Tuesday, February 02, 2016
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
2 is greater than 1. 3 is greater than 2. It’s elementary math, really … nothing too complicated. But in a culture that prizes individualism and is suffering an epidemic of loneliness, sometimes we overlook the value of having each other to “count on.” Sometimes we view deep friendships as a crutch that weaker people need. Sometimes we think we can’t invest the time to develop real relationships.
God’s math says it’s worth the investment. Ecclesiastes is a book of wisdom for how to live life as God’s people. It speaks of many “meaningless” endeavors that don’t ultimately fulfill and points us to find our true fulfillment in trusting and obeying God. Nonetheless, it also gives wisdom for navigating the often harsh realities of a broken world … falling down, getting cold, being overpowered, being stretched to the breaking point (just in these verses above). And the wisdom given in these verses to face these situations is not to face them alone, not to be a rugged individualist, not to think you’re strong enough on your own.
This, of course, is a big part of why we need small groups. All of us need people in our lives to help us up, keep us warm, defend us against our enemies, and hold tightly together with us. So to put the math in words, “Being in meaningful relationship” is greater than “Being on our own.” It doesn’t always matter if we have the right words to say, if we’re as consistent in meeting as we’d like to be, if we’re as fun to hang out with as we wish we were. Being there to be “counted on” in the midst of the struggle may be exactly what God designed.
Be encouraged no matter the status of the relationships you’ve begun in your group. Remember the value of just being present in the lives of others. Don’t forget how vital it is for us to lock arms and support each other. Who in your group may need a phone call to remind them you’re there for them? Who needs to know you’re praying when they feel overwhelmed? Who might feel alone even while surrounded by hundreds of people? Do the math! Thank God he hasn’t left us alone but has given us himself and each other!
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You'll find most of my recommended books available in the Guest Center at Southwood.
You Can Change
How do we mortify sin? How do we address the sin in our lives that reignite like a trick birthday candle we thought we had already blown out of our lives? This is a careful and thoroughly theological book that is hopeful without avoiding honesty. It is practical without being legalistic. It gets to the root of the sinful areas of our lives without offering a prescriptive regimen to hide behind avoiding the grace that has the only true power to teach “us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14
Relationships: A Mess Worth Making
Timothy Lane & Paul Tripp
Small groups would be easy if weren’t for the people in the group! This book will help equip you to see your own sin first and provide the courage and humility to address it in others.
The Heart of a Servant Leader
This is a collection of letters written by Jack Miller to people experiencing real-life concerns and struggles. Through these gracious and honest letters you will learn how to humbly offer to others (and yourself!) hope, repentance, and courage that flows from the truth of the gospel of grace. Though this isn’t a “how to” book full of nifty steps to Your Best Gospel Life Now. It’s a glimpse into the heart of a person who has found food at the Cross, and you watch (and learn) as he humbly points others to the feast.
Comforts From The Cross
Elyse M. Fitzpatrick
This 31 day devotional will bring you to the foot of the cross to remember and celebrate the truth of the gospel of grace, and develop skills that will help “inform, free, gladden, and enliven your soul every day.” Becoming proficient in applying the Gospel of grace to our own hearts is a key skill that is well worth our effort to develop.
- Christ PCA - Nashville
Scott Sauls and CPC Staff
Listen to sermons from Senior Pastor Scott Sauls and other CPC pastors at a sister church.
- Lookout Mountain PCA
Joe Novenson and LMPC Staff
Check out sermons by Senior Pastor Joe Novenson and other LMPC pastors at a sister church.
- Steve Brown Etc.
Steve Brown’s unique blend of orthodoxy and controversy, humor and profundity, and a refusal to play religious games will give you permission you have needed to stop being so uptight. And even if it’s for 30 minutes, you just might experience radical freedom, infectious joy and maybe even a bit of surprising faithfulness.
- Tim Chester: reformed spirituality and missional church
Tim has an incredible way of applying the Gospel of grace that is both practical and honest with a consistent skillful affinity to point us to Jesus. He is director of The Porterbrook Institute; a church planter with The Crowded House in Sheffield, UK; and the author of over a dozen books including Total Church and You Can Change.
- Of First Importance
Living Each Day in the Good of The Gospel
Here you will find a growing collection of gospel-centered quotes to help reorient your thoughts toward the splendor and grandeur of the person and work of Jesus.