Monday, May 13, 2019

FOUNDATIONAL THINKING

We’re all Saints & Sinners
Acts 4:32-5:11

When it comes to your commitment to and involvement in the Body of Christ (your local church) there are some principles that you should follow. We are all Saints & Sinners and need to strive to think rightly about how we engage in church life.

1. Crucify self
Philippians 2:1-11 - look to Christ’s example of sacrifice
Ephesians 4:2 be patient, bearing with one another…
Ephesians 4:32 …forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Are you patient with your brothers/sisters? Are you bearing with them?
Are you forgiving as Christ forgave you? 

Hint: you are required to forgive. To not forgive could mean you’re not saved

WHEN (not if) you’re hurt - do you fight for “justice?” You’re likely battling for your wounded pride.
1 Corinthians 13:5Love… does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
If you have crucified self - you won’t insist on your own way. 
You’ll be willing to compromise on non-essentials for the greater good
It shouldn’t be about your personal agenda

2. Meet Often - Share Deep
We need to become more deeply engaged in one another’s lives. Our hearts becoming intertwined & woven together/
1 John 1:7if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another

Who really knows what’s going on in your life spiritually 
(other than your spouse?)
If there’s not someone - there needs to be - and you need to pursue that - NOW!

3. The Acts 2:42 Foundation
Memorize this verse.
This is the foundation - build on that
• The Word
• Fellowship
• The Gospel
• Prayer

4. Serve with a Right Mindset
Here’s the big question of this passage:
Are you serving Christ, or serving self?

Are you serving for the recognition, or for the Lord? Is your goal the advancement of the kingdom? Or the advancement of your personal agenda? It’s hard to answer that question because our pride so expertly disguises itself.

If you are reading this blog: you struggle with pride.

Barnabas was the positive example.
Ananias & Saphira were the negative.
On the surface, there was no difference. 
We all need to think carefully: what’s my motive?

Ultimately, this passage is about wise investment of our money, time, talent, tools, and our “stuff.”
• to the glory of God
• while serving One another
• with the goal of encouragement


Side Note:
Barnabas was called Barnabas for a reason - 
v 36Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement)

encouraging was his thing. 

Another question: who can you encourage today?
Do that TODAY - every day this week
send a text
write a note
make a phone call
send an email
make a comment
have a conversation
It’s way too easy to see something negative and complain. Instead, we should make it our aim to be encouragers.

The Bottom Line:
• Go encourage someone right now. 
• Start memorizing Acts 2:42
• Review the four “Foundation” principles regularly (probably daily for a couple of weeks, then less often). 
• Engage accordingly. 

Stay saturated in the Word,

Pastor Rob


Monday, April 29, 2019

So what, specifically, do I do THIS week? (answers at the bottom)

Speaking Boldly
Acts 4:23-31
We’re reminded in this passage of the centrality of prayer in the life of the church.

Charles Spurgeon famously said:
If a church is to be what it ought for the purposes of God, we must train it in the holy art of prayer. If a church does not pray, it is dead. Instead of putting united prayer last, put it first. Everything will hinge upon the power of prayer in the church. 

If we are to be the church that God is calling us to be - we must pray. In this passage, prayer leads to their being “filled with the Spirit,” which leads to them Speaking Boldly.

The idea of “filled with the Spirit” comes up again and again, so what does it mean? How do we follow the command in Ephesians 5:18 to be “filled with the Spirit?”

What Filled with the Spirit is NOT:
1. It’s NOT just some sort of dramatic, emotional experience. 
2. It’s not robotic mechanical obedience
devoid of any feeling
3. It’s not a progressive thing. 
It’s not a little more here, then a little more - 
You were given the fullness of the Spirit at salvation. John 3:34he gives the Spirit without measure
4. It’s not “sealed, indwelt, or baptized” by the Spirit
Those are different aspects of the Spirit 

Understanding the meaning of “filled.”
Here are some helpful ideas to understand what it means to be filled.
• A glass that’s been filled up 
• Wind filling up the sails, carrying the boat along
• Something that’s been Permeated - like marinating meat - it absorbs the flavor. Every bite tastes good.
• A Sponge that’s Saturated with water. You can’t pick it up without getting wet. You can’t set it on the counter without water seeping out. You toss it at someone, it gets on them. 
Ultimately: Under Total Control

How to be Filled with the Spirit:
Practical Steps
1. Understand that this is God’s will for you. (Ephesians 5:18)
You don’t have to pray about it to determine if it’s a path/direction to pursue
2. It’s an ongoing thing
Not something you did in the past
Not something you should do in the future. 
But something you do all the time. 
keep being filled.

3. Be Saturated in the Word
The Bible is the inspired Word of God
Every word – written under the full inspiration, guidance, direction of the Holy Spirit
   These are the words of the Spirit
   These are the words of Christ
   These are the words of God
If we are to be filled with the Spirit
We MUST be filled with His Word.

