I really enjoyed leading worship this past Sunday. Every 6-8 weeks I get the opportunity to preach. I know I’ve shared that I’m very grateful and the HOS (Head of Staff) I serve with is a giver when it comes to sharing the pulpit between us three pastors. Although it was the day, half of the church was away, I still enjoyed giving the message, the Word of the Lord. If anything I enjoyed my own study time last week. I wish I had a set time to study and pray each week. One of my goals for the summer.
For these next few moments I want you to ponder this question. What would the church look like if we were to model a devoted, deliberate, and daring kind of Christian faith? This morning’s scripture lesson comes from the 2nd chapter of Acts, starting at verse 42 and ending at verse 47. If you would like to follow along with me you can find the passage on page 120 in your New Testament bibles. Listen for God’s Word.
Over the recent weeks we’ve looked at what it means to truly rely on the Holy Spirit of God for power. A power that comes from upon high and that can literally change the lives and hearts of many. The Apostle Peter got to witness this kind of power, a power so amazing and something that changed the course of history in the Christian church. Last week Pastor Keith talked about that kind of power in the creation story. What Peter witnessed was when church was the church. No walls. No committees. No church politics. A place where the community of faith understood it’s calling to be a devoted, deliberate, and daring people of faith. A place where the people of God knew what their purpose was as the body of Christ. To be messengers and givers of hope of the saving grace of Christ. A place where community happened and existed.
I believe devoted Christians are people, men and women, who are not concerned about themselves. A devoted Christian spends their time looking for ways of being an encouragement to others. They look for ways at helping others toward the love of God as Paul talks about in Hebrews 10:24; “So, let us consider how we may, spur one another towards love and good deeds.” Listen to Paul’s words from Philippians 2:3-4…”Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” A devoted Christian makes it their calling in life to considering others better then themselves. Who in your life models this kind of devotion? They are the kind of people who never expect anything back from you. They would be fine with just knowing that you were happy. According to this morning’s scripture lesson, devoted Christians also are ones who are devoted to the teachings of the Gospel message.
What made the early church unique was that it relied on the apostles teaching, Holy Scripture, God’s Word proclaimed more then just a source of knowledge. It was God’s Word spoken. Here at CPC the Bible is what we look to as the Apostles teaching. The Bible is the authoritative and the inspired Word of God for all of us as Christians. God’s Word is essential to the Christian faith and it is needed to deepen ones relationship with Christ. It is the way we come to know the love God has for his people. It is the way we meet Jesus and find his love and forgiveness for sin.
For us as the church to be devoted means that we become a church that listens to God’s Word. We together listen and approach God with a heart that is ready to be people who are deliberate in the way we tell others of God’s love. One way of listening to God’s Word is going to God in prayer. Becoming a church that prays is our calling as Christians. It is another Characteristic of the Christian Church. What is your prayer life like this morning? Do you make it a point to approach God’s throne on a daily basis with boldness in the prayers you bring before the Lord? Also are we a praying church? (Plug Wednesday prayer night) The early church knew that the only way that a church could survive was to be a church that prayed. 1 John 5:13 writes, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so, that you may know that you have eternal life, this is the assurance, we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears, and if we know that he hears us, we know that we have what we’ve asked of him.” Paul’s words in Hebrews 4:16 are words for us to live by this morning; “Let us then approach the throne of grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.” The church must be a place where we go to God first in prayer before we do anything else in the lives that God has called each one of us to live.
To become a deliberate Christian means that one must become unashamedly bold about how the Christian message is to be conveyed. To be deliberate is to be intentional about how you tell others about Jesus. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” When Jesus gives the great commission in Matthew 28 his command to go was in my opinion a command to be deliberate in every way when it comes to communicating the Christian message. To make every opportunity an opportunity for seeing that who ever you meet and greet knows why you believe in what you believe. What keeps you from becoming a deliberate Christian? I believe, as with a devoted Christian, a deliberate Christian is one who goes out of their way at being a servant of Christ. Devoted and deliberate Christians aren’t into the accolades or the need to have egos stroked. They are servants first. They are servant leaders.
Daring Christians are people who go out of their way at making sure the Word of God is modeled and taught in a way that the Holy Spirit can change the hearts and minds of God’s people. They do it in love. Daring Christians imitate God’s love as Paul instructs the church in Ephesians 5:1a, “be imitators of God.” Daring Christians are not ashamed of the gospel message. Paul writes in Romans 1:16; I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. When the church becomes daring it becomes a place filled with people who have been touched by people who were daring in the way they shared with them the love of Christ. I can’t help but hum that old song; “they will know we are Christians by our love.” To be a daring Christian means that you are willing to be adventurous in the way the gospel message is communicated.
When the church becomes daring in the way it communicates the gospel the church becomes a place where people’s lives are transformed. Where could you be more daring when it comes to sharing with others the gospel message? Devoted people of God and to God’s Word, deliberate in the way we communicate the love of God, and daring when it comes to being a church willing to tell others no matter what that God indeed loves us, has forgiven us, and has and will give us new life only found in a relationship with Christ. This is the kind of church I know we should be. I also know it’s hard. It requires work. It requires people who will be faithful.
This Memorial Day weekend again is a time for us to remember those who modeled what it truly meant to be a devoted, deliberate, and daring kind of people. Men and women in the armed forces. People who worked day and night at making sure that we were and that we would become a nation that would rest on the freedom God has given to us. Imagine what the kingdom of God here on earth would look like if we as those before us were to become truly devoted, deliberate, and daring people of the Christian faith? What would this church look like? What would your friends look like? What would you look like?
To God be the glory. Amen.