Preaching

An Ordinary Church

acts 2

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” –Acts 2:42-47

In Acts Chapter 2 we see the birth of the very first church at Pentecost. Now what I’m about to say about this church may catch some of us by surprise. Many of us have probably heard a few sermons on this passage and about what a powerful example this church is for how a church should look. This is certainly true. But in these same sermons we’ve probably also heard the preacher say something about what an extraordinary church this is.

Now certainly this church was birthed and came about through extraordinary means. This can’t be denied. But in my mind, this church isn’t any more extraordinary than any other church.

At the beginning of Acts Chapter 2 we see that the Spirit of God came upon the believers. We see in verse 14 of Chapter 2 how empowered by the Spirit of God Peter preached a powerful sermon. Peter preached Jesus. Peter preached Jesus crucified. Peter preached Jesus risen from the grave and ascended to the right hand of God the Father. Peter preached Jesus as Lord of all! Through the powerful preaching of Peter the Bible tells us that 3,000 folks were saved. So, certainly this was an extraordinary event. I’ve never preached a sermon in which 3,000 folks got saved. And not many preachers can say that they have!

But this being said, aren’t all churches pretty extraordinary? All churches are made up of sinners who have had the scales removed from their eyes and have seen clearly who Christ is, and have chosen to follow him. This is an amazing thing. It’s not natural. Salvation is all a work of God. This is true whether we are talking about 3,000 people or 30, or even 3.

So, even though this event was powerful. Even though we can say this was an extraordinary event…this first church was no more extraordinary than any other church. This first church was no more extraordinary than my church or yours.

And do you know why I can say that? Because the same Spirit that empowered Peter to preach on this day, is the same Spirit that empowers men today to preach. The same Jesus that Peter preached in Acts chapter 2 is the same Jesus that faithful preachers today preach. And the same Spirit at work through this Church that we read about working so powerfully in and through this church, is the same Spirit that will work through our own churches, IF we will faithfully preach this Jesus and be obedient to His Word.

So, yes. This church came about through extraordinary means. It was a wonderful event. But, in a lot of ways this church was simply an ordinary Church. The Church we see in Acts 2:42-47 was not some unreachable standard for us as the modern church to attain. The Church in Acts 2:42-47 was God’s ideal local church, and what God desires every local church to look like.

May it be so…

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The Pastor’s Wife

mere

The call to peach the Word of God and to shepherd God’s people is a strange thing. Obviously it is an honor and a privilege that I don’t take lightly. It is also humbling because few things make me feel so small and so inadequate. Because it is such a large task it is very easy to get caught up in yourself and your work that you often neglect other areas of your life. Because it is such a humbling task that makes you so aware of your own limitations you can easily get overwhelmed at the things you have to do to prepare and you can begin to lose sight of those around you and their own struggles.

Because I have six kids and a part time job outside of my church work I do much of my studying and sermon prep late at night. I often feel like I’m a step behind where I need to be. My wife works night shift as a nurse so our quality time together is very limited. When she is home and able to help out with the kids I often find myself letting her handle things as I give myself over to study or writing. Saturday nights and Sunday mornings are always a bit tense as I make my final preparations to my sermon or getting the music ready for our worship service. I’m not complaining, I love what I do and wouldn’t trade my life for anything…But there is a point here I’m trying to make.

I often get so caught up in myself and my own work that I forget how hard my wife works. I’m not even talking about her “job” as a nurse. She is the one who picks up the slack around the house and with the kids while I work on my sermon. She is the one who makes sure I get to escape to my office so I can work on my Sunday School Lesson. She is the one who allows me to “sleep in” those couple of days she’s here, because I was up late writing. She is the one who goes to get the kids from school while I make my pastoral visits. She is the one who stays home and makes dinner and gets the kids ready for bed when it’s late on Wednesday night when I come home from our mid-week service. And she is the one washing the girls, and brushing their tangled hair on Sunday morning when I’m making the final tweaks to my sermon or yelling at everyone to hurry up out the door so we aren’t late to Sunday School. She is the one who wrangles the kids in the front pew while I preach and proclaim the truths of God’s Word.