4. You Must Make Effort

2 Peter 1:5 tells us to make maximum effort toward our spiritual growth. When we don’t make intentional effort toward begin filled, the default mode is toward the things of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16-23)

NOW - Get in the Word!
Three Options you can start this week.
Wednesday is May 1 - new month, new plan

Option 1: If the goal of Prayer and Bible Study is to know Jesus - a great place to start is one of the Gospels. Here’s a link to a 31 day Bible Reading Plan through the Book of John

Option 2: Take a book of the Bible or a section that you can read in 20-25 minutes and read it daily for 30 days. A the end of that month, you’ll really know that book. 
The book of James, 1 John, Colossians, Ephesians, or Philippians are good choices. 

Option 3: The ultimate goal of all this is “Speaking Boldly.” But what, exactly, should we be speaking? Ultimately, we want to boldly speak and share the gospel with others. Here’s a guide to learning to share the gospel in a month. Why not take the Month of May to solidify your ability to biblically share the gospel with others?

Any of these plans can be started at any time, but since we start a new month on Wednesday, why not kick off something new?

Praying you grow in your love for the Lord and that you keep being filled with the Spirit today!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Rob


Monday, April 15, 2019

Standing Firm! (Acts 4:1-22)

How to Stand Firm

These principles are drawn from the example of Peter and John in Acts 4:1-22. For the full sermon, check out the Fellowship Website. 

1. Know that Persecution WILL come!
2 Timothy 3:12all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
Romans 8:35…Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
James 1:2 count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds…

2. Be Devoted to the right things: Acts 2:42 
The Word of God
hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, & meditating
Fellowship
The Gospel
Prayer - Join us each Sunday morning at 9:00 in Room 113 for prayer.

3. Keep your Eyes Open
Always be ready for opportunities that the Lord brings you.
1 Peter 3:15
The question: how can we be silent?
How can we not be passionate about sharing the gospel with others?
Why are we not constantly thinking and planning and rehearsing sharing with others?

We need to be constantly strategizing how to weave the gospel into the rhythm of our daily lives. 
Thinking about the relationships the Lord has placed us in and how those can be leveraged for His purposes. 

4. Be Filled with the Spirit
Are you constantly saturating yourself in God’s Word? 
Are you making effort in all five areas of Scripture input?
You’ll never be “filled with the Spirit” unless you’re spending time at the Feet of your Master.
Luke 10:39 – Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving.

5. Obey God first and foremost
We must obey God first. We are slaves, He is our Master.
Someone once said to DL Moody: “the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to Him.” His response was to strive with everything he had to be that man.

What is your level of commitment and loyalty to God?
Can you truly say “I must obey God rather than fear man?”

6. Confidence & Competence in the Gospel
We need to have full confidence that the gospels and Acts are accurate historical records of real events that really happened, written down by eye-witnesses. 

We also need to be competent in sharing the gospel. 
Remember: There’s a difference between your testimony and the gospel. Your personal story can be a powerful tool in evangelism.
A testimony is telling others what Jesus has done for you personally
Sharing the gospel is about telling others what Jesus has done for the world and how they can be saved from their sins
Acts 4:12 is the powerful message of the gospel
Acts 4:20 is the example that we must follow in the rhythm of our daily lives. 
We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard!


Monday, March 11, 2019

The Acts 2 Pattern for Evangelism

The First Sermon
Acts 2:14-41
Peter’s first sermon provides for us not only a pattern for what a Christian sermon should be, but also for our own evangelistic efforts. 

Note these
Five Elements for Evangelism:
1. Answer & Explanation
Peter answers their wrong thinking about what’s going on and briefly explains what’s really going on. 
1 Peter 3:15always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you

In quoting Joel 2:28-32, he points us to the clearest and probably the most important passage on the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.
He’s here! This is Him!!!
We see in the Joel passage, the Holy Spirit, judgment, and salvation. 
We’re in a new age now:
• God has brought His plan of salvation to its completion
• Jesus has finished His work of redemption
• The Spirit now dwells in His people
• We are to take this message to the nations.

When Jesus returns, there will be judgment. 
Acts 17:31he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness
But those who have trusted in Him have no need to fear.
Acts 2:21And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 

2. Bible Centered - When you share Christ with people, as much as you can, use Scripture. Quote Scripture. God’s Word has inherent authority. (see the Gospel Learning Kit for more on this)
3. Christ-Centered
It’s obvious, but make it all about Jesus.
A significant emphasis on the work of Christ
Jesus’ miracles (and you know about them) were manifestations of God’s power designed to get people’s attention and point them to the truth of who He was. 
The problem wasn’t that they didn’t know about Jesus - it was that they rejected Him.
We have the same problem today - it’s not that we don’t know who Jesus is - it’s that we reject Him.

