488:  What Can We Learn About Church From the Early Church

488: What Can We Learn About Church From the Early Church

There is an old saying that goes, Success Breeds Success.  And this is true.  But the opposite is also true.  Failure Follows Failure.  In other words, if we do the same thing we have failed in the same way, yet expect it to be successful, we are fools.  This also goes for how we do church today.   The book of Acts shows us what church should be like and yet we fail to heed its advice.  Why is that?  And what can we learn about church from the early church?

How did the early church “do” church, as we call it today?  What was their worship service like?  The following are some things they incorporated into their time of corporate worship.  When you read these, ask yourself this, What are we doing that they didn’t do?  And what have we added to our worship service that they did not?  Your answer may surprise you.

•   There was a time of singing.
•   There was a reading of His Word.
•   There was an exposition of His Word.
•   There was a time of ministry to each other.
•   There was a time of sharing for others in need.
•   There was a time to partake of the Lord’s Supper.
•   There was a time of prayer.
•   There was a time of praise and testimony.
•   There was a time of humility and confession.
•   There was a time of verbal commitment to Him.
•   And there was a time of fellowship and the sharing of a common meal.

Does this look like your Sunday morning time together?


What Can We Learn About Church From Them?

There are also two other aspects of their worship time that are glaringly missing today.  The first is their reliance on the Holy Spirit.  We see this from the first chapter of Acts and continuing through the entire book.  And the second is the fact they recognized that the Holy Spirit gave each of them gifts, and He expected them to use them to minister to others.  This was not a spectator sport.  Everyone had something to contribute.

A simple look into their time together will give us great insights into the early church.  For example, consider Acts 13:1-3, and the calling of Paul and Barnabas to missionary work.

Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  As they ministered (leitourgéō) to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

Note the key elements in this passage, ministry to the Lord (worship), prayer, fasting, the Holy Spirit speaking among them, being in agreement, missionary work, the laying on of hands, and their trust in God for sending their own out into the unknown.  Ah, this sounds like real church, doesn’t it?

If you want to find out more about What We Can Learn About Church From the Early Church, keep listening.

The following message is on what church should be but is no longer.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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Our Latest Posts:

487: You Can Always Begin Again Tomorrow
486: What Do I Believe?
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485: How Can We Recover What We Have Lost
484: Some Questions I Want to Ask Joseph

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487:  You Can Always Begin Again Tomorrow

487: You Can Always Begin Again Tomorrow

One of the great things about the Lord is the fact He is slow to anger and abounds in mercy.  In fact, Lamentations says “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They (His compassions) are new every morning; Great is Your (His) faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).  Do you know what that means?  It means no matter how bad yesterday was, we can always begin again tomorrow with our God.  Always!

Do you believe that?  Do you truly believe that?

If so, it means that no matter how great your sin, or failure, or disappointment, or bitterness, or unanswered prayer you suffered from yesterday, it is just that— yesterday’s news.  And today it is all forgotten, all forgiven, all put to rest.

God promises His compassion is new, fresh, and in abundant supply every time we open our eyes and behold the new morning.  They are new every morning.  Not some mornings, but every morning.  God provides His mercy and compassion to us each new day, regardless of how we defiled the day before.

Therefore, in wonder and appreciation, we cry out to our God, “Great is Your faithfulness!”


Can I Really Begin Again Tomorrow?

Absolutely.  But the problem we often struggle with is not condemnation from God.  But self-condemnation.  We can’t imagine God’s mercy and compassion are so great it will revive us of our guilt for the things we have done wrong.  But it does!  All we have to do is accept it.

How should we respond to God’s mercy and compassion as we enter into the turbulent waters of 2021?  Consider the following.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”  Yet in all these things (tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword) we are (present tense) more than conquerors (how) through Him who loved us.

For I am persuaded (to be fully assured, confident, convinced) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord – Romans 8:35-39.

And if God’s Word is true then we must learn to rest in how God sees us, even in our sin, and not how we see ourselves.  For nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  Nothing.  And that includes our own self-condemnation.

The following message is on the Mercy and Compassion of God from Lamentations 3.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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Our Latest Posts:

486: What Do I Believe?
After DC, Where Do We Go From Here?
485: How Can We Recover What We Have Lost
484: Some Questions I Want to Ask Joseph
483: Where Did All Our Leaders Go?

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486:  What Do I Believe?

486: What Do I Believe?

After all the chaos and upheaval we’ve seen in our country these past few weeks that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of our republic and the church, we have come to a place in our lives where we must ask ourselves the question, What do I believe?

That’s right.  What do I believe?

•   What am I willing to die for?
•   What is the mission and calling of my life?
•   What means the most to me?
•   And what truth will I not compromise on?

Or, as Martin Luther said when commanded to recant his beliefs to save his life, “Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.”

So let me ask you, what do you believe about the times in which we live?


What Do I Believe About the Future of America and the Church?

