, in thirteen letters, this is a constant emphasis. Go over to Ephesians chapter 1, let me show you at one other place – we could turn to eight other places! But we'll just go to Ephesians 1:15-16. He starts Ephesians with this long run-on sentence about how God has saved us. The Father, Son, Holy Spirit, they've saved us to the praise of their glorious grace. Look what they've done. And then he says this in Ephesians 1:15: “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[a] toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” But I know that you have faith. I've heard about how you're standing firm in the faith. And when I hear about faith, what do I do? I give thanks to God for your faith. Now, this is the kind of thing that's clearly something we should take note of because it's mentioned so many times in Paul's letters. It's clearly something we should learn. When people have faith, we thank God, but it's the kind of thing that, if we're being honest, we can read right past. In fact, we can even preach right over it. Because if you go back to our sermon that we did at this church in 2018, on Ephesians 1:15-16, where he talks about their faith and how he thanks God for their faith, we skipped right past that. And we went to verse 18 about the eyes of our hearts being open, that we could see the hope we have, the riches we have, the power we have, look at all we have in Jesus.

So, a lot of times when you're studying through a letter of Paul, and you don't even notice what he says at the beginning, because you're thinking, oh, let's get straight to what he's saying to this church, let's get straight to the content, the deep theology, the practical application that he has in all of his letters. What is he going to really say to this church specifically that if you're not careful, you just go right over this. And I've even done that here at our church when we went through Ephesians or Philippians. It's like, here's Paul saying, I'm so thankful for you. I'm so thankful you have faith. And we just, we just skipped right over it. So, we don't want to do that, as we're going through Romans. We want to get every line that he's writing.

And I am here to ask you some personal questions today. And the first one is, are you thankful for God's people that you know that have faith? Like, how did you come to faith? Somebody told you about it, somebody preached it to you. Maybe you grew up with godly examples, grandparents, or parents, maybe somebody reached out to you when you were lost in your sin and they came and shared with you, maybe you came to a church and people welcomed you in and they taught you. Like, how do you have faith? Do you ever go back and thank God for the people who shared faith with you so that you could have it? Do you ever look around and say, like, Wow, there's a lot of people coming to this church, there are people getting baptized. There are people that I know, maybe in your fellowship group, if you're a part of one of our groups, and you're getting to know people and you see people responding to the gospel of Jesus, and they're believing, and they're trusting in Jesus, do you say, Wow, look at what you're doing, God. I want to thank you. Or do you just assume that people are going to be here on Sunday? Like, I can remember before there was a Compass Bible Church in Huntington Beach, it was just a prayer request. It was just an idea. It was just a promise that Jesus said, I'm going to build my church. And we kept hearing about this need of people who are coming down to this church that we had in Aliso Viejo, and they're coming from Huntington and Fountain Valley and Garden Grove, and Stanton, they keep coming down. And it's like, why are all these people coming down here? What do they need a church like this up there? And it was just a prayer. Look at how God has answered our prayer! It’s the third time we've done this this weekend. And hundred-and-seventy of us are in Ventura. That's like a whole church of people in Ventura right now. Right? I mean, you see what, what God has done? We should be thanking God.

Let's get that down for our first dash here. We don't want to take it for granted. No, we want to thank God for your brothers and sisters. Thank God for your brothers and sisters. I'm so thankful for our college ministry. I mean, since the beginning of this church, we've had a college ministry that has really served us all the time. They're setting up, they're tearing down, they're doing the kids ministry, the youth ministry, I mean, we have a group of college people, college age young men and women, they're not living for themselves. They're living to serve other people in the church. Is that not awesome? Is that not countercultural? We should thank God for that. You know, there's people here in this room, they've been a part of this church from the first day that we ever met at Marina high school down the street. In fact, they were praying for this church before it ever got started. And they have been faithfully – by faith, serving Jesus, all this time here at this church. I see some of you here today, who were here from the beginning, and I thank God for your partnership in the Gospel. There are people when they walk in here – I just shook hands with somebody who just walked in here and is listening to this sermon right now – I remember when that person got saved. There are so many people at this church who have gotten saved, they have come to repentance and faith from hearing the Word of God at this church, from talking to people who are sharing the good news with them here in Huntington Beach. They came to have faith in Jesus. You are an answer to our prayers. We thank God because he's the one who saved your soul. I mean, you are like, the reason I moved to Huntington Beach is you and I thank God for you. Like that, like this is real. God is doing a work. He's saving people's lives. He's building up his church, and we should say, Wow, thank you so much. Like some people you are already saved somewhere else, you already came to know Jesus at another church, some other place in the world. But then you've joined us here.

And there are people who come in here and they don't just come and hang out at church, but they say Jesus is building something here, and I want to be one of the builders. And they start treating other people as more important than themselves. They start really taking what they have in their faith and passing it on to other people. And they have joined us now as a part of Jesus' team here, building the church. I just want you to know, I thank God for your faith and how you're giving your life for other people. Like, that's God working through you. And we're so thankful that you're doing that work here at our church. Like, if we just go right into assuming that it's Sunday, we're all here and this is how it goes. Like, No. See when you see people fall away from the faith… Have you been a Christian long enough to know people that you thought they were your friends in Christ, they were your brothers or sisters in his blood, and you're, like, me and you, we’re going to heaven together? And eventually you're not even going to church together anymore. I've seen that happen. Eventually you get that email, you get that message, they tell it to your face: I'm not interested in that anymore. I don't really believe that I'm going to go back and kind of do what I was doing before. And they fall away. And you -- your heart just breaks when that happens. Like you feel this heavy burden, like, No, I thought we were in the faith together. I thought we were living for Jesus, I thought we were going all the way to the streets of gold and the pearly gates. And I thought we were going to be there in his glory, worshipping him, and now you've fallen away. And sometimes you have to learn the hard way. Wow. They're, like, them having faith matters so much to me. My concern is that do we take one another for granted? Do we take the work of God that he's doing here among us? Do we realize that the only reason there's a church anywhere is because Jesus built it? The only reason anybody has faith is because God opened their eyes. And so, we should immediately thank God for one another's faith. Can I get an Amen from the congregation?

