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Summary: We need to develop a culture of winning in the church today.

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September 18, 2011

Morning Worship

Text: Acts 4:1-22

Subject: Gaining Victory

Title: Playing to Win

I love to watch pro football. I am not a football fan but really am just a home team fan. I loved the football Cardinals when they were in St. Louis and despised them when the moved to Arizona. I didn’t care much for the Los Angeles Rams but loved them when they moved to St. Louis. So right now I am a Rams fan and whether they win or lose I will watch them play.

One thing that I really like about this Rams team is that since the hiring of a new coach three years ago, all the players seem to have bought into his system. When I talk about “his system” I mean his philosophy of coaching, playing and winning. He is introducing a culture of change to the old Rams team. The players understand that what he says and does when it comes to football is for the betterment of the team. Since he has come to St. Louis, he has brought in younger players and has gotten rid of troublemakers. He has released some good players who lacked discipline. Most of all, he has introduced to this team a team first philosophy where everyone on the team looks out for the teammates. He is giving them an opportunity to win and is doing so by bringing out the best in the players he has. So now, every time this group of players steps out onto the field they think that they have an opportunity to win. Last week was their first game of the season and they lost 31 – 13 to a really good Philadelphia team. But they didn’t lose because of the game plan. They lost because of some little mistakes along the way. When they walked off the field each one of them knew that if they can eliminate the mistakes they will win games.

What I really like about the Rams is that there are no superstars on the team. There are potential superstars and some of them will be great players, but they are a team that just goes out and does what their coach has taught them to do, and the more they play with that attitude, the more games they will win. They go out and play smart, play hard and play to win.

That is what I want to talk to you about today. Jesus is building a team called “the church” and He is giving every team member the opportunity to get on the playing field, get into the mix of the battle, and play to win. Here are the similarities between the church and the Rams… 1) Both are made up of ordinary people who are empowered to do extraordinary things… 2) Both rely on a game plan that is set in place by their leader… 3) And both pay a price for being on a winning team – they give up their individual pursuits to become a team.

There is one difference between the church and the Rams. The church is guaranteed victory if its members are willing to get in the game.

I want to challenge you to day to be a Christian who is willing to play to win.

Read Acts 4:1-22

Everyone hold up your bibles…

I believe this is God’s word…

I believe every word in it…

I stand upon this word…

And I accept every promise that is given to me…

I. WINNERS ARE ORDINARY PEOPLE DOING EXTRAORDINARY THINGS… The beginning of chapter 4 describes the result of the event in chapter 3. This is the story of Peter and John’s healing of the crippled man who sat at the Beautiful Gate in the Temple complex. This man was looking for a handout and instead he got a hand up. Acts 3 starting in verse 6, Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Now you need t keep this in mind as the backdrop to everything else that occurs in chapter 4. Go back to chapter 4, 1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message (3:11-26) believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. 5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Look at the extraordinary events that are taking place in the first 12 verses. 1) They were speaking to the people… not too many days earlier the apostles had scattered for fear that what had happened to Jesus would happen to them. But the Day of Pentecost changed that… 2) the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead… 3) many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. The number of believers was increasing exponentially… 4) They were living out extraordinary events through extraordinary power…8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth… 5) They were sharing the message of salvation with their enemies… Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. I want you to understand something. These disciples who were doing these things were not trained players like on a football team who were high draft picks and great things were expected of them. They were ordinary men doing extraordinary things according to God’s word. Zechariah 4:6, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty… Acts 4:13, When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Psalm 138:3, When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. What are you called to be? I guess a better question might be, “What kind of Christian do you want to be?” Question; What was it that made Peter and John, who the Sanhedrin called ordinary men, stand out? They were doing extraordinary things. The NIV I think is being kind when it called them “ordinary” men. The word that is translated “ordinary” is idiotes and is translated as “ignorant” in the KJV. They were uneducated and ignorant yet they were doing the supernatural work of God. How? By healing a cripple and by preaching the gospel to the crowds and even to the Sanhedrin! They were in the game to win. There is something in football that I don’t like. Many times, when a team has gotten a big lead, they will go into what is called a “prevent” defense. The defensive backs play deep and give up the short passes to keep the offense from getting a big play that would allow them to get back in the game. What I think happens when you go into that prevent defense is that it prevents you from winning. You see when you are back peddling all the time and the offense is moving forward and once they gain momentum it is difficult to stop them. Here is the problem with many of us in the church. We don’t play offense – we play a prevent defense thinking that we will be able to slow our opponent down and wear him down enough that we can gain a victory. No, listen to me, the victory is already won… Why do we want to back peddle our way into heaven? Instead we need to be ordinary people doing extraordinary things. We need to be playing offense always! Find a scripture that tells you who you are in Christ or in the power of God and wake up every morning claiming it as your own. Get the enemy on defense first thing every morning and see how your day goes. Philippians 4:13, I can do everything through him who gives me strength… Psalm 18:29, With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall… Isaiah 54:17, no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you… Take the sword of the Spirit – the word of God – and confront your enemy … resist him and he will flee from you.

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