If you have a Bible, I'm gonna invite you to turn to Acts chapter two. We're going to jump around at a few different passages. But we'll that will kind of be a main focus for us today. Acts chapter two, and we'll get there in just a moment. Several years ago, when I was at a previous church, one of my church members tells the story of a time that she was working in her yard and she finished up the yard work and was going to grab the leaf blower to kind of clean everything up. And so she did just that she went and grabbed it and she was blowing the sidewalk and her driveway off and the little cover that fits over the fan blade was loose and actually fell off and when it did it kind of startled her and her hand slipped and actually into where the flint fan blade was in just completely chopped off the very top part of her thumb. The way she tells the story is that after it happened though, she just kind of calmly reached down and picked it up and put it in her pocket, went inside, pulled it out, showed her husband and said, Hey, we need to go to the ER because I just chopped my thumb off. Thinking you ladies are way tougher than we guys are. Because there's no way that I or any of us could have ever done that. I mean, we'd have been crawling around like a baby, right or crying like a baby, she picks it up, they take him take her to the ER, everything's fine, they just sew it back, and it heals up nicely and all is good. But I think we'd all agree that if you ever find yourself riding in a car in the front seat, and one of your members is riding in the back seat on ice, that that's never a good thing. There are some things that are not meant to be detached from one another. And thumbs are one of them from your hand or from your body, right. Of course, there's a number of things that aren't meant to be detached from one another either. You can think of several examples, families, families aren't meant to be detached from one another families belong together. Unfortunately, that's not always what we see though, in life, husbands and wives can become detached parents and their kids can become detached. Siblings often become detached cousins, as families, we can sometimes become detached. And of course, this can happen in a very literal way. But it can also happen even in our own homes, we just get too busy with life with work or school or hobbies, and all of a sudden we become detached from one another. I mean, honestly, there's even times where we can be in the same house together in the same room together, but focused on all of our different screens and the things that we're doing that we're living as if we're detached from each other. We're in the same room, same proximity, still a part of the family together, but we're isolated. And we're honestly doing life alone, even while we're in the same room together. And doing life together, is always better than doing life alone.doing life together is always better than doing life alone, and families belong together. And life together is better when we're doing life together as a family. And that's not just true of our blood families, or our family units. It's true of our church family as well. And remember, that's what church really is. The apostle Paul teaches this in several of his the New Testament writings that the Holy Spirit inspired him to write in a number of different ways. One of the places we see that is in Ephesians, chapter two, you read the first 10 verses or so and he's talking about all the spiritual life that we receive in Christ, how we were dead, in caught in our trespasses and sins, but with Christ, we're now alive. But then he unpacks this new life that we have in Christ. And you'll see if you go on how he talks about the difference it makes between in the lives specifically of the Jews and the Gentiles, who would have been sitting on opposite sides of the room with this dividing wall in between them, right. And the language that Paul uses is that that dividing wall of hostility was broken down, it came crumbling down through Jesus in His death on the cross and through His resurrection and what it is that he accomplished to defeat the power of sin and death forever. And he says in breaking down that wall, he's made the two groups. One, they're one group united together as the church. As a family. He says this in verse 19, he says, You are members, to the Jews and the Gentiles after saying all these things, you are members of God's family, you're both being brought into this new thing together as family, churches and building people to family. When we say yes to Jesus were brought into his family and families belong together. And even in a spiritual sense. If we're made spiritual families, we belong to each other. The apostle Paul mentions that in another letter that he wrote to the church at Rome and chapter 12, verse five, where he says, so in Christ in this union in this new life that we have through our union with Him, He says, We, though many form one body, and each member, he said, belongs to all of the others. If you've said yes to Jesus, and you're sitting on this side of the room over here, did you know that you belong to all of these people who are sitting on this side of the room over here, and you guys belong to them, and every single one of us belong to each other? But the moment we say yes to Jesus, He forgives us for our sins. