8 Marks Of The Church

The Son Confessing Church

 

INTRODUCTION

Urban Legends

 

The 999 phone charging myth is an urban legend, which claims that calling the police and fire services, then hanging up, charges mobile phone batteries.[1]

 

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_urban_legends]

 

There are many common myths about the church that are misguided at best and dangerous at worst

 

BODY

  • Myth

    • You can believe what you want about Jesus and be a healthy church

    • This myth, if believed, can be dangerous because:

        • It can cause people to think they know Jesus when they really know “another Jesus” that’s not really Him

        • It can cause a church to be schizophrenic at best and apostate at worst when it comes to Jesus.

    • We know this is a myth because Jesus said a clear mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with people who confess correct things about His nature and character

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD

    • MARK: ​​ The Son Confessing Church

        • The Son Confessing Church and the Teaching of Jesus (John 10:37-39)

          • Background

            • Jesus has been teaching at the Temple area during the Feast of Dedication

            • The Jews gather around Jesus and ask Him a question and make a statement

              • “How long will you keep us in suspense?”

              • “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

            • Jesus’ response is that He had already told them, but they didn’t believe

            • The miracles He does in His Father’s name speak for Him

            • They did not believe Him, because they were not His sheep

            • Jesus then makes His confession and pleads with the Jews to believe

          • Just believe (vv. 37-39)

            • I wish we could have heard Jesus’ tone of voice at this point, because my guess is that His tone was one of pleading with the Jews to believe

            • Challenge

              • Don’t believe me

                • If I don’t do what my Father does, then don’t believe in Me

                • This would certainly be an indication that Jesus was not from God

                • He would have been a false prophet or teacher trying to direct them away from God

                • So, they obviously shouldn’t believe in Him or follow Him

              • Believe the miracles

                • While Jesus doesn’t say it directly here, He is saying to them, “Even though you don’t believe my words, believe the works (miracles) from the Father

                • “Jesus’ works were the window into his words.” ​​ [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 344]

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s people recognize His Son through His miracles.

                • If you believe the miracles from the Father, you will understand that the Father is in me, and I’m in the Father

                  • “Interestingly, coming to understand is presented as the result, rather than condition, of believing.” ​​ [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 317]

                  • Sometimes we have to take the step of faith without having all of our questions answered and then we will be able to understand that Jesus’ works prove His words

                • PRINCIPLE #2– Jesus and God are One!

              • Even though Jesus is pleading with the Jews to believe in Him, they aren’t quite ready to take that step yet

            • Reaction of the Jews

              • They try to seize Jesus, either to stone Him or to arrest Him

              • Jesus escapes their grasp, because it’s still not God’s timing for Him to be put on trial and killed

          • Jesus was confessing that He is the Son of God that the Father is in Him, and He is in the Father – Jesus and God are One!

          • Jesus confessed His deity and exclusive claims about Himself

        • The Son Confessing Church and the Teaching of the Early Church (Acts 2:24-36)

          • Background

            • We saw last that Acts 2 retells the events that happened during Pentecost in Jerusalem

            • We know that the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles in power and enabled them to share the Gospel in the various languages of the people who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks

          • Peter explains Jesus’ resurrection (vv. 24-32)

            • Peter is confessing Jesus’ resurrection, to the people gathered in Jerusalem

            • Jesus is alive!

            • He is the only person who died, was buried, came alive again, and is still alive today

            • The fact that He is still alive today sets Him apart from every other prophet, teacher, human being, or god

            • Peter explains that David, as a prophet, has died and was buried and his tomb is still there to this day

            • Peter and the other Apostles were witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection

          • Peter explains Jesus’ ascension and current position (vv. 33-36)

            • He is exalted to the right hand of God.

            • Footstool – this was a practice in the Orient where the conqueror would put his foot on the neck of the conquered.

            • God made Jesus both Lord, kü-rē-os, meaning he to whom a person or thing belongs; and Christ, khrē-sto’s, meaning anointed.

            • Peter is confessing the deity of Jesus Christ

          • The teaching of the early church is that Jesus was resurrected by the power of God and is still alive today and that God has made Him Lord and Christ (deity)

        • The Son Confessing Church and the Teaching of the Apostles (1 John 4:2-3; Philippians 2:5-11)

          • Teaching of the Apostle John (1 John 4:2-3)

            • John is helping believers everywhere to know how to discern whether a spirit is from God or not

            • Every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ is from God

            • Here we see that the confession or acknowledgement is that Jesus came in the flesh

            • This speaks of Jesus’ humanity

            • John mentions it again in his second letter, Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. ​​ Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 7)

          • Teaching of the Apostle Paul (Philippians 2:5-11)

            • Paul teaches us that Jesus is God (deity)

              • Being in very nature God (v. 6)

              • Jesus Christ is Lord (v. 11)

            • He also teaches us that Jesus was human (vv. 7-8)

            • We also learn about Jesus’ substitutionary death (v. 8)

          • The Apostles’ confession is that Jesus is both God and man and that He died on a cross to take our punishment for sin

        • We have the teachings of Jesus, the early church, and the Apostles about this mark, but we also have a picture found in Revelation

    • METAPHOR: ​​ The Bride of Christ (Revelation 19:6-10)

        • This is the end of human history – the hope of every believer

          • Jesus is the Lamb, the Bridegroom

          • His disciples are His bride

          • The hope of every follower of Jesus Christ is to be invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!

        • “As the Bridegroom, Jesus has confessed His love for us and union with us, and as the Bride, we likewise confess our love for Him and union with Him. ​​ He has intimate knowledge of us – who we really are, and we have intimate knowledge of Him – who He really is.” ​​ [Matt Kyser]

        • How does this apply to us?

    • APPLICATION (how will we know if this mark of The Church marks Our Church?)

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the deity of Jesus (John 1:1-4)

          • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ​​ He was with God in the beginning. ​​ Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. ​​ In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)

          • As disciples of Jesus Christ, we will confess that Jesus is fully God

          • He is not just another prophet, teacher, or good human being – He is God!

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the humanity of Jesus (John 1:14)

          • The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. ​​ We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

          • While it may be difficult for our finite human minds to comprehend, Jesus is also fully man

          • He is fully God (100%) and fully man (100%) and yet He is one person

            • Colossians 2:9, For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,

            • Luke 24:39, Look at my hands and my feet. ​​ It is I myself! ​​ Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.

          • As human beings, we do not have to understand how Jesus can be fully God and fully man at the same time, we just have to believe

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the sinless life of Jesus (Hebrews 4:15)

          • Scriptures

            • For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

            • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

          • Jesus was the only One who could take our punishment on the cross, because He was perfect, without sin

          • We are human and fallible, Jesus is both God and man and perfect

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and will confess the substitutionary death of Jesus (1 Peter 2:24)

          • He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

          • But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. ​​ Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:26b-28)

          • But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

          • For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: ​​ that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. ​​ After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. ​​ Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

          • Jesus’ resurrection is what sets Him apart from everyone else – He is still alive today, interceding for us before the Father

        • We will have intimate knowledge of and confess the exclusive claims of Jesus (John 14:6)

          • Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. ​​ No one comes to the Father except through me. (Hebrews 4:15)

          • There are those in our culture today, that want everyone to believe that there are multiple ways to heaven and since God is loving, He will let everyone in to heaven

          • The old saying is, “all roads lead to heaven.”

            • That saying is false

            • I would modify the saying to say, “all roads lead to God.”

              • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

              • You, then, why do you judge your brother? ​​ Or why do you look down on your brother? ​​ For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. ​​ It is written: ​​ “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess God.’” ​​ So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12)

              • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. ​​ Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ ​​ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. ​​ Away from me, you evildoers!’” ​​ (Matthew 7:21-23)

              • During the final judgment, all the nations will appear before Jesus and He will separate the people like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-46)

            • Jesus is the only way to heaven and the Father

          • We have to confess the exclusive claims of Jesus

        • Our desire is to have a church filled with people who confess correct things about Jesus’ nature and character

 

  • YOU

    • Idaville Member Survey from RESTOR Renewal Ministries

        • Four of the five questions from The Son-Confessing Church section of the survey were in the top ten of the least difficult for us as a church

          • That is encouraging, because it means that these are things we readily believe and embrace

          • “The people in our church believe that Jesus is the unique Son of God, fully God and fully man, and the way, the truth, and the life – no one coming into a relationship with the Father but through Him.” (1 of 10)

          • “I hear the name of Jesus consistently in sermons, teaching content, small groups and interpersonal conversations in our church.” (2 of 10)

          • “Our church consistently teaches on the Person and work of Jesus on the cross, connecting the truth of the Gospel with any particular passage or theme.” (3 of 10)

          • “The leaders in our church consistently and publicly point to Jesus as the Head and primary Leader of our church.” (6 of 10)

          • “It is obvious that love for and obedience to Jesus is the reason our church exists.” (12 of 12)

        • Encouragement and Challenge

          • If you believe and it is a settled fact in your heart and mind that Jesus is fully God and fully man, that He lived a sinless life and gave His life on the cross for you, that God raised Him from the dead and is still alive today, and that the only way to heaven and the Father is through a personal relationship with Him, then I want to encourage you to continue in that faith

            • These are the truths of Jesus that the world needs to hear

            • We have been called and commissioned to confess these truths where we live, work, learn, and play

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to confessing the truths about Jesus to my family, friends, fellow students, and coworkers.

