Monday, April 28, 2008

Gathering Together - why? 4-27-08

When we say we go to “church”, church does not really mean the building.

The “church” is: A. God’s people.

And B. the gathering of God’s people.

Matt. 16:13-18 Jesus spoke of building his church. The word he used there for church is ‘ecclesia’ in the Greek. This is the same word used in other places for an assembly or gathering of people. It was not a spiritual term. So, when early Christians gathered together, they were doing “church”.

Go to “church” actually means go to “the gathering” or the “gathered group”.


Question: Why gather in the first place? Why did the early Christians gather?

A. It was not recorded anywhere that it was a command given by Christ. (The word for church is only used in Matt. 16:18 and in Matt. 18)

B. It was not emphasized by the apostles, with the exception of Heb. 10:25.

But, in spite of not being encouraged or commanded to, believers have always gathered together.

Answer: They gathered because:

#1 – it was natural – “birds of a feather flock together”

And, #2 – it was practical. They found that gathering together was helpful, beneficial, profitable, fruitful.

They discovered that gathering together made a definite, positive difference in their lives and spiritual growth.

Which led to: #3 – it became traditional. (typically, what is traditional, was practical at the outset.)

Practical reasons for “gathering” – Why they did. Why we should.

#1. To learn. Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (doctrine),….”

A. about – God – Jesus Christ – right & wrong – good & evil – life’s purpose & how to fulfill it – life truths & how to apply them
B. from the apostles, pastors, teachers, one another, & God

#2. To teach. Att. 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, ….” which includes…..
A. formal teaching – for example; a Sunday School class
B. assisting – example: AWANA helpers, van drivers, etc.
C. sharing with one another – example: open discussion at a Bible Study with questions and answers from the class participants..

#3. To socialize Acts 2:42 – “They devoted themselves……to the fellowship, ….”

Church is not just a social club, but it can also be a social club, if it is fulfilling all the other reasons to gather.

#4. To encourageHeb. 10:24 & 25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together,….”
Note the context of this scripture.

The 1st. century Christians dealt with: an immoral society, non-Christian philosophy, non-Christian boss, mockery and ridicule, heavy taxes, unfriendly government, medical problems, financial problems, marital and relational problems, child-rearing problems, death, disease, depression, etc.

Is it any different today????

When life beats you down, you need some more courage. You can give or receive two kinds of courage: Encourage or DIScourage. When you encourage someone, they are built up and strengthened. When you discourage someone, you beat them down and weaken them.

“Joy Suckers” are those who constantly DIScourage others.

#5 To be encouraged - because we are all dealing with the same things the early Christians dealt with. (See list in #4)

#6. To evangelize – through the gathering I Cor. 14…. Outsiders notice when a gathering takes place. They notice when something is going on. Gathering helps create an environment to reach the lost.

#7. To organize - for Maximum ministry and maximum mission

The Great Commission is a large task. It is better tackled with cooperation

The Book of Acts is partly a story of organization and cooperation which led to denominations.

#8. To worship. (corporate worship)

We can and should worship alone and apart from the group, BUT corporate worship always has been central to Christianity.

#9. To honor God – to show or declare His worth. This is done through:

attendance, attention, offering, worship, involvement, assistance

Psm. 50:23 – “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me,….”

When you are here, it honors God. When you pay attention, it honors God, when the parking lot is full, it honors God. Gathering acts as a form of the Old Testament thank offering.

#10. To experience God

You can and should experience God apart from gathering,

But, there is something special about gathering together. Matt. 18:20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there as I with them.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Enduring Gospel - 4-20-08


The BRIDGE ILLUSTRATION demonstrates the Basic Gospel Message.

This message is: God created Man to have fellowship with him.

Man sinned and therefore became separated from God, because, even though God is loving and merciful and kind, He is also JUST and no sin can enter into His presence. Now God and man are separated from each other by this wide gulf called “sin”.

The wages of sin is DEATH. No matter how hard man tries to get across that gulf and reach God, his efforts always fail. The gulf is too wide. Man can NEVER span it on his own.

However, God still wants to have a close relationship with man.

So, since man could not get to God on His own, God made a way for man to come back into His presence.

God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth, to live as a man, tempted as a human, but living a sinless life, and Jesus became the sacrifice that paid the sin debt that man owed.

When Christ died on the cross and became sin, He, in effect, paid the price demanded by a Holy God for sin. He became the bridge by which sinful man could be reconciled to a Holy God.

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice – He had no sin of His own, so was able to take on the sins of mankind and pay the debt that was owed.

Once that debt was paid, once and for all, the way was open for man to again come into God’s presence and have fellowship with Him.

