Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
• Most folks are fine with the principle of forgiveness but never truly execute its full meaning in their life. (they will say the words, but not apply it their daily life)
• The absence of forgiveness in a person’s life is a destructive bondage causing; strife, division, depression, oppression, sickness, divorce, and even damnation.
• Definition of Forgiveness: Is to grant free pardon or remission of any offense or debt; to give up all claim.
I wish to thank everyone who came here to New Life Fellowship Institute tonight and hope that we all walk away with a better understanding about Unforgiveness.
Tonight after the Sermon we will be having a Communion Service so please have your Wine, or Grape Juice, and Wafers, or unleavened bread ready: Please
Let us Please Pray: Father I ask for your anointing tonight, as I want to follow your lead on the subject of forgiveness , in the manor you have laid it on my heart this week, it is so very much needed , For without forgiveness in our heart we have no favor with you. Thank you for your Word tonight in Jesus Name we pray: Amen and the people said?
5 KEYS TO WALKING IN FORGIVENESS
1) Forgiveness is a command not a suggestion. Notice I said command, and not commandment please keep that in mind.
Open your Bibles to Matt 6:14
14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, you’re heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. [See how it favors God]
• This is right after the Lord taught His disciples how to pray.
• This is a spiritual principle
• God doesn’t want to talk to us until we have reconciled our differences with one another. (Mat. 5:24) leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift, this is written in red spoken by Jesus during the beatitudes
Prov 19:11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.
Prov 24:29 Do not say, "I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work." (No eye for an eye attitude)
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; (three of these are also fruits of the Spirit) but that’s another sermon coming soon.
13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
2) There is no limit to forgiveness.
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven?”
22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
• Jesus didn’t mean forgive 490 times and stop, it is limitless.
• How many times do you want to be forgiven?
• 1 Cor. 13:5 Love keeps no record of wrongs.
• 1Pet. 4:8 Love covers a multitude of sins.
• We should learn to forgive as God forgives.
• Ps 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
3) Unforgiveness holds us in bondage.
23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
24 "And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
25 "But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.
26 "The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ’Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
27 "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denari; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ’Pay me what you owe!’
29 "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ’Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
30 "And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
31 "So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all ... That had been done.
I had a debt that I could not pay, He had a debt he did not owe, and Christ Jesus paid the Debt that I could never pay. He paid for my Sins on the cross. : Amen
Thought I would throw that one in, I used to love to sing that song.
Ok back to forgiveness
32 "Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ’you wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
33 ’Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’
34 "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." (This is one of the points here)
• It prevents the forgiveness from the Father. And like the song I just posted if I preach this at the revival you bet I will be singing this song also.” It gives me chills to think that my Lord was hanging on that tree for my debt.”
• We were forgiven a debt that we could never pay back, any debt to us is miniscule in comparison yet we want to collect on it anyway.
• Vs. 34 He was delivered to the torturers. It opens up the door to physical and mental illness and demonic strongholds.
• It can limit or even cut off blessings in our life.
• Mat. 6:14-15 we can block our own forgiveness.- If we don’t forgive, we cannot be forgiven.
• Prov 28:13 He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
• Unforgiveness is a sin which blocks prosperity.
• It leaves us bitter and our hearts hardened.
• Heb 12:15 looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
4) Forgiveness is a volitional act. (Like a willful or willing act)
• Not a feeling but a decision.
• It is continual (past, present and future)
• It is of the spirit - not the flesh, not the soul.
• You must be able to see your offender as a living spirit, not an enemy, Not some challenge on life’s little road way, not just a speed bump on your road to paradise.
5) Reconciliation is always the answer. (The entire New Testament is about reconciliation between Man and God)
• We cannot afford any areas of unforgiveness in our life. When I was in Bible College we had a Flesh burning class on Christian Character, and Forgiveness, we spent a week having to think back a life time and call the one’s we had not forgiven , and reconcile with them, folks that was a hard thing to do. But glad I had to do it, to pass the class.
• We must keep our conscience clear and keep ourselves reconciled to others. And Do this daily
• Don’t dwell on it, turn it over to God quickly, (then you don’t have to think back as I did)
• Command your soul to be subject to your spirit.