See, people think it's exciting that there's a church in Dubai, a Muslim country, the Middle East. There's a church, it is planting other churches, it's growing, it's thriving. Wow, people act like how could that happen? How could there be a church in Dubai? How could there be a church in America these days, everybody? See where this idea we have to realize that we have thought that churches in America just happened. And what I have seen happen is people are, like, peace out California, I'm going to this city, I'm going to this place, better politics, better house prices, and I'm, like, our brother and sister! But as you go, do you know what church you're going to? And they don't even know. And they don't even find one when they get there. Because they took it for granted. We’ve got parents saying, I'm going to send my kid, I'm going to pay thousands of dollars to send my kid off to this school. And we've got it all booked, they got this scholarship, they're going to play on this team. This is going to be awesome. And I'm just, like, hey, Timeout, timeout. Do you know where they're going to church? See, people are taking it for granted big time here in America. Oh, sure. There should be a church doing what it's supposed to do. Right down the street. Only way any church anywhere who's doing what it's supposed to do is God's doing it. That's how it works. And we got to thank God, it's a mighty work that he does to build his church.

And Paul, he went into a lot of cities, they chased him out of a lot of cities. There was nothing going on in those cities. He's not taking anything for granted. He's not assuming nothing! There's a church out there in Rome, Paul's thinking, I haven't even been to Rome yet. There's already a church out there. Thank God. And see the question I'm concerned about as I share this with all of you, as we go through, if you want to go back to Romans 1:8-12. The thing I'm concerned about is Paul's not even been to Rome, yet. He doesn't even know these people yet. And I'm concerned that he might care more about a church he's never even been to than some of us might care about this church that we're at right now. So, he's going to describe here a way of thinking about God's people, a real heart that He has for the church. And we're going to have to evaluate ourselves: Do we have the heart that Paul describes here? And it starts by thanking God for people who have faith. Remember, this is how Acts ended.

Go back to Acts 28:15. It's just over to the left one page in there from Romans 1. Remember when he eventually gets to Rome, it says in Acts 28:15, “And the brothers there when they heard about us” – when the word spread that Paul was actually there in Rome, after all, the crazy adventure that he went on to get there where he almost died multiple times. When they heard that Paul was there, they “came as far as the form of Appius, and Three Taverns to meet us. And on seeing them” – What does Paul do? “Paul thanked God and took courage.” Like, Paul writes this letter, they get the letter now they hear Paul's coming to town. They're so excited to go and see him. And when Paul sees God's people, he thanks God. When you gather together at church and you see God's people, do you thank God for them? See, that's how he thought. That's how we need to learn how to think. But watch his progression of thought. Go back to Romans 1. After he thanks God for their faith in verse 8, he goes right into verse 9, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers.” So, of course, it's a prayer when you thank God, but see when he sees people with faith, he immediately thanks God for their faith. And then he begins to pray that they will continue in their faith, that they will stand firm. He understands persecutions are common; tribulations are promised. There are going to be real trials that will test faith. And so, Paul's just not happy for people that have faith right now, in the present. He doesn't just want people to come to church on a Sunday. No, he wants faith that endures all the way to the end. He wants faith that passes all of the tests. And so, when he thanks God for their faith, he prays that they will mature and grow in their faith. And then God will keep them in their faith until he completes the good work he's begun in them. So, as soon as he starts thanking God for faith, he begins to pray that that faith will continue and endure. And so, look at how he says it here, that he's “without ceasing, mentioning you always in my prayers.” So, what we get is the idea that Paul is regularly praying. And for when he is praying, he's not just praying for himself and those who are with him. He's praying for the church. He's praying for other people. He's praying for a church of people that he's never even met yet.

Now, if you flip over to Romans 16, at the end of the book, you can see he does know a lot of the people there in Rome, Rome being one of the major cities of the day. People Paul has met in other places are there now, they're in Rome. In fact, you got sixteen verses of shout-outs to different people in Romans 16. When they gave me a day pass, and I got to go to club 65 one time, that's what we talked about was some of these different people in Romans 16 that Paul knows. In fact, I think club 65 is meeting again this Friday, as well – this Friday night if you want to be a part of that. So he knows some of the people, maybe that's part of why he has a passion for them. But he's never been there. A lot of the people he's never met. And yet he says here that he's always mentioning them in his prayers. Now there is a kind of Christianity where people are, like, I'll pray for you, and then they don't really pray for you. So that's why he says here in verse 9, for God is my witness. See, there's a secret place where it's just you and God. There's a secret place – That's where we're supposed to pray – the secret place where we're just pouring out what's in our soul, and we're giving it to our Father in heaven. And God knows whether you spend time in that secret place or not. And Paul, he can say it in a letter because God is his witness. He's doing it in private, he is praying, and when he prays, and this is, so first question would be, are you praying? And second question would be, how much? Do your prayers get beyond you and your immediate needs, and your immediate family? And how much do your prayers really get for the one anothers in the church? How much do your prayers really get beyond you to other people? See, Paul is saying, not only am I praying, but I'm praying for you. And we know what he's praying for. He's praying for their faith. That's what he cares about, their continued trust in Jesus as the defining characteristic of their lives. That's what he's praying for.

And so, let's get that down for our second dash here. We need to pray for one another's faith. And, in fact, there's a book I want to recommend – and once you're done writing that down, Pray for one another's faith, if you flip the handout over, you can see – I don't know if we have any copies left in the Book Nook after the last couple of services, but we're recommending this book, Praying with Paul, by D. A. Carson, where he actually goes through many of these prayers, some of these passages that we often skip over. O, here's Paul thankful for the people. Here's Paul, praying for the people. If we're honest, sometimes we skip over these passages. Here's a guy who wrote a whole book about these passages, because he's saying the urgent need in the church today is that we would pray and that we would pray for our own church, and really bring God's people up before him, so that they would be strong in their faith, so that they would be set apart from their sin. And you start studying all the things that Paul prays for, and Carson decided to write a whole book about it, maybe because he knew so many people are just skipping over these prayers to see what Paul really wrote in the book of Romans. And that's something we’ve got to be so careful about. I'm just ready to confess to our church here today that even in the way I've preached Paul's letters here at this church in the past, we've sometimes skipped over him being thankful for God's people, and praying for God's people. And I don't want to do that in the book of Romans, okay? In fact, I don't want us to really skip over any part of the Bible, which is why if you've got your bulletin, we're going to do this thing this week that I want to make sure you know about. It's called Scripture of the Day Live.

