Summary: This message is intended to help us, the church, to see areas of support that we need to strengthen and, then draw us to make commitments to do just that.
A. What do these pictures have in common?
1. They all have support – that which holds up the rest of the structure (Use a collage of different items with supports such as overpasses, bridges, etc.)
2. And in a spiritual sense the church needs support if it is going to hold up Jesus to the World.
B. Oh no, not another message on giving or tithing
1. Calm down, let me set your minds at ease – I am not going to preach on giving money or tithes
2. But this would be a good time for me to commend many of you, our giving is doing pretty good.
3. As a whole this church has not had a very big giving problem.
4. Financially, we support a lot of ministries
- This churches ministries
- The Illinois Children’s Home
- The Christian Activities Center in East St. Louis
- The Concerned Christians – providing food & financial assistance to those in need in our community
- Missions, both foreign and domestic: through a number of different avenues
C. But as I said I’m not going to preach about this type of Church Support
1. There is much more to be seen in the area of Church Support
2. And a large amount can be seen, or not, right here in our own congregation
3. Each of us have needs – needs that can be supported by the church and it is important that we support each other
4. This is especially true if the individual is a new believer.
D. If you were here last week you know we looked at Saul’s conversion
1. It was a miraculous and wonderful act of God’s grace
2. And we touched on the needs he had for discipleship and fellowship as part of the local group of disciples (church)
E. As I read though the passage in preparation for this morning message I noticed some things the church held out to Saul that we should take to heart
1. And it is these things that I see as Church Support
2. I found four areas of support that need to be present if we are going to be a good church – we need to
a. Furnish Strengthening
b. Provide Protection
c. Offer Friendship
d. Encourage Ministry
3. Lets ask God to help us see the needs of others and be willing to meet those needs as we are given the opportunity.
As we begin this morning we will find that the church should be a place that is able to
I. FURNISH STRENGTHENING, Acts 9:19 & 22 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus…But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
A. We Begin By Looking At Saul’s Need for Strength
1. Saul had just converted to Christianity – in the three days prior he had taken no food, and I am sure he was weak
a. He could not go to his “own” people for he would be an out cast as soon as he spoke the name of Jesus and gave testimony of his salvation, besides he would have to go to the synagogue, which he probably did not have the strength to do.
b. So the disciples there fed Saul
c. The word strengthen in verse 19 is contextually aligned with the phrase “received meat.”
d. Hence we can presume it is because of the food that he gained his strength.
2. However in verse 22 the word “strengthen” has its association with the ability to preach the gospel and therefore, probably speaks of strength in the word or Spirit of God or both
3. It would seem that the disciples of this local body (who are the church) furnished Saul with what was needed to give him strength, both physically and spiritually.
B. And so it should be with the church today: we need to be about furnishing that which will strengthen those around us.
1. The scriptures are filled with the exhortation to feed the poor, house the homeless, provide for physical needs, etc.
a. Prov 14:21 & 31 are examples: He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he…He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
b. And this is especially true for those who are brothers and sisters in Christ,
c. Paul writing to the Galatians said, …let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10