Dec 3, 2017
The New Community Of God’s People
Series: Acts
When you become a Christian, you are born again into the community of the Church, the Body of Christ. This new relationship plays out through one's identification with a local church. It is through this community of God's people that we are intended to serve God together, each person with a part to play and impacting one another. In Acts 2:42-47, we get a look at the Jerusalem church after Pentecost, a local church that is exemplary for those that would come after it. For, these verses describe in very broad terms what the culture and core functions of a local church should look like.
 
First, the church is meant to have a distinctive culture. Church culture is a way of life, not meant to be compartmentalized. Church culture is united, not individualistic or divided into factions. Church culture is joyful on account of the fellowship we share together with the Lord on account of the saving work of Jesus Christ.
 
Second, church culture should be characterized by certain core functions. Thus, as a local church, we must be committed to Scripture as our authority, Community as the tangible expression of our love, Prayer as the tangible expression of our dependence on God, Worship as an act of remembrance of who God is and what He's done, and Outreach as the manner in which we point people to Jesus. 
 
As we are committed to striving by God's grace towards a united and joyful church culture, committed together to Scripture, community, prayer, worship, and outreach, then we will truly be sharing life and following Jesus.
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  • Dec 3, 2017The New Community Of God’s People
    Dec 3, 2017
    The New Community Of God’s People
    Series: Acts
    When you become a Christian, you are born again into the community of the Church, the Body of Christ. This new relationship plays out through one's identification with a local church. It is through this community of God's people that we are intended to serve God together, each person with a part to play and impacting one another. In Acts 2:42-47, we get a look at the Jerusalem church after Pentecost, a local church that is exemplary for those that would come after it. For, these verses describe in very broad terms what the culture and core functions of a local church should look like.
     
    First, the church is meant to have a distinctive culture. Church culture is a way of life, not meant to be compartmentalized. Church culture is united, not individualistic or divided into factions. Church culture is joyful on account of the fellowship we share together with the Lord on account of the saving work of Jesus Christ.
     
    Second, church culture should be characterized by certain core functions. Thus, as a local church, we must be committed to Scripture as our authority, Community as the tangible expression of our love, Prayer as the tangible expression of our dependence on God, Worship as an act of remembrance of who God is and what He's done, and Outreach as the manner in which we point people to Jesus. 
     
    As we are committed to striving by God's grace towards a united and joyful church culture, committed together to Scripture, community, prayer, worship, and outreach, then we will truly be sharing life and following Jesus.
  • Nov 26, 2017The Signs Of True Spiritual Conversion
    Nov 26, 2017
    The Signs Of True Spiritual Conversion
    Series: Acts
    When sharing the gospel with someone, how can we know that they really get it?
     
    In Acts 2:37-41, we find a group of people who not only heard Peter's sermon as he proclaimed the good news about Jesus, but they also clearly got it. They exhibit three signs of spiritual conversion that ought to be a part of all evangelistic ministry.
     
    First, true conversion is preceded by heartfelt conviction. So, as you share the gospel with others, look for that desire to deal with their sin problem. 
     
    Second, true conversion is accompanied by repentance and faith. So, as you share the gospel with others, be sure to call them to repentance and faith in Jesus. For, this is the key response to gospel as it is taught and presented in the Bible.
     
    Third, true conversion is followed by baptism into the new community. So, as you share the gospel with others, and they respond in repentance and faith, then invite new believers to baptized through a local church. For, when one trusts in Jesus for salvation, one is not only identifying oneself with Jesus about also His church. Thus, baptism through a local church is a beautiful picture of what it means to be a follower of Jesus together with His people. It is beneficial for the local church as well as new believers who will more readily understand how they now belong to a new community of faith with all the privileges, responsibilities, and accountability that goes along with it.
  • Nov 19, 2017All About Jesus
    Nov 19, 2017
    All About Jesus
    Series: Acts
    Christianity is all about Christ.
     
