Speaker: Dr. Mark Crumpler
Date: February 12, 2017
Text: Devoted: Life Together
"You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.
May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus."
1. It's easy for us to have many acquaintances-people we know at the level of information and impressions. How many honest-to-goodness, know-everything friends do you have? How many of them are connected to this body of believers?
2. It's easier to talk about community than practice it. In what ways do you intentionally practice Christian community? What makes Christian friendship different from other friendship?
3. At several places in this letter Paul seems to struggle with a sense of loneliness (read 1:15; 4:9, 20). Have there been times in your life when you struggled with loneliness? Are you struggling now? What is one concrete step you could take to move into community? Is there a person that God is laying on your heart to reach out to and invite into community? What is stopping you?
4. Paul prays for his friend Onesiphorous. He was the kind of friend who brought out the best in Paul, and enabled him to handle difficult circumstances. Christ-centered friendships "leave us better than they found us." How are you growing Christ-centered friendships?
5. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor--Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." What does this tell you about friendship?
6. Paul is in the midst of difficult times. He writes that Onesiphorous was, "not ashamed of my chains." True friends step into our mess. Think for a moment, who would call you at 2 a.m. to take them to the hospital? Who would you call?
7. Loneliness is antithetical to the Gospel. In Christ we are brought into relationship with God and with one another. Read Ephesians 2:19ff. (below) and see if you can write it in your own words.
Thank you that we are no longer foreigners and strangers. Instead we are fellow citizens with God's people and also members of God's household. Thank you for the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and most especially for Christ Jesus who is himself the chief cornerstone, though rejected by many. Thank you that in him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple set apart for you. Continue your good work of building us together to become a dwelling in which you live by your Spirit.