The 5% life. What is that all about? A couple weekends ago we introduced the idea of investing different percentages, like basically one or 2%, uh, in how you live and practice your Christian life. We start looking at if you invested just 1% of your day, about only 15 minutes as a starting point, you in spend that by investing it in time with God in his word. And in prayer, it can affect the rest of your day. We looked last week in investing 1% of your week in gather time, being together with God’s people in public corporate worship, which is what we’re about here this morning, 1% of your week. Today we’re gonna look at investing 1% of your month in what we call group time. Getting together about seven hours or so a month, maybe three or four times in regular fellowship with a band of brothers and sisters in Christ with whom you share life and you support one another in the practice of your Christian faith. Getting together with a small group of friends that’s gonna happen in abundance this afternoon is really around the world. Right. You’re, as many of you, you’re gonna get together with a small group of friends. Uh, and you know, and, and yes, it’s about a game. It’s the Super Bowl, right? Plans have been in the works for weeks. The menu, you’ve kind of sweated over that and now the food’s all getting ready to be made. And, but of course, it’s more than about the game, right? It’s about the commercials. Um, you know, it might be, uh, certainly it’s about the food. Halftime show. Maybe, maybe not, you know, depends on what your cup of tea is, but it’s, it’s way more than the game itself, you know, because you’re getting, getting together with good friends. That’s what the real sweetness of being together in a small group of, of pe people who know you well and whom you know, um, it, it can, it’s a just a joy, isn’t it? Now imagine, You know, that only happens once a year for the Super Bowl. What about if you were part of a small group, a band of brothers and sisters in Christ? You got together about every week, you come together to share the friendship and as you share life together, and yeah, you have food and, and of course there’s study and prayer that goes on, but the chief thing that happens is the friendship, the fellowship.
Of believers that can happen in a small group. Investing 1% of your month can change the 99% of your month. Absolutely. It can affect it and, and, and energize it and support you in ways that you need as you share life together with people whom you know and trust and who know and love you. That’s what Christian. Small groups are all about. I wanna read for us from the scriptures, a description of the Church of God in both worship and fellowship from Acts chapter two. So if you have your Bibles or devices, you can turn to Acts chapter two with me, or just follow along on the screens or listen up. This is talking about the church in Jerusalem that had just been formed. They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common, selling their possessions and goods they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people, and the Lord added to their number daily, those who are being saved. The word of the Lord. Thanks for God. Let’s pray. Father in heaven, as we dive into your word now, open our hearts and minds by the work of the Holy Spirit, that we would know the difference that Jesus makes in our lives individually, together as a larger church, but how that can really be lived out in meaningful and supported ways with a, a small group of friends who share that treasure, Lord Jesus of who you are. So lead us forward and, and knit us together as your people and provide the support and encouragement that each one here needs. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen. Dear friends, grace to you. In peace from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Last week we looked at, uh, gather time. A large gathering of God’s people and and gathered worship, and we looked at the benefits that that can produce in your life and in your faith.
A large group. Today we’re gonna look at a different kind of gathering, investing 1% of your month, about seven and a half hours or so a month with a small group of brothers and sisters with whom you build deep. Friendships as you gather around this common treasure that you cherish, which is salvation and life in Jesus Christ. This fellowship of believers that I just read to you about, that Luke describes in Acts chapter two, that occurs shortly after Jesus’ death and resurrection and his ascension, and 10 days later. The Holy Spirit comes upon God’s people. Jesus disciples and the church of Jesus Christ is born and the world has never been the same since. And we see in this passage kind of a comparison and even a contrasting between large group worship and small group fellowship. In verse 42, our text says they met day after day in the temple courts and from house to house. This was the model in the New Testament church. I mean, notice temple courts and house to house. Now, the temple courts actually, the people couldn’t worship in the temple itself. Only priests were allowed to go into the inner sanctums of the temple for worship. But you could worship around it. And there were many courts as part of the temple, and so there was one church in Jerusalem, but they met in different courts. They met in different venues. They met in their homes as well for fellowship. But the large gatherings were in the temple courts. And so also for the church today, we meet in a large gathering such as this for worship. And celebration, but we also meet house to house or even in small groups here on campus for fellowship. And that was the way the New Testament church operated, and it’s the way that Victory operates today. So two kinds of gatherings. Large group for worship, small group for fellowship and support. Here at Victory, we are calling our small groups life groups, life groups because it’s meant that you are to share life together, to let people into your life as they let you into theirs, so you can share it together and find mutual encouragement and support. The church. Word for it is fellowship. Fellowship. And if you think about the word, it’s, it’s both a noun and a verb. We talk about the fellowship of believers. That’s really referring to a larger local expression of a church, such as we are here right now in this room at this time. But fellowship is also a verb.
