Sermons

Summary: Wouldn’t you love to see in our neighborhood what happened in our text to the city of Antioch? What can we do in order to see more of God’s blessing in our country? We know that just saying “God Bless America” is not going to do it.

Part I

Acts 11:19-26

Purpose: To stir up God’s people to be more aggressive in spreading the gospel.

INTRODUCTION: Wouldn’t you love to see in our neighborhood what happened in our text to city of Antioch? Acts 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. (NAU) What can we do in order to see more of God’s blessing in our country? We know that just saying “God Bless America” is not going to do it.

James Dobson recently wrote about the difference between the current generation and the WW II generation of fifty years ago, “Commitment, dedication, and patriotism have given place to sensuality, hedonism, and selfishness. If the decade of the ’40s was characterized by commitment and sacrifice, the ’70s were driven by the ‘me’ generation. And so it has continued to the present day. Who would have believed that by 1996, for example, lawmakers in 22 states would be trying to decide whether or not to legalize marriages between two or more men, or two or more women? Who would have expected 49 state governments to be promoting neighborhood casinos and lotteries to encourage gambling? Who would have thought that federal government would have spent nearly $3 billion promoting safe sex nonsense among teenagers? Yes, we’ve drifted far afield from the world our forebears knew in 1946.

“Now we’re paying dearly for that shift away from traditional values. Sexually transmitted diseases are rampant, 30 million babies have been aborted, marriages are in shambles, unsupervised children roam our city streets, gambling is a national epidemic, and violent gangs are spreading in rural communities. All of us can see that something has gone terribly wrong.” [1]

Not only is the world in a mess, we don’t have to look far to see that Juniata is in a mess too. This can be discouraging because it is humanly impossible for even one person to change himself from a sinner to a follower of Christ, let alone for large groups of people to do it. How can we have an influence for good on a neighborhood that is so wicked?

The way back for America and for Juniata is illustrated in the story about a mother who was sharing an afternoon with her six year old son. It took place one spring day as the two of them were out in the garden. The mother was absorbed in her work of weeding the garden while the little boy was exploring the different plants that were growing everywhere. All at once he picked a daffodil bud, sat down on the ground, and studied it. Then with his two little hands he tried to force it open into full blossom. Frustrated, he cried out, “Mommy, why is it that when I try to open the bud, it just falls to pieces and dies? How does God open it into a beautiful flower?” And before his mother could give an answer, he made his own discovery and said, “Ah Ha! Oh, I know! God always works from the inside.” [2]

We need to understand that God work His beauty from the inside out. God doesn’t work just because we put together a wonderful church program or a large gathering of believers. We must begin by understanding what God’s methods are.

I. Our Method: a Biblical Vision of God

You must see a target before you can aim for it. In order for us to see what God wants us to do, we must understand four things.

A. We must long for God’s glory

We can easily see that the world around us is in a mess, but we must take the time to observe that today’s Christian church is a laughing stock to the rest of the world. We have tried to adopt the world’s music, the world’s entertainment, and the world’s view of success. So, now the world sees little difference between them and the church.

We will never see God work though us until we see the need for God to work through us. Listen to this description of the Jewish nation in Psalm 80 and think about how it mirrors the church in our day. Psalm 80:4–7 “O LORD God of hosts, How long will You be angry with the prayer of Your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears, and You have made them to drink tears in large measure. You make us an object of contention to our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves. O God of hosts, restore us and cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved. ”

Psalm 80:14–19 O God of hosts, turn again now, we beseech You; Look down from heaven and see, and take care of this vine, Even the shoot [or “root”] which Your right hand has planted, And on the son[or “branch”] whom You have strengthened for Yourself. It is burned with fire, it is cut down; they perish at the rebuke of Your countenance. Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. Then we shall not turn back from You; Revive us, and we will call upon Your name. O LORD God of hosts, restore us; Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved. (NAU)

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