I’ll close with this
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
• “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much” Amen
As Joel prophesied, in the last days, the Spirit of God would be poured out..."
So why do we not see churches operating with greater effectiveness?
* I believe is in part due to our commitment to ministry
* The mindsets of many believers are this; that the work of the ministry is optional, occasional and/or based upon their convenience 10% of the people do 100% of the work
* Churches are struggling to find committed members
* Members are struggling to understand the importance of being committed - it is not taught
* There is great benefit and reward to those who are committed to ministry
KEYS TO BEING COMMITTED TO MINISTRY:
32a Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul;
* Here is an important key to being committed to the ministry - agreement within the ministry: In One accord
* It would appear they agreed on everything - NOT
* In fact we know that there were many disputes of doctrine, cultural preferences, ministry teams, etc
* However, we read that those who believed were
* Col 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
* When our focus is upon the furthering the Kingdom and not our own kingdom - we come into agreement
* You won’t agree on everything
* We must agree on our vision, mission & goals
32b neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.
* 2nd important key of being committed to ministry - they were committed to one another
* They broke down the wall of "self absorption"
* This is when you know that you are growing spiritually; when your concern for your own needs becomes eclipsed by your concern of others’
* They had all things in common - what is mine is yours
* We call ourselves covenant people - do we live up to that name?
* Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.
* The third key is revealed here - it is not the great power (that is a benefit of commitment)
* They were committed to getting to work (rolling up their sleeves)
* They "gave witness"
* Our principle calling is to "give witness"
* It is the "cause", it is not a "vision"
* Vision is a strategy
* The Cause is the primary goal
* The leadership was committed to the cause
* **My commitment to this ministry**
34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, Let me stop here a moment ( I’m not telling anyone to sell their house and give to the ministry ok) this is what they did 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
* The fourth key is one I have always been careful not to preach
* They were committed to financially support the ministry
* Today, if a church had people selling off lands and valuable possessions to fund the ministry, they would be called a cult
* Yet, we see the first church ...
did exactly that
* I am not suggesting everyone go home and liquidate their properties
* We need to see the principle at work here
* The committed to ministry financially committed - "where your treasure is, there your heart will also be"
We believe & teach that we should be committed to ministry in our tithes and offerings
The tithe is holy, it is to be brought into the local storehouse, from the first fruits of our increase
...even when we’re not here
Obviously finances is only one of the keys
Our commitment to the ministry can be measured in three areas
Acts 5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." 5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. 7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?" She said, "Yes, for so much." 9 Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.
* Anytime you see a church that is committed to ministry & gathering momentum - attack is inevitable
* Their commitment to ministry was challenged
* But when a church is committed to God, God will stay committed to them
* The Holy Spirit was not about to allow an attack mess with this precious body of believers
* He dealt harshly with those who attempted to taint the purity of their commitment
BENEFITS OF BEING COMMITTED TO MINISTRY
11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things. 12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
* A holy fear of the Lord was released
* Powerful meetings (signs & wonders at Solomon’s Porch, vs 4:33 - great power & great grace)
* The name of the Lord was highly esteemed
No one dared to mess with them
* Believers were increasingly added
Multitudes, men & women (families)
* Miracles were manifesting everywhere
People were traveling to that area to see what was going on (because of signs & wonders)
* Your commitment makes a difference
* Great moves of God are found in a people that are committed to hosting it
* There Is A Cost Of Commitment
It cost Abraham the yielding of his son
It cost Daniel to be cast in the lion’s den
It cost Stephen death by stoning
It cost Peter a martyr’s death
It cost Paul to be beheaded
It cost Jesus death on the cross
Does it cost you anything?
* The price of commitment is high - that is why so few will pay it
* And that is why so few reap the benefits of commitment
* Let us take inventory - Are we "committed to ministry?"
