Why are we Here, Where are we Going, and How Do You Fit In? (2019)

Dr. Steve Viars January 6, 2019 Acts 2:41-47
Outline

3 actions to guide our church family in 2019

I. Be Focused on Our Biblical Mission

A. Note the connection between what they did and what God had commanded them to do

Acts 2:41 - So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

Matthew 28:18-20 - And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Acts 1:8 - …but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

The mission of Faith Church is to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and equipping them to be more faithful disciples.

B. God glorifies Himself by blessing “focused people/churches” with numerical growth

Acts 2:41 - …and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

C. What are you planning to do to be a more faithful “fisher of men” in 2019? What are you planning to do to help Faith Church grow numerically?

Matthew 4:18-19 - Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

1. Use your social media platforms

Zechariah 7:4-6 - Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, “Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years, was it actually for Me that you fasted? When you eat and drink, do you not eat for yourselves and do you not drink for yourselves?’”

Zechariah 7:12 - They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 - Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

2. Evaluate how much time each week is devoted to accomplishing one of these three main tasks

3. Plan to attend Church Family Night to rejoice in the fruit that comes from “Growing What God Has Given”

II. Be Relational In the Way You/We Seek Growth

A. By devoting yourself to biblical teaching

Acts 2:42 - They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching...

B. By devoting yourself to fellowship

Acts 2:42 - They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship…

Acts 2:46 - Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart…

C. By devoting yourself to prayer for and with one another

Acts 2:42 - They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

D. By expecting and seeing God at work

Acts 2:43 - Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.

E. By sharing with those in need

Acts 2:44-46 - And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart…

Zechariah 7:9-10 - Thus has the Lord of hosts said, “Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.”

III. Be Consistent in Your Spiritual Focus This Year

A. The importance of faithfulness

v. 42 – …they were continually devoting themselves…

v. 43 – Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe…

v. 46 – …day after day continuing with one mind…

v. 47 – And the Lord was adding to their number day by day…

1 Corinthians 4:2 - In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.

B. The power of faithfulness

Acts 2:47 - Praising God and having favor with all the people…

Zechariah 8:20-23 - Thus says the Lord of hosts, “It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.’ So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.” Thus says the Lord of hosts, “In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” 

- well Happy New Year – I hope you, your family, and friends had a wonderful time around the holidays together…

- I’d like to thank the hundreds and hundreds of staff and volunteers who served so faithfully to make all of our Christmas ministries so effective this year….

- whether we’re talking about the women’s Taste of Christmas outreach event, or CFE, or the LN, or the Musical, or the Christmas Eve services, or our winter break ministries…

- by God’s grace those events were conducted with excellence and passion by men and women willing to do whatever is necessary to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ at a time in our culture when people are especially open to considering the message…

- part of the DNA of the majority of individuals who call this church their home is the belief that before we sit down with our family and friends to enjoy everything that goes along with our Christmas traditions, we want to be sure that we’ve done everything in our power to ensure that…

- every person in our town has warm clothes and plenty to eat

- and that the parents of our community will have gifts to present to their children…

- and most importantly – that as many people as possible have heard a clear and compelling explanation of the meaning of Christmas and the importance of making a personal decision to accept the gift of forgiveness and new life through repenting and believing in Jesus as ones Savior and Lord…

- once that all important work is done – then we’re comfortable enjoying the holiday with our own loved ones and friends…

- I just want to say on behalf of our staff – thank you for living that way…we don’t ever want to take one another for granted around here…

- but for most of us, Christmas is now packed away…it’s in the rear view mirror…

- and the question now becomes – what’s the focus of 2019?…in other words…Why are we Here, Where are we Going, and How Do You Fit In?...

