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
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  • 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 22, 2017Handling Hardship
    Oct 22, 2017
    Handling Hardship
    Hebrews 12:1-11
  • 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.
  • Sep 17, 2017When God Is Speaking
    Sep 17, 2017
    When God Is Speaking
    In Psalm 19, David reflected on how God speaks to humanity and how God's self-revelation requires a personal response.
     
    First, God speaks through Creation. The testimony of the heavens concerning the glory of God is unavoidable. So, pay attention!
     
    Second, God speaks through Scripture. Through Scripture, God reveals His will and transforms people's lives. So, pay attention!
     
    Finally, God is speaking to YOU! He isn't just speaking to make noise. His self-revelation is intended to elicit a response from those made in His image. So, as you hear God speaking through Creation and Scripture, seek God's forgiveness for sin and His help to live, speak, and think rightly.
  • Sep 10, 2017When You Want To Just Let Go And Let God
    Sep 10, 2017
    When You Want To Just Let Go And Let God
    It's tempting to take hold of the popular teaching that followers of Jesus should just let go and let God. However, this teaching doesn't work very well in practice, since it so often leads to no practice at all. In Psalm 18:31-50, we find that David lived his life differently. In doing so, he established a pattern that would ultimately be fulfilled by Jesus Christ and passed along to the followers of Jesus today.
     
    While the Lord equipped David for the battles he faced as Israel's king, David still needed to fight the battle by pursuing, overtaking, and battling Israel's enemies to the end. Then, when the Lord brought the victory, David exalted the Lord.
     
    While Jesus was perfectly equipped for the battle against Satan, sin, and death, He still needed fight the battle by going to the Cross. Then, when Jesus secured the victory, He was exalted.
     
    While the Lord has equipped His Church for the spiritual battle as we are on mission to make disciples, we still need to work together to fight the battle. So, depend on the Lord and get going. When the Lord brings the victories, we must exalt the Lord so that the whole world can hear.
  • Sep 3, 2017When You’re Planning For The Long Term
    Sep 3, 2017
    When You’re Planning For The Long Term
    When planning for the future, it is imperative that we consider how the moral decisions we're making from one day to the next, over time, will largely determine who we will be, how we will think, and what kind of legacy we will leave in the future. 
     
    In Psalm 18:20-30, as David looked back over God's faithfulness in his life, he realized that part of the reason God had blessed him so greatly was because David had walked with the Lord. He had kept God's Word before him, and so he remained loyal and obedient to the Lord over the course of his life. So, the Lord rewarded David for living rightly, just as He promised He would. However, David knew that how the Lord treated him was no fluke, for David affirmed the Lord's justice, namely, that He treats His faithful people faithfully. Finally, David knew that he was unable to live rightly on his own. So, David had relied heavily on God's grace
     
    In these verses, David affirmed three timeless truths in our walk with the Lord. First, grace enabled obedience is still obedience. Even though God is ultimately responsible, He is still pleased when He sees it. Second, we reap what we sow. Third, the Lord graces the humble.
     
    So, if you desire to experience the kind of relationship that David had with the Lord over the course of your life, then walk humbly with your God, like David walked. Keep God's Word before you. Do what He says. Take refuge in God's grace.
  • Aug 27, 2017When God’s People Appear To Be Losing The Battle
    Aug 27, 2017
    When God’s People Appear To Be Losing The Battle
    As followers of Jesus, we have been commissioned to make disciples while standing firmly on the truth of God's Word out of obedience to the Lord, as well as love for God and others. However, in a culture that is increasingly secular, sometimes it feels like we're fighting a losing battle, being drowned out by the powerful voices of media, academia, and politics. 
     
    In Psalm 18:4-19, as David reflected on a lifetime of battles as Israel's anointed king, he could remember many occasions where his situation felt hopeless and humanly impossible. On the other side of those battles, David had learned the valuable lesson that God cared for His people. For, the Lord had heard David's prayer, brought judgment against David's enemies, and brought support and rescue to David himself.
     
    God still cares for His people today. While we have a peaceful mission to make disciples as we follow Jesus, the resistance is still substantial in secularized and pagan cultures with spiritual enemies behind the scenes. However, we can be sure that just like with David and Israel in Old Testament times, the Lord will bring victory to His people in the end.
     
    So, have confidence when the Lord is on our side. If you have aligned yourself as one of God's enemies on account of your sin, then be afraid, but be reconciled to God by grace through faith in Jesus as your Savior. Stop fighting a battle against God that you cannot possibly win. If you are one of God's people, then don't be afraid. The Lord is with you and He will rescue you.