You know, it’s some that we’re gonna have fellowship together. We’re gonna fellowship together, meaning it’s something that’s experienced and shared between people who know one another. You know, in a church the size of victory, let alone having multiple worship services, you, you’re not gonna learn the name even of everyone who calls this their church home, let alone to know them personally. But in a life group, say a gathering together of six to 12 friends, you can get to know others personally. Meaningfully and you can be known by others. Have you noticed that you can be lonely in a crowd? Some of you can be lonely here right now, sitting here with us. I understand that. I want you to know that here as a church, we want you to, to know that you’re not alone. And that you belong. We’re gonna look at that, not just in the, in the Church of Christ, but with a group of people, Christian friends, meeting together for tangible support spiritually and personally. In, in Romans 16 verse five, we have just one of many examples in the Bible of a life group fellowship that meets in a home. It says, Paul Paul’s writing to the, to the Christians. In Rome. He says, greet the church that meets in their home. Hey, I, well, I haven’t asked Ann about this, but I, I’d love to have you all over our, at our house together. Good luck with that. You, it actually wouldn’t be that comfortable, but I love being with you here to large gathering, but the church that meets in their home, it’s not talking about the public worship services. It’s talking about these small groups. The homes were small back then. And so here at Victory we, we wanna grow larger in our public worship gatherings, but we also wanna grow smaller as we see multiplication of life groups, small groups, blossom, blossoming, blossoming throughout the congregation. So we want to grow larger and smaller, larger and in worship, in our worship services, but also smaller. In our fellowship and stronger in our life groups for fellowship really happens best in a small group of friends. I think a lot of Christians maybe don’t grasp the importance of being part of a small group, but the Bible says, for example, in Hebrews 10 25, let us not give up the habit of meeting together as some are doing.
Instead, let us encourage. One another. So I wanna give you four reasons why you should think about being part of a life group here at Victory. And the first is this, is that you belong in God’s family with other believers. You belong. Galatians six 10 says, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers belonging. It’s a key part of our Christian faith. Ephesians two 19 says, you are members of God’s very own family and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian. There’s that word belong again. And listen to this verse from Romans 12, five. So in Christ, we many though were many form one body and each member belongs to all the others. And don’t we all long to belong somewhere with some people and so you belong. With God’s family, with other believers, and we belong not just to God as part of his family, but we’re siblings and we belong with each other. We’re brothers and sisters in the family of God and have you figured it out yet that your Christian faith, it’s not just a matter of believing, but it’s a matter of belonging as well. You belong with other brothers and sisters. The second reason why I need to be part of a life group at Victory is that you need encouragement to grow spiritually. The Bible says in Hebrews 10 24, let us think of one another and how we can encourage one another to love and to good deeds. It really means that you know, I, I need your support in my life and you need the support of me and other brothers and sisters in your own faith. And actually for you to grow spiritually, we need the support of one another. And that really happens most meaningfully and deeply in a life group. As Ted read, Forrest from Ecclesiastes four, two are better off than one. If one of them falls down, the other can help ’em up. But if someone is alone and falls, it’s just too bad because there’s no one to help ’em. Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. A rope made of three cords is hard to break. Have you seen that? A, a, a strand of three chords. This passage is used often in weddings, the husband, wife, and the Lord, right. You probably heard that used there, but I think it’s also a very meaningful metaphor and description of what Christian Fellowship is meant to be you, the Lord and others. And the more strands you have in that where you know them, the stronger you’ll be in your faith. We need the encouragement of one another to grow spiritually, that you don’t need a whole lot of strands or a whole lot of friends. You don’t need 50 or 500. But you do need a few. You need at least two or more.