- this morning, we’d like to answer those questions from 2 passages in particular – Zechariah 7 and Acts 2 [page ____ of the front section of the Bible in the chair in front of you and page ____ of the back section of the Bible]…[we’ll actually read them in the reverse order to how I just announced them – Acts then Zechariah]…

- while you’re turning there – perhaps this word picture will summarize what we’re going to be emphasizing from these passages about where we are as a church about as well as any…

- consider that you’re a person who loves catching fish…and whether that’s actually the case or not, remember that one of the ways our God describes us is fishers of men…the Christian life is an ambassadorial life…we been given marvelous news to proclaim with a corresponding joy that comes when a person chooses to believe the message and accept Christ as Savior and Lord…

- so there’s nothing quite like the thrill of going fishing…

- so suppose that we’ve been given a lake that is absolutely teeming with fish…

- they are all shapes and sizes and the fishing has been really, really good…

- so much so that we decide it would be especially helpful to build a fishing lodge…to organize our fishing efforts…and we do that…all the while still spending time fishing because we love that better than building…but we endure the building if we really believe it will eventually help us catch more fish…

- and after the lodge is built – thankfully, that’s what happens…we’re better at fishing than ever before…

- then after a few years…someone comes rushing into the dining hall one night and announces they’ve found a new inlet on the opposite side of the lake….and there are different kinds of fish there…and it’s going to require slightly different tackle…and fishing in the evening instead of the morning…but a group goes and tries that and sure enough…the fishing is great over there….and of course it’s not long before we’re talking about building another lodge on that side of the lake…

- and its’ the same thing – it takes some time and effort away from full time fishing…but that’s OK if it helps us get the job done better…and sure enough it does…we’ll catching all kinds of fish…

- then a few years later someone comes and reports that there is a problem at another place in the lake, and the fish are being killed by polluted water….so we go build a water treatment plant….

- then there’s the problem of a waterfall and fish being killed when they’re caught in the current…

- and before long – we’ve just finished our fifth location around the lake…and we’re a bit tired from all that energy and all those resources being expended…

- but it’s finally done and we wake up the next morning, have a good breakfast…and then look over at each other and say what?...let’s go fishing…all God’s people are going fishing…at a level unlike any other time in our history because we have more facilities on which to catch fish than ever before…

- that’s what Jesus instructed His church to do…that’s what happened the day the church was born…that’s what happened throughout the book of Acts…

- God’s people went fishing…and to God’s glory and by His power, they caught fish…a lot of fish…

- they caught em…they counted em…they cleaned em…and then they all went out and fished some more…and they had a great time doing it…

- because life always works best when the things God cares about the most…are the things you care about the most…

- for our fifty plus year history – this church has done lots and lots of fishing…and by God’s grace and for His glory…a lot of fish have been caught of every conceivable shape and size and species…

- and from time to time we’ve diverted some of our resources to build some new lodges around the lake…

- and for the first time ever…we have more platforms than ever before…FE, FW, Bethany Farms, HH, and the NCC…

- wow – how the Lord has blessed, huh?...why?...

- so all God’s people could go fishing,,,and be more effective at it than ever before…

- that’s why our theme for 2019 is Growing What God has Given

- we are in awe of all that the Lord has given to us…and yes, we have a few ancillary projects to accomplish this year…but the main thrust is fishing…lots and lots of fishing…at a level of intensity and effectiveness like never before…

- to help guide our thinking this am on specifically what that will mean to and for us, let’s read our two passages…

- read Acts 2:41-17

- read Zech. 7:4-14, 8:1-18, 18-23

- so we’re talking this am about Growing What God has Given

- and in the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 actions to guide our church family in 2019.

I. Be Focused on Our Biblical Mission.

- there is so much about Acts chapter 2 to like…

- for example, the fact that it’s the apostle Peter delivering the message…

- what a great example of God’s forgiveness and grace…to take a man who had not that long ago denied that he even knew Jesus 3 times…now boldly proclaiming his name to his countrymen…

- there’s also the emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the chapter as Joel chapter 2 is fulfilled when the apostles are able to speak in tongues…speaking in specific languages of the various people groups who were gathered simultaneously…except for a few skeptics who accused the apostles of being drunk…[because alcohol always increases your ability to speak precise languages you’ve never known or studied before]…but what a marvelous demonstration of the power of the HS of God…