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us, unites us to Christ and gives us the life that we were This thing on the inside makes us spiritually alive again. But that life that we receive in him brings us a life together a family, not where we're just connected in union with Jesus. But we're also connected to each other, we're adopted into God's family were made brothers and sisters. In other words, we all share the same spiritual DNA. We all share the same spiritual DNA. And that's why Paul could say, we belong to each other. Christianity was never meant to be just between you and Jesus was meant between to be between you and Jesus, and all of those who have been adopted into God's family. The early church got this. We see this in Acts chapter two that I asked you to turn to just a second ago, before we even kind of get to that remember that Jesus had stood before his disciples, and one of the last recorded words that we have in Matthew 28, he tells them to go and make disciples of all nations. Matthew 28 says, Go, you're gonna, I'm gonna leave, but you're gonna go and you're gonna make more disciples. Now remember what Jesus had just done with him? He had made them disciples, right? So he's giving them instructions to go make disciples, and they were just made disciples by Jesus himself so that they can learn. How did Jesus do that with us? Do you know how Jesus made them into disciples? Well, he got them all into these little rooms, and they all sat in rows and in classes, and he just sat up there and taught. And he made sure that they heard all of the information, and then they never ever communicated again,that will read about in the New Testament Gospels. It's not what we read about in the New Testament Gospels, Jesus made them into disciples through life on life relationship, that the whole New Testament Gospels are all about Jesus and the disciples doing what? life together. That's what they're about. He's discipling them through the life that they were just doing together, they're on the road, they're traveling, hey, you see that tree over there. And they're going to talk about a lesson as they are doing life together, they're going to sit around and they're going to eat together, and they're going to hang out and and they're gonna talk about some of the things that were were said, and he's, they're gonna be able to ask him questions. And I mean, think about all the life that happened that we don't even have recorded. He made them into disciples through all this life on life relationship that they were doing together, then he tells them to go make disciples. And so guess how they go and make disciples in Acts chapter two, through doing life, with all of those who are being incorporated into the church, remember, the Holy Spirit does come. Now all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit is living in them. Peter stands up and Acts chapter two empowered by the Holy Spirit communicates the gospel 3000 people are saved that day, they're adopted into God's family. And then here's what we read in Acts chapter two, beginning of verse 42. They devoted themselves all of these new people that were that were adopted into God's family, devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to prayer, every one was filled with all the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles, all the believers were together notice that and had everything in common. They sold their property and possessions to give to one another who had or to give to anyone who 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 Holy Spirit had come to dwell in the original disciples, Holy Spirit came to dwell and all of these 3000 believers, given them new life in Christ. And what we see is immediately, they began experiencing the new life that they had just received in Christ together. And notice, we didn't read as soon as these 3000 people got saved, we didn't read about how they all went on their own individual journey with Jesus. We didn't read hell, okay, now that you know, Jesus, you guys, all go your separate ways. And you follow out your own little individual walk over here and you do your own little thing, and she's gonna be with you, and it's gonna be great. You have this personal relationship with him. It's all true. That is true. By the way, I'm not knocking that and we do have a personal connection. But the very first thing we see as they begin to experience that life in Christ that they now have, and that they now share together, they're learning together. They're praying together, they're worshiping together, they're eating together. They're sharing the resources together. Why? Because God connected them together as family and families who belong to each other guess what you do? Life Together, at least if the Holy Spirit is leading it, because now he's in them. And this was a result of what he was leading them to participate in, and to do a jif, Fernando, in his commentary on the book of Acts puts it this way, the body of Christ is incomplete without us, and we are incomplete without the body of Christ. community life, he says, is not an option for the Christian. But a basic aspect of Christianity is that the way you see Christianity, your own walk with Jesus is that community really isn't an option. But a basic aspect of what it is that he's done in you through this union that he's brought you. I think a lot of us struggle with that. Because we live in the United States of America and 2022, we live in a highly individualized society where we're, we're told that, you know, if it's going to be it's up to me, right, and I can do it. And it's all about me, and what it is that I am trying to achieve on my own, and I don't care, I don't need anyone or anyone to do this, I can do it all, by my self. Combine that with kind of being in a culture where we're not really supposed to talk about religion and all of these