Summary: We want to be a church with a heart - which has a heart for HUMANS, a heart for HELPING, and a heart for HEAVEN. Link inc. to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint.
The Church With A Heart
Aren’t you glad you’re in church today? Church doesn’t have to be a drudgery, around here it is fun and worthwhile and something we look forward to and miss when we’re not there...because this is a church with a heart! Growing churches love, and loving churches grow.
Some people only go to church 3 times in their lives: when they’re born, when they’re married, and when they die...so basically--when they’re hatched, matched, and dispatched! Well, I want to come every time the doors are open!
The Kaleidoscope—a favorite toy of many of us who are now “over the hill”! [cardboard tube, colored glass/mirrors/designs]…as you turn it, it changes because you are looking at the contents from a different perspective.
This passage of scripture is much like that…every time you look at it, and turn it this way and that, you see something new…a new ministry of the early church…you realize how caring and compassionate this early church was…it was truly a Church with a Heart…and GBC needs to be that church as well, so let’s look at it from a few different angles!
1. The early church had a heart for humans—they cared about people/individuals…they weren’t just a mass of people, though thousands were being saved, perhaps 25k saved in just first few months of ministry!
But God takes the time to share w/ us about 4 of these early converts, showing us they are real people w/ real names, real feelings and real needs.
Proper names mentioned:
Peter-v. 32 God is doing a work in Peter’s heart—up ‘til now, Peter has been thinking that the gospel is only for some, only the Jews, so God sends him to Lydda, about 25 miles from Jerusalem, but primarily a Gentile city. God’s breaking down walls of prejudice in Peter’s heart, and he’s learning what Paul would later state in:
[look at thru the Kaleidoscope]
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
It’s wonderful what God does in the hearts of individuals to help prepare them for what He has planned in the future.
God loves individuals…you’re more than just a number to Him!
Aeneas—v. 33-34 Crippled for 8 years, but instantaneously healed! Why did God insert this brief story? Well, it shows the power of God yes, but it also speaks of the fact that in the midst of thousands being saved, God knew about this one man, a real man, w/ a real need, and God met that need! God cares about individuals! He knows where you live!
Tabitha—[aka Dorcas…I’d prefer the former!] v. 36-38
This is a demonstration of incredible faith on the part of the disciples…up to this point there’s no record of any apostle raising anyone from the dead, but they believed by the power of Christ it could be done!
Yes, it’s a demo. of faith and power, but more than that…this is further proof that God cares about individuals, God knew her name, He knew where she was, He knew her need, and He met that need.
Every day a long list of names appears under “Obituaries”, and some like to look and see if they knew anyone…but mostly, we pass over most of the names unless their age listed is lower than ours!
Ill.—great g’pa, born in 1889, was 93 last time I visited him/read obits./saw man of 87 had died/ “really makes you think!” he said.
But God cares for individuals, in this life, and even afterward, and proved it by snatching this one from the clutches of death.
Aren’t you glad he cares for individuals and what awaits them as well! We should too! We must never lose sight of the individual…there are as many needs here today as there are people here today, and every need is different.
Simon the tanner—v. 43 When Peter goes to Joppa he is invited to stay w/ this taxidermist, he skinned dead animals, tanned the hides, and sold them [I’ve tanned a few hides lately myself!]
Why include this info.? Again, God is working on Peter, for in those days a tanner would have been ceremonially unclean and despised by a “good Jew”. He wasn’t “Kosher”, for he worked w/ dead animals.
God is moving Peter away from the bonds of Jewish legalism and another step closer to the freedom of grace! And God uses a real man w/ a real name, a real job and really dirty hands to do a great work for Him in the heart of Peter! God loves individuals and has a plan for each one and will often do His best work thru ones who least expect He could!
We live in an impersonal century…to our government, we’re just a #, to Sears, we’re just an acct. #, on websites we’re a user name and password, to Radio Shack for some reason we’re just a phone #!