I’ll speak for myself :
This message is not about making anyone feel guilty (please be careful)
This is what I have called the Act’s chapter four and five The Death to a Ministry chapter’s (curtisology)
I f I preached this with intent to deceive: to a large gathering I could emotionally make you feel so guilty you would empty out your wallets , and throw in a couple Love chapters to make you feel better afterward. Then meet you at the door and shake your hand on the way out, tell my drivers to take me to the jet and go to the next Place.
I have never in my entire life ever took up on offering, and won’t start now and in fact this is the first time I have ever mentioned the words tithes, or offerings in any sermon oral or written.
It is safe to say no one has Died as like in the days of Ananias above
I do not have a Jet or a car with Air cond. here in Hot Florida 1200.00 for a compressor and the Ministry is my priority.
I have told you that to tell you this:
Isaiah 22:1 NLT A Message to Jerusalem
This message came to me concerning Jerusalem----the Valley of Vision
What is happening? Why is everyone running to the rooftops?
2 The whole city is in a terrible uproar. What do I see in this reveling city? Bodies are lying everywhere, killed not in battle but by famine and disease.
3 All your leaders have fled. They surrender without resistance. The people tried to slip away, but they were captured too. 4 That’s why I said, “Leave me alone to weep; do not try to comfort me. Let me cry for my people as I watch them being destroyed.”
5 Oh, what a day of crushing defeat! What a day of confusion and terror brought by the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, upon the Valley of Vision! The walls of Jerusalem have been broken, and cries of death echo from the mountainsides.
6 Bedlamites are the archers, with their chariots and charioteers. The men of Kir hold up the shields. 7 Chariots fill your beautiful valleys, and charioteers storm your gates.
8 Judah’s defenses have been stripped away. You run to the armory* for your weapons. 9 You inspect the breaks in the walls of Jerusalem.* You store up water in the lower pool. 10 You survey the houses and tear some down for stone to strengthen the walls. 11 Between the city walls, you build a reservoir for water from the old pool. But you never ask for help from the One who did all this. You never considered the One who planned this long ago. 12 At that time the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, called you to weep and mourn. He told you to shave your heads in sorrow for your sins and to wear clothes of burlap to show your remorse. 13 But instead, you dance and play; you slaughter cattle and kill sheep. You feast on meat and drink wine. You say, “Let’s feast and drink.
Upon meditating on this passage in Isaiah, the Lord was pointing out to me that this passage will be the basis for what he wants me to do. The Lord spoke to me and said like the valley of vision, everyone is running to the rooftops. The world is in an uproar! For a year now, I have laid on your heart “revival” for years. I have prepared you for this call. You now have the tenacity to take your chariots and storm the gates.
I took this one way! The Lord wanted me to start holding Old Fashion Tent Revivals. Prepare the way for the Lord
As the senior Pastor for the Hallelujah Revival Corp my heart is burdened by a very special need from everyone here tonight. And ask for a special prayer for someone. With regret I must inform you that after getting this vision from God , and me committing to the call , I have been under major attack from sloo foot, he has attacked my Health, my finances, and the ministry . Last year I began to talk of revival at trinity and the seeds were sowed, soon Pastor Ski, and Pastor Carol, Tommy and others we formed this alliance here at New Life and HRC around Nov 09 we were looking for a tent one was found Pastor Ski located one on ebay and emailed me the info, By the time I was able to get to ebay it was sold, so I emailed the seller and asked if they had another one, and he said he only had a new one but it was more money. I called the Tent company back and an elderly man came to the phone named Thomas aprox 70 yrs old a Veteran, and came from a long line of Pastors in Tenn. And said a lot of his tents are used for revivals and he would rather see a tent used in that manor rather than for fireworks. He began telling me some of the greatest testimonies I have ever heard, he won me over through the love of God we then reached an agreement on Buying his Tent. I looked down at the Motif keyboard I had just bought from a long awaited Va pension a week before the greatest one ever made and said I can’t have you no more , so I took it back and called Mr. Tom he said he needed a 1000.00 to hold the tent so I sent him 2500.00 , the seed was sown, and revival was on the way.