          • If you are struggling in your heart and mind about any of these truths, that Jesus is fully God and fully man, that He lived a sinless life and gave His life on the cross for you, that God raised Him from the dead and is still alive today, and that the only way to heaven and the Father is through a personal relationship with Him, then I want to challenge you to do a couple of things

            • Pray and seek the Lord’s face concerning the truth(s) that you are struggling with

            • Spend time reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and ask the Lord to make these truths evident to you through His Word

            • Reach out to Pastor Marc, myself, or another fellow believer, so we can walk alongside you as you pray and read God’s Word – accountability is so important

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to praying, reading God’s Word, and reaching out to other believers concerning the truths of who Jesus is and what He came to earth to accomplish.

 

  • WE

    • Vision

        • Core Values

          • “We are a church that reaches out, spreading God's Word, God's glory, and God's promises to those that do not know Him.”

          • “Our leadership strives to be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus, so we can lead more to Jesus.”

        • We are committed as a church and as leaders to confessing Jesus to those we live, work, learn, and play with

    • Traction

        • One of our annual goals for 2022 is to have a 10% increase in the number of people attending Sunday school and/or discipleship groups

        • Another annual goal is to have 10% increase in the pursuit of holiness as evidenced through salvations, baptisms, and accountability

 

CONCLUSION

“The greatness of God is most clearly displayed in his Son. And the glory of the gospel is only made evident in his Son. That's why Jesus' question to his disciples [in Matthew 16] is so important: ‘Who do you say that I am?’

 

The question is doubly crucial in our day, because [no one is as popular in the U.S. as Jesus]—and not every Jesus is the real Jesus. …

 

There's the Republican Jesus—who is against tax increases and activist judges, for family values and owning firearms.

 

There's Democrat Jesus—who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.

 

There's Therapist Jesus—who helps us cope with life's problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves.

 

There's Starbucks Jesus—who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid, and goes to film festivals.

 

There's Open-minded Jesus—who loves everyone all the time no matter what (except for people who are not as open-minded as you).

 

There's Touchdown Jesus—who helps athletes fun faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls.

 

There's Martyr Jesus—a good man who died a cruel death so we can feel sorry for him.

 

There's Gentle Jesus—who was meek and mild, with high cheek bones, flowing hair, and walks around barefoot, wearing a sash (while looking very German).

 

There's Hippie Jesus—who teaches everyone to give peace a chance, imagines a world without religion, and helps us remember that ‘all you need is love.’

 

There's Yuppie Jesus—who encourages us to reach our full potential, reach for the stars, and buy a boat.

There's Spirituality Jesus—who hates religion, churches, pastors, priests, and doctrine, and would rather have people out in nature, finding ‘the god within’ while listening to ambiguously spiritual music.

 

There's Platitude Jesus—good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons, inspiring people to believe in themselves.

 

There's Revolutionary Jesus—who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, and blame things on ‘the system.’

 

There's Guru Jesus—a wise, inspirational teacher who believes in you and helps you find your center.

 

There's Boyfriend Jesus—who wraps his arms around us as we sing about his intoxicating love in our secret place.

 

There's Good Example Jesus—who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you.

 

And then there's Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonder-worker. He was the one they had been waiting for: the Son of David and Abraham's chosen seed; the one to deliver us from captivity; the goal of the Mosaic law; Yahweh in the flesh; the one to establish God's reign and rule; the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor; the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

 

This Jesus was the Creator come to earth and the beginning of a New Creation. He embodied the covenant, fulfilled the commandments, and reversed the curse. This Jesus is the Christ that God spoke of to the Serpent; the Christ prefigured to Noah in the flood; the Christ promised to Abraham; the Christ prophesied through Balaam before the Moabites; the Christ guaranteed to Moses before he died; the Christ promised to David when he was king; the Christ revealed to Isaiah as a Suffering Servant; the Christ predicted through the Prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist.

 

This Christ is not a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires. He is our Lord and God. He is the Father's Son, Savior of the world, and substitute for our sins—more loving, more holy, and more wonderfully terrifying than we ever thought possible.”

 

Used by Permission

 

Source: Kevin DeYoung, "Who Do You Say That I Am?" from his DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed blog (posted 6-10-09)

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2009/august/1082409.html]

11

 

8 Marks Of The Church

The Spirit Filled Church

 

INTRODUCTION

Urban Legends

 

The Killer in the Backseat (also known as High Beams) is a common car-crime urban legend well known mostly in the United States and the United Kingdom. The legend involves a woman who is driving and being followed by a strange car or truck. The mysterious pursuer flashes his high beamstailgates her, and sometimes even rams her vehicle. When she finally makes it home, she realizes that the driver was trying to warn her that there was a man (a murdererrapist, or escaped mental patient) hiding in her back seat. Each time the man sat up to attack her, the driver behind had used his high beams to scare the killer, after which he ducked down.[38]

 

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_urban_legends]

 

There are many common myths about the church that are misguided at best and dangerous at worst

 

BODY

  • Myth

    • If your church is filled with people, you have a healthy church

    • This myth, if believed, can be dangerous because:

        • It can cause us to focus more on how many people are in our church instead of how Jesus is at work in the lives of the people who are in our church

        • It can give a false sense of security to those who attend our church – that they are part of His Church simply because they show up to our church

    • We know this is a myth because Jesus said the first mark of a healthy church would be a church filled with people who are filled with His Spirit

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD

    • MARK: ​​ The Spirit Filled Church

        • The Spirit Filled Church and the Teaching of Jesus (John 3:5-7)

          • Nicodemus has come to Jesus at night

            • Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again

            • Nicodemus is trying to understand how someone can be born again, physically

            • Jesus is helping Nicodemus to understand that He is not talking about being born again physically, but rather, spiritually (being born from above)

          • Born of water and spirit

            • Jesus uses the phrase born of water and spirit to mean the same thing as being born again or born from above

            • Jesus is not talking about baptism or two births here

            • Ezekiel 36:25-27, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. ​​ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. ​​ And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

            • “In essence God said, ‘You need to be clean on the inside – washed with water. ​​ You need your heart to come alive by my Spirit. ​​ Then, and only then, will you be able to obey me.” ​​ [Carter and Wredberg, 57]

          • Like gives birth to like

            • Flesh gives birth to flesh is simply referring to natural human birth – the physical

            • Spirit gives birth to spirit is the supernatural – the spiritual (born from above)

          • So, Jesus teaches us that we cannot participate in the kingdom of God unless we are born from above, meaning that we have the Holy Spirit living in us

        • The Spirit Filled Church and the Teaching of the Early Church (Acts 2:38-39)

          • Background

            • Luke explains in Acts 2 how the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles at Pentecost

            • He also retells Peter’s address to the crowd when they speculated that the Apostles had had too much wine

            • After Peter shares the Gospel with the crowd, they are cut to heart and ask him what they should do

          • Peter’s reply

            • Repent

              • Repenting is much more than just being sorry about our sin or being sorry that we got caught in our sin

              • Turning from sin – “changing the direction of your life from selfishness and rebellion against God’s laws.” [NIV Life Application Bible, p. 1948]

              • Turning to Christ – “depending on him for forgiveness, mercy, guidance, and purpose.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, p. 1948]

              • It is recognizing that we are done with sin

              • Read Romans 6:1-14

              • Peter couples repentance with baptism

            • Be baptized

              • Baptism does not save us from our sins, that is what repentance does

              • Baptism identifies us with Christ and fellow believers

              • “It is a condition of discipleship and a sign of faith.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, p. 1948]

              • I always refer to baptism as believers baptism, because it is a step of faith that shows outwardly what has taken place inwardly (repentance)

            • Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

              • Peter experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit coming upon those who repented while visiting Cornelius

                • Cornelius had been visited by an angel and was told to send for Peter who was staying in Joppa

                • The Lord prepared Peter for this important evangelism task by giving him a vision of clean and unclean animals and telling him that what He has made clean in not impure

                • Peter returned to Cornelius’ house and shared about Jesus of Nazareth with Cornelius and everyone who was in his house

                • Peter explains that he and the other Apostles were witnesses to Jesus’ arrest, conviction, death, burial, and resurrection

                • While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. ​​ The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. ​​ For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. ​​ Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? ​​ They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” ​​ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. ​​ Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days. (Acts 10:44-48)

              • The gift of the Holy Spirit was not reserved just for the circumcised Jews

            • The promise is for everyone

              • While Peter was addressing primarily Jews from all over the diaspora (Roman Empire), he realized, even at Pentecost, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone

                • It is for children, youth, adults, etc.