things. And so now if it's all about me and my own individual life, and am I really supposed to talk about these things, and we just kind of keep it all to ourselves, and it's just kind of private, and I can be about my own personal thing. And yet,the New Testament Christianity, the New Covenant Christianity that we see the way that Holy Spirit leads people is in and through community. So if we're talking about the Holy Spirit living in us, we're talking about this journey that he leads us on throughout life and and the next steps that he will lead us to take because the Holy Spirit is our guide throughout our lives, right. We talked about this last week, as we entered into this new message series and how the Paul in Galatians says that since we live by the Spirit, since this is how we live is by him that let's stay in step with the Spirit. He's always going to be leading us to trust Him and follow Him and to lean into him to empower us to even carry out the steps that he's asking us to take. And so that's why last week, we talked about how the first step that he'll always lead us to take is to discover life in Christ. Because this is our biggest problem. The biggest problem that we have is that we're spiritually dead. And there's no amount of religious activity or moral behavior that's going to make you on dead. And so the Holy Spirit will lead us to see that the only hope that we have for the life that we're all missing and craving on the inside is found in Jesus, and then to respond to that discovery by taking a step of faith. And as soon as we do we see the verse that what it says down here that Jesus says, Whoever believes in me rivers of living water will flow from within them. We have everything that we need in this new relationship, this life, that we're connected to this life source that we're connected to that's flowing through us. But this life that flows through us, is going to also lead us we can expect him to do it because we see it in Scripture, to take a next step then, of connecting through life with others. If we see this as the Holy Spirit's activity, as soon as all of these people in Acts chapter two, and a number of other places, the way it's described in Scripture is to lead people into a life together community and relationship and life on life discipleship than we can expect him to lead each and every single one of us to take a step of being connected through doing life together with others. What this means this step that he'll lead us on, is to do something different than we're doing right now. This is good. I think the Holy Spirit leads us to take the step of entering into worship together. And this is part of the life together and the connection that he provides in this union in this new life that we all share in in Christ. But listen, you and I are made to take a step further than just the togetherness and the connection and community that we're experiencing here. Because even though this is good, and part of what it is that the Lord is leading us in, you guys are all looking at me right now. It's me communicating information to you, there's very little life together between you happening in this particular setting. And so while it's good, and while the Holy Spirit's leads us to be together and participate in this worship and learn together in this way, what we're really talking about here is connecting with a smaller group of people in a different way. Hard to do this when we're sitting in rows. I was at a conference one time and Andy Stanley was the speakers a lot of different speakers, Andy Stanley was one of the speakers leadership conference that I was sitting at. And he makes this statement at the leadership conference that I was attending, he says the primary activity of the early church was one another ring one another. And when everyone is sitting in rows, you can't do any one another's.What he was talking about there, and you've seen them, if you've read any part of the New Testament most likely is that it is filled with these one another scriptures. And these references of the that describe the activity of the church, the way that the Holy Spirit led them to be in relationship with each other. And there's a number of them and I couldn't even begin to go through all of them this morning, because it would take way too long. But just let me give you a few examples of the way that the Holy Spirit led them in community together, they were loving one another, they were submitting to one another, they were caring for one another, they were instructing one another, accepting one another serving one another. They were offering hospitality to one another fellowshipping with one another, confessing sins to one another, carrying one another's burdens encouraging one another, praying for one other one another, the activity of the church family is one another ring. If we're looking for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our lives, and to connect us through doing life with others, he will lead us to one another, another. One of the reasons that Andy Stanley made the comment that he did earlier, but it's another reason that he went on to say this, if we're going to experience true community, or when it comes to connecting in community, he said this circles are better than rows. When it comes to connecting and true biblical community circles are better than rows. Why are circles better than rows, because when you're in a smaller group of people, and you're sitting in a circle, you can actually see and notice one another, how can you one another, if you don't even notice, another. But if you're sitting in a circle, you're able to