As time progressed I had contacted them to pick up the tent only to get an offer I couldn’t refuse, Thomas said his Nephew was going to have to come to Fla. For a 2 week Law enforcement class at the end of April and he would deliver it to us free, and give his nephew the final payment, that was great a Blessing as I thought. When the end of April came and hadn’t heard from them I called only to find out that a Flood had hit their area and his Nephew had been called to emergency duty in Tn. and would not be able to bring it. So I sent him the money to ship it.
It was from that point Mr Tom had been leading me on telling me the freight company could not get to his place because the roads were still not clear , and that he must take it to them ,lying to me , giving me false reports but still giving me great testimonies about the lords work in his life and his health issues. The last was the tent will be picked up Sat. June 5 and taking to Shipping Co. to go out on Monday June 6 and we would receive it the 3 days.
I called Mr Tom on Tuesday to get the tracking number or the name of the shipping company and he told me it was picked up Sat but he didn’t remember the name of the company but here is the phone no, so I called that no. and it was a non existing number, finally I called back Mr.Tom after him not taking calls only answering mach. And he answered I told him the phone no. was not any good and he told me it was Southeastern Freight I said thank you ,and called the dispatcher at South Eastern only for them to tell me that they haven’t picked up freight in that area since Aug of 09 . I then called back Mr. Tom again after about leaving 5 messages before he finally picked up the phone I told him that Southeastern said they hadn’t picked anything up , he then turned on me like a snake yelled at me and suggest I don’t call. I then began to Google the company name and address only to find complaints; I was able to talk to a company in Kansas. Who after hiring an Atty in Tn is still waiting for their money. I then began to contact Churches in that area to see if I could find him as a member of one , so I could have the pastor talk to him, but was not able to , the next step I contacted the District Atty in that area.
I went to Va yesterday for labs ,and while I was coming back the DA called and told me he was taking care of 4 counties in Tenn and it would be next week before he could investigate I said ok and hung up the phone.
All week I have been wondering how I was going to preach this sermon tonight . I started this message 2 weeks ago on Church Character to point out how some ministers will use Christianity in a deceitful way to gain prosperity .Little did I know I would be living this sermon this week Mr Tom was in the same shoes as Ananias and I still after losing money was only worried about his soul. We talked on this end, and I told Rev Shaun and Shirley the story (no one knew) we started praying on Wed. for him . I was wondered how I was going to drop this bomb come Sat night here at New Life.
As I talked to Rev Shaun I told him God had giving me this vision of revival, and has trained me all my life for this, I cannot quit I will still go forth, and if anyone wants out then I will understand but I have to keep going on. This was on Wed
After coming back from Va on Friday I called Shirley into the room for a private talk I told her I have had enough after being in the Lord’s service for over 33 years this was the first time I ever spoke of becoming a Church goer and not a church doer.
As we were talking I cried out to God and said to him Lord You have always been there I have answered your call and we have done without to buy this tent, only 50.00 was ever donated we have been doing this task for your sheep to prepare the way as you have instructed me why are you letting sloo foot go this far and so long? I don’t understand but maybe you should pass this call onto someone else, and I’ll just worship you. Amen
Folks It Is my testimony that within 2 min. later I got a call from the Da in Tenn. Who was going to call me next week ,and said your tent will be there next week he had spoke to Mr Tom and that he did still have the tent, and he will call the Freight Company today. The stall was over , And I’m supposed to call the DA back in 5 days so he can drop the case. The phones lite up with Positive manifestations, we heard from people we haven’t heard from in over a Year wanting us to have revival in their town.
That is where things are today 50/50 we get the tent or Mr Tom will be in trouble the special prayer I asked for earlier is for Him not the tent and in your prayer Speak his name, that is why I told you his First name, AS I look at this I believe God wanted to see how far I would go before I would cry out to him knowing he always comes through , but sometimes in fact most of the time in my walk it’s the 11th hour when he comes, he first sees how we are going to handle things. But will always be there.