                • It is for those in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)

                • It is for everyone the Lord calls – all ethnic groups

          • The teaching of the early church reminds us that the evidence of true repentance is the filling of the Holy Spirit and a desire to be baptized

        • The Spirit Filled Church and the Teaching of the Apostles (Titus 3:4-7)

          • God’s love expressed (v. 4)

            • The word “but” makes the transition to the discussion of how to deal with the sin that has enslaved us

            • God’s kindness and love appeared when He sent His Son Jesus from heaven to earth

            • God’s love was expressed for us through this act

              • Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

              • God’s love for us never ends – He wants us to recognize our sin and turn to Him – to be in relationship with Him

            • We know God’s will concerning mankind

              • Some people will tell you that God’s will and purpose is to make their life miserable

              • Others will tell you that God is simply waiting for them to make a mistake, so He can discipline them

              • But, scripture tells us God’s will

                • Matthew 18:14, In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. (He wants children to be saved from their sins)

                • 2 Peter 3:8-9, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: ​​ With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ​​ He is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ​​ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

              • His will is that everyone of us turns from our sin, repent, and seek His salvation

            • Jesus’ work

              • Jesus’ purpose was to seek and to save the lost

              • He did that by dying on a cross, taking our sin on His body, and paying the ransom so we could be saved

            • God accepted Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for our sin by allowing Him to come alive again

          • He saved us! (v. 5)

            • God is the One who initiated salvation for mankind

              • We can’t save ourselves

              • We can’t do enough good things to be saved by God

              • We can’t say enough good things, help enough people, give enough money, etc., to be saved by God

              • It was God’s mercy that saved us (mercy is not getting what we deserve)

              • Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

            • How did God save us? (vv. 5b-6)

              • Through the washing of rebirth and renewal

                • Washing – some scholars believe this is referring to baptism, but baptism is not a part of salvation

                  • Baptism is an outward expression of an inward decision – letting others know publicly that you have asked Jesus Christ to save you

                  • “‘Washing’ here means ‘bathed all over.’ When a sinner trusts Christ, he is cleansed from all his sins, and he is made ‘a new person’ by the indwelling Holy Spirit.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 267]

                  • It is a spiritual cleansing that removes moral stains

                  • Psalm 51:7, Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

                • Rebirth is the result of washing – we are made new, our sins have been removed

                • Renewal – the process of moral renovation or transformation which follows the new birth [Stott, 204]

              • By the Holy Spirit

                • The washing that brings about rebirth and renewal comes by the Holy Spirit

                • God poured out the Holy Spirit on us generously through Jesus Christ

                • The Holy Spirit lives in us as a reminder and as evidence that we have been washed, made new, and transformed

                • The Holy Spirit is the One who helps us to understand Scripture

                • He is the One who reminds us of Scripture when we are tempted to do wrong

                • He is the One who prompts us concerning spiritual disciplines that will deepen our relationship with God

            • Why did He save us? (v. 7)

              • We see the purpose clause that begins with “so that” – it tells us why God saves us

                • Paul reminds us again that we have been justified by God’s grace

                • Justification is defined as “just as if I have never sinned”

                • That’s how God sees us through the blood of Jesus Christ – without sin

              • Become His children

                • God saves us so that we might become heirs

                • John 1:12-13, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

                • God saved us so we could be part of His family

                • If we’re part of His family then we will be able to live with Him someday where He lives – heaven

              • Have hope of eternal life

                • As God’s children we have hope of eternal life

            • Eternal life is the kind of life we need here on earth to obey God and the kind of life we need to live with God in heaven someday

          • We learn from the teaching of the Apostles that God saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal that takes place by the Holy Spirit that lives within us

        • We not only see this mark proclaimed to us through teaching, but through a picture

    • METAPHOR: ​​ The Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16)

        • Bible Project Video – “Temple” (Windows Media Player) ​​ [https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/temple/]

        • Imagery in Scripture

          • Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? ​​ If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

          • Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? ​​ You are not your own; you were bought at a price. ​​ Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

          • What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? ​​ For we are the temple of the living God. ​​ As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)

        • As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are God’s temple since the Holy Spirit lives within us

    • APPLICATION (how will we know if this mark of The Church marks Our Church?)

        • We will look like a new people (1 Peter 2:9-10)

          • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

          • Our unity, pursuit of holiness, and love for one another will be evident to our community and those around us

        • We will have a new perspective (2 Corinthians 4:6)

          • For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

          • We will recognize the glory of God as we shine His light to those around us

          • It is serving within our giftedness

        • We will walk in a new power (Acts 1:8)

          • “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

          • The Holy Spirit will give us boldness in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those locally, domestically, and internationally

        • Our desire is to have a church filled with people who are filled with the Holy Spirit

 

  • YOU

    • Idaville Member Survey from RESTOR Renewal Ministries

        • Four of the five questions from The Spirit-Filled Church section of the survey were in the top ten of the most difficult for us as a church

          • “The people in our church understand what their spiritual gifts are and regularly use them to serve our church in tangible ways” (1 of 10)

          • “The people in our church consistently live out the ‘fruits of the Spirit’ in their everyday lives” (5 of 10)

          • “The people in our church know what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit” (6 of 10)

          • “Our church consistently teaches on the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit in various teaching settings” (10 of 10)

        • How do we address these questions?

          • We have provided and will continue to provide a spiritual gift survey for every church attender

            • We will counsel with you about how to use your spiritual gifts in a tangible way to serve the church

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Take the spiritual gift survey and begin using my spiritual gifts in a tangible way to serve the church.

          • The fruit of the Spirit are found in Galatians 5:22-23a, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

            • How are you using the fruit of the Spirit in your everyday life?

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Choose at least one of the fruit of the Spirit and begin using it in my everyday life.

          • To be filled with the Holy Spirit means that we are transformed as disciples of Jesus Christ

            • We are dead to sin and alive to Christ – we longer desire to pursue the things of this world and the evil in it

            • Our thoughts, actions, and speech are controlled by the Holy Spirit

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Allow the Holy Spirit to control my thoughts, actions, and speech.

          • As leadership, we will make a concerted effort to highlight teaching about the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit through messages and lessons

 

  • WE

    • Vision

        • One of the core values that we developed at the Dream Retreat is, “We are a church who encourages our members to discover, develop, and use their spiritual gifts.”

        • Under the growth strategy, proven process section we are committed to our membership knowing their spiritual gifts and using them

        • We are also committed to the fruit of the spirit being evident in our body

    • Traction

        • One of the annual goals for 2022 is to have 20% increase in volunteerism for the Wednesday evening and Sunday morning services

        • One of the quarterly goals is to have the Board of Administration take the spiritual gift survey

        • Another quarterly goal is to have you all take the spiritual gift survey

 

CONCLUSION

“I cannot make someone fall in love with Jesus.

 

It really came home for me, literally, with my own teenage daughter, who, 18 months ago, was not in love with Jesus. I spent nights crying, bawling, praying to the Lord. Here I am known for my ability to communicate, but there was nothing I could do for my own daughter that would make her fall in love with Jesus. Of course I could still guide and lead her, but I was powerless to convict her.

 

I prayed, ‘God, either your Spirit comes into her or your Spirit doesn't. It doesn't matter how great a dad I am. I cannot bring her to life.’

 

One day she came into my room and said, ‘You were right, Dad. The Holy Spirit was not in me. But now he is.’ She talked about how near she was to God and how everything had changed. My wife and I were skeptical. We wanted to see evidence of change. But 18 months later, I can say she really is a new creation. I didn't do that. It was the Holy Spirit.”

 

Condensed from our sister publication Leadership Journal, © 2010 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Leadershipjournal.net.

 

Source: Francis Chan, "Catching Waves," LeadershipJournal.net (posted 5-17-10).

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/june/3060710.html]

10

 

Mother’s Day

Women of Faith

(Acts 9:36-42)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Have you ever wondered when Americans started celebrating Mother's Day? The holiday was born out of one woman's desire to honor her mother's life of sacrifice and grace.

 

Born in 1864 in Grafton, West Virginia, Anna Jarvis witnessed the aftermath of the Civil War through a child's eyes. Her mother, Anna Maria Reeves-Jarvis, had spent the war organizing women to nurse wounded soldiers from both the North and South, and generally attempting to hold her border-state community together. After the war, Anna Maria started ‘Mothers' Friendship Days’ to reconcile families that had been divided by the conflict.

 

Throughout her life, Anna Maria modeled the ideals of Victorian motherhood. She gave up her dreams of college in order to tend to an older husband and four children. She bore the loss of seven other children with grace. She taught Sunday school in the local Methodist church for 20 years and stayed active in benevolent work.

 

Anna Maria's death in 1905 devastated her daughter. Two years later, Anna got the idea to found a holiday remembering her mother, and all mothers, whom she felt could never be thanked enough.

 

Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908 in Grafton (where Anna grew up) and Philadelphia (where she lived as an adult). Later, in a resolution passed May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.”

 

Source: Elesha Coffman, "Mom, We Salute You," Christian History Newsletter (5-10-2002).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2006/april/3041706.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Grandmother’s

        • Most everyone knows that we recently laid my Grandma Johns’ to rest – the funeral service was a celebration of a life lived for the Lord

        • My Grandma Hykes passed away many years ago, but the funeral service was also a celebration of a life lived for the Lord

        • Judy’s Grandma’s were also women of faith

        • The faith of all four Grandma’s was passed down to the next generation

    • Mother’s

        • Judy and I have been blessed to have mothers who are women of faith

        • They have served faithfully in their homes, places of work, the church, and their communities

        • They were Sunday school teachers, Children’s church teachers, Puppet ministry leaders, Good News Club teachers, pianists, choir directors, Divorce recovery leaders, and so much more

        • They have cared about and for other women and families during their lifetime

    • Wife

        • The Lord has blessed me with an incredible wife, who has been the greatest mother to our sons and daughter-in-laws

        • She has also been an awesome grandma to our granddaughter

        • As a ministry partner, she has served faithfully in the church and community

        • She leads our church in helping with the Upper Adams Food Pantry and the Hallelujah Party

        • She is constantly thinking of ways to bless different individuals in the church, our community, and her workplace

 

  • WE

    • Women of faith

        • Most of us probably have fond memories of our grandmas and mothers

        • Perhaps there are those of us here today who can say that they are a follower of Jesus Christ, because of the faith they saw in their grandmas and mothers

        • Those of us who are married may see the faith of our wives through how they serve and minister to others