We've never done this before. We've been making these videos. If you saw the videos from Dubai, we've been making videos and putting them on this YouTube channel Scripture of the Day. But now we're going to do it live. And here's part of the reason we want to do this is so you can Zoom in. And you can get there early, before the video starts, join the Zoom chat and get your question ready. And you can ask a question from the Scripture of the Day live on the video. And we'll answer your question right there, which is really going to make sure that I know the entire chapter, right? Because when we make these videos like, you know, in some of these chapters in Matthew, Jesus does eight, nine things in one chapter. You can't make a video describing eight different amazing things that Jesus does, or teaches, in one video. So, when we make the videos, you kind of just zero in on one part of the chapter, and you make that into the video. If we're honest, this is what a lot of us do in our Bible reading, we read a whole chapter, but I know that one part or that one part that’s familiar, and we just kind of zero in on one part of what we read, and we skip over a lot of the other stuff. Well, this is going to challenge me that I can't skip over any of Matthew, because I don't know what you're going to ask about, and I’ve got to be ready to talk about. So, this is the kind of way we all need if you like, well, I have faith, I know something about the Bible. Well, you need to pay closer attention to what you've heard than you've ever paid attention before. That's how you grow. That's how you mature. And so, we're studying today, and we're seeing that Paul, when he sees faith in the church, he thanks God for it. And he's always praying for it. And I would imagine he's praying for it in the kind of way where he's praying, both like long phone call kind of prayers, quiet time between him and God, no distractions in the secret place. When was the last time you spent time with God in the secret place, just praying – you and Him? And then also I would imagine it's text message prayers, as he's going through his day directing his thoughts to God, praying for other people. He's saying, that's how he's praying. I don't want to skip over it. I want to make sure that we see what Paul's saying. And we ask ourselves, what is our attitude towards our church in Huntington Beach? So, if you want to be a part of this Scripture of the Day Live, we're going to do it Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 3:33 in the afternoon. I don't know if you're free at 3:33, I don't know what you usually do in the afternoon. That's the time we're trying it out. So hopefully you've already read the chapter, and then people start asking questions, and we'll see what happens. That'll be happening this week.

But if you're back with me in Romans 1:8, he thanks God, verses 9 and 10, he's praying for them. And then look what he's asking. Here's a specific request of his prayer halfway through verse 10, asking that somehow, “by God's will, I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” And then he says this, at the beginning of verse 11, “For I long to see you.” I greatly desire, is another way you could translate it – to see you. I'm asking that somehow God will allow me to come to Rome so I can be with you, because I greatly desire to see you. So, you can see this is a passion. This is something welling up within him: I want to be with God's people. Now, this idea here of the longing, or the great desire, that's described there in verse 11, you could write down some cross references where that same idea appears. One is in 1 Peter 2:2, where it talks about babies longing for the milk, babies longing for the bottle, babies crying out for mom. Sometimes we have babies crying out here in our services. Let me ask those of you with young babies here at the church, do you just kind of leave them alone and they'll work it out themselves? Is that how it goes? When a baby has a great desire for the milk, they do not stop until they get it, and all the young parents said, Oh, Preach it man, so it is in my house. Another thing you can put down is 2 Corinthians 5:2, where it's talking about those of us who are in these earthly tents, these physical bodies that start to wear down and start to not work very well. Maybe some people are suffering through intense physical pain here at our church, are going through diseases that are so difficult. I know some people who've really been going through it this year, and how they might greatly desire, how they might long someday in heaven, I won't have this pain anymore. Someday in heaven, I'll get a new body. Someday in heaven, it'll be perfect. And I'll be with Jesus and all and I'll be ready to serve Him and worship Him. And no physical pain will ever hold me back. I can't wait for the glory of being with Jesus, that longing, that great desire. That's the idea here. Paul is saying, I've got to get to Rome, because I want to see you, I want to be with you. I don't just want to thank God for your faith, or pray for your faith, I want to come and see you so that I can encourage your faith. So, Paul has given us here a picture of someone who has a passion to be with God's people. When we know, those of us who have been here in the book of Acts, was it easy for Paul to go to Rome? I mean, you're talking about putting your life into jeopardy. You're talking about taking a great risk to travel all across the world like that. We think today, a 16-hour flight is a big deal. No, Paul, there was a real chance that he might never make it to Rome when he's trying to get there. We saw he almost died multiple times on his journey, but he doesn't care because he longs to see them. He greatly desires to get there. He's asking God somehow God, it's got to be your will for me to get there to be with your people. Do you have a passion like that together as a church? Do you have a passion like that to meet? We have thirty-four Fellowship groups that meet during the week here at this church. Do you have a passion to get to your fellowship group and see God's people and encourage one another in the faith? If you're a part of fellowship group? You know how it goes. Usually, the groups they've got some kind of email thread, or they've got some kind of group chat. And you can almost guarantee how it goes these days as the group approaches, as the hours are maybe on a Tuesday night, or a Wednesday or a Thursday night. We’ve got some groups that meet even on Sunday evenings here at the church. And kind of, as the group is approaching, here come the emails, here come the group chat, or I'm not going to make it tonight. I'm sorry, I won't be there. And I'm not here to judge anybody, but I am going to ask this question: Do you have a passion to be with God's people? Seems way too easy for people to miss fellowship. If there's really this longing, this great desire to be with the one another's to make sure that our faith is strong, to encourage one another, then why does it seem so easy to be busy with other things that we can't do fellowship? Why aren't we committed to fellowship, so we can't do other things?

So, I don't know I'm not your witness, God is your witness. I don't know what your heart is towards the other people here at this church. But point number two: Reconsider your effort and encouragement, Reconsider your effort and encouragement. Is there really within you a great desire or a longing to see God's people so that you can encourage them in their faith? That's what Paul has. He's writing the letter as a way of introduction, and he's expressing a commitment, a strong passion that he wants to get there to be with those people.

