– Acts 2 records the beginning the church age. Candidly, the church as we know it today was born right here. To read Acts 2 is to see the chapter opening with some 120 believers in the upper room and the Manifest Presence of the Holy Spirit of God literally “falling” in power. Not surprisingly, the chapter ends with this thought, “and the Lord added to the church everyday those who were being saved.” When the Holy Spirit takes control, people respond.
– The story of the development of the church continues throughout the book of Acts. In chapter 3, Peter and John demonstrate that these spiritually alive believers can heal both physical and spiritual problems. In fact, there is so much supernatural empowerment that by the fourth verse of chapter 4, that original group of 120 believers now was so large that Luke stopped counting the women and children. There were 5000 MEN who had trusted Christ. I submit that this is an indication of what God alone, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, can accomplish in the life of a Kingdom Focused Church.
– For the last couple of weeks, we have been talking about the Kingdom Focused Church. First, we sought to expose this church. Last week, we were called to embrace the Kingdom Focused Church. Today’s message may well be the most significant issue surrounding the Church of the living God in our time.
– Today we are looking at “Empowering” the Kingdom Focused Church. It takes no imagination and little discernment to realize that the church of the 1st century seemed to possess a super-natural power which the church of the 21st century doesn’t seem to even understand.
– Allow me to draw you 2 quick mental pictures. First, in the area of electricity. Have you ever experienced your air conditioner running but not working? May one of the breakers has tripped. There was power to the fan, just not enough or the right kind to run the compressor.
– Next, in the area of small engines. Have you ever by mistake, put gas and oil in an engine which only requires gas?
– Neither one works well.
– If we will keep these thoughts in our heads this morning, we will get a true grasp on the principles today.
– On a personal note, when I read about the church in Acts 2, my heart aches for God to do it again, right here, right now. My desire is to have the kind of impact in our town which this group of believers had in their place. My question is, how did this happen? What was the precursor to the Holy Spirit’s coming? What must we do?
– Turn with me to Acts 1 and let’s take a look at exactly what it was these believers did to open the door for the Spirit
– (READ TEXT) Let’s make sure we have a clear mental picture of what we have just read. This group of people has physically watched Jesus “fly away” into the clouds, they have been spoken to by men in “white clothes,” they have now returned to Jerusalem, they have spent some days together, and elected new leadership when the were overwhelmed, overcome, & certainly overshadowed by the Holy Spirit of God. They experienced the manifest presence of God and they were empowered and emboldened to tell people about Jesus.
– It is my belief that the secret to the empowerment of the 1st and 21st century church is to be seen in verse 14. The Bible teaches us if we meet God’s expectations, then He responds. He wants to respond, but won’t until we do. We can find truths about God’s expectations for us.
1) God Expects Everyone. The first word in verse 14 says it clearly; “ALL”. No where in God’s word do we find an expectation that only a few or some, but His design and His belief is that everyone who is a believer needs to be together. For years, we have misapplied the Matthew 18:20.
– We gather in those services which are sparsely attended and quote this verse like a triumphant mark of faithfulness. But listen, Matthew 18 has nothing to say about corporate worship, Bible Study, or a public assembly. It is speaking directly to a situation in the church that is to be dealt with privately and correctly. The words are an encouragement for the times we have to deal with difficulty. When the word tells us about assembly, it is ‘all together.’
– In fact, Acts 2:1 specifically states, “when they were all together in one place.” Now some are already saying, “All of us, all the time? What is this preacher thinking?” Know what I have come to believe? When the church is assembled and some of the members are missing, it’s like going to a ballgame and leaving your eyes at home. Sound silly? Well, even if you could why would you? Or even why would you want to? Better yet, it would be like going to a restaurant and leaving your teeth at home?
– Because the church is a building, body, and bride, every part is needed.
2) God Expects Consistency – Scripture says, “They were continually” together. There were consistent. They could count on each other. And it brings us back to all.