    • Faithless women

        • Not everyone of us has experienced growing up in a family with women of faith

        • Our grandmas and mothers may not have been loving, caring, and nurturing

        • They may not have been followers of Jesus Christ

        • But, my guess is that we are here, in church today, because of a woman of faith who invested in us (it may have been a man of faith, too)

 

The writer of the book of Acts (Luke) shares about a woman of faith who ministered to the needs of other women in her hometown. ​​ These other women were sharing with Peter about her faithfulness, kindness, and care. ​​ When the supernatural happened to this woman, it pointed people to Jesus. ​​ We can learn from her life that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ Godly women point others to Jesus.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Acts 9:36-42)

    • Faith through serving (vv. 36-37)

        • City

          • Joppa means “beautiful”

          • It was on the Mediterranean Sea [show map]

          • Its port was famous, but dangerous [show images of port]

          • It had a healthy and robust trading industry as a result of the port

          • In the Biblical account that is unfolding in Acts, Joppa is moving Peter closer to Caesarea where he will encounter Cornelius, a Gentile, Roman centurion

          • But first, Peter has a job to do in Joppa

        • Disciple

          • There was a woman in Joppa who was a follower of Jesus Christ

            • Her name in Hebrew is Tabitha and Dorcas is her Greek name

            • Her two names are used throughout the narrative

            • Both Tabitha and Dorcas mean “gazelle”

          • Her character

            • She was doing good

              • Acts of kindness

              • Doing good deeds

            • She was helping the poor

              • Acts of mercy or charity

              • “‘Acts of charity’ refers to providing alms – acts of mercy through charitable giving. ​​ Almsgiving was highly regarded in Judaism. ​​ The detail suggests that she is wealthy and generous.” ​​ [Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Acts, 377]

            • Tabitha was exercising her spiritual gift of helps and service

            • Perhaps she was already doing these things prior to becoming a disciple of Jesus, but now her helps and service took on spiritual meaning and purpose

            • She was no longer helping and serving for the sake of doing those things – it reflected the transformation that had taken place in her life

            • The use of her spiritual gifts were pointing others to Jesus

            • How many of us have seen that in our wives, mothers, and grandmothers?

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Faith transforms our service

            • “Many Christian women have distinguished themselves in God’s kingdom by their service to the needy.” ​​ [Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary, Acts, 314]

            • Examples

              • Mother Teresa

              • I have to say I struggled to come up with names of Christian women who have distinguished themselves by serving the needy, but isn’t that the point?

                • They are quietly serving in their local communities around the world, without a desire to be recognized

                • They aren’t trying to create soundbites or photo opts in order to promote themselves

              • It was easy to find a list of famous women who have helped fight global poverty (Michelle Obama, J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates, Angelina Jolie, etc.)

              • How many of us can think of at least one Christian woman who is serving the needy? (I can think of several, just in our church and community)

              • Women, thank you for allowing your faith to transform your service

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Thank the Lord for the women who have used their spiritual gifts to do good and help the poor.

          • Tabitha becomes sick and dies

            • “About that time” can be translated, “In those days”

              • While Tabitha was doing good and helping the poor, she got sick and died

              • I believe it’s also referring to the time when Peter was in Lydda, which was only a three hour walk from Joppa

              • God was orchestrating everything for His glory

            • Preparation of her body

              • It was customary to wash the body in preparation for burial

              • Often the body was also anointed with oils and perfumes – Luke does not mention that here

              • What was not customary was for a corpse to lay overnight, but that may have happened in this case

              • Usually the body was buried before sunset on the same day as death occurred

              • There seems to be an exception here

              • “In the OT, bodies in an upper room were often noted in resuscitation accounts (1 Kings 17:19; 2 Kings 4:10, 21; Marshall 1980: ​​ 179) . . . When a body was kept, it was kept for three days because there was the belief that after three days the soul had departed.” ​​ [Bock, 378]

              • Keeping the body for three days was done in hopes that the soul would return to the body

              • It seems here that there is hope that Peter will be able to do something about Tabitha’s death

        • The disciples in Joppa were expressing faith through believing

    • Faith through believing (vv. 38-39)

        • The disciples send two men to urge Peter to come to Joppa

          • What incredible faith the disciples showed

          • They were believing that Peter could do something about the pain and heartache they were experiencing

          • That faith was expressed through placing Tabitha’s body in an upper room in anticipation of Peter’s arrival

          • We can express the same kind of faith in God and His healing power

          • We rarely experience here in the United States, but there are stories of believers, in other countries, who have been resuscitated by the power of God – they were brought back to life

        • Tabitha’s kindness and generosity on display

          • When Peter arrived in Joppa, he was immediately taken to the upper room where Tabitha had been laid

          • The widow’s that Tabitha had served and helped were there

            • They were showing Peter the clothes and robes they were wearing and explaining that Dorcas (Tabitha) had made them

            • It’s probable that Dorcas used her own money to buy the material or thread to weave and sew the robes and garments

            • What an incredible testimony of a transformed life

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when we use our giftedness for His glory.

            • As followers of Jesus Christ, I know we’re not serving others for the recognition from other human beings

            • We are serving and giving so that God will be glorified

            • This brings Him great joy

            • This morning, I want to thank women, again, for faithfully using your giftedness for God’s glory

            • When we faithfully use our giftedness for God’s glory it points others to Jesus.

            • Tabitha’s life and service were pointing these widows’ to Jesus

            • Godly women point others to Jesus

        • The disciples knew where to turn for help, and so did Peter

    • Faith through praying (vv. 40-41)

        • Following the example of Jesus

          • Peter had been with Jesus for three and half years and during that time he witnessed Jesus raise three people from the dead

          • Peter’s actions are reminiscent of Jesus’ actions with Jarius’ daughter (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43)

            • Jesus sent everyone out of the room except for the girl’s parents and Peter, James, and John

            • He then speaks to the girl and tells her to get up

          • Peter’s actions

            • He sends everyone out of the room

            • He speaks to Tabitha and tells her to get up

            • But there’s one other thing that Peter does between those two actions – he kneels down and prays

            • Jesus is God, so in this instance He didn’t need to pray, but simply commanded the girl to get up

            • Peter recognized that His ability to heal and bring people back to life wasn’t from him, but from God

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – Prayer is the first step to resolving every problem.

              • Peter knew where he needed to turn for help

              • God is all-powerful and is the One who heals and gives life

              • God is all-knowing, so He is aware of our struggles, our problems, our difficulties

                • Mother’s, He knows that our child is pursuing the things of the world instead of the things of God

                • Mother’s, He knows our fears, doubts, and anxiety about becoming a mother for the first time

                • Women, He knows the frustration and heartache we have over not being able to have children

                • Women, He knows our desire to have a godly husband who will lead us spiritually

                • Women, He knows the relational difficulties we are having at work or in our family

                • Women, He knows about the physical difficulties and health issues that we are currently experiencing

                • Women, He knows exactly how we’re feeling today

                • His desire is that we go to Him in prayer, first!

                • This challenge isn’t just for women today, it’s for men, children, and teens also

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Turn to God in prayer about the struggles, problems, and difficulties I’m experiencing.

            • Peter then turns to Tabitha and speaks to her

              • What Peter says to Tabitha is only one consonant different than what Jesus said to Jarius’ daughter

              • In Aramaic we see how close these two commands are

                • Talitha koum” (little girl, get up)

                • Tabitha koum” (Tabitha, get up)

            • God resuscitates Tabitha

              • With all of the individuals in Scripture who are brought back to life, it’s “not a matter of resurrection but of resuscitation, of temporary restoration of life.” ​​ [Polhill, The New American Commentary, Acts, Vol. 26, 248]

              • Jesus is the only person who was resurrected, because He is still alive today!

              • Tabitha opened her eyes and sat up

            • Peter presents her to the believers and widows, alive!

        • Word of this incredible miracle spread fast

    • Faith through sharing (v. 42)

        • Presumably the believers and widows went throughout Joppa and shared the incredible news about Tabitha

          • They not only shared that Tabitha was alive again, but how God had used Peter to resuscitate her

          • Their faith through believing had been rewarded by the Lord

        • Their witnessing brought repentance in many who heard

          • PRINCINPLE #4 – Witnessing encourages repentance.

            • As mother’s, our desire is that our children know and follow the Lord

              • We model and teach our children how to pray before meals

              • We read them Bible stories before bed

              • We earnestly pray for them daily

              • We take them to church, VBS, and other places where they can hear God’s Word

            • As women, we show others a transformed life by the way we act and talk

            • We may share with others something miraculous that God has done in our lives or how He has answered our prayers for others

            • There are times when we actively share the Gospel with others

            • Godly women point others to Jesus.

            • In these ways, we are witnessing about Jesus to others

          • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Witness to others about Jesus where I live, work, and play.

 

  • YOU

    • Has your faith transformed your service?

    • Are you using your giftedness for God’s glory?

    • Is prayer your first step when difficulties come?

    • Are you witnessing to others about Jesus?

 

  • WE

    • There are several great opportunities to share with others about Jesus

        • Invite someone to church

        • Invite family members, coworkers, and neighbors to the revival services coming up (May 17-23, 2021 and June 9-11, 2021)

    • We all can share with others an answered prayer or a miraculous healing we have experienced

 

CONCLUSION

“A few years ago, I somehow ended up buying two Mother's Day cards. I sent one to my mother, and because I keep a three-year calendar, I filed the other one away in the May section of the next year. Sadly, my mother died shortly after I sent that first card. Now I have a greeting card that can never be delivered—unless U.S. postal service can find a way to get it to eternity!

