The daily activities of the early church, described in Acts 2, provide a model for how we should function as a church body. It also gives direction for what we, individually, should be responsible.
Are We There Yet? – Part 3
Pastor Stephen Hayes
Sunday June 25, 2017
Main Idea – The daily activities of the early church, described in Acts 2, provide a model for how we should function as a church body. It also gives direction for what we, individually, should be responsible.
We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close
- Acts 2: 41-47 provides the recipe for successful churches of any era. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
The importance of the word “daily”
- The church began almost spontaneously, without a grand plan from any of the disciples. They were simply obedient to what the Holy Spirit was doing on a day-to-day basis.
- The Acts 2 church did daily worship and fellowship. Individuals in the church lived their faith on a continuous, daily basis. These were activities that happened every day in their lives, not just on the Sabbath.
- Members of the Acts 2 church followed the leading of the Holy Spirit every day, stayed true to correct teaching, pursued spiritual maturity, and shared the love of God with those whom they came in contact.
The Holy Spirit guided the whole process
- God was leading the entire process described in Acts 2. The people in the church were sensitive to follow where He was leading, and to pay attention to His directions.
- Churches that are serious about following the Holy Spirit’s lead will have an inside track on where He is going.
The church stayed true to correct teaching
- Verse 42 says the followers continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.
- The word “doctrine” means God’s Word was being used appropriately; not being changed to fit their current circumstances.
- The word “doctrine” also has lifestyle attributes. The disciples continued to live according to how Jesus had taught them.
Members of the church pursued spiritual maturity
- Jesus’ disciples transitioned from being disciples to being apostles.
- Disciples follow a leader because they are in pursuit of spiritual maturity.
- Apostles reproduce themselves – and what they know – in someone else. This reproductive activity is sometimes called “ministry.”
Members of the church shared the love of God with those whom they came in contact
- Verses 46-47 say, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
- The followers accepted personal responsibility for “The Great Commission.” Likewise, each of us today should share what we know with those in our immediate circle: with those “right in front of us.” Being a member of a church prepares us to do this sharing.
- We are God’s Plan A. He doesn’t have a Plan B. Each of the individuals in Luke 15 (the shepherd with the lost sheep, the woman with the lost coin, and the father of the prodigal son) were focused on reaching someone who was lost. God reaches the lost through each of us.
- When we interact with those who have been put in our path, we should do as Jesus did. Our objective should be to love and serve, and to accept people as they are; not being judgmental.
Big things happen when we each do our part
- If we each do our part – to share what we know, and to love and serve those put in our path – God will accomplish great things through us as a group.
- If we do this we will “find favor” with people and will thereby be used by God to bring many others to salvation.
- Being members of a church prepares us for this great work.
Reflective Questions for Are We There Yet? – Part 3
- The Scripture uses the word “daily” in verses 46 and 47. The first reference is to something the followers did, the second reference is what God did. Why is it important to do the right things every day? Does this speak to the importance of adopting a type of lifestyle?
- Members of the early church were led by the Holy Spirit, followed correct doctrine (what they had been taught), and pursued spiritual maturity. How does this inspire and motivate you?
- What do you feel when you think about the fact we are God’s Plan A, and that He doesn’t have a Plan B? What resources offered by the church can help prepare you for your responsibility to tell others what you know about God?
God has a plan for each of us. Even when we get diverted by our own actions and decisions, God works a plan to accomplish through us what He had always intended. He accomplishes His will on earth – as He has since the events of Acts 2 – through the church.
Are We There Yet? – Part 2
Pastor Stephen Hayes
Sunday June 11, 2017
Main Idea – God has a plan for each of us. Even when we get diverted by our own actions and decisions, God works a plan to accomplish through us what He had always intended. He accomplishes His will on earth – as He has since the events of Acts 2 – through the church.
God has a plan for you
- Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
- God has a plan for each of us. He works out this plan in the events of our lives in spite of mistakes we make along the way.
- As we live our lives we should pursue perfection – to continuously become better people as we grow closer to God.
The power of the church – the church is a big deal
- Many more people attend church each week in the United States than most people realize.
- This huge attendance is evidence of the power of God’s Kingdom, and all the things He accomplishes each day on earth. For example, most of the money given to humanitarian purposes on the planet is given by churches.
- Jesus is the Head of the church. We – the church – are the body by which God does things on earth.