The Bible says where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them. Jesus is saying that. In other words, I need others in my life and you need others in your to grow spiritually. We need one another. In preparing for this message, I was thinking about. Who would I call in time of need? And you know what? I’m blessed to have 12 men in my life that I could call if, if my, if I took a really tough turn in life, I could call any one of these 12 men and they would come to my aid, even sacrificially. So I believe every one of them, they’ve done it for me before in my life. Friends, when the rug of life is pulled out from under your feet and you’re in crisis, who would you call that you know, would come to your aid in whatever manner needed and necessary? That’s what a life group is meant to be. You can develop Christian friendships. With brothers and sisters in Christ who will be there for you no matter what. And intangible and sacrificial ways. I’ve seen that already in our life groups. Here at Victory, we belong with each other. We need encouragement to grow spiritually. The third reason why you need to be part of a life group here at Victory is that get this, I believe. I know I do. We need accountability to grow spiritually. The Bible puts it this way in Proverbs 27, verse 17. People learn from one another just as iron sharpens iron. You’ve probably used that phrase before, right? It’s right from the scripture. Iron sharpens iron, and in Hebrews three 13, the Bible says, encourage each other every day while you have the opportunity, if you do this. None of you will be deceived by sin. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. One of the ways that that prayer is maybe best answered is through your small group of Christian friends who will be there to hold you to account.
The Apostle Paul writes in the first two verses of Galatians, chapter six, brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, You who live by the spirit should restore them, gently carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ in the hymn. Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Lemme read you some of the lyrics from there where there is error. Let me bring truth where there is doubt. Let me bring faith. Where there is despair, let me bring hope where there is darkness. Let me bring your light where there is sadness. Let me bring joy. Friends, we all need accountability and support and care in our lives and in our Christian faith, and it’s really best in a small group of people who know you well. And you know that they know you and still love you and accept you, but are there to encourage and even exhort you as they have your back and help you stay on the straight and narrow and not falter or fall into a ditch. Because as the scripture said, sin can deceive us and we need one another to help us at times when we stumble and even fall. Job says this very interesting thing in the book of the Bible. By by his name, he writes, even a dying and desperate man deserves the devotion of his friends, even when he forsakes the Almighty. Even a dying and desperate man deserves the devotion of his friends, even when he forsakes the Almighty. What’s Job saying here? He’s saying that sometimes. And he certainly knew this, and I’ll bet you some of you have, and some of you will know this also, life can sometimes throw you a curve ball that’s so wicked or pull the rug out under you so quickly and unexpectedly, and in a devastating way it can shake your faith. You might even wonder if you even believe in Jesus Christ. Friends, that’s when you need a life group most. That’s when you need your posse of Christian brothers and sisters who are gonna carry you through that time. It’s like having Christian friends who say to you, okay, your faith in God might be faltering.
That’s all right. We’ll believe God for you until he will pick you back up and set you on your way. In a life group that my wife and I were involved with some number of years ago in Minnesota, we became such good friends with all of ’em. We still stay in touch. One of them is one of my 12 men who, whom I could call for assistance, but they shared a story. Their youngest son of four was one of those one in a million, uh, infant vaccination reactions that he ended up getting paralyzed from the waist down. I mean that can happen. Alright. And the mother was sharing with us her struggles with this, Hey, she’d been following Jesus her whole life. She has aligned her whole life around God’s word and who Jesus is as her Savior and Lord. And then he lets this happen. And I think it’s natural for all of us to ask those why. Questions when life just seems worse than hard. It seems unfair and unjust. And those times can rock us all, all of us, and knock us back on our heels and our faith can falter and maybe even wane, and we were able to listen to her and her husband love them. Empathize with them and encourage and support them such that they came through those early years of wrestling with that reality and now they’re not just at peace with God, but they see his hand even in the, the condition of their son, who’s now a thriving young adult, wheels around in his wheelchair, like it’s just a, a sports car, and he’s just, he’s gonna make a, he’s gonna be a kingdom difference maker in his life. And my friends are thanking the Lord for the good that he has done even out of hard hardship and they would not be there, I think if it wasn’t for Christian friends. How about you? Some of you know exactly what I mean. Wondering where is God in the midst of all this, that’s when we need other Christian brothers and sisters to come around. And support us and help carry us through those times when we falter, stumble, and even fall. ’cause you see true friends walk in when others walk out. So when you have doubts about your faith, if you falter spiritually, even when their sin in your life, when you belong to. And are connected with others in your life.