In Close: I will always remember this sermon as I have lived it this week it will go into the book” Let’s have a Revival” as a Testimony to students and or ministries to learn from. The handbook to warn that when you set out to obey the call of God , expect the enemies of sloo foot to be in it also but Trust in the Lord as in Rom 8:28 And we know that All things work together for good to them who love God , to them who are the called according to his purpose. (this means it’s his purpose and not ours) Amen
Desiring to reach non-Christians & those who, for one reason or another, have quit going to church they have deliberately tried to avoid many of the traditional ways of doing things in their 4 Saturday & Sunday services. Using drama, multi-media, contemporary music, & creative messages that connect with people’s lives, the services are specifically designed for individuals checking out what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
Even though those who are already Christians are certainly welcome in the Saturday & Sunday services, it is the Wednesday & Thursday night services that are specifically designed for them. It is at these services that the “family of God, the body of Christ” – the church – meets together for mutual instruction, inspiration, fellowship, & worship.
Frankly, even though I have difficulty with some of the things they do, & despite the fact that Time Magazine & others have criticized them as “a high-tech entertainment church, trying to relate to the MTV generation & not to the rest of the world,” they unashamedly preach Jesus Christ as Savior & Lord. And the result is that the congregation has grown, & grown dramatically.
Now contrast that with the story of another church, (which I will leave nameless) in Upper Manhattan, New York, as reported in a January, 2002, issue of World Magazine. The article says that in the early 1900’s through the 1960’s this particular church was a powerful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with more than a thousand active members. But their number now is about 120.
Why? Well, in recent years a subtle change crept in as their emphasis switched from presenting the Gospel to helping the homeless. They set up soup kitchens in the church building & began massive feeding programs for those in need.
Now, at first glance we would think that helping those in need is a very worthy & Christian thing to do, & it is! And they should be praised for doing so. But, at this church, prayers are never offered in the soup kitchens, nor is the name of Jesus ever mentioned - because they are concerned that someone might resent it.
Turning away from Christ’s command to “… preach the gospel…” they made no effort to communicate the good news of a Savior who forgives sins, changes lives, & frees us from the bondage of our sins. And the result was that they discovered that the same people were coming through their lines year after year with no improvement, no change for good taking place in their lives. The church was feeding their bodies, but ignoring, starving, their souls. And now the church there itself is almost dead. (Adapted)
Two very different churches, aren’t they? Both of them are very busy in what they are trying to do. But one is dying. Why? What is the church supposed to be? And what is the church supposed to do?
PROP. To help answer those questions we’re going to look this morning at the church ...
of the 1st Century – its beginning, its nucleus, its mission, & its assurance.
I. ITS BEGINNING
First of all, we must realize that the Church came from God. From the beginning of time, before the foundation of the world, God had in His mind the Church. And He promised that even the gates of Hades would not prevail against it.
So Jesus came into the world, & after His death & burial & resurrection, the Church is established. The Church begins on the Day of Pentecost.
It is in the 2nd chapter of the Book of Acts that we read about its beginning. The first chapter tells of Jesus meeting with the apostles on the Mt. of Olives & telling them that they are to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, & in all Judea & Samaria, & to the ends of the earth.” He also tells them that they are to wait in Jerusalem until they receive power from on high. Then He ascends out of their sight.
So they go to Jerusalem, & Acts 1:14 tells us, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women & Mary the Mother of Jesus, & with His brother.
And now, starting with the first verse of the 2nd Chapter of Acts, we read about the beginning of the Church.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven & filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated & came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit & began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? That how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?’” (Acts 2:1-8)
“Amazed & perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’ Some, however, made fun of them & said, ‘They have had too much wine.’” (Acts 2:12-13)
In the midst of all this excitement, the apostle Peter spoke up & got the crowd’s attention. Then he said to them, “Fellow Jews & all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel…” (Acts 2:14-16)
And beginning with those words he preached to them about Jesus. He told them, “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders & signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. …you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead…” (Acts 2:22-24)
Listen also to Vs’s 36-41, “’Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord & Christ.’ When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart & said to Peter & the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’
“Peter replied, ‘Repent & be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you & your children & for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’
“With ... many other words he warned them; & he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, & about 3,000 were added to their number that day.”