However, just because the way (the bridge) is in place doesn’t automatically put a person in a relationship with God. To get from one side of a bridge to the other side of a bridge, YOU HAVE TO CROSS THE BRIDGE. It is not enough to believe that the bridge is there. You have to cross it.

This is the gospel (good news) in a nutshell.

In the 2000+ years since Jesus lived, died and rose again, many things have changed.

However, much remains the same.


#1. The Message. Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name ……… by which we must be saved.”

We are separated from God due to sin. We are reconciled to God through Christ.
This has not changed at all.

#2. The Simplicity of the Message.

On the one hand, the message is very profound. It’s beyond our comprehension.

But, on the other hand, it is very simple – simple enough for a child to grasp. It can be illustrated with the bridge, or the Wordless Book, or the story of the just Judge, or many other ways that are easy to grasp.

Romans 10:8 & 10 – “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ……”

The gospel message is as simple as A B C. AAdmit –own sinfulness

BBelieve –Jesus came and paid for own sins.

C Confess – separation from God and need of a Savior, Jesus is Lord, desire to have Him as Lord

#3 The Need for the Message Matt. 1:21 “…….you will give Him the name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.”

Man has advanced technologically and many other ways, but he has not advanced morally or ethically.

There has been NO change in man’s condition (sinful), or in his need (of a Savior)

Question: What would the world be like if man was freed not only from the penalty of sin, but from the power of sin?

Would it be like it was in Eden?

That’s the world that God created and desires to have.

#4. The Primacy of the Message. We need teaching on family, finances, forgiving one another, etc.

BUT, the Gospel is the FOUNDATION! I Cor. 15:14 & 15/ 17 -19 “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless……..if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…….If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to e pitied more than all men.”

#5. The Offense of the Message. Which is: All have sinned. Therefore, all are separated from God. Jesus is the only salvation.

NOTE: A. Just because the message is offensive, does NOT does not necessarily mean it is UNTRUE.

B. An offensive message does NOT justify an offensive messenger!

The Gospel message will always be offensive but should be presented with love and caring, not obnoxious and pushy and “in your face.’

For example: The Ugly Pill.- I have in my possession a pill that will totally cure ugliness. It is free, I have an abundant supply of them, and I’m willing to share. That’s the good news. The bad news is: YOU really need one of these pills. That’s offensive. And that’s how it is with the Gospel message. It’s a great message – for someone else, but many people do not want to admit that it applies to them.

#6. The Responsibility for Conveying the Message. 2 Cor. 5:18-20All this is from God, who……..gave us the ministry of reconciliation……….and he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,…..”

The Great Commission says: “Go and make disciples of all nations,…..”

Rom. 10:13 & 14 – “…….How, can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

There are many people right here where we live who have no concept of the basic gospel message.

#7. The Means of Conveying the Message.

Now, we have the printing press, the radio, TV, Internet. These are tools we use.

BUT – it is still people telling people.

Mark 5a:18 & 19 – “……..Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you,…”

Acts 1:8 – “……and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, …….. and to the ends of the earth.”

We were not witnesses to the miracles and the resurrection, BUT we are witness to “what He’s done for us Share what you know with others.

#8. The Power of the Message. Rom. 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation,…….”

1 Cor. 1:18/21 – “For the message of God is foolishness to those who are erishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. …..”

John 12:32 – “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

When we properly portray Christ, the Holy Spirit will work through that portrayal.

#9. The Response to the Message. Some will accept, some won’t. The response is NOT our responsibility. WE present.
GOD draws.
THEY decide.

#10. The Central Figure in the Message Heb. 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Jesus Christ IS the gospel message, and He never changes.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Early Church Ablaze - 4-13-08


Acts 2:42 – 47. “…… and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. …….all who believed were together,….and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need….. and continuing daily with one accord in the temple,….”

Why the early church was on fire.

A. Due to the Activity of God’s Spirit.

B. Due to the efforts of God’s people

On the one hand, we can’t control God’s Spirit.

But, we can determine our efforts.

The point – if we want this atmosphere, we must work at it!!

The Spirit works in conjunction with God’s people when they are putting forth the effort.


#1. Learning God’s Word

A. what it said.- content

B. what it meant – the deeper, actual meaning

C. how to apply it – put it to use

2Tim. 2:15 – “Be diligent……rightly dividing (handling) the word of truth.”

a. handle – be acquainted with

b. handle correctly – understand the meaning, the application, and then share it with others.

#2. Loving one another. This can be WORK. Rom. 14:19, Eph. 4:3, Heb. 12:14, John 13:35

A. loving others = action. Working at doing what we can to express God’s love to them. It’s easy to love some people. It’s WORK to love others, but that’s no excuse.