– First, please know that the concept of “all” didn’t originate with this preacher nor this message. It seems God has an expectation that extends to everyone & not just a few. Some now say, “I can’t be here all the time.”
– So, know that God understands there are times when you and I are hindered from being present with the body.
– However, make no mistake – “God’s definition of a reason is quite likely different than ours and He definitely knows the difference between a reason and an excuse.” He expects us to be consistent.
– In this body, consistency is our Achilles heel. We can investigate this beginning with Sunday services, Sunday school, Sunday evenings. Candidly, Hebrews 10:25 tells us to not forsake or or to stay away from meeting together “as some habitually do.” God expects more of His redeemed children. Almost every time we begin session of PTL, VCL, Discipleship Training, Church Training, Training Union, (or whatever you want to name it), we begin like a house afire and end in ashes. Why? Couple of weeks and we get tired, busy, disinterested, and walk away.
– Why is this? Charles Stanley in his book The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life says “Nothing is more frustrating than watching people listen week after week, oftentimes writing it all down, and then do nothing with what they have heard.” He said that “evangelical America is note rich and application poor. As a result, there is little difference between many of us and our lost neighbors.”
– Could it be that the reason we do not have the power of God is that He cannot bless our inconsistency?
3) God Expects Unity. Ouch. There is a sad truth in the church today. It is that people, both inside and outside the church, expect the church to be at odds over something. Local churches are known for something. Some are known for their worship style, some for their children or youth emphasis, some for their buildings, and some are known because there is always someone complaining about something. This is foreign to God. He expects His children to be able to not only get along but to walk together in love, gentleness, faith, and more while fulfilling His mission. The congregation who cannot walk in unity and harmony is a group of people whom God cannot and will not bless.
– Ephesians 4 tells us that there is one body, spirit, Lord, faith, hope, God, Father, and hope. It goes on to call us to “unity in the faith.” In John 17 repeatedly we hear Jesus pray, “Father make them one as you and I are one.”
– To be a Kingdom Focused Church and become empowered means we must be unified, exhibit unity to all who observe. There are a couple of old adages which will serve us well. One is “united we stand, divided we fall.” The other, a Moravian dictum, “in the essential things, unity, in the non-essential things, harmony, in all things, love.”
4) God Expects Prayer. It has been said that the believers in Jerusalem prayed for 10 days, Peter preached for 10 minutes and 3000 people were saved. Compare that to the modern day where we pray for 10 minutes and preach for an hour and nothing happens. What is the difference?
– Quite likely, prayer is the essential to empowering the Kingdom Focused Church. But it is not the “now I lay me down to sleep-God is great, God is Good-“or whatever our standard prayer happens to be. Rather, it is the prayer of acknowledgement, submission, repentance, and request. The Bible teaches us to pray without ceasing, to make our petitions known, & to come to Him.
– Every great move of God has been preceded by prayer.
– Prayer is the communication which establishes our relationship with the Father. Personally, I can tell when I have neglected my prayer life because I feel disconnected from the Father. Can you imagine yourself ignoring your best friend or your mate by not talking with them at all? Or just every 3 or 4 days? What will happen? Our relationship will dry up.
A fellow who had been reared in the city bought a farm and several milk cows. In the feed store one day he complained his best cow had gone dry. “Aren’t you feeding her right?” asked the store owner. “I’m feeding her what you’ve been selling me,” said the man. “Are you milking her every day?” “Just about. If I need six or eight ounces of milk for breakfast, I go out and get it – I just let her save it up.” The feed store owner had to explain it doesn’t work that way. With cow’s milk, like God’s presence, you take all that’s there, or you eventually have nothing.
Asking for God’s power in six-ounce doses, or asking sporadically only at our convenience, may mean that for us, the source dries up.
To fulfill God’s expectation is to release God’s blessing. To release God’s blessing is to empower the Kingdom Focused church.