Summary: This message focuses on the BIG PICTURE for the church. Where should our priorities be? What sould be our focus? How do we get there? In this message I describe a process being implemented in our local church.

Seeing the Big Picture”

Acts 2:37-47

My wife enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles. Me? Not so much. But she really does. For about 25 years I have collected Coca Cola memorabilia and several years ago we bought a 2000 piece Coke puzzle and she put it together for me, glued the pieces together and we framed it and it hangs in what we call our coke room. There are several secret i think to putting together a puzzle of that size. (1) you have to be committed. It won’t happen overnight. It takes time. (2) Occasionally it’s good to have some help. If Allison is home she gets involved while Ross watches ESPN. (3) But perhaps one of the most important things is that you have the ability to see the big picture. You must pay attention to the picture on the outside of the box.

Now this picture that I want to describe to you today is like that. It is a picture of what the NT church should look like. This picture is our goal, our aim, it is our target. The book of Acts helps us to be able to see the big picture of the church-the design and the target we need to aim for if we are going to make a difference in our community. You see there are a lot of misguided churches today because their focus is on the wrong target. They are traveling in the wrong direction. For instance some churches have a constant focus on the past. Their target is to carry out the tradition of the church. So they have trouble making any changes. When these churches are presented with a new idea they reply with what has been called the 7 last words of the church...we’ve never done it that way before.

For other churches their primary focus is finances. In the church when they are considering a new ministry the question is always the much will it cost to do it?

Still others have as their primary focus...certain personalities in the church. It may be the pastor or some key leader in the church. The problem is of course if that person leaves the church the church comes to a standstill because it is focused on the wrong area.

There are a lot of wrong ideas today about where a church should place its focus and so many times we simply settle fo whatever happens. You may have heard of the guy who shot an arrow into the sky, then picked up the target and ran as fast as he could, held it out, caught the arrow and shouted...Look I hit the target.

In the book fo Acts, Luke gives us 4 areas where the church must focus. We begin with GRACE and GIFTS. Look at verses 42-43. Here Luke is focused on 2 aspects of the local church and that is to reach new members and turn them into ministers of the gospel. Now all of this is a process. In the church today we focus on membership and ministry. We want everyone to come to Christ, be a member of the local church and we want everyone to discover their ministry.

One way we describe GRACE is that it is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. What does that mean? It means it’s free. Jesus pays for it. We simply receive it. Paul tells Timothy in the scripture that we are members of God’s own family. That family is the church. So this becomes our foundation. In Florida we all understand the importance of a good foundation. We deal with sinkholes. And they affect the foundation. All of us have things like this that step in and disrupt our lives. And when they do if we do not have a support system-if we do not have a church to turn to then we can fall apart. We all need a local church where we can become members and serve others.

We also need a local church where we can learn how to minister to others by using our spiritual gifts. The Bible lists at least 7 major gifts and a total of 21 spiritual gifts. Several truths we need to know.

(1) Every believer has at least one spiritual gift. Paul says “ a spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.” 1 Cor. 12:7.

(2) No believer has every spiritual gift. Paul says :now all of you together are Christ’s and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.

(3) Believers have different spiritual gifts than the other. We are all unique. Romans 12:4-5 (NIV)

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, [5] so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

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