It’s very easy for me to think about all that I do or need to do in ministry. But I often forget how important my wife is to my ministry. The truth is apart from her hard work I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. While I shake hands and chat with folks after Sunday Service, and breathe that breath of relief because another one is “in the books”,  I often see her exhausted face and slightly disheveled hair after wrestling with a one year old for an hour and don’t give it a second thought.The fact is, she has worked every bit as hard as I have that morning.The call of a Pastor’s wife is just as sacred and just as important a call as the call to Pastoral ministry. The difference is the value of one is often overlooked, even by the Pastor himself.

I know I often take for granted what my wife does and how important she is to my ministry. I have a feeling I’m not alone. So Pastors…Tell your wife thank you and you love her and give her a kiss. Thank God for her. If you’re not a Pastor but find yourself reading this, show your Pastor’s wife some love…she deserves it. And please, pray for both your Pastor and his wife.

And just in case my wife happens to stumble upon this…Thank you Babe, I love you.

Too powerful not to share…

I had to post this…It is just simply too powerful not to. Please Read…

“…your poverty is no hindrance, for my Master asks nothing from you – the poorer the wretch, the more welcome to Christ. My Master is no covetous priest, who demands pay for what he does – he forgives us freely; he wants none of your merits, nothing whatever from you; come as you are to him, for he is willing to receive you as you are. But here is my sorrow and complaint, that this blessed Lord Jesus, though present to heal, receives no attention from the most of men. They are looking another way, and have no eyes for him…. My Master is not wrathful with you who forget him and neglect him, but he pities you from his heart. I am but his poor servant, but I pity, from my inmost; heart, those of you who live without Christ. I could fain weep for you who are trying other ways of salvation, for they will all end in disappointment, and if continued in, will prove to be your eternal destruction.” -Charles Spurgeon

Praying someone who needs to see this, will…

Absolutely…

            We live in a world today that would like us to believe that there is no absolute truth. We live in a society so worried about being politically correct, that we hold our tongues just so we won’t offend anyone. We live in a society in which we are told that everyone’s religion is ok, and that all roads lead to God.

            Actually I do agree with the last statement. All roads do lead to God. The question is when you stand before Him, will it be to greet your savior or meet your judge? Will you be there ready for eternal life in fellowship with the God of the universe, or will you be doomed to an eternity of hell and suffering as a result of your disobedience and refusal to accept the word of God as truth.

            There is that word again, truth. Is there an absolute truth? And does it really matter? Well I’m here to tell you yes, it absolutely does. If there is no absolute truth then we are in big trouble my friends. Let me give you the truth that the Apostle Paul preached. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 Paul says, “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas(Peter), then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”

            Paul believed that the absolute truth was that Jesus had died for our sins, He was buried, and then raised from the dead on the third day. How important did Paul think this was? Well let’s move on and see what Paul said in verse 14. “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” Another word, if Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead then all of His preaching doesn’t matter, they are just empty words. Let’s look at verse 17,”And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

            Do you understand this? If Christ was not raised from the dead, then there is no forgiveness for your sins. You see Jesus died in order for you to be forgiven. Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for sin that we all deserve. Romans 6:23 tells us that “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When Jesus died on the cross, he accepted the death that we deserved because of our sins. But when God raised Him from the dead, He was validating who Christ was, and showing us that His sacrifice was acceptable. So if Christ was not raised, then you and I are still in our sins, and are still separated from God. In verse 19 of 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 Paul says, “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

            If Christ has not been raised from the dead then Christians more than anyone else ought to be pitied. We have put all of our hope in something that is not true. Everything that we have believed and preached would have been a lie. If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead then He was just a man. And a man cannot take away sin. A lot of people will tell you that Jesus was in fact just a man, and a great moral teacher, but I love what C.S. Lewis said, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He’d either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he’s a poached egg-or else he’d be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But don’t let us come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us. He didn’t intend to.”

            I’m so thankful that I don’t need anyone’s pity because as Paul says in verse 20, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.” I’m here to tell you that is the absolute truth. Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but you have to make that choice. There is nothing more important. Because either Christ was raised from the dead or you are stuck in your sins. Either Christ was raised from the dead or there is no hope. It is really that simple. And that is the absolute truth…