Acts 29 - Part 3

 "Transformed Relationships"


we're in the season of the Apostles fast
and just going to give you like an
overview of of where the church has been
living for the last four months lent was
the season of reconciliation between man
and God to become once again United with
God and connected with god and then you
find in the resurrection or the season
of the Holy 50 it's a season of abiding
with Christ and living with him with a
resurrected life and the natural
response after all of that the next
logical step is living for God and His
purpose this is the kingdom building
season as we go through our series of
transformation that we would be able to
find out where we need the Holy Spirit
to work we are talking about the
unfinished work of the Holy Spirit we
talked about how the reason why we're
calling it the acts 29 campaign acts
only has 28 chapters in it but we are
that twenty ninth chapter the book of
Acts has not ended you find in our
liturgy even when we read the acts
epistle following by the axle epistle we
read the lives of the Saints we read the
cynic cerium showing that the church is
continuing and we still see the same
acts of the Holy Spirit working in the
lives of the people of the church and
this is the mission of this church we
started this series with the early
church the first church as our model our
inspiration who here wouldn't want to be
a part of a church that is transforming
lives the characteristics of all the
things that we saw on the early church a
church that loves in a radical way that
gives generously above and beyond their
measure and that's one of the things
that we talked about last week dr. AHA
there was a church that was expanding
because of the great testimony in the
of the transformed lives that you saw in
the community you see there's nothing
more touching than when you see
somebody's life completely transformed
and so people were hungry for it they
wanted to be transformed they wanted to
be changed they wanted to be touched
because of what they saw not what they
heard they could see the differences of
the lives of all the people within the
church we're going to kind of cover some
of those some of those things that can
show you in the book of Acts how amazing
it was we said the most important
component for a church to be an acts 29
church it's a church that receives power
from on high and we told you that we're
going to start an initiative we're going
to do a 24 hour day of prayer on jun
26th not necessarily in the church but
you're going to take a slot and from
your homes from your place of work or
from wherever you are you are going to
continue this movement of prayer because
we believe that when a church prays
together and when a church is a
prayerful group of people we believe
that it can move mountains and we've
seen it throughout the whole history of
our church you don't have to be here in
the church to do it but we want everyone
to take part in the work of the body of
Christ and it starts with getting power
from on high we mentioned that we can't
just be creative with our activities
have new strategies that will make a
difference only power from on high will
transform lives and like I said last
week we discussed how the church would
never expand if there wasn't a testimony
of transformed lives now I want to go
back and look at the community today
we're going to talk about transformed
relationships according to God's
perspective if there was ever a
community that stood out as a blinding
light to all those in a great darkness
it was that one it was the church that
was shining and living we're going to
read some of those past
that show that from Acts chapter 2 and
chapter 4 first one it says and with
many other words he testified and exhort
them saying be saved from this perverse
generation then those who gladly
received his word were baptized and that
day about three thousand souls were
added to them and they continued
steadfastly meaning there was a
tremendous tenacious unwavering
commitment to these things in the
Apostles doctrine and fellowship in the
breaking of bread and in prayers then
fear came upon every soul and many
wonders and signs were done through the
apostles now all who believed were
together and had all things in common
you know sometimes when I read this in
the book of Acts I'm like yeah right
yeah right all people who believed were
together and had all things in common
and sold their possessions and goods and
divided them among all as anyone had me
can you imagine that there was no one in
need in the early church really come on
because nobody could sit in their
comfortable house with their big
flat-screen TV while somebody outside
doesn't have any home doesn't have a
shelter doesn't have food how could that
be here I'm wearing designer clothes or
designer gala bayas and you don't have
what I have and so here we are how could
we possibly possibly be like the early
church when there's still people that
have need among us next passage so
continuing Dale's continuing daily with
one Accord in fellowship in the temple
praying breaking bread sharing the
Eucharist from house to house they ate
their food with gladness and simplicity
of heart praising God and having favor
with all the people and the Lord added
to the church daily
those who are being saved next passage
now the multitude of those who believed
were of one heart and one soul neither
did anyone say that any of the things he
possessed was his own really really
nobody said that's my parking spot I
always parked there this is where I sit
every Good Friday and the tunt that came
and pushed me out of my pew okay this is
where i sit lady I said no it said
neither did anyone say that any of the
things he possessed was his own but they
had all things in common I'm with great
power the Apostles gave witness to the
resurrection of the Lord Jesus for sure
they did if people were sharing their
stuff right there is a sign of the
resurrection and people were saying that
I don't own anything it's for the
community of course I was the power of
the resurrection and then it says and
great grace was upon them all nor was
there anyone among them who lacked for
all who were possessors of lands keyword
for all who were possessors of lands or
houses sold them and brought the
proceeds of the things that were sold
and laid them at the Apostles feet and
they distributed as each one had need I
find a few things that are mentioned
over and over again the idea of unity
and fellowship not just the casual
meaning of fellowship there was time
where every time we'd send I'm meeting
out an email out to anybody about a
meeting we'd write somebody was making
fun of this he said every time you write
its food food fellowship and fun like
come on man like give me something like
don't tell me that's fellowships cuz we
have a bunch of chips and dips we hang
out fellowship meant a lot more to the
early church than just having a chips
and dips meeting it was a lot deeper
than that it was a lot more a higher
level of intimacy there was a
sacrificial love where others needs were
considered first and there was a joy in
doing things too
gather you know sometimes when we come
as a community we see all right guys
this is what we're going to do as a
community we're going to have a 24-hour
day of prayer or we're going to
celebrate Easter in the park or we're
going to go do which we are going to do
on July fifth we as a community we're
not going to have a sermon in here we're
going to go out we're going to serve our
community we've arranged several places
that we can go out as groups and we are
going to be the Church of the book of
Acts I'm gonna bring my kids and we're
going to go and we are going to serve
others we are going to say that st.