SUM. They had no sanctuary, no formal Sunday School, no colleges, no written curriculum. And yet with little of what we have today but heavily armed with prayer & the power of the Holy Spirit they were able to change the world of their day.
II. THE NUCLEUS OF THE CHURCH
Who were these men who made up the nucleus – the core group – of the early church? As Jesus prepares to give them the great commission, Matthew tells us, “Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.” (Matthew 28:16) Judas, the betrayer, was dead, & now there were 11.
So let’s take a closer look at these 11 disciples, as you look at them, realize that in a lot of ways they are very much like us.
A. First of all, they were just ordinary men – fishermen, a tax collector, men from the hill country of Galilee. There is no indication of anyone rich or influential or highly educated among them. They were just ordinary people.
Later on, there were some rich & influential followers. Saul of Tarsus would fall into that category. He had a great education. He was part of an influential family. And he was well respected among his people before he became a Christian. But we also need to remember that Saul had to be humbled before God could really use him.
SUM. So the first thing we notice is that the men who made up the nucleus of the first church were very ordinary. And that ought to be encouraging to us, because that is what most of us are, just ordinary people.
B. The 2nd thing we notice is that these men were imperfect. Listen as vs. 17 says, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.”
Don’t you just love the honesty of Scripture? It never tries to gloss over imperfections. Here they were, meeting with Jesus after His resurrection. He stands before them, & even though they can see the nail-prints in His hands & feet & the wound in His side, it says that some of them doubted.
They certainly weren’t perfect! Take Simon the Zealot. Today he might be called a redneck. And how about Simon Peter? You never knew just what he would say next. James & John had problems with their egos, always wanting to be first. And then there was Thomas, the Doubter.
SUM. No, the men who made up the nucleus of the first church were far from perfect. And that ought to be encouraging to us, because we’re imperfect, too. Everybody in this room has problems. And we all have our areas of weakness. So we’re in good company with them.
C. But they had one more characteristic which made all the difference. They loved Jesus & wanted to obey Him. Listen to the last part of vs. 16. It says that they “went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.”
SUM. So in analyzing these men, we discover that they were ordinary people with lots of imperfections, but that they loved Jesus & desired to obey Him. They recognized Him as the Son of God who had risen alive from the grave. So whatever He commanded them to do, they sought to do it. They tried to put Him first in their lives.
That is what the church is. The church is made up of ordinary & imperfect people, who desire ...
to make Jesus both Lord & Savior of their lives.
III. THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH
The 3rd thing I want you to see is the mission of the church. Vs. 19 begins with these words, “Therefore go & make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Spirit, & teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
ILL. In the 13th Century, Nicolo Polo, the father of Marco Polo, was visiting the court of the great Kublai Klan. Kublai Khan was the Emperor of All China & he had never seen any Europeans before. He was delighted to meet this visitor from Venice & was strongly impressed by the Christian character & faith that he saw in Nicolo.
In fact, he was so impressed that he sent a letter back with Nicolo to Rome urging that a number of Christian educators be sent to instruct his people in the teachings of Christ. But this was still during what we call the “Dark Ages” in Europe, & the church leaders were too involved in the political upheavals of that day to give any serious attention to his request.
In the end, only 2 men were sent, & because the trip was so difficult, they lost heart & turned back without ever reaching China. So, because of the failure of the church of that day, Kublai Khan turned to Buddhism & that has been the predominant religion in that area ever since. (Adapted from SC)
Remember, the mission of the church is to make disciples of “all nations.” That’s why we encourage you to give to support missionaries around the world. Our field is not just confined to Brownsville. We are to reach out to the whole world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, to make disciples of them, baptizing them in the name of the Father, & of the Son, & of the Holy Spirit.
If you receive a letter signed by the President & the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court & the Speaker of the House, you know that it is an important letter. And when we’re commanded to baptize people in the name of the Father & the Son & the Holy Spirit you know that is important, too.