Go over with me to the book of Philippians 1:7-8. You're in Philippians. He says that “I thank God for you.” He's praying for them. He's confident that God will complete the good work He has begun in them. And so, he's saying some of the very same things he starts Romans out with. He's saying, I'm here in Philippians. But look at Philippians 1:7, he says, “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart.” So, the point of this sermon is not go to your fellowship group. It's not call your one another's. The point of this is what's going on in your heart towards these people. So, we're not trying to just get people to go to group this week based on this sermon. We're trying to change the way that we think and that we feel about one another here in the church. And he's saying, I hold you in my heart for “you are all partakers with me of grace.” We all know the goodness of God that saved us in Jesus, that gave us faith and repentance. We all know what it's like to have a new life, so I care about you, “both in my imprisonment, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.” For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. Here he is, again, God knows my heart, and my heart is for you, he says to God's people. So, I'm asking that you would ask God to search your heart, that you would evaluate your heart. And you would not assume that you just love God's people, but that you would really think through, am I thankful for the people of faith that God's put in my life? Am I praying for the people? Do I really have this longing and great desire to see my one another's and to fellowship with people? Or do I kind of regularly not meet with them because I've got other things going on. Now, there are going to be reasons we can't fellowship with one another. And some of those are going to be excused absences, if you know what I mean, right? One of the things we've learned around here is if you're sick, you don't need to come to fellowship, we learned that, okay? If you are sick, that would be a good reason to not come and share your life with the rest of us. All right. Also, we understand that you may be traveling and we understand that sometimes people are going to vacation, they're going to travel all over the world. I wasn't here last week because I was in Dubai. And that made it very difficult to get here, okay? And so, we understand that sometimes you're not going to be around, therefore, you won't be able to attend. So, we understand that sometimes there are going to be good reasons that you can't gather together with the fellowship. The 405 is not one of those good reasons. The fact that you feel tired at the end of the day, I can't tell you how many fellowship groups I've been to at this church where I'm exhausted, I'm done. The day has been long. The week has been long. The year it seems like has been long. And now I'm rolling into this fellowship group. I'm thinking, it's dinnertime, I'm thinking it's bedtime. And here we go. And I can't tell you how many fellowship groups I've walked out of so glad that I went there. So energized, so encouraged, because I didn't just go there and find my own faith. I went there and found other people's faith. And it lifted me up. And I'm so glad I was there. See, do we have that longing, that desire, if we could just get together as brothers and sisters, if we could just encourage one another? Ah, it's going to make things better in life? Ah, this is the highlight. This is what I'm waiting for? This is what I'm saying? No, I can't do that. I can't make that commitment. I can't go over there because I've got fellowship time with my brothers and sisters. Is that really what's happened in our thirty-four groups? If you're a part of one of those thirty-four groups, I'm asking you, I'm asking you to reconsider? What is your effort? What is the level of heart you're putting into that fellowship? And if you're not a part of one of these fellowship groups, maybe you need to reconsider that. Because where did we get this idea that church was a once-a-week thing? Where did you get that idea from? Did you learn it because that's how we do church in America? Let me just tell you, a church in America ain't making it. Church in America has fallen away. If you just do it, how we've been doing it in America, you may not make it to the pearly gates through the streets of gold. See the church in America, it's not going the direction that we want to go.

Now, when you're considering your effort towards the encouragement of one another, put down Hebrews 3:12-14. Hebrews 3 warns us that there is within us perhaps a possibility of a hardening of heart through the “deceitfulness of sin,” as people fall away from the faith. It doesn't happen all in one dramatic moment. No, they just drift away. And they begin by distancing themselves from the fellowship, it happens through isolation. It happens when people move away, and they don't have a good plan for fellowship. It happens when people make another group of people. That's not the church of Jesus, another group of people that believes something different, and they make that their closest people in their life. That's how people begin to drift. And so, in Hebrews 3:12-14, it says the goal of faith is not just that we would have faith in the past or continuing faith in the present, the goal of faith is to endure in the faith all the way to the end ,to have our confidence firm to the end. And so, we should encourage one another because there's the possibility of people falling away. And because the goal is that we would have faith on the last day at the end, we should encourage one another it says, “encourage one another” – how often does it say? “every day,” it says. Is that what you're thinking we're supposed to be doing this, that I'm thanking God, praying for, longing to see and encourage my one anothers every day. I'm thinking about it on a daily basis, not a weekly basis. See this whole idea that church is just everybody face forward, sing some songs, preach a sermon. See, that's not all that the Bible describes about church. The Bible describes that if you're a part of a church, you have one anothers, you have people, you know them. So, well you feel like they're your brother or your sister, you know what's going on in their lives, you can bear their burdens when they're having a hard time. You know them so well, you feel like you could confess your sin to them and know that they would pray for you about it. Like, that's what the scripture is saying. Church is not a place that we go. Church is people that we love. And we really get to one another, to brother and sister, that church would be this family experience, not something that you would check in and out of once a week. Know that we would get our chairs facing one another, we would look each other in the eyes. And we would really care about one another. That's church. And it's saying, we should encourage one another every day. Do you realize that if you say I can't make it to my fellowship group on a Sunday, do you realize that if you go to one of our Sunday groups, the only day you might see one another out of the entire week is one day out of the week? If you go to one of the groups on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night, and you're, like, I can't make it to the group this week. Do you realize you've already missed days of fellowship before that group? If you haven't seen one of your brothers and sisters, and you're going to miss days of fellowship, like this was your one day you are going to hit fellowship on that week. And now you're missing?