Mark's is going to change the world one
senior home at a time or one park or
whatever it is whatever it is that we're
going we are going to share the love of
Christ we're just going to talk about it
I'm sick I've heard it for 36 years of
the same things we should we should we
were gonna we're going to do it and
we're going to move mountains by the
grace of God because I believe that
that's what God wants to do through his
church churches are meant to be a
spectator sport and you see prayer and
worship with fellowship love and joy
going throughout all the book of Acts
this is the recipe for an incredible
community I'll tell you the times or
have experienced this living in a
mission with other people eating
together going through trials together
serving together eat sleep drink
everything is 24 hours together you feel
like do you want to kill each other yeah
but the bond that you have you ever been
on a mission trip for two weeks in the
middle of a jungle and Africa or
something the bond that you have with
these people is for life not because we
you know ate chips and dips and watch
the movie aah aah we were together
fulfilling the will of God hand-in-hand
seeking from the Lord to be his army for
his kingdom have you ever experienced
that have you ever been a part of a
group of people that want to have the
same heart of jesus together and I want
to accomplish and change the world
together it's the most amazing thing
there are a few concepts from the Bible
that we're going to look at
first thing is that the church was
all-inclusive the first all-inclusive
destination was the church nobody was
left out nobody was left out let's read
it here already here sorry but now in
Christ Jesus you who once were a far-off
have been brought near by the blood of
Christ for he himself is our peace who
has made both one and has broken down
the middle wall of separation having
abolished in his flesh the enmity that
is the law of commandments containing in
ordinances so as to create in himself
one new man from the two thus making
peace when he talks about to what chu is
he talking about the Jews and the
Gentiles you see the Jews couldn't mix
with anybody else the Jews would never
interact with a Gentile they never have
a Gentile in their home they would never
speak to you or touch a Gentile then it
says that he might reconcile them both
to God in one body through the cross
thereby putting to death the enmity and
he came and preached peace to you who
were a far off and to those who were
near the bond with other people in the
Jewish community was about their history
of being the chosen people of God but
when Christ came he says uh uh were all
the people of God I want to ask you in
this room how many of you are Jewish so
which part of the church do you identify
with the Jewish or the Gentile most of
us in here are from the Gentile
community but yet sometimes I feel that
when you walk into a church or you we
still have that Jewish mentality where
the Jews and their the Gentiles we ain't
the Jews we're not the Jews were the
Gentiles we were the same people that
were a far off we were the same people
that had no chance of being in a deep
connection with God we were the same
people that were rejected from the
kingdom of God and Christ by his death
brought you
me and allowed us to be one with God's
chosen people in one church no middle
wall of separation national nationality
and culture didn't mean anything anymore
we aren't people of different nations
and languages and culture we are the
children of God and this is something
that's important it's important for you
to understand because we're going to be
held accountable you see when st. Paul
talks about this that Jesus broke the
middle wall of separation if you're
building it up again what happens what
happens if Jesus is breaking down the
middle all the separation to make us one
or say ah put it up again we don't want
those people because they look like this
so they talk like this or they smell
like this whatever they are we can't let
them in we like our nice little
community alright at that point Christ
established the first all-inclusive
destination can we have this
all-inclusive mentality can we have this
all-inclusive mentality you're going to
see this in Colossians chapter 3 verse
11 it says where there is neither Greek
nor jus circumcised nor uncircumcised
barbarian sighs ian slave nor free but
christ is all in all Jews and Samaritans
Samaritans were considered dogs to the
Jews they used to call them dogs because
what they did was they took Judaism with
other religions of the pagans and they
mixed it and they were despised they
were hated they were the worst and then
you see Jesus goes through Samaria which
a Jew would never do they would go
around Samaria and he starts to speak to
a Samaritan woman he broke all cultural
barriers any
barrier that is deep-seated with hatred
he broke it he said no more I want you
to look within I want you to think about
those barriers that are in your
subconscious cuz nobody's going to admit
that I'm a racist nobody's gonna admit
that I am you know like culturally
centered you know that I'm I just
focused on my own culture and I only
associate with people my own culture
nobody's gonna admit that but if you
think for a second and you look down
deep do you have that all inclusive
mentality you can tell by your
friendships look at your friendships
where do you spend your time how do you
spend your time think about it do you
live the Christian life that is all
inclusive do you know what that means it
means that once past was forgotten when
somebody entered into the church it
didn't matter where they came from it
didn't matter where they were yesterday
but I know you did I know you were once
you enter into the house of God what
your past is forgotten it's erased it's
gone do you do that when you see others
when you see others forget about the
outside think about the inside think
about what happened to you four years
ago at the church festival somebody ran
over your kids you know kofta sandwich
and you were upset and whatever happened
and all of a sudden you feel like I'm
carrying things in my heart I've created
this barrier can I begin to forget other
people's pasts well I know where that
girl used to be in high school I know I
know she was I know what that guy was
doing when he was in college I know
where he's coming from you can't have
that mentality in the church you have to
forget and you have to say because Jesus
came to me the Gentile who was far off
who needed to be cleansed by the blood
of Jesus when I look at myself before
before Christ I say of course I'm the
but if he could save me that's what st.