 

The more I've reflected on this undeliverable card, the more I've realized how it mirrors so much of life. We run into situations where we realize we can never again do what we intended. No matter how much we may want to, we can't hold on to the past. A loved one dies, and we grieve that we will never again hear their comforting, loving voice. Disease creeps in and robs us of the ability to do what we once enjoyed. An accident occurs, and in the blink of an eye, we lose some function that we took for granted. The word for these situations is finality.

 

‘Finality’ is a hard word to say. In fact, we spend a great deal of energy trying to find ways around it. We play the ‘if only’ game — ‘If only I try harder, it might get better;’ ‘If only I act better, maybe there's still a chance;’ ‘If only I pray harder, he might make it.’ But even prayer won't change some situations. My mother is gone, and the most fervent prayer won't bring her back. What prayer will do, though, is help me to remember that life is short, and I need to live a life of love while I can. I'm reminded that I should be grateful for what I have now, because it could be gone before I open next year's calendar.

 

So love now. Enjoy today. Be grateful this instant. Squeeze every drop of joy from each day. Pray hard and love deeply. And if you can, send your mom a Mother's Day card.

 

Source: Don Aycock, Palatka, Florida.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2009/april/7042709.html].

10

 

Prayer Rally

The God Who Heals

(2 Chron. 7:13-16; Acts 9:1-9, 17-18; Mark 5:25-34;

Mark 2:1-12; Matt. 6:25-34)

 

INTRODUCTION

“The movie Simon Birch follows a boy with stunted growth who has a clear sense that God has an important plan for his life. Little Simon is often met with obstacles and opposition, but he plods on through life until he really does become a hero.

 

Simon and his friend Joe do everything together, even though they are an odd pair. The unlikely Simon is always talking about the great plans God has for his life, but Joe is always doubtful. Joe has been deeply wounded by growing up without a father, and simply cannot move from cynicism to true faith.

 

Early in the movie, Simon and Joe are heading home from the swimming hole. As Simon and Joe wander through a field of wildflowers, they turn to discussing destiny and the role of faith.

 

Simon: But things will be different…once God makes me a hero.

 

Joe: You know, you shouldn't talk about this hero stuff, Simon.

 

Simon: Why not?

 

Joe: Because it's weird. The other kids tease you enough as it is.

 

Simon: I don't care. It's the truth.

 

Joe: But you don't have any proof.

 

Simon: I don't need proof, I have faith. Your problem is that you have no faith.

 

Joe: I got faith. I just want proof to back it up.

 

In the end, Simon does become a great hero, even though it leads to his death. Many years later, as Joe reflects on Simon's life, he can't help but finally move to a place of faith as well.

 

Elapsed time: DVD scene 6, 00:17:13–00:17:43. ​​ Rated PG

 

Simon Birch (Buena Vista 1998), written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson; submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2006/february/9022706.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

 

  • WE

    • Our natural desire is to have proof of God’s existence or to have Him speak to us before we’ll take a step of faith

    • Often times, but not always, God is waiting for us to take the step of faith toward Him, before He does the miraculous or speaks to us

    • In the midst of difficulties, it can be hard to have faith in God’s ability to heal spiritually, physically, and financially

 

As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to take the necessary steps of faith, toward God, even when we have spiritual doubts, physical illness, and financial struggles. ​​ Our natural desire will be to demand signs from God before we move in faith. ​​ Now more than every we need to remember that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ God has the power to heal every area of our lives.

 

Today’s message is going to be done in a way that is different than usual. ​​ We are going to look at healing in three areas: ​​ spiritual, physical, and financial. ​​ As we complete each area, we are going to spend time praying through the Scriptures we’ve looked at and then responding in worship.

 

  • GOD

    • Spiritual Healing (Acts 9:1-19; 2 Chronicles 7:13-16)

        • There are certainly many passages of Scripture we could use to talk about spiritual healing

          • I’ve only chosen two passages

          • One will focus on spiritual healing for those who have never believed in Jesus

          • The second passage focuses on believers who have turned away from the Lord

        • Unsaved (Acts 9:1-19)

          • Read Acts 9:1-19

          • We are all familiar with this story of Saul’s conversion (we know Saul by his Greek name, Paul)

            • He was zealous for God and the Jewish way of religion, but Jesus’ arrival on earth had transformed religion to a relationship with Jesus

            • Change came hard for the religious leaders (chief priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees)

            • They continued to try to stop the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and Saul was the ring leader

            • But everything changed on the road to Damascus

              • Saul had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus

              • Jesus arrested him and stopped him in his tracks

              • We see the glory of God surrounding Saul, and Jesus questioning him

              • God’s glory temporarily blinded Saul – that’s how magnificent His glory is

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s glory is beyond compare (magnificent)!

            • Ananias used by God

              • God used a follower of Jesus Christ to restore Saul’s sight

                • God used Ananias to bring physically healing to Saul’s eyes

                • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

                • This is an important principle for us to understand

                • PRINCIPLE #2 – God uses His people to help others come to Jesus.

              • We learn from this interaction that Saul was God’s chosen instrument to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the Gentiles and their kings

            • Saul was transformed

              • We see Saul praying, basically for three days’ straight

              • I’m guessing that his prayers were different now

              • After having his sight restored, Saul gets baptized

              • This was an outward expression of an inward decision

                • He was showing those, who were traveling with him and the believers in Damascus, that he had changed

                • He was now going to experience being on the other side of persecution

          • Salvation – the Good News

            • Sin

              • With Saul, we see a complete 180 degree turn from trying to kill followers of Jesus Christ to sharing with everyone about Jesus Christ

              • That is what repentance is – a 180 degree turn away from sin and running to Jesus

              • We’ve all sinned – lying, stealing, blasphemer, adulterer and murderer in our hearts (Romans 3:23)

              • Punishment for sin is eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23)

            • God is loving and just

              • Loving (Romans 5:8)

              • Just – He has to punish sin

              • Ecclesiastes 3:17, I thought in my heart, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” (NIV)

            • Jesus was the perfect sacrifice

              • His death, burial, and resurrection opened the way for us to be in a right relationship with God

              • Read Hebrews 10:13-24

            • Being spiritually healed

              • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

              • I encourage you to take that step of faith today into spiritual healing

              • Prayer for salvation (encourage anyone who has never believed to pray after me)

          • We looked at being spiritually healed for the first time, but we also need to look at being spiritually healed as believers (it’s different concept)

        • Saved (2 Chronicles 7:13-16)

          • Read 2 Chronicles 7:13-16

          • The Lord spoke to Solomon after he had completed the temple and the royal palace

            • God was basically telling Solomon that the Israelites would turn away from worshiping Him

            • God gave Solomon a picture of what the discipline of His children would look like

              • There would be droughts (no rain)

              • Locusts (bugs) would eat up their produce and grain

              • Plague among His people

            • God also shared what steps the Israelites would need to take to stop His discipline of them

              • Identifies those He is talking to (God’s people, called by His name)

              • What they would need to do

                • Humble themselves (put away pride and selfishness)

                • Pray – talking to God

                • Seek my face – turning to God instead of anything else

                • Turn from their wicked ways (repentance)

              • God’s promises

                • He will see and hear from heaven

                • He will forgive their sins

                  • 1 John 1:9

                  • We see here the spiritual healing that takes place

                • He will heal their land

                  • This passage really addresses all three areas of healing

                  • When God says He will heal their land, we have to go back to see what His discipline entailed – the drought and locusts would have devastated their economy/finances – and God promises to bring healing to their finances

                  • The plague would have affected their physical health and God promises to bring physical healing

                • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

                • The physical and financial healing will be developed more in the next two points

          • For now, we need to focus on the spiritual healing aspect

        • Worship-based prayer

          • Reverence

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, thank You that Your glory is reflected in/through . . .” (Acts 9:3)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Almighty God, thank You that You have the power to . . .” (2 Chronicles 7:13)

          • Response

            • Prayer Prompter: “Dear Lord, I confess that I have persecuted You when . . .” (Acts 9:4)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Righteous Father, I confess that I have not ________ (humbled, prayed, sought Your face, or turn from my wicked ways), please forgive me.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

          • Request

            • Prayer Prompter: “Gracious God, please help me to hear Your voice and obey Your leading with . . .” (Acts 9:17)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Loving Lord, I am committing today to __________ (seek humility, pray, seek Your face, repent of my wickedness) so that I can experience Your promise(s) of healing ___________ (spiritually, physically, financially).” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

          • Readiness

            • Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, help me to obediently take the next step of faith by . . .” (Acts 9:18)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Faithful Father, thank You that Your eyes are open and Your ears are attentive when I cry out to You about . . .” (2 Chronicles 7:15)

 

SONG: ​​ Jesus Messiah

 

    • Physical Healing (Mark 5:25-34; Mark 2:1-12)

        • I believe that as we take the step of faith into spiritual healing that God promises to sustain and provide for us physically and financially

          • Don’t get me wrong, I’m not preaching a prosperity gospel

          • Jesus never promised us that following Him would be easy, spiritually, physically, or financially – you won’t find that in Scripture

          • But, we know that the all-powerful, Creator of the universe is now our Heavenly Father and He watches over His children and promises to sustain us and provide for us through difficult times

          • In my experience, signs follow decisions. The way you overcome spiritual inertia and produce spiritual momentum is by making tough decisions. And the tougher the decision, the more potential momentum it will produce. The primary reason most of us don't see God moving is simply because we aren't moving. If you want to see God move, you need to make a move!

