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Sermon on Act 2-42 ff

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FROM BELOW, NOT ABOVE

Acts 2:42-47

 

Tonight 24 Oscars will be awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles.   (Best of 207-some years have less to work with)

 

Five Oscar facts:

The Shortest Acceptance Speech Was given by Alfred Hitchcock and Joe Pesci. After winning the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award in 1967 in recognition of his illustrious career, Hitchcock muttered "Thank you," and walked offstage. Twenty-three years later, after winning Best Supporting Actor for his work in Goodfellas, Joe Pesci did the same exact thing.

Too-True Oscar Fact: While the Oscars cannot legally be sold to anyone except back to the Academy and then only for $1, the Oscar is officially accepted as a form of currency at every level of Los Angeles' cocaine-based economy.

The Nature Calls Fact: Meryl Streep, forgot & left her just-claimed Oscar for Kramer vs. Kramer on the back of a toilet during the 1979 festivities.

Sarcastic Oscar Fact: Many Oscar-winning actors and actresses use their moment in the spotlight to promote social causes. Because the political opinions of people who "make pretend" for a living are very important.

The Where Am I Now? Fact: Alice Brady won a Best Supporting Actress award for In Old Chicago in 1937. Brady wasn't present, but a man walked up and accepted the award on her behalf. After the show, neither he nor the Oscar was ever seen again.

When we think of the best of the best in terms of the church, we often think of the church in Acts, particularly in Acts 2.  Although the church in Acts manifested some very serious problems, in Acts 2 we have what the church has always considered the church in its purist form. 

Turn to Acts 2:42-47 (READ) 

Acts 2:42-47 shows us four foundational qualities:  They were a…

  • Worshipping Church (REACHING UP)
  • Evangelizing Church (REACHING OUT)
  • Learning Church (REACHING IN)
  • Loving Church (REACHING AROUND)

Elders-trying to address the continual decline in attendance

With the accretion of various activities & ministries throughout the years & trying to readjust staff responsibilities, asked staff/elders: What is essential to be a church?


·        The Apostles teaching

·        Fellowship (Supportive Relationships, Engagement with one Another)

·        Keeping Centered on the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus (communion)

·        Need Meeting (benevolence)-Acts 6

·        Prayer (Both Smaller Group and Larger Group Experiences)

·        One on One Evangelism

·        Equipping/Motivating for Missional Living (encouraged through testimonies of how God has been working) Is this the same as Body Based Ministry?

·        Spirit Led Leadership


All of that is good, right, fine. 

We have too often thought of this as a passage on ecclesiastical structure.

I.      They devoted themselves—this was not programmatic.  It arose spontaneously (2:42)

My thinking adjusted when I looked at very first verb (third word) in the sentence:

προσκαρτερέω [pros·kar·ter·eh·o]  pros-to, unto or toward; +  kartereho-be steadfast  -“persisting in or continuing in”

  • cf. 1:14; “they all joined together constantly in prayer…”
  • 2:46: Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
  • 6:4-apostles will devote themselves to prayer & ministry of the Word;
  • 8:13 [Simon the sorcerer continued with Peter];
  • 10:7-Cornelius’ servants who “attended to him”;
  • Rom. 12:12 & Col. 4:2- continue steadfastly in prayer
  • Rom. 13:6-the authorities to whom we pay taxes are to focus themselves on administering justice;

Complete Word Study Dictionary to endure. To tarry, remain somewhere (Mark 3:9); to continue steadfastly with someone (Acts 8:13); to cleave faithfully to someone (Acts 10:7); referring to those who continually insist on something or stay close to someone (Acts 2:46;

Analytical Dictionary of NT

basic meaning persist at, stay by; (1) with the dative of person be loyal to, attach oneself to, associate closely with (AC 8.13); serve personally, wait on (AC 10.7); of a boat be continually ready for someone, stand ready (MK 3.9); (2) with the dative of the thing; (a) occupy oneself diligently with, pay persistent attention to, be devoted to (AC 6.4); (b) hold fast to, cling to, persevere in (AC 1.14; 2.42); (3) followed by ἐν and a place spend much time in, continually be in (AC 2.46)

In some languages one may use “they gave themselves to,” “they were eager for,” or “they were very desirous of.” 