- there’s also the multi ethnic aspect of all of this – people from many different ethnicities being invited to place their faith and trust in Christ…

- along with the importance of repentance – this is a very hard-hitting sermon that calls men and women to admit their sin and their need of a Savior…

- and the impact of believing in the reality of the resurrection…because once Peter knew that Jesus really was alive…there was no stopping him…that’s for sure…

- but in addition to all of that…

A. Note the connection between what they did and what God had commanded them to do.

  • Acts 2:41 - So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
  • Matthew 28:18–20 - And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
  • Acts 1:8 - but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

- please look how closely tethered what they did in Acts 2:41 was to the specific commands they had been given by our Savior...and Chief Fisherman…

- that’s why our church’s mission statement is – The Mission of Faith Church is to glorify God by winning people to Jesus Christ and equipping them to be more faithful disciples.

- those words are taken directly from the verses we just read and the example of the early church…

- now, something else that is very prominent in this passage throughout the book of Acts is…

B. God glorifies Himself by blessing “focused people/churches” with numerical growth.

- God Himself is the one directly Luke, the human author of this book but writing words that were inspired of God…to include the great news that it was…

  • Acts 2:41 - …and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

- why is that in the text?...certainly not to glorify Peter or any of the other humans involved…

- but let’s not rob God of the glory due His name by failing to report on what happened numerically…because every one of those numbers represented a soul that was going to spend eternity somewhere…

- and the good news is – God’s mercy is so extensive that when He goes fishing…He is capable of forgiving, and redeeming, and catching lots and lots of fish at the same time if that’s what He wants to do…

- and as I think back over the years….I think I’ve said too many times that we don’t care about numbers lest it look like we were pridefully trying to elevate or draw attention to ourselves…

- but the truth is -- it is easy to hide a whole lot of apathetic and lazy and distracted living behind a statement like that…

- but passages like this remind us that God wants us to grow what God has given…

- and our church family is in a better position to do that than ever before…

- so here’s my challenge for you in 2019….

C. What are you planning to do to be a more faithful “fisher of men” in 2019 and what are you planning to do to help Faith Church grow numerically?

- I’ve been using this metaphor all morning, but it comes from places like…

  • Matthew 4:18–19 - Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

- I realize someone could become a bit snarky about that word picture…

- I have a pastor friend in Illinois who is also a long distance runner…so he posted a picture on FB where he was running around a lake and stopped to talk to some guys and had an opportunity to present the gospel to them…

- and he made the comment – they were fishing for fish and I was fishing for men…

- and someone said – Ewww, when I first read that I thought you were a woman out looking for a date…stop saying that…

- well – to the pure, all things are pure…

- and we’re not going to stop using Jesus’ words just because some individuals might want to twist them…

- but as we said earlier…the Christian life is an ambassadorial life…it’s a sacrificial life…

- it’s coming to place of truly believing that Jesus knows the best way for us to spend our time…

- where the most possible effectiveness and joy can be found…

- and we also understand that we only get one life…and it goes fast…and we want to use it wisely and well…

- some of our long-time members will remember when Pastor Goode died and the lines for his viewing and memorial service literally stretched through the FE auditorium and all the way down to the end of the gym…

- you know why – because he been a fisher of men…and when you invest your life in making a positive spiritual impact in the lives of others…there’s great joy and satisfaction that comes from that – because God’s way works and He is glorified in the process…

- so I repeat my question -- What are you planning to do to be a more faithful “fisher of men” in 2019 and what are you planning to do to help Faith Church grow numerically?

- now you might say – I’ve not yet become a follower of Jesus Christ myself yet….can I urge you not to wait one more minute on making that choice?...Jesus Christ is fishing for you…so you can in turn fish for others…

- now let me mention some very specific possible applications:

1. Use your social media platforms

- I would like to challenge every person in our church to make at least one social media post every week that is specifically designed to catch a fish…to highlight what God is doing in your life and encouraging others to join you in the journey…

- perhaps by checking in on one of your platforms and telling people that you’re at church on Sunday morning…

- now what about the person who would say – I don’t want my social media friends to know that I go to church, or that I’m a Christian?...