            I cannot promise that signs will follow your faith in three minutes or three hours or three days. But when you take a step of faith, signs will follow. God will sanctify your expectations, and you will begin to live your life with holy anticipation. You won't be able to wait to see what God is going to do next.”

            Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase (Multnomah, 2008), pp. 32-33

            [
            https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2008/september/5091508.html]

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is pleased when His people step out in faith.

        • Individual Faith (Mark 5:25-34)

          • Read Mark 5:25-34

          • The woman’s ailment

            • We know that this woman had been dealing with a bleeding issue for 12 years

            • She had probably sought out the best physicians of the day

            • None of them were able to help, but she kept getting worse

            • She was out of options and money

          • The woman’s faith

            • Notice that the woman isn’t seeking recognition, but simply expresses her faith in thought

            • She knows who Jesus is and His reputation of having healing power

            • She believes that simply touching His cloak will release His healing power to her

            • She is correct!

            • Immediately her bleeding stopped and she knew it physically

            • I really appreciate her incredible faith in Jesus’ healing power

            • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

          • Jesus’ response

            • Jesus realized that healing power had left His body and so He asked who touched His clothes

            • The disciples didn’t understand, because many people probably touched His clothes since they were crowding around Him

            • When the woman fearfully identifies herself, Jesus affirms her faith, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. ​​ Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

          • I like that this potentially shy and reserved woman could quietly express her faith by simply touching Jesus’ cloak

          • Mark also records another physical healing that Jesus performed, but the entrance was much more dramatic

        • Corporate Faith (Mark 2:1-12)

          • Read Mark 2:1-12

          • Faith-filled friends

            • People heard that Jesus had returned home and they wanted to be around Him

            • He was preaching to a packed house, so much so, that this group of friends couldn’t get their paralyzed friend to Jesus

            • So, they went up on the roof, dug a hole in the roof, and lowered their paralyzed friend right in front of Jesus

          • Jesus’ response

            • Jesus recognized the faith of the group of friends and the paralytic, so He told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven (spiritual healing!)

            • That didn’t sit well with some teachers of the law, but that didn’t matter to Jesus

            • He then tells the paralytic to get up, take his mat, and go home, which he does

            • Jesus told the man to get up, take his mat, and go home, so that the people would understand that He was God and had the authority on earth to forgive sins

          • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

        • Worship-based prayer

          • Reverence

            • Prayer Prompter: “Jesus, thank You for revealing Your omnipotence (all-powerful) in my life by/through . . .”

          • Response

            • Prayer Prompter: “Jesus, please forgive me for doubting Your ability to know everything, especially when it comes to ________ in my life.” [Mark 5:31]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, I confess that I am currently skeptical about Your power to forgive the sins of __________ (name the person specifically).” [Mark 2:10]

          • Request

            • Prayer Prompter: “Dear Lord, help me to have faith in Your healing power as I struggle with . . .”

          • Readiness

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, thank You that You promise to give me peace as I step out in faith concerning . . .” [Mark 5:34]

 

SONG: ​​ Healer

 

    • Financial Healing (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 6:38; Malachi 3:6-12; 2 Chronicles 7:13-16)

        • Financial struggles, especially with COVID-1 (Coronavirus pandemic)

          • I think we would all be kidding ourselves if we said that we weren’t concerned about our financial future with state and federal “stay-at-home” orders.

        • God’s part (Matthew 6:25-32)

          • Read Matthew 6:25-32

            • God’s provision of food

              • He takes care of the food needs for birds, who don’t sow, reap, or store food away in barns

              • He says that we are more valuable than birds, which means that He will provide for us

              • We may not know how it will happen, but it will

                • Upper Adams Food Pantry, Gettysburg Soup Kitchen, New Hope Mobile Food Pantry

                • Generosity of family, neighbors, or friends from church

            • God’s provision of clothing

              • God provides beautiful dressings for the fields through flowers

              • The dressing of the fields is temporary and He says that He will clothe us even more

            • As God’s children He says that we are valuable to Him and He will provide for us

          • Discipline of His children (2 Chron. 7:13; Malachi 3:6-9)

            • As His children, He will also discipline us, just like a parent with their child(ren)

            • As we already saw in 2 Chronicles 7:13, He will bring about droughts, and devouring bugs, and plagues as a way to get the attention of His children, so they will turn back to Him

            • Read Malachi 3:6-9

            • In Malachi 3:6-9 we see that we are under a curse for turning away from the Lord and robbing Him by not giving our tithes and offerings

          • God’s part is to provide and discipline, but we have a part to play also

        • Our part (Matthew 6:33a; Malachi 3:10; 2 Chronicles 7:14a)

          • Mathew 6:33a

            • Seek God’s kingdom first

            • Seek God’s righteousness first

            • What has first place in your life above God’s kingdom and righteousness?

          • Malachi 3:10

            • Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse

            • For the Israelites this was the first fruits of all their labors (field and flock/grain and animal)

            • To what or whom are you giving your first fruits instead of giving it to God?

          • 2 Chronicles 7:14a

            • Humble ourselves

            • Pray

            • Seek God’s face

            • Turn from our wicked ways

          • When we obediently do our part, God promises us certain things

        • God’s promises (Matthew 6:33b; Malachi 3:11-12; 2 Chronicles 7:14b)

          • Matthew 6:33b

            • All these things will be given to you as well

            • God promises to provide our every need (food & clothing)

          • Malachi 3:11-12

            • God will prevent pests from devouring their crops (livelihood)

            • God will make sure that nothing is wasted

            • Other nations will call them blessed

          • 2 Chronicles 7:14b

            • God will hear and see from heaven

            • God will forgive our sins

            • God will heal our land

          • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

        • Worship-based prayer

          • Reverence

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, since You never change, I worship You because/for . . .” [Malachi 3:6]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Heavenly Father, thank You that you value me more than . . .” [Matthew 6:26, 30]

          • Response

            • Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, I confess that I seek ________ first instead of Your kingdom and righteousness.” ​​ [Matthew 6:33]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, please forgive me for using my first fruits on _________ instead of giving them to You as a tithe and offering.” [Malachi 3:8-9]

          • Request

            • Prayer Prompter: “God, will You please help my faith to grow through _________ (difficult situation), so I will trust You more.” [Matthew 6:30]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, help me to take the step of faith to test You concerning robbing You of ________ (time, talents, or resources),” [Malachi 3:10]

          • Readiness

            • Prayer Prompter: “Heavenly Father, thank You for blessing me and providing for me through . . .”

 

SONG: ​​ God Will Take Care Of You

 

  • YOU

    • My Next Step Today Is To:

        • Believe in Jesus and receive God’s gift of eternal life (spiritual healing)

        • Step out in faith and trust God to heal me physically (physical healing)

        • Trust God to provide for my every need, even during difficult times (financial healing)

 

  • WE

 

CONCLUSION

“Every other Tuesday, Maria Lopez would come to clean my house.

 

Maria always arrived like a bubble of energy determined to restore order to my universe, scrubbing as though it were an act of worship.

As we became acquainted, I learned that Maria was a pastor's daughter from Peru who had no family in the United States. I had only been a Christian a few years and appreciated Maria's enthusiastic faith. She prayed out loud while she cleaned, and sang praise songs in Spanish while she scrubbed. She praised Jesus everywhere she went.

 

One Tuesday, Maria didn't show up for work. I anticipated seeing her cheery face the following day. But no one came.

 

When she didn't arrive the next day, I called. No one answered the phone.

 

This is so unlike her, I thought. She's so reliable. There must be a good reason.

 

On the third day, a nurse called to say Maria was at the hospital. Alarmed, I cut some flowers and drove to Northridge Hospital to find out what was wrong. I found Maria sitting up in bed, rocking back and forth with her head encased in a heavy iron cage resting on her shoulders. Her eyes were closed, and tears streamed down her cheeks. Touching her arm gently, I held out the flowers. She clutched them to her chest.

 

"What's that around your head, Maria?"

 

"Oooh, Meessus," she moaned, touching the iron contraption, "it is the torture of Satan."

 

Puzzled, I turned to the nurse. She explained, "It's called a halo. It's screwed and bolted directly into the skull in four different places. It isn't pleasant."

 

"How long must you wear it?" I asked Maria.

 

"Five months, my doctor say, maybe. But Meessus, you tell him, Maria, she no live five months with thees in her head. She die. You tell him, yes?"

 

"I'll talk to him, Maria. Anything else I can do for you?"

 

"Yes, Meessus. My Bible." She pointed to the bedside table. "Please, you read to me."

 

"Sure, Maria."

 

I started reading John 14. "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."

 

Out in the corridor, I found Maria's doctor. "Why is she wearing that hideous device?" I asked him.

 

"Because, to put it simply, if she didn't," he said, "her head would fall off. Maria has cancer. Her neck bones have degenerated to the point where they can no longer support her head."

 

"Can they be repaired? Or regenerated?" He shook his head gravely.

 

"It means we can't ever take it off. Maria will have to get used to living with it."

 

Every week when I visited, Maria asked me to pray with her and read from the Bible. She always requested the same chapter from the New Testament: John 14. Weeks turned into months. The heavy metal halo was crippling.

 

During one visit, months after being admitted to the hospital, Maria clutched my hands and whispered, "God tells Maria it won't be long. Soon, he say, we take this off."

 

Before I left the hospital, I stopped at the nurses' desk to ask how much longer Maria would be there. A nurse said they were preparing papers to release [her]. Maria doesn't have insurance or enough money to stay in the hospital. That's why they're releasing her.