The basic elements of a Gospel Presentation:
Jesus is the Son of God
Jesus lived a perfect life
Jesus did miracles, proving who He was
Jesus died on the cross
Jesus rose again - HE’S ALIVE!
The Resurrection is of central importance to the gospel.
1. Because He’s GOD!! (John 11:25, Hebrews 2:14)
2. Because of Prophecy (John 2:19-22)
3. Because of His divine purpose (Luke 24:46) 
That’s happening in real time in this passage.

The Psalms quoted are distinctly about Christ
Psalm 16 - confident trust in God
Psalm 110 - is a Judgment Psalm

4. The Conclusion: 
We’re all guilty of sin and stand in need of forgiveness We’re all in one of only two categories:
God’s children
God’s enemies
Had you been there, you would have done the same thing that the Jews did - you would have asked for Barabbas to be released.
THE Question: WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?

5. The Appeal: Repent and Believe
Peter appeals to them, just as we should.
2 Corinthians 5:20 – we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

It’s very simple:
A - Admit, recognize, and own that you’re a sinner
B - Believe in, trust in, rely on, cling to Christ as your only hope.
C - Confess with your life that He is your Lord and Master.


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

So do I have to invite someone over?



So the question of whether or not you HAVE to open your home to a random neighbor looms over us at times, right?
Last Sunday night, we began this study about “GO-ing” by looking at “Who Is My Neighbor.”
And when we talk about reaching out to others with the Gospel, it’s mostly about understanding the complexity of what it looks like to do that in each of our unique situations. There are dangers built-in, and we must avoid the extremes of either looking at others simply as an “evangelistic project” or never getting around to sharing the gospel in the guise of “building a relationship.” This led to talking about ‘ulterior motives’ vs. an ‘ultimate motivation.”

Finally - we identified several relationships and where we are in each of them. 

This coming Sunday (you can definitely join this study at any time), we’re looking at the contrast between the things that have lasting value and those that don’t. We’ll look the contrast the Bible presents between the here and now vs. the world to come.
We’ll also consider how we glorify God through “Neighboring.”

Join us this Sunday night as we continue to keep the GO-ing thought process front and center.


Pastor Rob

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Philippians: The Final Questions

When you read through Philippians, and come to the conclusion in verses 19-23, there are five final ideas that Paul lays out, and along with them, five questions we need to ask ourselves as we strive to live in response to God's Word.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you.
All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. 
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

Five Conclusions & Questions

1. We are to be Different

Each one of us has been saved so that we can be set apart from sin to serve God in and through our good works.
Question: Do others notice a difference in you?

2. Saints Worship God

We have to know who He is (which is found in the Bible) in order to rightly worship Him.
Worshiping in Ignorance is idolatry.
Question: Are you making effort to grow in your knowledge of the Lord?

3. Fellowship and Community

We must remember that each and every member of this church is of equal importance. Our close friendship circles can never be "us four and no more."
Question: Are you being intentional to foster greater unity in our Body?

4. GO-ing with the Gospel

Paul's life demonstrated an ongoing consistent pattern of evangelism.
Members of Caesar's household getting saved should remind us that we are to be out in the world sharing Christ.
Question: Are you strategizing how you can share the gospel in your daily life?

5. Our Need for Grace

We are in desperate need for God's grace. It's found in Christ alone.
Question: Are you looking to Christ constantly and exclusively?



As you consider what the Lord is saying to us through His Word in the Letter to the Philippians, ask yourself these five questions and plan NOW how you can put these things into practice in your life TODAY!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Rob







Thursday, January 17, 2019

Preparing for Sunday, January 20

Here's a guide to preparing your heart for our time together this coming Sunday.

We're finishing Philippians 4:1-9 where Paul not only tells us to STAND FIRM, but gives us extremely practical instruction on how we are to stand firm:

Standing Firm

As you read through the passage (verses 1-9):
Ask yourself: does this describe me?
If you’re really serious about it: ask someone who knows you well: would you say that this describes me?

We are to Stand Firm by:
1. Cultivating Unity
Division & disunity can render us ineffective and unproductive for the cause of Christ in the world. 
Are YOU doing all YOU can to cultivate unity?

2. Maintaining Joy
This is a call to an ongoing habitual pattern of joy
Are you known as a person of joy?

3. Being Content/Reasonable
Graciousness is the best single English word translation
Are you known as a reasonable person? 
Are you making sure you’re not easily offended? (Not an “eggshell” person?)
Are you letting offenses go when you can?
Not a complainer
Looking for and pointing out the positive, rather than the negative?

Read through verses 6-9 again and think through and answer the following questions:
• What are we told not to do (verse 6a)?
• What do we do instead (verse 6b)?
• What will happen as a result (verse 7)?
• What things are we to turn our thoughts toward (verse 8)
• What is the final command (verse 9)?
What is the promise when we stand firm (verse 9b)?