Summary: IF the church in America is to make an authentic, spiritual difference, we must learn from the Acts 1 & 2 church. This message offers 4 needs for the church today.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Acts 1:12-14; 2:1-8; 2:36-41
* (Read the Text) From time to time, it serves us well to remember why we do what we do, what it is that we are to do, and how we succeed at it.
* A hurricane had struck. People were huddled together. An old preacher was praying with great oratorical effects in the midst of this violent storm, crying out "Send us the spirit of the children of Israel, the children of Moses, the children of the Promised land." At this, an old man with less oratory but more directness prayed, "Lord, don’t send nobody. Come yourself. This ain’t no time for children." English & oratory thrown to the win, but call is clear.
* Live in a day when our need is for the Lord. There are more lost people than ever & there are seemingly more saved people. Add to this, we have more resources than ever & yet less baptism. On church consultant says, “There is no discernable pulse or no vital signs in the church in America.”
* A Church in Washington DC closed its doors & put this sign over it “Out of business--forgot what our business was.”
* Could it be that we have become so:
* Comfortable in our local churches that we have become an exclusive CLUB of “believers (like us) only.” New generation makes us so uncomfortable because they are too animated, not church broken, sit on my pew, & crowds my class room. Have we become so comfort & exclusive that outsiders can come, but they have to know the local rules?
* Cultural in nature that should an honest seeker walk thru the door, He cannot connect. Do we have so many ‘buzz words’ & expectations of lost people that they are not just lost spiritually but rather lost in the culture of the church? Inside the ‘belt-way’, have we lost our connection?
* Complacent- This begs a couple of questions: First, do we believe that people are actually lost? Or have we lost the concept that if we don’t reach them, they’ll spend eternity in Hell? Do preachers advance this by not preaching on horror of hell? When we don’t hear about something & are not reminded, we forget & become complacent.
* Could it be that we, the church, are so wrapped up in our own “little world” that we have forgotten about “HIS WORLD, CREATION, and PEOPLE?” The question which follows is this: Have we forgotten our business?
* I Believe that we, like the 120 in upper room, are placed here to make a difference/ HOW do we do this & what do we need?
1. PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS – The left the Mt of Olives & went to the upper room for the purpose of praying. The disciples had good spiritual instincts. Through the good times, bad times, intimidated, hurt, & even threatened; they resorted to prayer & prayed through.
* Suggest they didn’t use “rote or standard” prayer. Probably didn’t have all the ‘right’ words (ILLUS: blessings of life, sick, missionaries, those to whom it is our duty) Real prayer is pouring our heart before God/Jer 33:3
* Jim Cymbala tells the story about their prayer service. The sound at their meeting is more like a cry to God. They live in Brooklyn, NY.
* D. Jeremiah’s knew the power of their prayers so when he was diagnosed with cancer, he requested them to pray for HIM
* Spurgeon is quoted as saying “The best style of praying is that which can only be called a cry.” How long since you cried out to Father? Not so dignified but dramatically. I submit, it was the last time you felt helpless. Contentment has a way of taking one’s pray life to the point of being dignified, homogenized, & pasteurized; some would say petrified!
* Could it be: the reason pulpits are so power-less & pews are so listless is that the prayer altars are so tearless? Could it be that the reason so few are getting saved that so few are concerned enough to weep in prayer?
* CHURCH BODY IS ONLY AS STRONG AS PRAYER LIFE of the membership.
* We say this country needs a spiritual awakening, or say the “church needs”, or Christian needs. To make a difference, we need prayer.
2. PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT – With the small crowd praying in upper room for quite a while, it was all of a sudden, a sound was heard. Those who think God does best work in silence need to hear this. This was a sound like that of a tornado and candidly, it is a rare thing when a great movement of God done in silence. (Illus. Exo 14:21 Moses stretch out hand over red sea--”strong east wind”; EZE 37- dry bones—rattling as the wind came from back of the valley.) God the Holy Spirit had arrived!