This morning I feel led to remind you of some truths that we shared in the beginning of our study of the book of Acts. You as a church soon will enter into a new season with the arrival of a new pastor. I encourage you to pray for the Owens family as they transition and for Triumphant Assembly as they prepare to merge with Mt. Calvary. You may also want to drop a card to the Owens to let them know you are praying for them.
In our series we have looked at what a church on the move looks like. It is here where if you say well didn’t I hear that before or does he know he is repeating himself. They answer is yes and yes. I have 2 more Sundays to preach with you; so I want to firm up some of the key lessons and truths of our study of the book of Acts.
It is here where we get the best definition of what a healthy church looks like. Turn with me to Acts 2 beginning in verse 42. The name Acts imply action, movement, transformation and change. Some call this book Acts of the Apostles, but for me I like to call this book Acts of the Holy Spirit. It is here in this book where we read of the birth of the local church. It is here where we see the separation from the temple to the church. It is here where we see many signs and wonders and boldness beyond measure because God chose to Act and to pour His Spirit upon
Jew and Gentile, slave and free,
man and woman, rich and poor,
educated and uneducated, young and old
to see a movement begun – a movement that was started 2000+ years ago and continues to this day. So what truths can we glean that help us define a church on the move or one that is healthy.
First, a church on the move is utterly dependent upon the Holy Spirit
Before Jesus Died, after his resurrection and before his ascension, he clearly told his disciples to wait on the gift, The Holy Spirit.
Listen to Jesus’s words literally hours before his violent death: John 15: 7-13
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
Forty days later before Jesus ascends to heaven he says this to his disciples in Acts 1: 4-5
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Francis Chan in his book the Forgotten God, puts it this way:
“If I were Satan and my ultimate goal was to thwart God’s kingdom and purposes, one of my main strategies would be to get Christ followers to ignore the Holy Spirit. The degree to which this has happened is directly connected to the dissatisfaction we feel with and in the church. We understand something very important is missing… I believe that this missing something is actually a missing someone- namely the Holy Spirit. Without Him, people operate in their own strengths and only accomplish human sized results. He goes on further by saying: “The Holy Spirit is vital to our situation today. Of course, He is always vital, but perhaps especially now. After all, if the Holy Spirit moves, nothing can stop Him- If he doesn’t move we will not produce any genuine fruit- no matter how much effort or money we expend. The church becomes irrelevant when it becomes purely a human creation. We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives and churches can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God.”
Not only must we be dependent upon the Holy Spirit in everything.
A second truth is that we must expect to see life change where ordinary people do extraordinary things
In other words it needs to be the norm not the exception. This past 2 weeks I was in Maine and I encountered youth that I met now young 20 and 30 adults…
Caribou… I shared with you about Annie Lee before. What are you doing as a church that can only be defined by God…
Second, a church that moves is one that sticks to the basics
Acts 2:42: And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine, and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in prayers.
Acts 2:42… in a brief sentence gives us a picture of a church on the move… A church made up of extraordinary people filled by the Holy Spirit… leaned hard on Four practices:
First, they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine… or as we would put it we committed to the word of God- The Bible
You have to understand since there was no written record yet of the life and teaching of Jesus… The apostles own words became the Bible. They recounted their experiences, the words that they heard Jesus share, the miracles they watched. The Holy Spirit worked through them to keep the new church grounded in Jesus.
For you and I we too to be a church that moves must be grounded in the Bible.
Hebrews 4:12 says: For the word of God is living and active sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrows. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The preacher stood on the street corner preaching to anyone who would listen. A man approached him who looked like he had lived on the street forever. "Can I help you" asked the preacher. "I think you can" said the bum. "Would you like me to tell you about Jesus?" "No." "Would you like me to pray for you?" "No." "If you don’t want me to tell you about Jesus, and you don’t want me to pray with you, how can I help you?" "You can give me your Bible." "Why would you want my Bible if you have no interest in knowing more about Jesus?" "I noticed that the pages of your Bible are very thin; I can use the pages to wrap a cigarette (or a joint)." Wisdom came suddenly to the preacher, who said, "I’ll give you the Bible, if you will agree to read a page (of the Bible) before you smoke it." The bum agreed, took his new Bible, and left. The preacher thought he had seen the last of the bum, but he could get another Bible. Several months passed, and the preacher was on the street corner once again. A man came up to him dressed in a three piece suit. "You don’t know me, do you?" said the man. "No. I’ve never seen you in my life." "Yes you have. I’m the man you gave a Bible to (about four months ago)." The preacher couldn’t believe his eyes and ears. "What happened? Tell me what happened." "Well, I smoked Matthew, and then I smoked Mark, and then I smoked Luke--and then John smoked me."