IV. THE ASSURANCE OF THE CHURCH
The 4th thing we need to see here is the assurance, the promise, that Jesus gives us. Listen to His words, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
To the early Christians these were some of the most precious words Jesus ever spoke. Every time they gathered to worship they knew that soldiers might come & arrest them at any moment. They had seen many of their friends die. They had seen them tortured & heard their cries of pain just because they were believers in Jesus.
So when Jesus said, “I am with you always,” even in moments of persecution & pain those were precious, precious words.
They are probably not that precious to most of us today. But they might well become very precious to us in the future. More & more we’re seeing a widening of the gap between what the church is supposed to be, & what the world is, between the philosophies of the world & the philosophy of the church.
Already we are seeing the recognition of God being eradicated from our schools & public assemblies. Prayer, Bible reading, nativity scenes, Christmas stories, even the very mention of God – are no longer welcome in our public gatherings. We see the media turning against the church. And some are saying that committed Christians are a threat to our nation.
The church needs ...
to be ready. Jesus says, “I’ll be with you. No matter what happens between now & the time I come for you, I want you to know that I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.”
CONCL. I don’t know how you perceive the church. I don’t know if you picture a little church where you & a few of your friends can get together. Or if you see a church where thousands of people gather together in worship.
But I know this, the church does not exist solely for its members. The church exists to help reach the lost. And the moment we turn our sights inward, & begin to think that the church is just for us, then, people, we are no longer the church. We are a private little club.
We exist for a lost world. We exist to give ourselves away. We exist to touch a world that doesn’t know Jesus Christ & to show them the way to be saved from their sins & to live for all eternity.
ILL. In the Greek Islands near the home of Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, you’ll find an old olive tree that supposedly dates all the way back to his day. That would make the tree nearly 2,400 years old.
The trunk of the tree is huge, but it’s almost completely hollow & virtually dead. What few branches it has left are propped up by stakes driven into the ground. But each year it sprouts an occasional leaf or two, & it might even produce a few olives.
So I guess the tree is still alive. But it has long since stopped fulfilling its primary function. It is now simply an ancient tree for tourists to come & see. (Adapted from SC)
The church must never be like that. It is so much more than just a relic of the past. It is the body of Christ, the family of God, & it has been entrusted with the message of salvation for the world – for all those everywhere who will accept Jesus as their Savior & their Lord.
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (KJV)
The healing power of God is inside of believers. On the inside of you is the healing that you need on your physical body. You may say, "How do I get it out on my body?" I'm glad you asked the question. I Timothy 4:14 says, "Neglect not the gift that is in thee." Now, the word "neglect" means this: to ignore or to be careless of. So it says, don't ignore the gift that's in you. Don't be careless about the gift that's in you. He said, neglect not the gift that is in thee. Which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
In II Timothy 1:6, (Paul still writing to Timothy) says to stir up the gift for God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. Don't be afraid to access the gift that is within you.
Well, what gift is that? The Holy Ghost. And the Holy Ghost is the manifestation of God's healing power. There is no healing power in the earth that is apart from God. Healing comes from God. Healing power is God. When God touches you, you get healed.
So it is necessary to stir up the gift that is in you. That's why we can't go to church and just shout all day. There is a time to shout, but there is also a time teach to the word of God too. That way we will know what we're shouting about.
So act on the word of God today and see the power of God work in your life.
Scripture Reference: James: 1:21-25
The Best Gift
If you travel in the mountains of North Georgia, you might pass by a church with the unusual name of Dewberry Baptist Church #2. If you drive on a little while longer, you will come upon another church called Dewberry Baptist Church. When I first encountered these two churches years ago, I asked a friend of mine who was the resident Baptist historian for North Georgia about it. His face lit up. "Oh, that's a great story. That church split over a chicken leg."
Well, now I was hooked. I had to hear the rest of the story. It is, as they say, a doozy! It seems that in the mid-1800s a controversy arose in the congregation of Dewberry Baptist Church about the doctrine of predestination. About half of the congregation had strong feelings about pro-predestination and the other half had very strong anti-predestination beliefs. At the height of the controversy, the two chief proponents - or antagonists might be a better description - of the two points of view were sitting across from each other at a covered dish dinner. At some point in the meal the non-predestination ringleader turned to the predestination ringleader and said, "You mean to tell me that before the beginning of time I it was predetermined that I was to eat this drumstick?" "Yes, brother, you were" replied the other.