notice you're able to actually then participate in instructing one another in caring for one another in praying for one another and confessing sin to one another. And whatever one another's the Holy Spirit's leads you in that particular way. And so what we're talking about when we're when we're talking about taking this next step that Jesus leads us in, we can expect him to lead us into getting plugged into a smaller community, where we're allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us to one another, each other. And when the Holy Spirit leads us and we follow him into this kind of life, together with others, he will use it to allow us to experience the life of Christ in us and through us in ways that we were meant to experience, the life that we've received in Christ in the relational way through the relational beings that he actually created us to be. So I want you to see how this kind of plays out in a practical way of some of our own family members, one in particular, so if you'll turn your attention to the screen can hear her testimony now.We first came to colonial hills, honestly, we didn't immediately find our people. We attended Sunday school class, we jumped in and got involved, but we were still hiding behind a mask while I was. But then God started providing revelation. He impressed on me that he just desired something more for me. He wanted our family to be in community to be sharing live with the people that he had given us outside of just a rush hour on Sunday mornings. There are a story that can only be described as divine. We found another group of people who also were being called to the same thing. Frankly, it was scary getting started. And we didn't really know how to start a small group. Turns out there are books for that. But we didn't know that then. So one of those wise friends said, we'll be at your house on Tuesday for dinner. And then they just kept showing up and two and a half years later, that's what we do. We have dinner once a week. I wish I could put into words what a difference that that authentic, open community has made in our lives. Our group is intergenerational. We have families in all different stages of life. And really, that's been invaluable. And something we really were called to. As we've gotten closer, and we've been intentional about removing masks and sharing the parts of our stories that seems scary. I found a previously unrealized freedom. These people, they never see me as a project to be fixed. They see me as I am, complete in Christ. And when I forget that, they remind me in love. They speak truth into the hurt and scared parts. And it calls out a freedom to love them even more completely. I can love them back without any expectation and without fear. And honestly, I never experienced that love of Christ in that way, until this group, so we eat dinner together at least once a week, sometimes more. But once the kids leave the table, the adults always seem to linger over coffee and dessert. That's where the good stuff really happens. That's my favorite part. That's when we really start to explore the questions about the things that God's revealing in our own lives. That's when we ask the hard questions of each other. And that's where I've been able to chisel out nuggets of absolute revelation. God is using these people to show me how much he loves me how much he has for me, and how he wants to use me to love others. I'm eternally grateful for their willingness to live a life from the love and from the grace of Christ. I've seen firsthand that when we reduce living our faith to just trying hard and meeting everyone else's expectations, it's always at the expense of significant relationship. trusting others is hard. And it's dangerous. But it's worth it. When we allow the love and the acceptance found in the Holy Spirit to guide us into authentic community, we can remove the mask, and we can trust the Christ and others. My parents and everyone at Colonial Hills would prioritize creating a culture that hooks arms with one another in small groups, removing the mask and beginning to live a life of authentic and holy community.There's so many things I love about what God is doing in Brittany through this group and in the lives of the others who are living this out. But I mean, right off the bat, didn't you get the sense of a little bit of X to when you watch that? mean eating together? fellowshipping together, praying together, learning together, growing together, doing life together? And did you notice how she even said I had never experienced Christ's love in the particular way that she was experiencing it until she took the step of connecting through life with others. She knew life. She knew Christ, she knew that he loved her. But he began to allow her to experience it in a much more complete and full way through community. She said it was through the other people that I began to learn more about how much Christ really does love me, and how he wants to use me to love them, and to participate in that expression of the life of Christ that she has in her all of the time. I love it. It's intergenerational, and that they're in different places and you have some in their 20s or early 30s and 40s and 50s and 60s and and they're in different places but the Lord's allowing them to be open and vulnerable and communicate with where they're at in life and what went on at different times in their life that they could learn from and grow from in. That's what we're talking about. We're not just talking about Okay, let's get let's get signed up for A group so that we can be on a roll somewhere and put a checkmark by our name