See, we got to learn how to think about it from not the American perspective, but from the biblical perspective, which says this encouragement is a daily part of our lives. You could put down Hebrews 10:24-25. That flat out says, Do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. At that time they would go to the synagogue. It says, Don't abandon or desert the synagoging of ourselves together. Like as is the habit of some – there will always be some people who are not very committed, there will always be some people who will kind of be there and then they won't be there. And it's saying Don't be one of those people. Don't, don't leave your fellowship in the lurch. Make sure that you're there. In fact, consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. See, this is the only way of church I've ever known when I was growing up. We were not allowed to be flaky because we were Blakey! That's how we did church. All right? You could not, like, this is how it was. And this was before my dad was ever a pastor, this is my dad, he worked at a bank. And he was a new Christian trying to figure out how to live out his faith and lead his family in the faith. And one thing that was clear, there was never a discussion at my house one time, Are we going to church? If the church was assembling the Blakeys would be there. That's who we are. Right? There was no flakiness allowed. Maybe that's why he became a pastor and his three sons grew up to be pastors, because we fell in love with the Church of Jesus Christ, because we couldn't really have a hit-or-miss relationship with it. We were all in. This is what the Bible is calling you for. This is what it's saying is expected not just of the apostle Paul, no, don't forsake. If there's a time on the calendar, if there's a place, and there's a time, and God's people are going to be there together. And the expectation is, hey, come and gather. Why would you not be there? Don't not be there is what it's saying. And especially, I mean, we have now seen that all of a sudden church could go away and we can't even do anything about it. We have now seen that the morals and the foundation that we thought America was all about, we are watching them crumble all around us. We are seeing the hostility against faith in Jesus on the rise in our nation. And it says in Hebrews 10:25 that we should encourage one another all the more as we see the what approaching the day, the end, though it does it feel to anybody like we're living in the End Times.

Okay, well, let me ask you, Have you done more encouragement then? Because that's what it says to do. When you can see the world getting worse around you ,get closer with your one anothers in the church. If you don't have one anothers, we're doing a Foundations class right after this, at one o'clock, and it's all about our fellowship groups. It's all about why we do them. We're going to go through the one-another commands of the Greek New Testament. I want to encourage you, if you're not a part of one of our groups, come to this class at one o'clock, if you can join us. If you can't go to the Compass Connect table and tell them I need to get into one of these fellowship groups. You need to have other people in your life that are the church. You need to long for them, greatly desire them, you need to go and be with them. So, let's consider: Am I really giving this heart towards encouragement here at my church? Do I have what Paul has with the Scripture seems to expect that we would all have go back to Romans 1. Can you say here today, God is my witness, I long for you, I yearn for you, I greatly desire you? Because not only does he thank God for them, not only does he pray for them, not only does he want to be with them, but here's what he's hoping to do when he gets to see them. This is halfway through verse 11, he says that “I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you.” So there's something specific that he wants to happen when he gets to Rome. He wants to impart to them some spiritual gift. And he thinks that this spiritual gift will strengthen their faith, establish their faith.

Now, a lot of people, they get focused on this phrase, spiritual gift, and they start to really think, what is Paul going to give them? Some people are, like, is Paul going to give them the Holy Spirit to these people, who do not have the Holy Spirit yet? And so, he's going to come and lay his hands on them as an apostle and give them the Holy Spirit. Well no. In Romans chapter 8, he clearly expects that they have the spirit, and that they've been adopted as sons and daughters into their father in heaven. And the spirit now indwells them and helps them to pray and gives them assurance. They're no longer in their flesh because they have the spirit. So, he's not talking about the Holy Spirit. And so, then some people think, Well, maybe he's talking about giving them spiritual gifts, the gifts of like teaching and giving and encouragement and mercy. Maybe he's going to come and give them the gifts. No. In chapter 12, he already describes those gifts. He already says they have those gifts, and he expects them to use those gifts. So what he's saying is, he wants to come and give them something that in their spirit in their soul, it will strengthen them. And then he corrects himself in verse 12. He says – that is, he almost interrupts himself, because he doesn't really know these people, he's introducing himself, that is that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. Hey, I've got something I want to come and give to you. But then he wants to clarify real quick, like, not that I'm above you, and like, I've got some gift to give to you. No, no, it'll work both ways. I’ll come and teach you and you're hearing what I'm teaching, and you'll respond in faith. And we'll encourage one another. See, that's his expectation that when he shows up, he's going to have something to say to them. And when he sees their response to what he's going to teach them, that's this idea of mutual encouragement. You'll speak to me, I’lll speak to you. And we'll both get built up. I'll tell you, I love it. When I go to a group, and we open it up and we say, hey, we heard this sermon on Romans 1:8-12. It's now been a few days, hopefully, the word of God has been burning in your heart. What do you have to say?

There's two ways that goes. One is, all of a sudden everybody notices the cricket playing the violin in the corner. Have you been in that kind of fellowship group before? Then there's another kind of fellowship group, and this is the kind I love to be a part of, I love to go to is when people are tripping over each other, all trying to be the first to speak. Have you been a part of that? I mean, when this guy in our group, it happened this week, one of the brothers he's, he's like, yeah, I gotta tell you, when I was reading this, I realized I've read that so many times, and I've skipped right over it. And then I saw how it said this, and it kind of opened my eyes. It's something I thought I knew, I didn't really know very well. And so, here's how it's now been changing my thinking. And I decided that, this week, I was going to start thinking like this and praying like this. And like, in one minute, that guy preaches a better sermon on the text than I did in an hour right there, right? I mean, when you see the word of God powerfully working in people's lives, you cannot help but be encouraged. And that's what Paul's expecting, Paul's showing up and he's like, I'm going to have something to say. And he's expecting that they would have a response to it, and they would all be built up in their faith. That's the idea.