The non-predestination leader then said, "HA!", threw the chicken leg across the room and walked out. About half of the church walked out with him. They started a new church, but did not want to give up the church name to "those people," so they named their new church Dewberry Baptist Church #2.
Today, many years later, the controversy is long forgotten, and the two churches get along wonderfully.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is for us to allow ourselves to get sidetracked by things that aren't even a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of eternal consequences? We all can tell horror stories that we have either experienced personally or have heard from someone who was there about churches splitting apart over the color of carpet, the shape of the chandeliers, the style of music, the pastor's salary, building programs, or any number of things that in the context of eternity are utterly meaningless.
This is exactly what motivated the Apostle Paul to write one of the most, if not the most beautiful passages in the entire Bible: I Corinthians 13. We know these four paragraphs of Paul's letter as "the love chapter," but many people don't realize the context in which it is placed. The gist of I Corinthians 13 is that if we as followers of Jesus Christ do not have love as our overarching goal, aim and passion, then we are worthless to the world and to the Kingdom.
The Corinthian Church had many problems, and one of them was that people were using the gifts of the Spirit, and tongues in particular as some sort of spiritual merit badge. Those who exercised the gift of tongues felt they were more spiritual than others, which apparently caused other people to seek earnestly after that gift so they, too would be considered spiritual. In chapter 12, Paul states clearly that God gives a variety of spiritual gifts to people so the church can function well. Just as the eye can't say to the hand, "I don't need you" we cannot say that one gift is more important, or spiritual than another.
At the end of chapter 12, Paul says, "I will show you a more excellent way." His next paragraph (what we know as Chapter 13) begins with, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal..."
Here is what Paul is saying to you and me in those four brief paragraphs: All of the things that we would use to boast of our spirituality or advance the Kingdom are meaningless and worthless unless love rules our lives and our actions!
Want to be a spiritual giant? Let God's love consume you and guide everything that you do. See the world - and the church - through the eyes of Jesus and with the heart of God the Father. Love others as you are loved.
That is the most excellent way.
Is Your Gift Bigger Than You?
"O Lord, who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with Integrity." Psalm 15:1-2 NAS
You wouldn't give your 5-year-old a 12-gauge shotgun or a big Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Shotguns and motorcycles are great - but they're for adults. You need maturity to handle them. Giving such gifts to your child would endanger them, and everybody else around them. The gifts just don't fit the person.
Perhaps you're a talented individual. God's given you some large gifts like the ability to speak well, or organize things, or create and design. But we sabotage ourselves when our gift becomes bigger than we are. How does this happen? When we begin to lean on the talents God gave us and don't mature emotionally and spiritually - we ruin our chance to use those talents as God designed them. When our character doesn't keep up with our talent, we learn to "wing it" through life. We live on the surface but lack real strength underneath. And it shows up when the crisis hits, the storm comes, or we are under pressure. You can't "wing it" when it comes to character building.
The greater the size of your gifts, the more you must dedicate time to developing your character. Eugene Peterson paraphrases the Psalmist in The Message: "God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list? Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don't hurt your friend, don't blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. You'll never get blacklisted if you live like this" (Ps 15:1-5 TM).
So, do you live that way?
Greatest of Them All
The Gift ...or The Gifts.... Produce........The Fruit ............The Holy Ghost ..... The Gift or Gifts
Notice...The Fruit of the Spirit is Plural.....Yet it does not say........Fruits of the Spirit...no S. LOL
I could not Resist.
Ok haha.......The same is True Here.... The [Gift] of GOD or The Holy Spirit........Gift is Plural ...
Because God is Multi- also....Comforter, Counselor, Provider, Healer, Prince of Peace, Good, Kind, Gentle, Love.
Now Notice The [Gift] of God.....Becomes the Fruit in us Below when it is allowed to Manifest.
LOVE is a Gift ...He is Love ...& He is Our Gift From Heaven.