Group friends don’t sit in judgment. They offer truth in love and they offer grace as they point to Christ. That’s what we as a church are for, and that’s what life groups are about, especially in the practice of your Christian faith. I need to keep moving on reasons to be a part of a life group. You belong with God’s people. You need encouragement to grow spiritually. You need accountability to grow spiritually and forth. There’s power when people pray together in ways that we don’t understand. Jesus shows up in life groups. The Bible says it this way in Matthew 18. Jesus says, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, so it’s more than just your own personal God time. This is group time. If two of you on Earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my father in heaven. For where? Two or three. Gather in my name. There I am with them. Do you believe that? I mean, yes, Jesus is with you all the time, but when you gather with other friends in a life group and come in prayer in the name of Jesus, your prayers take on more power. This is a promise God makes to you. If two of you on on Earth agree about anything they ask for, It will be done for them by my father in heaven. Wow. What a promise. And I’ve seen that even here, being here just less than a year at Victory. I’m involved in a discipling huddle, a life group, and I’ve seen answers to prayer in our group for employment, for health, for children and grandchildren, relationships. I’ve seen this at work in other life groups that I’ve been a part of. When you pray together with others in Jesus’ name, God does things. There’s power when people pray together. So have I convinced you about the importance of being part of a life group, a group of small, a small group of Christians who come together? Let me just close with a couple of reflections then. The first is this, the time to get involved with the Life group is now. Not when you’re in crisis. Don’t wait for the world, your life to end, for the world to be shaken for you before you get a group of friends who are gonna be there for you. Because if you wait till you’re in crisis, it’s too late. So get involved with a life group now. Get your posse in place, your support network ready for you when life as it does for all of us becomes challenging. And if you wanna become involved in a life group now. I wanna encourage you, there’s a connect card in the front of many chairs in front of you. You can just fill that in and on the back under others, just put Life Group and we’ll reach out to you and help you explore and get connected with a group of friends that will be there for you.
As we’ve been talking about, uh, you can drop these in the offering receptacles or give to Pastor Lee and or myself on your way out, or drop it in the office. Would love to have you get involved with the Life Group, and this is even an an invitation if you’d like to host one in your home or even think about leading one, let me know about that and we can work with you on that. So let us know if you want to get involved in a life group through the Connect Card. Third, and that’s for those of you who are already involved in a life group, I wanna encourage you, especially if you’re a leader, but if you’re just a part of it, Nourish that life group and build those relationships so that you can be there in very tangible ways. You come together, yes, for Bible study and prayer, but build that those life on life relationships where you can be vulnerable and transparent and forthcoming. Knowing that you’re gonna hear truth and grace in love. Build that support network now. And finally, I just wanna remind us that even Jesus had a life group. Hmm. He had many followers, large crowds, multitudes, but Jesus called 12 people specifically to share life with him. And he invested a lot of his short three years of public ministry into privately teaching and mentoring the small group of Christians. And Jesus loved them fully on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, that the Bible describes this in John 13, Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. You know, this is the night before he is gonna be crucified. And then John writes this, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. That’s quite the phrase to love someone. To the end. Jesus loved his disciples fully to the end, even after they had betrayed and denied and even abandoned him. Jesus went to the cross for his disciples. He died for them. Just as Jesus has gone to the cross and died for you and for me and my friends, then we are called to share that kind of. Self-serving, self forgetting, sacrificial love with one another, and you can see that most tangibly in a small group of Christian friends who know you and who you know deeply, and you can love one another to whatever end, you know, when you respond to the call of Jesus Christ in the gospel.
Uh, and you are gathered by the Holy Spirit in his church. You’re called to a, a life, uh, in its fullness now and an everlasting life to come. But with that call to fullness of life is also a call to die to self or as Jesus says, to take up your cross daily and follow me, but take heart. Friends. That call for Jesus is one that he has walked himself. And calls you to follow him. And you know, just as Jesus walked that path to the cross, God raised him from the dead. And so actually, in small groups especially, you learn how to love others sacrificially. Even when it feels like you’re dying to yourself self, you still love them and know that in death then comes resurrection. In Christ Jesus. That’s the kind of love we get to share with one another, to love each other to the end, to even lose your life, only to find it. Let me close with this last verse from this song, Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Oh, master. Let me not seek as much to be consoled as to console. To be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. In other words, to be self-giving and self-serving. Self forgetting for the sake of others for it is in giving. That one receives. It is in self forgetting. That one finds it is in pardoning, that one is pardoned and it is in dying. That one is raised to eternal life. That’s the kinda love that we are called to live with one another to the end, let’s pray. Father in heaven, you have loved us dearly. Lord Jesus, you have showered us with grace, sacrificially, and now Holy Spirit, help us to love one another in the same way you’ve loved us. And may we do so not just in a. Abstract kind of general heart affection, but in very tangible, practical ways, especially as we share life with a small group of brothers and sisters, loving them dearly as you’ve loved us and being loved by them and experiencing your love for us that way. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.