2:42: (TEV) They spent their time in learning from the apostles, taking part in the fellowship, and sharing in the fellowship meals and the prayers.

Wuest Expanded Translation: “And they were giving constant attention to”

THEY DEVOTED TEHMSELVES

a.      …TO THE APOSTLES TEACHING --They wanted/needed to learn God’s Word

(“they were eager to have the apostles teach them.”

I wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone? (Craig DeMo)

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets? 

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive text messages? 

What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it? 

What if we gave it to our kids as gifts? 

What if we used it when we traveled? 

What if we used it in case of emergency? 

Know what? This is something to make you go, “Hmm...where is my Bible?”

Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill. 
Makes you stop and think "where are my priorities?" 

And, no dropped calls!

b.      …TO FELLOWSHIP They needed the support of one another

They needed to be spending time with people of like mind

Stick-to-it-iveness= raise in divorce rate.

This is what wisdom literature scripture says:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Proverbs 27:17: As iron sharpens iron,  so one man sharpens another.

There is strength in numbers

Vance Havner says: “Snowflakes are frail, but if enough of them get together they can stop traffic.”

c.       …TO THE BREAKING OF BREAD –

1.      Not clear whether or not this is communion or just eating together,  Probably both (communion was a part of their commonly shared meals)

2.      “Breaking of THE bread” –not usually used for a meal.

3.      Mention seder

d.      …TO THE PRAYERS

1.      They recognized their dependence on God in prayer.

2.      Talk about the elders praying for people, especially the sick.  Stress this. 

That hunger for the Word, for prayer, for fellowship for intimacy with Christ are NATURAL parts of the Christian life.  When those are not present that is a sign that something is wrong in our spiritual lives. 

New believers are usually the ones who say, “I’m reading my Bible everyday. I want to be in fellowship.  I have prayed like never before. 

“They’ll get over it.”   NO!!!! This is the absolutely wrong attitude.   If they hang around people like that enough, they WILL get over it and become like the dead Christians that our world too often sees.

The Christians you meet in the Book of Acts were not content to meet once a week for “services as usual.” They met daily (Acts 2:46), cared daily (Acts 6:1), won souls daily (Acts 2:47), searched the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11), and increased in number daily (Acts 16:5).

II.  There was a spirit of generosity. (2:44-45)

Thousands of people had come to Jerusalem for a short period of time—the feast of Pentecost.  While there hundreds/thousands accepted Christ.  They needed to stay on in Jerusalem—they needed to learn more. They longed to be prepared before returning home.   There was lodging that needed to be extended.  Food that had to be purchased. 

Not communism, but need meeting  (Commonism, not communism) Commonism says, “What’s mine is yours,” while communism says, “What’s yours is mine.”

2:44-45. The selling of property and the common possession of the proceeds may imply that the early church expected the Lord to return soon and establish His kingdom. This may explain why the practice was not continued. Holding everything in common was not socialism or communism because it was voluntary (cf. 4:32, 34-35; 5:4).

Also their goods were not evenly distributed but were given to meet needs as they arose.

There were moochers in that society, just as in this society.  (They didn’t abandon generosity because some abused.)

There was a spirit of generosity, not of obligation.

III.          They manifested glad & sincere hearts(2:46)

One of the subthemes of Acts is joy, because a victorious church is a joyful one. This is seen in verses 46-47 and numerous other times

Acts 5:41  The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.

Acts 8:8  [Philip preached in a city Samaria, cast out demons & healed cripples] So there was great joy in that city.

Acts 8:39  When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 11:23  When [Barnabas] arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, [Gentiles had begun to become Chtns] he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.