    In Acts 2, the main body of Peter's sermon was focused on Jesus. Jesus' miracles were God at work. Jesus' death was part of God's plan. Jesus' resurrection proved He is the Christ. Jesus' outpouring of the Spirit proved that He is Lord.
     
    As a local church today, we must likewise proclaim the good news about Jesus. In order for the good news about Jesus to be heard, we have to proclaim it. Proclaim it boldly. Keep it reasonable. Keep it biblical. Above all, keep it focused on Jesus. 
  • Nov 12, 2017Jesus Really Is A God-Thing
    Nov 12, 2017
    Jesus Really Is A God-Thing
    Series: Acts
    Sometimes God catches us by surprise. That is what happened at Pentecost.
     
    As then, so now, we learn through the beginning of Peter's sermon in Acts 2:14-21 that a big reason we find ourselves surprised by God is because we have mixed up views about Jesus.
     
    However, Peter is emphatic through the course of his sermon that the person and work of Jesus really is a God-thing, as attested by His miracles, death, resurrection, ascension, and distribution of the Spirit to those who had placed their trust in him.
     
    So, change your mind about Jesus. In light of the imminent, final judgment, this is imperative. For, the only way one can be saved from God's coming wrath on account of humanity's sin is by calling upon the name of the Lord, that is, through repentance and faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. 
     
    Then, you'll find that when you fix your eyes on Jesus, God starts making a lot more sense. This is true not only with respect to what happened at Pentecost, but also with respect to the change that Jesus brings about in the lives of His followers through the Holy Spirit today and His plan that He is working out in our lives, even through trials, in order to perfect our faith. 
  • Nov 5, 2017This Changes Everything
    Nov 5, 2017
    This Changes Everything
    Series: Acts
    Ten days after Jesus’ ascension, something surprising happened. Even though some people were expecting it, they didn’t know when or how it would happen. It brought what many people have called the first revival, and it changed everything for those affected by it, as revivals always do, even today.
     
    The Church began in surprising fashion. While the believers were gathered together in relative anonymity, the Spirit came and changed everything. The manifestation of the Spirit, enabling the believers to speak in foreign languages they'd never known, messed with people's categories and set the stage for the presentation of the gospel.
     
    We learn from this account of the formation of Church that revival comes through a sovereign act of God's grace. For, we see in Acts 2 how God graced the early believers in just the right way and at just the right time. The believers just needed to be ready and willing when revival came. And they were, as evidenced by how they'd been praying, praising, and planning in unity as they obediently followed Jesus' command to wait for the Spirit in Jerusalem.
     
    Be ready and willing to go when God graciously brings revival. This will be evidenced by holding loosely to the way things are and not putting limits on the audience. However, when revival comes, don't expect a universal response. In ministry, we must be ready and willing, but only God makes us able and provides opportunity for revival. When He does, it changes everything.
  • Oct 29, 2017Before We Begin
    Oct 29, 2017
    Before We Begin
    Series: Acts
    Whose job is it to build the Church?
     
    In Acts 1:15-26, the early followers of Jesus went about replacing Judas as one of the Twelve so that they would be ready to go when Jesus sent the Spirit at Pentecost. Recognizing that the Twelve were Jesus' apostles, that is, Jesus' commissioned representatives for Jesus' mission, these early followers recognized that replacing Judas was ultimately up to the Lord. So, after discerning qualified candidates, they left the decision up to the Lord by consulting Scripture, using their heads, taking it to the Lord in prayer, and casting lots. The practice of casting lots to discern God's will was a common practice in the OT, but no longer appears to have been necessary after the arrival of the Spirit at Pentecost.
     
    Just as the early followers of Jesus recognized that the mission and the foundational leaders of the mission were ultimately Jesus' responsibility, so too, we must realize as Christians today that building the church is ultimately up to the Lord. So, do your part as we are faithful to the mission. Go to the Lord in prayer. Consult God's Word. Employ common sense. Be the church, so that we're ready to go as God provides the blessing. Then, trust God with the results. After all, it's ultimately Christ's church, not ours. God is faithful to do what only He can do. Losing site of this truth is detrimental, since it leads to churches that are devoid of spiritual power with misplaced priorities
  • Oct 15, 2017While We Wait
    Oct 15, 2017
    While We Wait
    Series: Acts
    Nobody likes to wait. However, throughout Scripture, we find many examples of God's people enduring seasons of waiting. We still experience that today as we wait for a loved one's health to improve or wait for someone's heart to change or wait for God to open a door for a new relationship or opportunity. What should we do while we wait?
     