I can’t speak for you, but I can tell you with confidence what I believe about the future.  And it is summed up in seven short points.

•   I believe we are entering the end times.
•   I believe things will get very bad in the US over the next two years.
•   I believe inflation is a certainty.
•   I believe there will be shortages of food, gas, etc.
•   I believe we will face persecution as Christians.
•   I believe there is a great possibility of civil war.
•   And I believe we must prepare spiritually right now!

And since I believe these things, I will once again implore you, as the church, the Bride of Christ, to consider a deeper commitment to Him than ever before.  In 2021 (or until He comes), consider following Him this way:

•  Consider opening your home for Bible study this year.
•  Consider getting together with others for Bible study, fellowship, and prayer.
•  Consider creative ways to teach your children about the “exceeding riches of His grace” in Christ.
•  And, if you don’t feel compelled to “Go” for the gospel, then consider bringing the lost to you (both home and church) to make disciples of them.

Ask yourself the same question:  What do I believe?  And pray we have the faith to see this journey to the end.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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Our Latest Posts:

After DC, Where Do We Go From Here?
485: How Can We Recover What We Have Lost
484: Some Questions I Want to Ask Joseph
483: Where Did All Our Leaders Go?
482: How to Experience God

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485:  How Can We Recover What We Have Lost

485: How Can We Recover What We Have Lost

When we compare the church today with the example given in the book of Acts, we come up short and wanting.  It looks like what life was like in the book of Acts and our church life now are not even related, like they were from different parents, from different planets.  And if you are honest with yourself, you will see how much we have lost and how far we have fallen from the prototype God gave us in His Word.  Which begs the question: How can we recover what we have lost?

What do we know about the early church?  Consider the following:

•  They lived in communities, like one large, extended family.
•  They met in homes or rented facilities.  There was not a million-dollar building on every street corner that sat empty six days a week.
•  Their key distinctive was worship and evangelism.  Or, worship expressed as evangelism.
•  They were led by lay leaders.  You and me.  The guy next door.  There was nothing of the clergy, laity divide.  There were no hired holy-men.  Everyone was obedient to the command of Christ, individually.
•  They were guided by Scriptures.  Not tradition, nor public opinion, nor vote of the congregation.  God and His Word was the final authority.
•  Everyone was a priest.  Each believer had direct access to the throne of God.  Hence, they were all equal in His sight.
•  They had all things in common.  This is probably the hardest concept to get our heads around since we are happy living in a narcissistic world.
•  They were known, both within and outside of the church, as holy men who lived sanctified lives.

Looks a bit different from any church I have ever been a part of.  Can you say the same?


Is it Possible to Recover What We Have Lost?

The early church took the commands of Jesus seriously.  They did not pass them on to someone else or assume they were meant for only those who were “gifted” or “specifically called” to total commitment.  They took responsibility knowing that Jesus’ commands still applied to them, and also to us, some 2,000 years later.  Consider this command:

Matthew 28:18-21 – And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying,  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go (not stay) therefore and make disciples of all the nations, (how) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

As Keith Green once sang, “Jesus commands us to go.  It’s the exception if we stay.”

So as 2021 dawns on us, consider following Him this way:

•  Consider opening your home for Bible study this year.
•  Consider getting together with others for Bible study, fellowship, and prayer.
•  Consider creative ways to teach your children about the “exceeding riches of His grace” in Christ.
•  And, if you don’t feel compelled to “Go” for the gospel, then consider bringing the lost to you (both home and church) to make disciples of them.

Let 2021 be a year of spiritual renewal and revival for us as individuals and as His church.  After all, it has to begin somewhere.  Why not let it begin with you?

The following message is a call to help the church in Recovering What We Have Lost.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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Our Latest Posts:

484: Some Questions I Want to Ask Joseph
483: Where Did All Our Leaders Go?
482: How to Experience God
30 Ways to Improve Your Home Security Today
481: Praying to the Holy Spirit

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484:  Some Questions I Want to Ask Joseph

484: Some Questions I Want to Ask Joseph

One of the most important things we can do to combat the coming apostasy, as we have shared before, is to develop an intimate relationship with both God and His Word.  In essence, to have an experience with Him through His Word.   And we do this by slowing down and asking questions of the text, just like we would if we experienced it, first-person.  As if we were actually there.  Today, being close to Christmas, we will briefly look at the birth account of Jesus through Luke’s eyes and see if some questions arise when we read Luke’s words.  Maybe some questions we would want to ask Joseph about the trip to Bethlehem.

And why is that so important?

To begin with, the first step in learning how to experience God through His Word is to slow down and take your time.  In essence, give God time to speak to you.  Remember the points we discussed earlier?

