An Intrusive Faith
I want to show you a picture of a bridge. Picture 1. Would you want to cross that bridge? Loose rock. ONe side under water. How long is that thing going to stand.
Would you want to cross this bridge. Picture 2. Its new. its pretty. Its shiny. I d take the second one any day.
Would you want to cross this bridge. Picture 2. Its new. its pretty. Its shiny. I d take the second one any day.
That first bridge is Karamagara Bridge was built sometime in the 5th or 6th century during the era of the Byzantine Empire. The bridge consisted of a single pointed arch and is possibly the earliest known example of a pointed arch bridge. architects of that time built their bridges with the arching shapes, enabling downward force from the top of the bridge arch to meet the equal force that was pushed from the ground in the bridge foundations. Built to last.
The second bridge is one in florida that collapsed last year.
Work was being done on some of the cables and when they adjusted the tension straps too much pressure was placed on a weak point. It goes to show you that appearance isn’t everything.
What you see on the surface isn’t all there is. Sometimes the most important things lie hidden beneath the surface. To get at that you need to look more in depth. You need to be more intrusive in your examination.
Today I want to talk about what should be under the surface of a church. You come in on Sundays and see a band playing, people gathered, and that is great. It’s important. When we began rebuilding I said I want to prioritize Sundays as they drive what we are trying to do. But there is more to it than Sundays. I want to look at what should be under the surface of a church. The supports that prop up everything else. A passage shows us what the church is to look like. There are activities outside the church. It is clear that their faith has become way more intrusive than just Sunday morning.
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:41-47 ESV)
At the core of a vibrant church is a lifestyle of devotion to God’s word, to worship, to fellowship and to evangelism. I want to look at four things of how our faith intrudes deep into our lives and creates the foundation for the church.
- Devotion to God’s Word
The believers here are Devoted to the apostles teaching. The word devotion means to “continue to do something with intense effort, despite difficulty. It means to keep on, to persist in.” They did not engage in this lifestyle because it was easy or convenient, but because they were committed to Christ.
It’s not that we just listen to the word on Sundays. It is a part of our life. Coming under the Lordship of Jesus means we come under his word. Look here and you see his followers doing what Jesus followers did before his crucifixion. They are with one another and listening to his words. This is what our lives should be like.
The form of the word (present active participles) emphasises their devotion was an ongoing, continuous habit. It was a priority. They may not have had iphones and laptops, but no society in history has been free of distractions. They had sports to watch and talk about, philosophies to debate, idle speculation, beds to sleep in, and jobs that were never done… just like you. But they were devoted to Christ. There is no such thing as not enough time. If something is a priority it gets done!
They heard Peter’s teaching and were going over it again and again. They didn’t leave it. His teaching brought life. They knew Christ through it and wanted more. The apostles teaching is infallibly preserved for you in your Bible. If you want to serve God and know him you read his word, and devotedly read it! When you hear a message do you just move on to the next thing or do you try and let it penetrate your heart? If you just listen and move on without doing anything you become resistant to the word of God. How many message on giving, loving, reaching out will you hear before you take steps to change your habits. You become hardened to the word. We need to let it penetrate us. Talk about it with your friends, family. Or do you see the intrusive nature of the word of God and put up blockades.
Rouseau: born free and everywhere in chains. Want to see us throw off every restraint. People want nothing telling them what to do. They don’t want God confining their decisions. But something is going to restrain you. It may be a king, it may be the law, it may be the desires of others. Cant have Absolute freedom for every person, somewhere someone is not going to get their way. In want freedom but freedom only lives in bonds of God’s word. But it is the devotion to God that leads them to life. Its confines keep them on the straight and narrow. It is a blessing to them.
If the word of God has not intruded to your life, and your home, and your family time, and your marriage then you are missing what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
- Glad Hearts
There is a joy in these people. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It comes from a relationship with Jesus. The word of God should stir our joy and worship.