    In Acts 1:12-14, we find the followers of Jesus obediently waiting together for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem, because that is what Jesus commanded them to do. They were not to go out on mission without the Spirit, and so they waited for the Spirit to come. However, they did not wait alone or merely twiddle their thumbs. They waited together, meeting publicly in the Temple for corporate worship and privately in the upper room for corporate prayer. These times of corporate prayer, in particular, set a pattern for the Church going forward and served as critical preparation for the mission.
     
    So, while you wait on the Lord as followers of Jesus, be devoted to corporate prayer. It is an act of obedience. It is an act of faith. It is a critical act of preparation for the work to which God has called us. Fruitful ministry will not be realized any other way.
  • Oct 8, 2017The Works And Words Of Jesus’ Followers Begin
    Oct 8, 2017
    The Works And Words Of Jesus’ Followers Begin
    Series: Acts
    When it comes to being a follower of Jesus personally and doing church together corporately, it can seem overwhelming, even confusing, at times. It can be helpful to go back and take a look at where the works and words of Jesus' followers began.
     
    In Acts 1:6-11, we find that Jesus' last words before His ascension were the Great Commission. Jesus told the apostles to stop worrying about a political kingdom. Instead, He gave them a mission. Then, after Jesus ascended, the angels challenged the apostles to get moving.
     
    As we project forward to the present day, we realize that the mission hasn't changed. So, be Christ's witnesses. Stop worrying about the end of the world. Instead, start where you are and keep going. The task of witnessing to others concerning the facts and significance of Jesus Christ does not end until we have reached the end of the world and the end of the age.
  • Oct 1, 2017The Works And Words Of Jesus Continued
    Oct 1, 2017
    The Works And Words Of Jesus Continued
    Series: Acts
    In the book of Acts, we find that after Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven, His work on earth had only just begun.
     
    In Acts 1:1-5, Luke described how he was recording the continuing ministry of Jesus after His ascension into heaven. Jesus would continue His work by the Spirit through His apostles, having equipped them with everything they needed to advance the Great Commission. He provided them with decisive proofs of His resurrection and made sure they understood the message of the gospel which is the message of the Kingdom of God. Then, He told them to wait for the Holy Spirit.
     
    Jesus' work continues today through His Church. So, depend on the Holy Spirit as you follow Jesus. All Christians have been baptized, or indwelled, by the Holy Spirit. We need the Spirit's help in all that we say and do as Jesus' followers. For, if we are to be vessels through whom Jesus continues to speak and work in the world, we need not only confidence in Him and knowledge of the gospel, we need Jesus Himself.
  • Sep 24, 2017When You Desire God’s Best
    Sep 24, 2017
    When You Desire God’s Best
    We all want what is best for our lives, for those we love, and for God's glory and the mission to which He has called us as a local church. Of course, different people have different perspectives on what is best. However, we can be confident that God's best is truly best. So, how do we attain it?
     
    In Psalm 20, the Israelites prayed for God's best for their king, David. They prayed for divine protection and victory in battle. They prayed with confidence. Their confidence was rooted in God's name. For, the Israelites knew their God. They knew that their king was God's faithful servant. So, they placed their trust in God and God alone.
     
    Do you desire God's best? Then, place your trust in God and God alone. Realize that the more you know Him, the more you'll trust Him. Remember that your life will reflect whether you really trust Him or not. Finally, start cutting down your list of "I-Could-Never's". Those are the things that you tell God you can't do or can't live without. They reveal our lack of submission to His will, commitment to His mission, or confidence in the sufficiency of His grace.