•  Take your time.  After all, this ain’t no race, and the prize doesn’t go to the one who finished first.  The winner is the one who hears from God.
•  Therefore, you must wait for God to speak to you wherever you are reading.  Slow down and take your time.  Remove the yoke of bondage you have placed on yourself with your agenda or Bible reading plan that is more important than experiencing God in His Word.
•  Again, slow down and take your time.
•  Wherever you are at in His Word, read the passage over and over again, out loud.  Emphasize each word or phrase.  Let your ears hear what your lips are reading.  Use dramatic effect in your voice if necessary.  Become the characters.  Feel what they feel.  And think what they must have been thinking.
•  Then ask the obvious questions or wait for questions to arise.  They will if you don’t rush your time with Him.  And when they do, watch what happens.

As an example, today we will look at Luke 2:1-21 and see if we can experience God in this account of Jesus’ birth by waiting for our questions to arise.


There Are Some Questions I Would Like to Ask Joseph

Can you think of any questions you would ask Joseph if he were sitting with you at a small cafe telling you the story you have heard every Christmas?  What would you ask him?

How far along was Mary?  Was she in much pain during the trip?  And how many days did it take?  Where did you sleep at night?

Why did you take her with you in the first place?  Couldn’t you have made the trip faster alone and returned quicker if she stayed with her parents in Nazareth?

Did her birth pains come on suddenly, like a surprise, totally unexpected?  Or did you have some warning her time was coming close?

Where did she give birth?  Was it in a barn or stable?  Or maybe in a cave where animals sheltered at night?  Was it in an open field?  Where did His birth take place?

How did you feel when the shepherds came to visit you that night?  Did you immediately believe their story?  Or did it take some time for it to sink in?

After the birth of Jesus, why did you not return to Nazareth?  Why did you stay in Bethlehem?  And what did you do to support your new family in Bethlehem?

And the list of questions could go on.  The point is, none of these are specifically answered in Matthew’s or Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth.  But they are questions we would ask of Joseph, nonetheless.  And by asking these questions, the Scriptures become more alive to us as we begin to experience God, through His Word, like never before.

The following message is a continuation of Step One on How to Be a Small-Time Pastor.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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Our Latest Posts:

483: Where Did All Our Leaders Go?
482: How to Experience God
30 Ways to Improve Your Home Security Today
481: Praying to the Holy Spirit
480: How to be Filled by the Holy Spirit, Revisited

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483:  Where Did All Our Leaders Go?

483: Where Did All Our Leaders Go?

As we see the church beginning to bend to the whims of our culture we struggle to ask how we, as the church, have let this happen on our watch?  How did things in our society go so wrong, so fast?  If the church is the light of the world and the salt of the earth, we have gone AWOL and abandoned our posts.  And the reason is simple, we have a crisis of Godly leadership in the church, in our marriages, and in our families.  Where did all our leaders go?

Part of this crisis is found in our assumptions about the church and the expectations of the Christian life.  Consider the assumptions we, as men, constantly make regarding church and our responsibilities to lead our wives and children in the things of the Lord.

We assume:

•  There will always be a church on every street corner so I can freely church-shop without having to make a commitment to any in particular.
  There will always be paid staff to do ministry for me so I won’t have to.
  Praise and worship will always be what I enjoy.  And if not, “I’m outta here, bub!”
  There will always be a preacher/pastor/teacher, my personal hired holy man who will do the heavy lifting for me and my family so I can spend my time doing other things that I enjoy more.
•  There will always be good study materials available for free so I won’t have to spend my money on learning the Bible but can spend it on what I want.
  Church will always be about me.
•  I can come when I want, late or not, no matter.
•  I can do what I want, no matter how it affects others.
•  I can live the type of life I want, sin and all, and if someone has a problem with that I can always leave and go to another church of my choosing.

But these are all just assumptions.  And church life is quite different on the front lines.  Again, where did all our leaders go?


So, Where Did All Our Leaders Go?

Great question.  But before you ask where all our leaders went, you need to ask yourself the most important question as you look in the mirror.  How would you answer these questions:

Do you know enough about the Bible to spiritually lead your wife and children if you had to?
Are you personally growing in your faith in the Lord?
Can your wife and children see your growth?
And if not, why?
Do you judge your success as a man by your spiritual growth and knowledge of Christ?
Or are there other criteria you judge yourself by?
Does your wife feel confident with you to ask you a question she has about the Scripture?
Has she ever done that?
Could you give her the correct answer?
Or were you too busy with other stuff to be “diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, (how) rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)?

And now, the good news.

Would you like to know how to be proficient in “rightly dividing the word of truth?”
Would you like to acquire the skills necessary to understand the Word of God on your own, without having to have someone else explain it to you?
Would you like to have confidence in teaching and explaining His Word accurately and intimately?

If so, this message (and the ones to follow), will give you the tools you need to grow into the man of God you were meant to be.

The following message is Step One on How to Be a Small-Time Pastor.

To download the slides to this message, click – HERE

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Our Latest Posts:

482: How to Experience God
30 Ways to Improve Your Home Security Today
481: Praying to the Holy Spirit
480: How to be Filled by the Holy Spirit, Revisited
Should You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

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