Maria panicked when the doctor told her she must leave. "No! You take new x-ray." Touching the halo she cried, "You take this torture from me! I no leave with this!"

 

"There is really no point," he insisted. "Nothing has changed."

 

When I returned to the hospital two days later to pick up Maria, I was surprised to find her sitting in a chair, beaming ear to ear. "I no leave today," she said.

 

"Why not, Maria? Have you had your x-ray?"

 

"Yes. But I stay until they take this off." She rolled her eyes toward the halo.

 

Hasn't anyone told Maria what will happen when they take the halo off? It was my turn to panic. I can't tell her. Her despair will be overwhelming.

 

I cornered the doctor. "She won't leave until you take the halo off. What do we do?"

 

"We'll take it off," he replied.

 

"You said her head will roll off without it!"

 

Suddenly, Maria's doctor began acting strangely. He looked left and right, then muttered in low tones, "It won't roll. The x-ray we took this morning indicated her neck bones have regenerated."

 

"You said that was impossible."

 

"It is impossible."

 

I shook my head, confused. "Were the original x-rays a mistake?"

 

"Not at all. They're here for anyone to see."

 

"So?"

 

Before answering, the doctor sighed. "So there are things I can't explain. Her bones have regenerated, and they are strong enough to hold her head. That's all I know."

 

"Doctor! Is this a miracle?"

 

"I don't know about miracles, that's Maria's department. She tells me Jesus healed her."

 

Adapted from Barbara Royce Extract, "Maria and the Halo," Christian Reader (Jul/Aug 2001), p. 63.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2003/february/14185.html].

17

 

Back To Church

You Belong Here!

(Acts 2:42-47; Romans 12:10)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In his latest book, John Ortberg writes about our need to meaningfully connect with others:

 

In 2015, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley announced they would be part of a $100 million dollar project for space travel to see if there's intelligent life in the universe. The plan was to send tiny nanocrafts—like spaceship butterflies—traveling at one-fifth the speed of light to Alpha Centauri. Stephen Hawking expressed the purpose poignantly: "It is important to know if we are alone in the dark."

 

The folks at Berkeley are not the only ones who want to know. We're all constantly sending out tiny little probes, emotional nanocrafts, to find out whether we're alone in the dark. They travel at high speeds, and it's easy to miss them. They can be small: "Did you see the game last night?" They can be poignant: "I don't think I'll ever call my dad again." They can be deep: "I'm not sure my wife loves me anymore." They can be urgent: "I have no one else to talk to; can I speak to you confidentially?"

 

These emotional nanocrafts are what researcher John Gottman calls "bids" for emotional connection." We start issuing these bids before we can talk. A baby's cry is a bid to connect. As we grow older, these bids—or invitations—for intimacy take other forms. "A bid can be a question, a gesture, a look, a touch—any single expression that says, 'I want to feel connected to you.'" Intimacy of every kind is either built up or eroded, based on how well we handle the subtle little nanocrafts of relational life.”

 

Adapted from John Ortberg, I’d like You More If You Were More Like Me (Tyndale Momentum, 2017), pages 67-68.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2018/january/are-we-alone-in-dark.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Holding hands

        • Most of you know that Judy started teaching 1st Grade again this year

        • With her teaching, we have seen less and less of each other

        • Keep in mind that before she was just across the parking lot and I would be able to see her whenever I wanted to, throughout the day, but mostly at lunch time and in the evening

        • The last time we served at the Upper Adams Food Pantry, August 27, 2018, Pastor Marc and I finished preparing the food that Judy and the youth had worked on the night before

        • We traveled together to the food pantry, because Judy and Levi came directly from school to the food pantry

        • I walked into the kitchen after Judy had arrived and reached out to hold her hand

        • I just wanted to connect with her

        • Someone asked me if something was wrong and I told them, “I haven’t seen Judy for a while and just wanted to connect with her.”

    • Family Life Weekend to Remember

        • Judy and I attend the Family Life Weekend to Remember event in Hershey, PA every February

        • It is our way of making sure our marriage is “tuned up”

        • The one thing I really appreciate about the teaching over that weekend is that every couple is moving in one of two ways – either towards isolation or oneness.

        • They give every couple the opportunity to move towards oneness in multiple ways (activities to do after each session and a date night on Saturday night)

 

  • WE

    • Not really connecting

        • There is a misconception in our current technological age that we are connecting with more people, because of social media

        • Unfortunately, those connections are not always healthy and some of them are even “real”

        • We are looking for connection through “likes,” “follows,” “shares,” “comments,” “subscribers,” etc.

    • Wanting to connect

        • This shows us that people want to be connected

        • They want to be liked

        • They want to know that people value their ideas, thoughts, and opinions

        • They want to be loved and to be a part of a community

 

In Acts 2:42-47 the church is Jerusalem is formed right after Peter shares the Gospel on what we now call the Day of Pentecost. ​​ There were 3,000 people who became Christians that day. ​​ What was it going to take for the existing Christians and this newly formed church to be healthy? ​​ Luke outlines that for us. ​​ He wants us understand that...

 

BIG IDEA – Our actions toward one another shows our community that this is a place to belong.

 

A healthy church is one that is W.E.L.L. (Worshipping, Evangelistic, Loving, and Learning). ​​ [I have to let you know that Pastor Marc came up with this acronym. ​​ He is very gifted at doing that!].

 

We are going to look at all four of those attributes today, but we’ll be looking at them in the order they appear in the text.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Acts 2:42-47; Romans 12:10)

    • John Stott’s commentary, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Acts, beautifully outlines these six verses – I’ve used his headers for the four points this morning [Stott, 82-86]

    • PRINCIPLE – Healthy churches pay careful attention to teaching, fellowship, prayer, and witness. ​​ [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, Acts, 33]

    • Learning Church (Acts 2:42a, 43)

        • The first thing that these new believers did was devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching

          • The Greek word for “devoted” means “to be firm, persevere, remain faithful to a person or task. ​​ In regard to prayer, the idea is constant diligence, effort that never lets up, confident waiting for results.” ​​ [Rogers & Rogers, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, 233]

          • The construction of the participle is such that it stresses a continual, ongoing action

          • The NASB has this construction in its translation, They were continually devoting themselves to . . .

          • The devotion these new believers had was to all four things listed there (teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer)

        • First Century

          • The apostles were probably teaching the following things:

            • The person and work of Jesus Christ (Son of God, perfect/without sin, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension)

            • The way of salvation (by grace, through faith in Jesus)

            • How Jesus was concealed in the Old Testament, but had fulfilled what the prophets had said

            • The importance of a Christian witness

            • Matthew 28:19-20, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. ​​ And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

              • These are the marching orders of every Christian given to the disciples when Jesus returned to heaven

              • Here at Idaville Church we summarize these two verses into a three-phrase tag line

              • Pursue Disciples, Grow Disciples, Multiply Disciples

            • The teaching of the apostles would have included obedience to everyone of Jesus’ commands

            • The apostles’ teaching was authenticated by the many wonders and miraculous signs they were able to do

              • This was God’s way of letting the listeners, who sat under the apostles’ teaching, know that they were genuinely commissioned by Him

              • The power to do many wonders and miraculous signs came from God

              • The same is true today of anyone who has the gift of healing – it only comes from God

          • This is certainly how the 1st Century Christians would have understood the teaching of the apostles, but what does it look like for us, today?

        • Today

          • The teaching of the apostles is now confirmed for us through the canon of Holy Scripture – the Bible

          • The New Testament, specifically, has the teaching of the apostles for us

          • What was concealed in the Old Testament is now revealed in the New Testament – the early church was experiencing the New Testament firsthand

          • God continues to preserve His Word throughout history

          • Opportunities to devote ourselves to the teaching of God’s Word

            • Worship Service (children’s church during the message)

            • Sunday school (we have classes for all age groups)

            • Discipleship Groups (we have groups forming right now that you can join, just see our Welcome Center attendant this morning and ask about Discipleship/Small Groups)

            • Wednesday evening (children, youth, and adults)

            • Sunday evening (youth)

        • “Let me say here that openness to being fed by the Word is key evidence that one is truly regenerated. ​​ Many people come to Christ to have a felt need met because they hear that the God of the Christians is a prayer-answering God. ​​ In their eagerness to be blessed by this God, they go through the motions of ‘making a decision.’” ​​ [Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary, Acts, 132]

          • This has been my experience with new believers that I’ve had the privilege of discipling

          • They are hungry for God’s Word and are looking for more and more opportunities to study God’s Word

          • I’ve experienced that hunger in a new believer within the past week

        • Making disciples is so much more than just a one-time conversion experience – it is a continual, ongoing process of growing together

        • The new believers in Jerusalem weren’t just devoted to the apostles’ teaching, they were also devoted to loving one another

    • Loving Church (Acts 2:42b, 44-45; Romans 12:10)

        • They were devoted to fellowship

          • The Greek word is koinonia and means fellowship, sharing in common, communion, close relationship

            • This Greek word would also be used for the mutual give an take of a marriage relationship [Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Acts, 150]

              • The love shared between a husband and wife is perhaps the closest relationship we can have here on earth

              • If the marriage is functioning as it should, moving toward oneness instead of isolation, then both people will be loving and looking out for each other

              • They will sacrifice whatever they need to for the relationship

            • This kind of mutual give and take should be evident within the Christian community also

              • The believers, here in Jerusalem, were fulfilling Jesus’ words to His disciples prior to His crucifixion

              • John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: ​​ Love one another. ​​ As I have loved you, so you must love one another. ​​ By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

              • Romans 12:10, Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. ​​ Honor one another above yourselves.