Let's get that down for our dash under point number two,. You need to show up with something to say. You need to show up, like, Hey, we're all here to talk about this passage of Scripture. We've all been reading Gospel of Matthew Scripture of the Day. You've been reading Matthew, we're studying Romans. From somewhere in your study of God's word, what is God teaching you? What is God putting on your heart? What do you have to share with your brothers and sisters? And we're not looking for the same story that you've already told us three times. We don't want to hear about your glory days of being a Christian and how awesome you were with Jesus. Five years ago. We want to know right here right now in this present hour, what is God teaching you through his word? What have you got to say? And when you’ve got something to say, it just encourages everybody and then they start sharing, and then people start being more honest and open, and all of a sudden, you realize that God's word is alive here in Huntington Beach. And you leave built up. That's what church was never supposed to be, one guy preaching the word. Church was supposed to be everybody speaking the Word to one another. That's how it's supposed to be. That's real. That's real church, when it's all of us learning from the word and sharing it with one another. And that's what Paul is expecting here in Romans 1:12. When it says each other's faith, this could be one of the one another’s – you could translate it, one another's faith. It's the same Greek word in all these one-another statements. So, Paul's expecting when he shows up, he's going to have something to say. Now I know we think Romans is this masterpiece, and it's 16 chapters of epic theology and life-changing application. What we really should understand is that 16 chapters of Romans is probably just a written summary, a brief introduction. If you really got to hear Paul teach… Okay, like, I got my first taste in my life of a missionary preaching this last week in Dubai. They invited me out there, they're like, Hey, we're gonna preach at the church. I'm like, Okay, I'm used to preach in a church. But we also want you to teach this class on faith. Okay, well, I've taught some classes. That's great. Okay, well, the class is three days long, and we want you to teach for 12 hours and three days. 12 hours, three days. So yeah, three hours, though. First night, three hours, the second night, and then on the weekend, six hours on that day. I never taught six hours in a row in my life. And I'm like, Whoa. Okay, so I'm going for 12 hours. All right. Let's do it. So, by hour number 11, I barely got any voice left. I'm running out of content. You know, like, you guys are like, well, we've never seen that here at this church, right? I mean, I'm running out of content. I'm like, wow, well, we're 11 hours into this. And so, we finished the 12 hours. And all these students, they're in Dubai, they're just looking at me, like, that's all you got? You came from America. Nobody's acting like this was long. Nobody's acting like, wow, that was a lot of information. People are acting fired up. They're acting like, Wow, that was encouraging. Could we do more? Like literally a guy's like, Oh, I thought we were gonna go for a few more hours after this. Never had anybody say that here at this church, by the way.

I mean, see, when Paul shows up, he's not like, Hey, we're gonna meet once a week to teach. He's like, Hey, I'm gonna be here every day preaching at this time, and we're gonna fill all Asia with the word of the Lord. Paul shows up, he's only got seven days in your town. Okay, well, everybody come to my all-night service. And I'm going to teach you all the way till midnight. Somebody's going to fall out the window. I'm gonna go wake that guy up, bring him back in. And we're going straight till daylight because I got a boat to catch in the morning. That's how it would be if Paul showed up. It would feel like you went to Bible college! it would feel like you were going to seminary. It would feel like, Hey, I got something to say to you, I got something to impart to you that's going to “strengthen and encourage.” These are the two things he's looking for. Your faith needs to be strengthened and encouraged by the truth of God's Word. And he's showing up and he's ready to teach something. And he thinks when he says it, it's going to win. This is how faith works. Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of Christ. So, if I come and bring you the full gospel of Jesus, if I can get there in Rome, and I can preach the full gospel there, well, that'll take all of you who have faith, and it'll strengthen your faith and encourage you. And when I've seen your response of faith, I’ll be encouraged, and we'll have a great discussion about it together. That's what he's anticipating. That's how it works. If you feel like you're Oh, ye of little faith, let me ask you how much word of Christ are you hearing in your life? You can't have a lot of faith with a little bit of hearing the Bible. If all you're hearing is me talk for one hour a week about the Bible, you're going to be a person of little faith.

Okay, this, isn’t even really a lot of teaching. We might be teaching longer than some churches in Orange County; that tells you something about us these days. Okay, this real kind of teaching, missionary teaching. This is nothing. That's what Paul is fully expecting to do. And when he gets to Rome, what does the book of Acts say? For two years, he's in this house, just teaching anybody who will show up. Two years he's ready to teach. That's the idea. Now, I want everybody to go with me to 1 Thessalonians so we can really get an example of how this heart played out with Paul, because we unfortunately kind of missed this when we went through Ephesians and Philippians. But this is the first book we ever went through at this church was 1 Thessalonians. And you have to get this, because this letter is so much about how Paul loves these people. And we got this idea that church needs to be a family. And we need to really thank God for one another, pray for one another, long to be with one another, and have something to say, to speak the truth in love. That's Ephesians 4:15-16. When we're all speaking the truth in love to one another, when every part of the body of Christ, when all the members of the body, are all coming together to speak the Word of God to one another, that's how the church gets built up. That's how our faith gets strengthened and encouraged. Look how Paul describes it here, 1 Thessalonians 2:17. He says, “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time in person, not in a heart, we endeavored the more eagerly” and here it is, “with great desire to see you face to face.” So, if you remember from Acts 17, when he goes to Thessalonica, and he's there preaching just a short time. He's there preaching Jesus as the Christ.

In the synagogue, some people believe, some people reject. A big division starts in the cities, in the city there, and the Jews get so jealous, they chase Paul out of town. I don't know if anybody remembers this. You can go read it in Acts 17. They chased him out of town, he goes to Berea, he finds some noble Jews there who want to hear what the Bible says. And then the Jews show up, they chase him out of Berea, and he ends up in Athens all by himself. So, when he gets chased out of Thessalonica, his heart just breaks because he was just beginning to see them believe, he was just beginning to teach them about their faith. And now he's, like, this relationship got cut short, this ended way too soon. I have not been able to teach you everything you need. And now I had to flee for my life from the city and now he's just, like, feeling this. like he got orphaned from them. It’s literally how you could translate torn away there. Like, there's this separation, like he cannot stand being away from God's people at this church, the Thessalonians, because they need more teaching to strengthen and encourage them in their faith. And so, he's just like, What am I going to do? verses 18. “We wanted to come to you, I, Paul, again and again, but” – who does he say hindered us there? Who's the one who doesn't want you in fellowship? Who's the one who wants you flaking on your one anothers here at the church? Satan! He wants to divide us, separate us so he can pick us off one by one. And so, Paul's saying, Satan is keeping me from getting back to you, for what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy! And do you see the passion he has for these people, like their faith is what matters in his life. Therefore, when we could bear it no longer, I have to find out what's going on with the faith of the Thessalonians. We were willing to be left behind at Athens alone. And we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker and the gospel of Christ. And here's our words again, to establish or strengthen and exhort or encourage you in your faith. Okay, so if I can't get back there to see you, and encourage you, I'm gonna send Timothy ,and what does that mean? Timothy is Paul's hand-picked right-hand man, like, he's his true son in the faith. Like he's his traveling companion. So, here's Paul, maybe you remember this, he ends up alone in Athens. Why? Because he cares more about the Thessalonians faith than he cares about himself. And so, he'll send his right hand guy to go encourage them. And he now is down and encourager, and by himself. But that's how much he cares about other people and their faith. And he knows that Timothy, if Timothy goes, Timothy can continue the teaching, Timothy will have something to say, Timothy will teach them what they need to hear, to be strong in the faith to be encouraged in the faith.