- can I just be blunt for a moment – if you don’t want your friends to know you’re a Christian, you have every reason to question whether you are one…

‑ or what about the person who would say – that might impede my career…or my social standing with my friends at school or in my neighborhood…

- that was the problem in Zechariah’s day –

  • Zechariah 7:4–6 - Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, “Say to all the people of the land and to the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years, was it actually for Me that you fasted? ‘When you eat and drink, do you not eat for yourselves and do you not drink for yourselves?

- see, some people’s spiritual activity is not worshipping God – it’s serving themselves…and what happens to that kind of life over time?...

  • Zechariah 7:12 - “They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.

- and especially if you’ve been a Christian for a long period of time…your heart could actually become distracted from and apathetic to the joy and thrill of being a fisher of men…

- wouldn’t it be terrible if the Lord had reason to look at anyone associated with this church this am and say – that person’s heart is like flint…

- Jesus wants to do the exact opposite in us…the prophet Ezekiel explained to the people of his day that God is powerful enough to do that…

  • Ezekiel 36:25–27 - “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

- one of the questions you could ask yourself as you have been responding right now to these passages about our God-given mission and practical ways to accomplish it…do I have a heart of flint…or do I have a heart of flesh…

- and perhaps even to pray – Lord, please soften my heart to the needs of those around me and the potential joy of making a positive spiritual impact in someone else’s life…help me to want to grow what you’ve given…

- back to your weekly special media posts…

- you could make a post about how much you appreciate your small group and inviting friends to join with you…

- when one of our other pastors is preaching – you could tweet about some excellent point he made that challenged you – perhaps when I’m speaking, you could say something like – well, he wasn’t as bad as last time…

- you could respond to the message using our FaithSermon Hashtag

- you could use your social media to promote one of our special days and we’re going to be doing more than ever before to get those kinds of tools in your hands…

2. Evaluate how much time each week is devoted to accomplishing one of these three main tasks.

- in some ways, the great commission is fairly simple

- make disciples, baptize them (help them make a public proclamation of their faith), teach them to observe all that Christ commanded…

- so just like many smart phones now will report to you at the end of the week how much time you spent looking at your screen that week…[which I’ve been told by some can be pretty convicting]…

- how about crafting a similar report in your mind and heart to how much time and effort that day, that week, that month was devoted to one of these three main tasks?...

3. Plan to attend Church Family Night to rejoice in the fruit that comes from Growing what God has Given.

- again – all of this is to His glory…

- but why not make a goal right now for 2019 that you are going to ask the Lord to help you lead one person to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ this year…

- why not ask him for the privilege of seeing someone baptized this year that you had the opportunity to impact…

- again, not as a notch on your belt – but as a reason to rejoice just like the early church did…

- to recognize the incredible gift the Lord has given us in these three ministry platforms – and with a renewed commitment on the part of all of us to now Grow what God has given.

- I realize you might say – I need help crafting a specific plan to do that and/or accountability to make it happen…

- in addition to the annual initiatives you have in your bulletin this am – which our congregation crafted and approved as part of our 5 year strategic planning process…each one of our staff members has done that as well…and it all available on-line…

- it is there for accountability…and as a possible example…

- but one of your service pastors, your deacon, an ABF/small group leader would be more than delighted to sit down with you and help you devise a specific plan to be a more effective fisher of men this year…I would be more than happy to do that with you as well…

- now, one initiatives I’ll just mention now but I plan to lay out more detail at CFN this evening is actually one of the joys of numerical growth God has already given us…

- this year we’re going to be proposing a change to the way our church family elects deacons…the process we have worked well when we had one service at one campus…but it may not be the best or most biblical approach given where we are now – we’re glad that’s the case and will talk more about the process tonight…

- now, what’s a second action we see in this text?...

II. Be Relational in the Way You/We Seek Growth

- one main emphasis we see throughout these verses in Acts is – a large part of the joy is that they were achieving this growth on multiple levels together….

