Summary: An inductive message using the biblical narrative and contrast to lead individuals to the conclusion that no matter what problems may arise it is always worth the effort to be a church where God can change lives.
His mother called him "rude," his wife referred to him as "arrogant" and his caddie said he was "impatient." That is until he turned to Christ. The Gospel changed Payne Stewart’s life.
"There used to be a void in my life," Stewart told Sports Illustrated, ’The peace I have now is so wonderful. I don’t understand how I lived so long without it.’" "Sports Illustrated took note of Payne Stewart’s faith in its June 1999 U.S. Open coverage, recounting that Stewart had "turned to religion, embracing Christianity with the fervor of a prison convert." He wore a "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelet during the tournament and began each day by reading a devotional book, the magazine reported.
Stewart was 42 years old when he died in a plane crash in October 1999. His pastor, Jim Henry of the First Baptist Church in Orlando FL. said Stewart, "was a wonderful Christian who had Christ in his life and somehow in his death, that brought a great sense of peace to his family in a difficult and tragic time."
Citation: Art Toalston, (Baptist Press 10-26-99).
The Bible talks about how God can change people with his love and forgiveness.
1. God’s Holy Spirit filled his people as they prayed. Some onlookers mocked them, but Peter told everyone about Jesus and 3000 lives were changed. God kept changing more lives everyday. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42).
2. God healed a lame man through Peter And John. All the people praised God but the religious leaders arrested Peter & John. They were threatened and released. The church prayed and God changed even more lives. “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).
3. God encouraged honest generosity when two hypocrites dropped dead in church. The apostles were arrested for speaking about Jesus. After they were beaten, the apostles went out to talk more. God kept on changing lives. “More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number” (Acts 5:14).
4. God focused the church on its mission when the apostles could no longer care for all the widows. (See Acts 1:8). The apostles concentrated on prayer and preaching and the church appointed six men to help the widows. God changed many more lives. “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).
5. God empowered the chairman of the widows care committee for telling others about Jesus. He was arrested and executed. The church moved out from Jerusalem and God kept on changing lives.
There are three themes in Acts 2-7.
God plans on acting in and through his church to change lives.
God will not be stopped by outside opposition or internal attitude problems.
God will fill the church with the people whose lives he has changed.
God gives the church five resources.
His unmistakable Presence in the services.
The love of his people in the church.
His key purpose for the church.
Life giving worship and prayer in and for the church.
All his people doing their part in the church.
There’s one question we must all answer. “Is it worth it?” Is it worth all the problems in the church and outside the church to become a place where God can change lives? Do we really want to be involved in that kind of church?
The Bottom line: There is only one answer for that question. YES!
Thesis: God will work in and through ANY church to change lives, if the people are willing to deal with opposition from outside and bad attitudes from the inside.
Responding to God:
Application: What should we do? We need to pray and we need to work.
Join me in filling out the RESPONSE CARD from the bulletin.
PRAY with me around the altar rail and leave your cards.
Because I believe God wants to change lives through our church, I want to be involved in the following ways.
I will pray.
Starting today, I will pray for Pastor Mark and our church every day.
I will pray for the following Sunday School teacher every day.
Starting next Sunday, I will pray with the Prayer Team before Sunday School.
I will pray for the VBS to be held August 6-10.
I will pray that God will change the lives of five individuals/families through our church by September 9, 2001.
I will pray for the following person(s) to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (Please pray for them.) ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________