And he knows if they chased him out of town in Thessalonica, it's probably got to be really hard for those who are still there, they're probably being persecuted, they're probably suffering. And so, he says, verse 3, that no one be moved by these afflictions, For you yourselves know that we are destined for this for when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand, that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass. And just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer I can't stand being apart from you and not knowing what's happening with your faith, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain. So, he sends Timothy and the whole reason he's writing First Thessalonians is Timothy has now come back to him and has given him the news, the report what is going on with the faith of the Thessalonians verse three, but now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith in love and reported that you always remember us kindly, and long to see us, as we long to see you. For this reason, brothers in our distress and affliction, we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live if you are standing fast in the Lord. If I were to ask you, how would you define real living? How would you define the good life? would your answer be, seeing my brothers and sisters strong in the faith? That's how he thought about it. This is real living. If the people that I've shared the gospel with, the people who know Jesus, that with me, my brothers and sisters, if they're strong and encouraged in their faith, then my life is good. That's what Paul is saying here. In fact, he's saying even though he's being chased around by these Jews, even though he's left by himself, even though he's going through such a hard time, he's got great joy. He's really encouraged because he knows the Thessalonians are strong in their faith. I mean, is that how it is for you? Do you rise or fall in the lives of other people? Do you rejoice with those who rejoice? When you see people falling away from the faith, do you weep for them? Do you feel that heaviness in your soul? Are you ready to come alongside of people and bear their burdens, and do whatever you can to strengthen and encourage them and build them up? That's how Paul lived his life. And see this kind of good news is what we all need. We are just living in a world of bad news. I'm really concerned for us how we just hear bad news now all the time, through the media through the technology, it's like we're living on a feed of bad news, all these bad things happen all over the world, all coming straight to us all the time. So, discouraging. Just the way the whole world is turning right now. It'll really bring you down. It'll really discourage you. It'll really ramp up fear and anxiety and anger and depression. Like, if you just listen to a steady diet of the bad news of the world, that's not going to be good news for your soul. And where are you going to hear the praise report? Where are you going to hear that God is answering prayers? Where are you going to hear something that's actually worth talking about, that Jesus is doing right now, on planet Earth. You're going to hear that from your one anothers. That's who you're going to hear it from. You're going to hear from God's people. You're not going to hear the news that we really need to talk about, who is really got faith? Who's ready for eternal life? Who's trusting in Jesus? You're not going to hear that from all the media out there. You're going to find out about that in the church. I'll tell you, I just went to Dubai, as you know maybe. I was there for a few days. And there were some people here having a hard time while I was gone. And I knew about it. I mean, we're talking about the level of hard time where you're starting to wonder, Is that friend of mine going to make it through this test in their faith? Are they going to persevere through this trial? And I'll tell you what? You come back. You've been far away on the other side of the world. You come back, you go to the fellowship group, you see your brother there, your brother's all smiles. First thing he wants to say is I gotta praise the Lord, I got good news, God's turned this whole situation around. He's really encouraged me. He's really worked in people's lives. Hey, I gotta tell you that my prayers have been answered. Praise the Lord. So that's the best kind of news you're gonna hear right there. News that gets shared in small groups of people sitting in a circle, with each other's lives hanging in the balance. See, that's the kind of news that Paul will send Timothy far away to hear good news that people have faith in this wicked world that we are living in. There are some people who are standing firm in Jesus to this day.

You're not going to go look at your phone the rest of the day, go watch the news. Tonight. You're not going to hear that hundred and seventy college age, young people went and talked about serving Jesus for the rest of their lives. But that's the news that is good for your soul. And when Paul hears it, oh, that joy that he has he says this is real living. This is real living that you have faith. I mean, do you care about other people to the point where when they're doing well you're doing well and when they're having a hard time you're having a hard time. That's how Paul was. And notice verse 9 when he gets this good news. Look what he says there in verse 9. “For what Thanksgiving can we return to God for you.” Like now he doesn't even know how to thank God for this good news. And you'll notice he goes right back to thanking God for them. Verse 10. And pray as we pray most earnestly night and day. Look, he goes right back to it. He's thanking God for them. He's praying for them. And what is he praying for? Halfway through verse 10, that we may see you face to face, he's got that longing to be with them. Just feels it all over again. Oh, your faith is great, thank God. I got to keep praying for your faith. When can I come to encourage your faith? And then he gives them an example of this kind of prayer in verse 11. “Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another, and for all as we do for you, so that he may establish or you could translate, strengthen your hearts. May God give you strength to have faith, so that you will be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”

See, I don't just want people to come to church today, I don't just want people to go to fellowship group or Foundations class this week. I want people to walk the streets of gold, beyond the pearly gates, in the glory of God. I want people's faith to make it all the way to the end. That's what I'm praying for. That's what I want to be a part of, to strengthen and encourage one another until we get there. That's the goal. Now, this kind of giving of thanks, I hope that we can really build this into how we think that we should regularly thank God for everybody we know who has faith. Maybe you leave here today, you start making a list of people you want to thank God for their faith.