If you look at this picture of people you have to say it is beautiful. People who are glad, sincere, giving. I mean you see the attractiveness of this life style. People are being added to their number, every day. HOw do you get it. Well, it comes from following Jesus. It comes from believing his word. It comes from obeying his word. I dont think its an accident that its starts with devotion to word and ends with hearts full of gladness and generosity.
The work of Christ should have an emotive effect. It not just a head knowledge. Open your heart and you can have eternal life. It works down into their hearts. It changes them from the inside out.
They are worshipping. Glad and sincere hearts.
V47 “Praising God.” means to commend someone. It is stating who God is. He is holy, indescribable, … When you know God it should move you.
Same word v 47 use in ““there appeared with the angel a great army of heaven's angels praising God' Lk 2.13. What do you think that great army sounded like? The savior has been born. Do you think there was excitement. How about after Jesus resurrection? How did the first church sound? Someone knew they were singing they heard them. In worship are you more aware of how awesome God is or how many people might hear you.
Full of awe. Fobos: active causing fear, source of fear, terror (RO 13.3; probably 1P 3.14 ); (2) passive; (a) in a negative sense fear, dread, alarm (2C 7.5; possibly 1P 3.14); (b) in a positive sense respect, reverence, awe. The living God came into the world and saved them from their sin. They were in awe of that.
Have you ever been with someone and you have a fear that someone is listening to you. Amanda and another homeschooling mom were talking about what the square root of 0 is, and then you pick up your phone to look something up and the first things that comes up is “the square root of zero is…” You stop what you are doing and ponder what else of your life is being recorded.
These people were in awe that God was present with them. And also when you get around others and hear how God is working in their lives you stand in awe. Effect of reading word. You see that he is working in life. You are reminded he is active. People share what he is doing in their lives. Sometimes people share where they see him active in your life. That brings awe, fear, reverence. It is a deep down work.
They were worshipping God in all of life. It was not just Sunday. If you are not worshipping at home you probably are not worshipping at church. If you don’t worship at church you probably are not worshipping at home. Being a worshipper is a lifestyle, it shows a heart has been changed.
- Community with Others
They devoted themselves to fellowship. That is a close association mutual relations and involvement. It is a participation in community. They knew one another. They were for one another. It was not just on Sundays but a lifestyle.
They are in the temple and their homes. Temple would have been a corporate gathering. Homes had smaller more intimate. You need both of these. Corporate meeting drive focus and unity across many people. Homes provides the intimate connection and application.
I talk to a lot of people who got burned out on regular church and want to move toward a home church model. There is value to home church. But you lose a corporate sense when that is all you have. You lose quality in teaching, leadership. I don’t want home church without the corporate, but I also don’t want Sunday church without the homes. So much ministry happens in the homes. We need both. I want both!
When you bring someone into your home it says something. When was the last time you went to the mall, someone tried to sell you something and you said, “Hey why don’t you come to my house and hang out tonight.” There is an intimacy in the home. We want to have this kind of relationships in a church. Meaningful relationship.
Do you create contexts that you can really get to know people? On Sundays we pray and take prayer request, but people are naturally more guarded. Draw people out. GEt to the heart. Do you have a time you can say, I heard you needed prayer in work, what’s going on, are you anxious, are you fearful. What is going on inside?
Difference in Sunday school, soccer field, water cooler in office and in your home.
Are you really finding out what is going on in people’s lives around you. Anne. When ground meat went from 18 cents to 24 cents a pound I came home and cried because I didn’t think we could make it. That is an example of how anxious our hearts can be and it is a testimony to God’s faithfulness to us. Everyone has their own version of ground meat. You are so worried about something. You need to trust God and follow him. Genuine friendship is the seedbed of ministry. It’s not so much about being in someone’s home as much as really being involved in the lives of others. You can be living with people and not know what is going on in their lives. God calls us to take an interest in others. God has a beautiful life planned for us in which we can share life with others.