- so what do we see starting in verse 22?...

A. By devoting yourself to biblical teaching

  • Acts 2:42 - They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching...

- like we do with all of our themes, we will be developing this in all sorts of ways….but part of growing what God has given involves the care of your own soul…

- one of God’s greatest gifts to you is your heart…your soul…that part of you that no one else can see…

- so please don’t hear us say this morning that we care more about numerical growth than we do spiritual growth…that’s simply not true…

- this passage demonstrates that the church of Jesus Christ was able to walk and chew gum at the same time…

- so we want to do everything we can to facilitate effective soul care for every person who is part of our church…

- we have 12 pastors who will be participating in the preaching rotation this year – I’m very thankful for them and we are excited about the various teaching series we are preparing

- I want to challenge you to make faithful church attendance a priority…so you can grow what God has given you and your family…

- your service pastor, deacon, or ABF/small group leader would also be happy to meet with you and help you develop a soul care growth plan as well…

- I also want to thank those who faithfully teach in one of our children’s or youth ministries…that’s an important part of growing what God has given – namely the children and young people the Lord has given to us…

- you’ll also notice some initiatives we have this year to continue to develop this area of our ministry…

- in a few weeks we’ll know the results of the accreditation process for our seminary [commend Brent, Rob, and Kirk]…

- FCS is pursuing a similar process this year for renewal of their accreditation…

- we’re also praying about the possibility of starting a college---specifically for young people seeking to study community service and biblical counseling…

- all of that falls under this heading of growing what God has given…

- the text also speaks about…

B. By devoting yourself to fellowship

  • Acts 2:42 - They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship…

- again, all of this is highly relational…

- the church by its very nature is a group of called out people who are growing and serving together…

- you see that same emphasis in verse 46… Acts 2:46 - Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,

- but there again – how do we grow what God has given?...

- it starts by being sure you’re investing yourself into relationships that best position you to accomplish these kinds of goals this year…

- but assuming that’s in place – how do you draw others into the delightful fellowship that is described here?

- maybe a conversation where you tell someone else how much you love being part of a small group…and inviting them to join along…

- in an actual conversation…or on-line…or both…

- when you’re getting together with long time friends – looking to make room for others as well…

- and wouldn’t it be great if that fellowship centered around telling “fishing stories”?

C. By devoting yourself to prayer for and with one another

  • Acts 2:42 - They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

- praying for one another on a variety of ways, including our faithfulness to grow what God has given…

D. By expecting and seeing God at work.

- Acts 2:43 - Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.

- this numerical growth was causing everyone to marvel at the powerful hand of God…

- [develop – I hope our largest bill this year is our water bill…]

- and you’ll see a number of our initiatives this year fall under that heading…

- we do have some projects this year – the education addition at FE, the beginning of the ballfield project at FE…

- we’re also excited about developments at the Men’s Restoration Ministry….the new duplex should be finished so we can double the size of the program…

- VOH functioning at a whole new level with the addition of the Restored Hope store at the NCC…

E. By sharing with those in need

  • Acts 2:44–46 - And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,

- we saw a similar emphasis in Zechariah…

  • Zechariah 7:9–10 - “Thus has the Lord of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.’

- history tells us that there was a famine affecting Jerusalem at this period of time so the people in the early church were following extreme measures…but you can imagine how this sharing would have naturally knit people together…

- I want to thank you for your financial generosity

- people continue to give faithfully to our regular church ministries…and helping us support our church’s additional ministries like our school, counseling ministry, VOH, etc and now even new ones like Car Works…

- we’ve also just finished the 1st year of our capital campaign and not surprisingly but to God’s glory, people have been very faithful in that…

- I would also encourage you to think about ways you can be serving those in need especially because of the ministry platforms we now have in place…

- the leaders of each of our community centers would be delighted to speak to you or your family about customized ways you could be serving (develop based on Rod’s comments)…that’s the point of the fishing analogy…all God’s people have greater opportunities to fish than ever before…

- [from a project perspective, I’ll also be giving an update tonight about the status of the Human Trafficking initiative we’ve been considering…I know many of you are interested in and concerned about that]…

- let me also mention a current example of what Growing What God Has Given looks like in real time…and this is one of hundreds of examples I could use…

- but I really appreciate the word Matt and Nadia Bechler are doing with Christmas for Everyone…along with their leadership team of Jason and Jamie Brown, Darrell Woodman, Was and Sarah Schoop, Susan Gardner, Holy Richard, and Matt and SooAnn Boehm…

- that has been a very important ministry for us…and that team worked together to make dramatic improvements again this year…

- so instead of just being satisfied with where it was – what did they do?...