Acts 12:14  When [Rhoda] recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”

Acts 13:48   When the Gentiles [in Pisidian Antioch] heard this [that the Gospel extended to them], they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.

Acts 13:52  And [Paul & Barnabas, even though they were driven out of Pisidian Antioch by unbelievers] were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 14:17 Paul: “Yet [God] has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

Acts 15:3  The church [at Antioch] sent {Paul & Barnabas] on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad.

Acts 15:31  The people read it [the decision of the Jerusalem council] and were glad for its encouraging message.

Acts 16:34  The jailer [in Philippi] brought [Paul & Silas] into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

Acts 21:17  When [Paul & Luke & the company with them] arrived at Jerusalem, the believers received us warmly.

a.      This was attractive to non-believers. (they enjoyed the favor of all the people).

b.      There was power manifested by the apostles.

IV.            The lifestyle of the believers resulted in natural evangelism. (2:47)

a.      Not programmatic.  (door hangers?)

b.      Organic.

 

APPLICATION

Is there a hunger in you…

…for the Word of God?

…for being with fellow believers?

…for times of precious communion with ithe Lord?

…for both extended times of corporate prayer and group prayer.

Hunger is fed by self-feeding

Is there a generosity within you that says, “What is mine has been given to me by God and when there is a need, I will do what is needed to get the need met?”

GENEROSITY IS DEVELOPED BY GIVING

Does the joy of the Spirit shine through in your life?

Do people WANT to become believers because of how they see you live your life?  Are they attracted to Christ because they see his love and grace and truth and peace shining forth from you? 

CONCLUSION

In Romania, after communism fell, we in the west became aware of the many orphans there who were basically warehoused in huge orphanages. They were vastly understaffed. So the babies, while they had most of their physical needs looked after – food, shelter and some hygiene, were very seldom picked up and snuggled or played with. Many of them had what doctors aptly call “failure to thrive syndrome.” They may have been many months or sometimes even years old, but they still looked and acted like newborns. What they did not have is family. Or even a sort of surrogate family who would encourage growth. Many people in North America saw these helpless children on the news and decided that they would adopt one.

Christians can be the same – we might be born into new life with Jesus, but if we are left on our own, we can have that same “failure to thrive syndrome” in our spiritual lives.
This is why teaches that it is so important to be adopted into a fully functioning body of believers. Paul, says in Ephesians 4 verse 14, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”


this listing of the four aspects of the life of the believers serves primarily to introduce what is to come in the following paragraphs. At the same time, the immediately following paragraph serves as an introductory statement to much of what is in the succeeding chapters (3.1–5.16).  

Before the show begins, Brad Oltmanns and Rick Rosas, partners at Pricewaterhouse-Coopers  carry briefcases to an award show.  Those briefcases carry the names of the winners of each of the 24 statuettes. 

6,000 members of the Academy vote on various awards.  No one votes on all 24 Oscars.  But last Tuesday the 19th was the deadline for ballots to be returned.  Beginning Tuesday night and continuing through Friday night, the two accountants and four assistants are sequestered away in an undisclosed location.  Part of the ballots are given to each of the four assistants and each ballot is tallied by hand.  Then each of the totals are given to Oatman & Rojas, who then total up the totals to determine the winners.  They are the only two people on the planet from Friday night to Sunday night who know the identity of the winners. 

These two actually prepare the envelopes themselves. A card is printed for every nominee in every category and then when the results are know, the correct card of the winner is put in the correct envelope and the remaining four cards are destroyed.  Two sets of envelopes are prepared in case disaster strikes.  Oltmanns & Rosas keep the envelopes in their possession until they are handed to a celebrity presenter as they are ready to go out on stage. 

My definition of the church is: the fellowship of those given by Christ to be to each other what He has been to them, so that together they can be to the world a demonstration of the new humanity He died and lives to make possible.

Evangelism was not based on elaborate handbooks or slick brochures. People wanted to be with those contagious, praising Christians and have what the Spirit had given them.

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