that we attended a group, what what we're talking about is entering into real biblical community. And because it's done so through the life that we first receive in Christ, and we have all the fullness of life in this new identity that we have in him, that's what allows them and each and every single one of us to take off the masks, and truly be known before others in the community of people that were doing life together, and allows us to really know them. Because a lot of us are involved in some kind of community. But I think the question that a lot of us need to ask is, do the people that I'm involved in community with, know me, or do they know, my mask, because we all put a front on and we want people to see the best in us. And I've heard Brittany and several in her group say this from time to time that these people know my deepest, darkest secrets, that they know everything that there is to know about me in anything I've ever done.But there's freedom in that. To be able to talk about what's going on and to have people still keep showing up and not reject you, to experience the life of Christ in his love through them to go, it's okay, that's not who you are anymore. So when we talk about next steps, and how the Holy Spirit's leading us in this journey with him, as soon as he's leading us to first and foremost discover this life that we have in Christ, and to grow in our awareness of that we can look, we can expect him to lead us to take the step of connecting through life with other people. And for some of you, that means taking the first step of finding a group, right, you can't really be involved in doing life with others if you're not in involved in a group that has other people in it. And there's a number of different ways that you can be involved in groups around here, we've created another resource on line for you. And you go to our website again, and as we talked about last week, click on this particular next step. And actually, I think that's the wrong slide there. Maybe we put the wrong one in Jerry, I may have given you the wrong one, it may have been my fault. But there is another page that looks just like this one right here. And that's the one we showed you last week about the discovering life in Christ and all the resources that you can use to grow in life with Christ. But on the one that you click on, that says, connect through life with others, there's a list of all the Sunday school groups, there's a list of all the Wednesday night groups, there's a list of Men's Ministry and women's ministry and marriage ministry and the groups that are associated with in each one of these and ways that you can get connected in those particular groups as well. And so if that's where you're at the Lord's leading you the Holy Spirit, leading you to at least take that step there, then go to our website, we're going to have some of those people as soon as the service is over today, up here at the front, where you can talk to someone today, before you leave about Men's Ministry and women's ministry and marriage ministry and Sunday school groups and Wednesday night groups and find out all the information you would want to be able to take that next step of entering into community and beginning to do life with others. But for those of you who have those of you who are a part of a Sunday school group or another kind of group, I feel like the Holy Spirit's always going to be leading us to take next steps within the connection and community that we are experiencing. It could come back to do people know the real me to the people that I'm in really know me is the step that he's leading in your life, to begin to lower your mask and begin to take steps of vulnerability and authenticity, to say, This is what's really going on in my life. This is where I've really been, and where I'm at now, and what's going on in my life, to allow the Lord to be able to use the other people to encourage you and support you and remind you of His love and all of these different ways. And so if that's you, and you're already in community I'm going to encourage you to have a conversation with the Holy Spirit and to ask him how it is that he's leading you in the community that you're involved in, to be more vulnerable, to take off the mask to maybe even find a group of people out of the big group that you're connected to, to do something different, where you're eating together and fellowshipping together and learning together and praying together and confessing sin together and all of the above, how's the Holy Spirit leading you to one another. Another was pray. Father, thank you so much for Jesus in the life again, that we have in Him. And we thank you that you show us in Your word that the life that we receive in Christ in this union that brings us into relationship with him doesn't stop at just a personal relationship that we have, but but a life that extends into community. So thank you, Father, for what you've shown us in Your word today. And I just pray that you will continue to open up all of our hearts to hear you clearly. How you're leading us to take a step of community maybe that's to join the church today in his get plugged in and say this is the community that I want to be a part of and belong to and grow with. But then to also take a step of being in a group or if we're in a group how you want to lead us to be not be more open, to be more vulnerable to be more authentic to to do more life together. So we make ourselves available to you we pray that you would lead our next steps. You would empower us to be able to take the next steps that you're calling us to take in Jesus name. Amen.