John 3:16 witnessing story
Commitment to the Bible is Key.
Second, they were committed to fellowship… Koinoa
You think of that go well we are good with that we eat a lot in this church, but a church that moves goes many steps further. They become family. In a healthy family when one hurts all hurt.
Fred Sigle, preaching minister at Garfield Christian Church in Indianapolis tells about Mark Knutson. On August 28, 1993, he was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of cancer. When diagnosed, he was already in the late stages and was only given a short time to live.
Mark's biggest worries were not for himself but only for his wife and two children. Who would take care of them? Would there be people to love and support them throughout his ordeal?
By September 19, his worries were taken care of. The Knutson family heard noise outside, opened the window, and saw that the street was filled with Christian friends from their church. After completely encircling the house, all of the friends joined hands and prayed for Mark and his family. They let the Knutson family know they were loved.
Mark was too ill to receive visitors but the show of love continued. These Christians continued their public display of love throughout through the next six weeks. During that time, not a day went by in which 2-20 people gathered in the corner of the yard to pray for the Knutsons. Because Mark was so sick, they kept a prayer register on the back porch so that Mark would know who had been there.
These Christians did more than pray. Many faithfully sent cards of encouragement. Some helped with transportation and other needs for the Knutson children. The Knutson's said, "We truly felt a hedge of love encircling our home."
Mark fought valiantly but in November of the same year, he succumbed to the cancer. Mark passed away knowing that his wife and children were loved and taken care of by their church family. Not only did this six-week display of Christian love affect the Knutsons, their neighbors were influenced in a positive way. Several neighbor families witnessing the love of Christ in action obeyed the Gospel.
Third, They were committed to the breaking of bread
Not just the going through the emotions but the truly remembering Jesus.
He is the way the truth the life… constantly remembering the foolishness of the cross and the power of the resurrection.
Finally, They were committed to prayer
They realized that the only way extraordinary happens is when we are in prayer. Where we let go and we let God have complete control of it all.
.In his book, Too Busy Not To Pray, Bill Hybels gives us an easy way to understand what God’s up to.
"If the request is wrong, God says, ’No.’
If the timing is wrong, God says, ’Slow.’
If you are wrong, God says, ’Grow.’
But if the request is right, the timing is right,
and you are right, God says, ’Go!’
Your prayer will always be answered, but be ready because the answer might be "No," "Slow," "Grow," or "Go!" There’s a misconception that prayer is simply getting God to give you what you want. But that is simply not true.
Prayer is no more than the process by which God changes us . E. Stanley Jones ... said in best when he said.
"Prayer is surrender-surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boat hook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God."
This morning do you want to be a church that moves then it starts with individuals who let the Holy Spirit fill them to do extraordinary things an a people who are extraordinary will make a church that moves… A church that is committed to the bible, to fellowship, to remembering the cross of Jesus, and to prayer.
And when that happens and God pours out His Holy Spirit. Amazing extraordinary things begin to happen.
barriers are broken,
communities are formed,
opposites are reconciled,
unity is established,
disease is cured,
addiction is broken,
cities are renewed,
races are reconciled,
hope is established,
people are blessed,
and church happens.
SO… in light of al this:
discouraged folks cheer up,
dishonest folks ’fess up,
sour folks sweeten up,
closed folk, open up,
gossipers shut up,
conflicted folks make up,
sleeping folks wake up,
lukewarm folk, fire up,
dry bones shake up,
and pew potatoes stand up!
I don’t know about you but I believe its time we walk in the extraordinary instead of the ordinary.