Colossians 1:18 – And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
The church helps us center our lives around God through worship
- When we worship we are showing that God is the center of our lives. By worshipping we acknowledge we are not the center of our lives, but that God is the center of our lives.
- Matthew 22:37 – Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
- John 4:23 – But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
- If we find ourselves worrying about something, it is possible we have not “given it to God.” In other words, God has not been the center of our lives in that one area.
- We are to worship God with simplicity and honesty. Acts 2: 46 – So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.
The church connects us with other believers through fellowship
- Psalm 27: 4 – One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.
- God made each of us to be part of His family.
- God wants us to get along with each other.
- In the Sermon on the Mount – which begins in Matthew 5 – Jesus mentioned his “Father” many times. He also often used the term “sons of God.” These are terms that indicate we are all together part of a family.
- The church is the place where this family comes together, is identified together, and grows together.
Reflective Questions for Are We There Yet? – Part 2
- Read again the words of Romans 8:28. Do those words show God is able to get you to the final destination of your life regardless of individual mistakes you have made along the way? How, do you suppose, God is able to do that?
- What was your reaction to the statistics Pastor Stephen shared about the amount of money the church gives each year to humanitarian needs around the globe?
- Pastor Stephen said the church is a place where we learn how to center our lives around God through worship. Why is worship an important part of a Christian’s personal life?
- In order to have good family relationships in the Body of Christ (the church) we have to be intentional about developing and maintaining relationships with people we meet in the church. Name two things you can do to be better at developing and maintaining church relationships.
Pentecost Sunday is the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the life of every believer.
Are We There Yet?
Pastor Stephen Hayes
Sunday June 4, 2017
Main Idea – Pentecost Sunday is the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the life of every believer.
The Beginning of the Local Church
- Acts 2 gives us some of the initial, major events in the first local church body.
- These events took place during the celebration of Pentecost – which was 50 days after the celebration of the Passover. (The number 50 is significant in this case because it represents a transition that is ordered by God.)
- Acts 2: 1-4 – When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The Great Commission Assignment
- Prior to Pentecost, right before Jesus ascended back to Heaven, Jesus had given His followers the Great Commission.
- The Great Commission is stated – in part – in Mark 16: 15-18 - And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
- Those verses identify five signs believers would exhibit as they answered the call of the Great Commission: they would cast out demons, speak in new tongues, pick up serpents and drink poison without being hurt, and would heal the sick.
- Speaking in new tongues is one of the things exhibited in the events of Acts 2.
What Acts 2 tells us about the Holy Spirit
- The Holy Spirit is for everyone
- Acts 2: 2b – “and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” God gives the Holy Spirit to everyone.
- This gift of the Holy Spirit to everyone was prophesied in the Old Testament - Joel 2:28 – And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall dream visions
- The Holy Spirit is unique to everyone
- Acts 2:3 - Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
- Acts 2:5 - And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
- The Holy Spirit interacts with each of us according to our individualized cultures, experiences, and languages.
- Each of us should submit to how the Holy Spirit wants to lead us. God knows exactly what each of us needs, and how we are to use what He gives us.
- The Holy Spirit is the director of everyone
- The Holy Spirit will lead each of us, and will affirm who we really are - and are meant to be. He will lead us, each in our own unique way.
- Acts 2:4 - And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
- John 15: 26-27 – But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
Reflective Questions for Are We There Yet?
- Why is it necessary for us to have – and to use – the Holy Spirit when we work to fulfill the Great Commission?
- How do you know if the Holy Spirit is leading you when you are talking to someone else about Jesus? How do you know if you have spoken about Jesus in a way that might not have been lead by the Holy Spirit?
- Can you give an example of when you have seen the Holy Spirit work through someone else in a way that was different from how He usually works through you?
War is a significant part of Biblical history and God’s interaction on earth. He has gifted certain individuals to be fighters. We should honor those who have served our country in war just as we honor those who serve in other significant ways.
Memorial Day History
Sunday May 28, 2017
These – War is a significant part of Biblical history and God’s interaction on earth. He has gifted certain individuals to be fighters. We should honor those who have served our country in war just as we honor those who serve in other significant ways.
The appropriateness of giving honor and remembering
- It is appropriate, and Biblically correct, to establish holidays to honor those who came before us. Deuteronomy 32:7 – Remember the days of old. Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you
Highlights of Memorial Day history
- 1868 – after the Civil War, General John Logan issued a proclamation calling for a special day each year to decorate the graves of the men who had died during the Civil War. His proclamation read, in part, “The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
- Initially, this annual commemoration was known as Decoration Day.