Science has shown that people who have close friendships are happier, more successful and even more physically and emotionally healthy. And in our hyper-connected culture, it may seem like it’s never been easier to make and maintain relationships. But is that true? One in five adults say they regularly feel lonely. Millennials 25% are more lonely than Gen X 24%, Boomers 13%, Elders 6%. Singles more likely than marrieds. Men are more lonely than women. Almost 70% said in event of emergency they could call someone other than a family member. Our society is lonely. That is an opportunity for us. Souce: Barna https://www.barna.com/research/who-are-the-lonely-in-america/
Goal in the next few months to multiply our small groups. I want to create contexts for people to engage with others, pray, talk, laugh, eat, party, get involved in community or lives. I would like to have a group on Sunday for those who live out of the area, one for younger crowd. I need leaders for these. We may be able to just yet. But Pray about getting together with someone to better know them. If someone shares what’s going on ask them about it. You will pray better the better you know them.
Biblical discipleship has the home as a focus. There is not a biblical discipleship that does not involve the home. Jesus lived with his disciples, when Lydia was converted she
“When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” (Act 18:26 NIV). they received him, ate with him, welcomed to the home gets the intimacy they had.
And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Act 5:42 ESV)
Lydia, And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us. (Act 16:15 ESV)
Philipian Jailer. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. (Act 16:34 ESV)
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, (Rom 16:3 ESV). Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. (Rom 16:5 ESV)
It means our faith should change our habits in our homes. It changes how we relate. Community is not our Savior. Sometimes people make it seem like it is. Just share that in small group and everything will be take care of. Honest, loving, community is the wonderful by product of knowing God.
Do you know the people around you? Do they know you? Our culture is one that breed lone rangers and there are a lot of lone ranger Christians.
Just remember some lone rangers do amazing things and are remembered for insurmountable odds. A lot of lone rangers die and no one knows. A lot of depression is because people feel alone. A lot of anxiety is because people feel alone. Jesus has more for you. Some of you know the moment you cut others off. You have to open your heart, you have to be willing to be hurt. Loving others is being vulnerable. We need that.
- Concern for the Needs of Others.
Note the community was not about them getting their needs met. It was about honoring Jesus and giving what they had to others. They were trying to give away their community. Starts with word of God and people gathering and praying around that word. One of effects is people are added to their number.
Is it in your mind that you could invite someone to your small group, church, cookout, class, etc. Have you asked anyone?
Churches become too inward and don’t reach out. We are more concerned about the type of music, a miss lyric or print in the bulletin, and don’t really care that we have not invited anyone, let them know we care, or how our faith is helping us.
Their faith was intruding into the lives of others. They knew the needs of their community and were meeting them. Do you know the needs of the people around you? How can you be a blessing to others. Most don’t need more stuff, but they do need community, encouragement. They struggle with depression, anxiety, loneliness. How are we encouraging each other to reach out and be involved in the lives of those who are not here.
The thing people need might be the thing you are most hesitant to give. Your time.
Movement of disciples making disciples. Who is your one?
Who is the one person you could have an impact on? Maybe pray for God to put a new person in your life. Maybe it’s a neighbor, the cashier at the grocery store, your boss, your mail man, someone in your class. Just need to be in the habit that when you hear someone mention a problem tell them to come with you to church. Are they lonely, sad, depressed, frustrated, anxious. Make small changes. Grab lunch. Just ask how things are going. Ask them more questions. Don’t share. But commit them to pray. When you read a passage that makes you think of them, pray over them. Do that for a few months. Then consider.
Look for the import nots… Not from here, not going well, was not expecting that. Cues to invite others into our fellowship.
Small group where you have a home. You may launch out of that to do a Bible study in your community, workplace, neighborhood. I would love to get to where we are training small group leaders to lead bible studies inside and outside the church. People leading in their workplace, neighborhoods, soccer teams, pregnancy centers, etc. Its a church where their faith is pushing them into the lives of other people.
At the heart of our church we want a community that is in the word, serving Christ, loving each other, rejoicing in God, giving freely what they have. This is what we want to invite people into. This is the heartbeat of the church. If you don’t have this focus everything else will collapse.
This is what we want to invite people into. We are not about soccer teams, schools, or other. What can you do to build this community?