          • Stott expresses that it is both sharing in together and sharing out together [Stott, 82-83]

            • Sharing in

              • 1 John 1:3, We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. ​​ And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

              • 2 Corinthians 13:14, May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all

            • Sharing out

              • “In secular Greek the word was used for the sharing of possessions.” [Fernando, 120]

              • 2 Corinthians 9:13, Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with (koinonia) them and with everyone else.

          • Interesting note – the Greek word koinōnikos means “generous”

          • We see in vv. 44-45 what being devoted to the fellowship looked like

        • Sharing of possessions

          • They were together

            • The idea expressed here is one of unity

            • Philippians 2:1-4, If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. ​​ Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. ​​ Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

            • Acts 4:32, All believers were one in heart and mind. ​​ No one claimed that any of his possessions were his own, but they shared everything they had.

          • Everything in common

            • The Greek word for “common,” in v. 44, is another form of koinonia, it is koina

              • Jesus and His apostles shared a common purse (Judas was in charge of it)

              • This same concept was practiced by at least one Jewish party that was more rigorous in their belief system [Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Acts, 74]

            • Luke explains in v. 45 what this looked like for the early church

              • Selling their possessions

                • Possessions is probably referring to their real estate or land holdings

                • The idea expressed through the imperfect tense of the verbs “selling” and “gave” is two-fold

                  • First, it meant that this was continual, ongoing practice of selling possession and goods and not a one-time “initiation fee” into Christianity

                  • It also meant it was voluntary and based on need (the apostles weren’t stock piling funds)

                  • When Peter confronts Ananias and Sapphira about selling some property, but only giving a portion of it to the Lord, he says, Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? ​​ And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? ​​ What made you think of doing such a thing? ​​ You have not lied to men but to God (Acts 5:4)

              • Selling their goods

                • Goods is probably referring to their valuables

                • This would include anything other than real estate or land

              • Giving to anyone as they had a need

                • When a need arose among any of the believers it was probably brought up to the whole community

                • Different individuals, led by God, would sell possessions or goods and bring the money to the apostles so they could distribute it to those in need

                • As a church, we do a great job of taking care of those within our church community

                • We also do a great job of taking care of those in our community

                • There have been some repeat individuals who have come by the church, looking for financial help, and my response to them is that the greatest help they will ever receive is to join with a body of believers

                • We see that Biblical precedence here

          • “This pooling of property could be maintained voluntarily only when their sense of spiritual unity was exceptionally active.” ​​ [Bruce, 74]

          • PRINCIPLE – God is pleased when His people help each other when they are in need.

            • As a body of believers, we can only help with needs that we are aware of

            • That means the need has to be expressed

              • We have a benevolence committee that includes me, Laurin Fleming as chairperson of the board, Bev Fleming as chairperson of the spiritual care commission, and Donna Kerrigan as treasurer

              • If you have a need, please let one of us know

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Let the benevolence committee know that I have a need. ​​ (we will contact you for more details about your need)

            • The other side of this principle is giving to help meet that need

              • We can sometimes get so caught up in our own world that we are blind to those around us

              • We can very easily overlook someone who is obviously in need

              • We can also think that we can’t afford to help someone in need

              • I want to challenge you today to consider how and what God may be calling you to sacrifice, so you can help meet the needs of others

              • It may be property or personal possessions that you can sell in order to help

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to show me if there is anything He wants me to sacrifice so I can help those in need.

        • We have seen that a healthy church is a learning and loving church, but it is also a worshipping church

    • Worshipping Church (Acts 2:42c, 46-47a)

        • Their fellowship wasn’t limited to just caring for their fellow believers, but also in worshipping corporately

        • The third thing that the new believers were devoted to was to the breaking of bread

          • Most scholars agree that this is referring to the Lord’s Supper (communion) that took place during the larger agape feasts that were part of the early church

          • In the second half of v. 46 we see that they broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts

            • They were doing this every day, going from house to house, sharing a meal together, and remembering the Lord’s suffering until He comes (communion)

            • They were enjoying each other’s company, which speaks volumes about the unity they were experiencing

            • This is not to say that this early church did not have its faults (disagreement between the Grecian and Hebraic Jews over the treatment of their widows, Rom. 6:1-6)

            • I’m not trying to gloss over the difficulties they had in an attempt to guilt us into acting a certain way

            • I just want to encourage us to think about whether or not we could improve in the area of having meals together (hospitality)

            • I remember the years when my Mother would make extra food for Sunday lunch with the expectation that we would invite a family over for a meal – it was intentional and purposeful

            • We could come prepared each Sunday to invite a new family out to lunch, so they know that they belong here

          • They weren’t just sharing meals and communion together, they were also praying together

        • The fourth thing the believers were devoted to was prayer

          • This wasn’t just private prayer, although I’m sure they were practicing that too

          • This was corporate prayer times they had every day

            • They were meeting in the temple courts, probably under Solomon’s Colonnade and praying for the Jews who didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah and for their fellow Gentiles who perhaps didn’t believe in God at all

            • They were probably spending time in prayer before and after the meals they shared together from house to house

          • This is an encouragement for us to spend time in prayer informally when we get together to share a meal

          • It is also an encouragement for us to spend time formally in corporate prayer

            • We see this in our Sunday school classes

            • We have a Wednesday evening worship, praise, and prayer time for adults

            • We have a prayer warrior ministry that has started again during the worship service

            • We have a group that meets at the prayer rail on Sunday mornings at 8:45 am to pray for the morning services

          • PRINCIPLE – God is honored when His people worship Him through agape meals, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer.

            • When we honor through these acts of worship, then those in our community who do not have a relationship with Jesus will see a difference

            • We will enjoy the favor of all the people

            • This only comes through the power of God when we focus on Him and His people instead of ourselves – when we strive for unity and love within the body of Christ

        • There is one more aspect of a healthy church, one that is W.E.L.L. and that is evangelism

    • Evangelistic Church (Acts 2:47b)

        • John Stott explains that we can learn three vital lessons about local church evangelism from these early believers [Stott, 86-87]

          • First, the Lord (Jesus) is the one who added to their number

            • He obviously used the teaching of the apostles to share the truths of God with unbelievers

              • Gospel

                • Sin problem (Rom. 3:23, 6:23)

                • God’s solution (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3b-4)

                • Our response (Rom. 10:9-10)

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead to take my punishment for sin.

            • He also used the koinonia fellowship through the body of believers to encourage and strengthen those who were seeking the truth

            • 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. ​​ So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

            • Those early believers and unbelievers had found a place to belong

          • Second, what Jesus did was two things together: ​​ he added to their number . . . those who were being saved

            • There weren’t nominal Christians in the church who weren’t transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ

            • There weren’t people who simply believed in God, but didn’t have a relationship with Jesus

            • He also didn’t save them to a solitary Christian life

            • They were added to the community of believers

            • Hebrews 10:24-25, And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. ​​ Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

          • Finally, the Lord added people daily

            • The verb “added” is in the imperfect tense meaning “kept adding” – a continual process

            • PRINCIPLE – God promises to add believers to His church when His people focus on worshipping, evangelizing, loving, and learning together.

              • A W.E.L.L. church is a healthy church

              • “What happens to believers who worship, work, and witness for their Lord? ​​ The Lord grows the church. ​​ Let’s not miss the order – first godly relationships with each other, then growth.” ​​ [Gangel, 32]

        • While the Lord did the adding, we have a responsibility to plant and water

 

  • WE/YOU

    • Our actions toward one another shows our community that this is a place to belong

        • To be a healthy church we have to focus on being W.E.L.L. (worshipping, evangelizing, loving, and learning together)

        • We have to teach new believers to obey every command that Jesus gave His disciples

        • We have to love one another by sharing in and sharing out

        • We have to find joy in worshipping together as a unified body of believers

        • We have to be committed to Pursuing, Growing, and Multiplying Disciples

    • What part do you need to play in helping our church to be W.E.L.L.?

 

CONCLUSION

“When we have forgotten the past, the community helps us re-learn our own story. The case of ‘Benjamin Kyle’ is instructive. In the early morning of August 31, 2004, employees of a Burger King in Richmond Hill, GA found a man unconscious next to a dumpster. He was naked, sunburnt, and had bites from red ants. His skull had three depressions, apparently from blunt force trauma. He also had amnesia and was unable to remember his own name, much less how he came to be found beaten behind a Burger King. The employees called 911, and he was taken to a hospital in Savannah; but without identity papers or memory, they listed him only as ‘Burger King Doe.’

 

For more than ten years he was unable to remember his name and thus was unable to get a Social Security card. He could not obtain a job nor collect any kind of benefits from the government. He named himself ‘Benjamin Kyle,’ sensing that his first name might have been Benjamin, and he sought a community that knew him previously to help him piece together his identity. You see, without a community, this man had no access to his story. Finally, with the help of investigative reporters and genetic testing, ‘Benjamin Kyle’ learned his real name and likely family of origin. As he started to identify with his community again he said, ‘Looking at all these names, all these people, kind of gives me a sense of belonging,’ he said. ‘I have a history. I'm not just some stranger that materialized out of thin air.’

 

Jeffrey Arthurs, Boston, Massachusetts; source: ​​ Kent Justice, “Man with no name finally knows real identity,” News4Jax.com (9-15-16)

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2016/december/7120516.html]

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