But another way to do it – go to Luke 22. So, if you do a study on Eucharisteo, which is this word about giving thanks in the Greek. You're going to see Paul uses this in a lot of his letters, to thank God for the church for the people who have faith, for the brothers and sisters. But Jesus also gave thanks a lot when he was breaking bread. So, this is where the tradition of praying out a meal comes from. And it comes really from the example of Jesus, always giving thanks when he would break bread, even when he did it to feed thousands miraculously. And so maybe this is something, if you're in the habit of praying before a meal, maybe don't just thank God for the food, but thank God for the faith that you can see in other people's lives, along with thanking God for providing our daily bread. And so Jesus does that here in Luke 22:19. And this is the Last Supper. This is when he's with his twelve disciples. And he took bread, and when He had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And likewise, the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup that is poured out for you, is the new covenant in my blood. So here's Jesus, giving them instituting what we know as Communion, where you would take the bread, and you would take the cup. And you would do this to remember Jesus, and we know that the bread represents his body and the cup represents his blood. And so here he is giving this to the disciples. Now, the question is, well, what did it cost for that person to have faith? And if you know somebody here at this church, if there's anybody here that you know well enough to consider your brother or sister in Christ, you would consider them one of your one anothers, and maybe you just met this person here at church, you've gotten to know them, like, how did that person get here to church? How did that person get saved from their sins? How did that person hear the Gospel? Do you realize what it cost Jesus, his body and his blood? Do you realize the price that Jesus paid so that we could come here and believe in Him and gather in his name? Look at how it says it here in verse 19. “This is my body which is given for you.” He offered his body. He laid down his life as a sacrifice. He died in your place. I mean, it's not just the physical suffering that he went through, you know. When they whipped him, and when they pounded that crown of thorns into his head, and when they put the nails in his hands and feet, I can't even imagine the physical suffering that Jesus experienced. It was the fact that Jesus took your judgment, all of your sin was placed on him, and God poured out His wrath that should have been for your sin, and He gave it to Jesus instead of you. Like I know that I deserve to die and be judged for my sins, and I will never have to go through that because Jesus went through it for me. That's what it cost for me to have faith. Jesus had to sacrifice his body and then he has blood, like the blood of Jesus is the most precious thing that has ever been on planet Earth. It is. It is righteousness. It is a perfect track record of obedience. He pleased the Father, He obeyed all the commands, and never once gave into a temptation to sin. And He offers that pure blood, that righteousness. He pours that out to pay for all of your sin, so that he could pay for your sin and by faith you could get his righteousness. Like, it's a big deal when somebody comes to church. It's a big deal when somebody believes. It cost Jesus his body and his blood. And that's what that has now become the most important thing in my life. The defining characteristic of my existence is that someone died so I could live, and the life that I live, I don't now live my own life for myself anymore. I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me and many of you, that's what you're living for, too. That's what brings us together. The bond that we can have, that Jesus died for us is stronger than the bond that we can have with our physical family. The blood that unites us in Jesus is more than the blood that unites us with our own sons and daughters. And so, this this bond that we have here at the church, that it was the death of body in the blood of Jesus that made us the church. And if Jesus is going to go so out of his way to leave heaven, to come down here and love us, we also should love one another. Can I get an Amen from the congregation?

If Jesus can leave heaven, you can get on the 405. So here's the thing. We want to take a moment right now to consider what Jesus did for us all together. One Lord, one faith, one communion here, all of us together. So, I hope that was there on your seat, a little wafer, a little cup. But before we get to that, we want you to have a moment to thank God, you can thank Him for Jesus, you can thank him for your faith. Hopefully, you get past just your own faith, and you can thank God for this church and everybody here who has faith. And one of the things I want to say is, when we come and take this communion, this is only for those of us who believe in Jesus. Okay? This is a reminder for those of us who have already seen Jesus on the cross dying for us, our eyes were already open to believing. This is a way when we have this little wafer that reminds us of his body that was given. And when we have that little cup, it's the blood that was poured out. It's a reminder. So, if you haven't believed in Jesus, don't take Communion. Communion is for the believers, those who have faith, to stir us up by way of reminder, to proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. If you don't really believe in Jesus, you don't need Communion; you need salvation is what you need.

So don't go straight to the symbol, go straight to the Savior, and you need to call out to Him. Because imagine someday paying the price for all that you have done against God. Okay, God is a God of wrath. We're going to see that in Romans chapter 1, God is not and never will be okay with our sin in any way. And so, if you're in your sin, what we're saying is that Jesus offered his body as a sacrifice, to take that wrath, he offered his blood and he poured it out to pay for your sin. You don't need these little elements, you need Jesus in your life. And if you call on his name today, you will be saved. But you’ve got to respond to Him in faith, in repentance and faith. And so, we want to encourage you to do that. And one of the things that the Bible says is when you come to worship God, when you come before God, if you know that you are wrong with someone else, you need to go and make it right with that person before you even go and worship God. If you're going to take Communion, to remember how Christ died for you, and how much Christ loves you, but you're not even loving somebody else, you might need to not take this Communion and leave, and go get right with that person. You know, there was somebody who was watching this service online last night, and they heard this sermon and they came here, they drove to the church, and they came to get right with someone right after the service because they knew they weren't right with them in their heart. If you know you're not right with somebody who Jesus gave his body and poured out His blood for, and you're going to act like you have a problem with them, when Jesus laid down his life for them, you need to get that right here today. You can't think you're cool with Jesus when you're against the people that he died for. So, as we consider the love that Jesus has for us that there is a redeemer who would pour out his blood for us, we need to then also consider how am I passing on the love of Jesus to the people at my church? How am I loving the people that Jesus loved?

So let me pray for us here today. Father in heaven, I thank you so much to be back here at Compass HB with my church family. I thank you, God, for those who have partnered in this church plant the whole time, for those who have been saved here, who are the answer to all of our prayers. They are our joy. Thank you for those who have come in here and partnered in building this church together. I gotta thank you for our faith. And I pray that you will increase our faith, that as we continue to gather and we open up your word, whether it's preaching like this, or whether it's speaking the truth in love in one another in these fellowship groups. Maybe it's even one-on-one Brother to Brother, Sister to Sister, I pray that we will say things to one another that will strengthen and encourage our faith in your son Jesus. God, I pray that in our hearts we would be able to say that you are witness, that we longed to be with one another, we have a great desire to see one another. That fellowship is the highlight of our week when we get to gather together in Your Son's name, to encourage one another in our faith. I pray that that would be true here in Huntington Beach. So, Father, we pray that you will stir up our hearts as we remember the love that Jesus has for us, as we think about his body being given for us, as we think about his blood being poured out for us. If Jesus loved us so much, how could we not love one another? So, Father, thank you for giving us your son. Thank you for giving us the eyes to see him there on the cross. Thank you for giving us the gospel so we could respond with faith. Thank you for building a church here in Huntington Beach. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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