- By 1890, every state recognized Decoration Day.
- 1918 – after World War I the name Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day in order to commemorate those who died in all American wars.
- 1968 – the Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed Memorial Day to the last Monday in May. This took effect in 1971.
War is part of God’s Word
- Isaiah 13:3 – I have commanded My sanctified one; I have also called My mighty ones for My anger – those who rejoice in My exaltation.
- 1 Chronicles 5:22 – for many fell dead, because the war was God’s. And they dwelt in their place until the captivity.
- Revelation 19:11 – Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
- Throughout the Bible there are references to God performing miracles on behalf of military operations:
- Exodus 14 – the parting of the Red Sea allowed the Israelites to escape the army of Pharaoh.
- Exodus 17 – God allowed the Israelites to defeat the Amalakites as long as Moses kept his hands raised.
- Joshua 6 – the fall of Jericho’s walls was a military operation.
- Joshua 10 – God held the sun still so Joshua’s army had time to defeat the Amorites in battle.
- Genesis 14 – Abraham, the father of our faith, gave a tithe of is war winnings to Melchizedek.
- 1 Samuel 17 – the story of David killing Goliath during a war. 1 Samuel 18:7 says, “So the women sang as they danced, and said: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’ “
- Hebrews 11: 32-33 – And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions
God’s giftings for war
- God has gifted many individuals to be fighters. Psalm 144:1 – Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle
- The United States has been involved in many wars where these gifted individuals have sacrificed their lives.
- Past presidents – who were associated with great wars – have openly prayed and invoked God’s name: Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (lead the nation in prayer during the D-Day Invasion), Dwight Eisenhower (prayed his own prayer at the start of his inaugural address.)
Honoring those who have sacrificed
- 2 million military personnel have died in our nation’s wars.
- We are doing the right thing when we remember and honor them. Romans 13:7 – Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Reflective Questions for David Barton’s Memorial Day Presentation
- What was new information for you in David Barton’s presentation? How did this new information add to your understanding of God’s relationship with war?
- The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8). How do you reconcile that God is love and is also a god of war?
- What is something you can do to demonstrate honor to our military personnel who have died in our nation’s wars?
Knowledge of the natural world should be combined with the secret things of God to enable Him to accomplish through you everything He intended.
How to be a Know-It-All
Pastor Stephen Hayes
Sunday May 21, 2017
These – Knowledge of the natural world should be combined with the secret things of God to enable Him to accomplish through you everything He intended.
Details serve a purpose
- There is much useless information.
- On the other hand, details can provide validity and context for bigger ideas.
- A challenge for every Christian is to use the right details of natural knowledge to serve God’s bigger purposes.
The right kind of “know it all”
- It is God’s desire to use us for His greater purposes. Philippians 1:6 – being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
- Education - and learning in general - requires patience through an ongoing process. Isaiah 28: 9-10 - Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.
- The right kind of know-it-all is someone who has been educated with the right information, and is being led by God to correctly employ it.
Mankind’s unhealthy desire for knowledge
- Humans have always succumbed to the temptation to seek knowledge for our own unhealthy purposes. The devil has taken advantage of this weakness.
- Genesis 3: 1-5 – Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
- But, God has always resisted when we pursue knowledge for our own purposes because it leads to destruction.
- Genesis 11: 1-6 – Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.”
Pursue knowledge with the Holy Spirit
- With God’s guidance the pursuit of knowledge is a good thing because He will guide us to correctly use that knowledge for His purposes and to His glory.
- Deuteronomy 29:29 – The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
- John 16:7 – Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
The assurance given by God
- Two words of significance in Philippians 1:6 are “confident” and “complete” (see above.)
- The original Greek word for “complete” in Philippians 1:6 is “epiteleo,” which means “to forcefully ensure, to finish, perform, or conclude.”
- When we pursue the acquisition of knowledge for God’s purposes, we can be confident He will allow us to employ that knowledge for good purposes.
- God will complete what He needs to do through us if we gather information for God’s purposes, not for our own curiosity or ego.
Reflective Questions for How to be a Know-It-All
- What is a piece of information you have that may be interesting, but is of limited value?
- What is an example of information mankind has discovered that has been used for destructive purposes? Have you, yourself, perhaps used your education for selfish purposes? Has more good or bad come from that use of information?
- If you are a formally educated person, describe what it would look like if you allowed God to use your expertise for His purposes.