B. being lovable. Ovid said “to be loved, be lovable”. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Not just peace keepers but peace makers. Those who labor at NOT causing strife and conflict with others.

#3. Worship – declaring the value and worth of God at anytime. This is Work because:

A. Sometimes we don’t feel like it. 2 Sam. 12:18-20 David went to the temple and worshiped after being told that his child had died. You know he didn’t feel like it,.

B. our tendency is to come to get, not give.. We are consumer oriented. “I didn’t get anything out of the worship this morning.”

Question: “What did you give? - a smile, a cheerful “good-morning”, an offering, an encouragement to someone who was down?

#4. Prayer. This is more than an opening prayer or grace. This speaks of fervent, intense prayer.

Prayer is a Powerful tool. James 5;16 “….the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

Therefore, prayer has powerful opposition. Dan. 10:12-14 – Daniel prayed and the answer was delayed for 21 days due to spiritual opposition.

For most of us, prayer is intense, hard work

#5. Giving. Vs. 45 of opening text.

The early church gave of their time, their talents, their money, of themselves. They sacrificed of what they had.

#6. Gathering. God’s people getting together. Vs. 46 Like in worship, we should:

A. Gather – Heb. 10:25 ‘…do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together…”

B. Gather to give. What did you bring that …honors God?

helps others?

Don’t just gather, but gather to give. Too often we enter worship for what we can get and we gather together for what we can get.

All of the above points take:

1. work and effort.

2. Individual work – "a ______ church is made of ________ people." (put the same description in both blanks)

3. Self-inflicted work – the early church “devoted themselves It is all voluntary. YOU have to decide yourself.

4. Effective work. Vs. 47b “and the Lord added to the church daily,…”

God will do His part, in His foreknowledge, and mercy, and kindness, and goodness, etc.

The question is: will you and I do our part……

Monday, April 7, 2008


The primary point and purpose of this Sunday’s emphasis on Compassion International is NOT to get sponsors for the children we have packets available for, or to promote Compassion International, the organization.

The point and purpose is Much More than that!!

Through this and other promotions and projects and presentations, we hope that you’ll:


A. of the needs. We tent to focus on our little world. We need to be aware of our blessings, and also be aware of the many, varied, and VAST needs around us.

B. of the call or mandate. Matt. 5:13-16 - For those of us that call ourselves Christian, there is a command and mandate given by Jesus to be salt and light in this world and make a difference. Don’t lose your saltiness by becoming unconcerned the world needs around you..

C. of the opportunities John 4:35 – “…..lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest.” – the needs are always there, and the time is always right to help.

D. of the goal – and this goal is more than meeting physical, social, and economic needs. It is also meeting spiritual needs. John 4:36 “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life,…” The goal is to make an ETERNAL difference. What good is meeting physical, social, economic, etc. needs, and the person still dies without Jesus Christ and spends eternity in hell?

E. of your ability to Make A Difference. Your involvement may not change the world, and it may not change you, but it will change the life and world of a child. Hudson Taylor once said that God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s supply. God said, “Go, and I will go with you.”


Aware is head knowledge and we tend to forget

Challenge is of the heart. Heb. 10:24 – “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”

We need to be challenged BY the Holy Spirit

We need to be challenged TO support, and maybe even to GO!! The mission field.


Aware is of the head

Challenge is of the heart

Response is of the hands – go and do your part

The point is NOT to respond to this challenge (Compassion Int’l) or every challenge.

The point is to respond to THE CHALLENGEActs 1:8 – “…….and you shall be witnesses to Me ….. to the end of the earth.”

The Specific Response can be:

A. to seek – Jesus as Lord and Savior, if never have done so

B. to embrace – Him and his mandate

C. to enthrone Him – in your heart and truly make him Lord

D. to re-enthone Him – we tend to knock Him off the throne over time

E. to adapt – life from one of self-serving to one of others-serving

F. to answer a call – that God may be placing in your heart

IV. BE EFFECTIVE be salt that’s salty, light that shines..

Octavia Baptist Church is in the saving business which is the discipling business to grow, develop, train, equip, and send forth workers.

V. BE CONTAGIOUS (infectious) Matt. 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Do good deeds so that they inspire others to do more.

VI. BE BLESSED Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Serving, giving, doing is the pathway to blessing!! Luke 6:38 – “Give and it will be given to you, …. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” This is not referring necessarily to monetary blessing,

CONCLUSION: Again, the point of this message IS NOT to sell you on Compassion International, or any similar organization.

It is to sell you on: Jesus – the MAN – teacher, Savior, Lord

The ministry – ongoing through His people

The mandate – to be salt and light. To make a difference. To make an eternal difference