- they took concrete, specific steps to grow what God has given…that’s what good stewards do…

- a third emphasis in this passage to…

III. Be Consistent in Your Spiritual Focus this Year.

- did you see the ways that came through in the book of Acts?...

A. The importance of faithfulness

v. 42 – they were continually devoting themselves

v. 43 – Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe…

v. 46 – day after day continuing with one mind

v. 47 – And the Lord was adding to their number day by day…

1 Corinthians 4:2 - In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.

- here’s another example we should celebrate…it’s the ladies’ Taste of Christmas outreach event…

- in fact – I would say – that’s a perfect example of what we’re trying to do…

- if the heart, passion, and creativity behind that event was fleshed out in everything we’re doing at Faith individually and ministerially…that would be a very happy day for sure…

- so the work that Janet Aucoin, Tori Kjaer, Sandy Esgar, Mindi Whaley, and Alexandra Nitzschke have done is just fabulous…along with every lady from our church that’s been involved…

- everything is characterized by extreme excellence whether it be the decorations, or the program, or the food…

- but the way ladies are inviting their friends and work associates is phenomenal…it’s Acts 2 all over again…

- and yes, the ladies are looking at ways to expand it this coming year…

- why?...because all God’s people are going fishing…we’re growing what God has given…

B. The power of faithfulness

- Acts 2:47 – Praising God and having favor with all the people

- even those outside the church took note of what the Lord was doing in and through them.

- that’s what we saw in the book of Zechariah as well…

- Zechariah 8:20–23 - “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. ‘The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.” ‘So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.’ “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ’ ”

- I believe, and I think you do too – that by God’s grace and for His glory, we are in a better position to see the principles of verses like this work out among us than ever before…

- and will be especially true – if we seek to grow what God has given…

- now [since I’ve already blown my New Year’s resolution of preaching far shorter sermons this year] – let me close with one final question about this theme…

- does growing what God has given mean that you will always like the nature of the gift?...

- or, can you only grow something – if you like it?...

- this story of Tyler Trent has been fascinating to see and experience…what a marvelous story of courage, and grace, and strength, and heroism, and enthusiasm, stewardship,

- I would encourage you to pray for Pastor Mark Vroegop and the members of College Park church in Indy this Tuesday evening as they host the memorial service for Tyler…

- You may not know this – but 30 years ago, Faith was part of a fellowship of churches that planted College Park – and it has been marvelous to see the Lord bless their church family…

- I say that only to make the point that I can’t imagine a better place for the memorial service to be held…

- Pastor Vroegop is a marvelous pastor who has a book coming out on the Psalms of Lament…

- they posted this on their website…We mourn the passing of Tyler Trent but praise God for Tyler's life and the testimony of faith he has boldly proclaimed. Tyler is so much more than his cancer. He used all of his God-given days to fight against cancer and for his Savior, and for a 20-year-old man, he has left a huge legacy.  This is not the end of Tyler's story. The resurrection is our hope for eternal life. In it, we're reminded: Cancer does not win. Christ is victorious.

- there’s no question that the gospel of Jesus Christ will be clearly and compassionately proclaimed at this service…and a significant percentage of the sports world will be watching with hearts that are especially softened because of the way Tyler chose to respond to this terrible disease…

- we could say the same thing about what is happening with Brad and Meghan Franklin and their family in England…

- whatever our sovereign Lord allows…let’s commit ourselves to Growing what God has given

 


Dr. Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video