Summary: The early church had a tremendous vision that changed the world. How do we make vision happen, so that we’re not just dreaming? The answer lies in unlocking the secrets of the the first church of Jerusalem in Acts 2.
Acts 2:42-47 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Intro: This past Wednesday night, our small group had a big mix of people who were new to the group and some who had been together for years. Just to help break the ice a bit, I asked everyone to go around the room tell how long each one has attended North River and why they still come. I’ll protect the confidentiality of the group by not quoting anyone directly, but the stories and perspectives offered were interesting. Some had been part of North River for ten years or more, while others were new. Most described strange reactions to their first encounter of this church that met in a warehouse. Some said they continue to come because of the teaching. Some made jokes about their first experience of our worship style, but find they continue because the worship draws them back. One spoke of North River friends as “my family”, while another described North River’s passion and goals for ministry.
Transition: The stories shared around that circle pointed out all at once the different values which draw us to North River and the common vision which binds us together as we look toward the future. This morning we are wrapping up this series about Vision and Values. As we do that I want to invite you to join me in looking at what makes vision happen. My dominant conviction is that whatever made vision stick which the earliest band of Christians will be the keys to our future as well.
Two Explosive Forces…
1. Devotion to the values of the original church.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people….”
a. Defintion: “Unswerving fidelity to a cause or to a person”.
b. Devotion and Fidelity reminds us of Marines.
1) The Marine motto is the Latin words Semper Fidelis = “always faithful.”
2) You don’t have to be perfect to have that kind of devotion. But it does take consistency.
3) Recently, I have been reading Stephen Ambrose’s book, Band of Brothers. The book describes the training and experiences of one company of paratroopers in World War II, tracing their steps from their initial jump on D-Day through the end of the war in Germany. At one point, these men from Company E or “Easy Company” were ordered into the battle for the Ardenne Forest. As they marched their way toward Bastogne, they passed other men who had run from the battle because they were outmanned and outgunned. Those men who ran stood in direct contrast to the paratroopers from Easy Company, whose men experienced such a bond of community that their wounded would often talk their way out of rehab hospitals before they were fully healed so that they would not have to fight later with some other group of less committed soldiers.
2. The Hand of God.
“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
a. Luke (writer of Acts) infers that the Lord blesses those who are fully devoted.
b. There are evidences of the Lord’s hand throughout the Scriptures.
1) Joseph in Egypt: “The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did”
2) The Lord’s hand was upon Abraham
3) The Lord’s hand was upon David as a shepherd, as a warrior, and as a king
c. Listen to these descriptions of the Lord’s blessing on the early church.
1) “Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.”
2) “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