Paul said if Christ could save me he can
save anyone and you see that in first
Timothy chapter 1 he says Christ came
into this world to save sinners of whom
I am the first that in me first he would
show all long-suffering st. Paul's
saying God wanted to show that he's
long-suffering so he chose me the worst
person in the world and if he could save
me he can save anybody is that your
mentality is that your mentality that
verse that I just read why there is
neither Greek nor jus circumcised or
uncircumcised barbarian Scythian slave
nor free but Christ is all in all I've
understood most diverse for years but I
finally understood something new what is
a scythe Ian so many named Herod itís
wrote what the Scythians were it
represents a race of savages inhabiting
a region of rather indefinite boundaries
north of the Black and Caspian Seas and
the Caucasus Mountains they were nomads
who neither proud nor sowed moving about
in wagons and carrying their dwellings
with them they had most filthy habits
and never washed in water they drank the
blood of the first enemy killed in
battle made napkins of the scalps and
drinking bowls the skulls of the slain
their deities were many of them
identified with those of the Greeks but
the most characteristic right was the
worship of the naked sword and they
sacrificed every hundredth man taken in
war to this deity war was their chief
business and they were a terrible
scourge to the nations of Western Asia
imagine imagine that now you have there
is neither Greek nor jus circumcised or
uncircumcised barbarian siphon slave or
free but Christ is all in all he's
saying that even the Scythians became
one with the church the person that
would use the
scope of a person as their drinking bull
the scalp of the person as their
drinking bull became now part of the
family I want you to look at Acts
chapter nine when Saul of Tarsus was
converted saw was the Hitler of his time
on his way to Damascus to take
Christians into prison to kill them to
slay them to do whatever he has a
conversion on the way Jesus appeared to
him changes his life and he goes there
what happens the Lord spoke to a person
he was praying his name was an honest
while he was praying God was talking to
him it's kind of cool okay and he says
Here I am Lord what do you want me to do
for you Lord said I want you to go and
talk to Saul and take him into your
house I want you to go to the local Isis
camp ok and go get the local leader and
bring him into your house and so he
would respond saying I don't know about
this I heard about this man all the harm
he's done in Jerusalem and he's coming
here with authority to do the same he's
on his way from Damascus to kill us and
you want me to bring him into my house
so God explains a little bit more could
you imagine that you hear that the
Hitler to Christians is coming to your
area and there's only a few of you here
and he's coming to get you and the Lord
says dear son please invite this man
into your home I couldn't imagine how I
would respond and the first thing he
says to Saul he gets to the house he
looks at the man a murderer a
cold-blooded murderer who separated
families previously hated you and your
kind and wanted to erase you from the
earth he says to him brother solve best
words in the Bible best words in the
Bible that ananya see Saul for the first
time and he says brother Saul
I want you to think about what it means
to be a brother wouldn't talk about that
a little bit but that's truly the grace
of God that he could look to Saul and
say brother Saul I'll tell your story of
a South African woman when Nelson
Mandela came into power he tried to
unite his people and so he made an offer
to the officers who were white there
they confessed all the wrongdoings they
could be reinstated and restored to
their positions so there was an officer
who took this opportunity and a black
South African woman attended as her
husband a black South African woman
attended as her husband and son were
victims of this officer and she asked
the officer what happened to them he
said father was out past curfew they
arrested him tied him to a stake rotated
him over a fire burned him to death and
buried him nearby and she said what
about my son he said the same thing she
then gets to make a request of him she
had to request the first one was I want
you to show me where they are buried and
I want to give them a proper burial it's
fair enough second request I want you to
come to my house every week you see I'm
a Christian woman and I lost my husband
and my son and I still have a lot of
love to give so what I want is I want
you to come to my house she adopted him
then the other women that came with her
all started singing Amazing Grace
doesn't that story kill you a woman
whose husband and son were killed burned
alive and she says I got a lot of love
to give and because you took the people
that I was pouring out my love into I
want you to come into my house and she
adopted this young officer and she made
this man her son so when ananya scums to
solve and says brother Saul same story
you see the early church is happening
today people
are living the life of the early church
where are you where are you in that
lifestyle can you look to the 21 or the
the killers who killed our 21 christian
brothers in libya and look to them and
say my brother Christ loves you my
brother can you love them with that same
radical love can we do that we can never
do it without a power from on high could
we accept anyone who walks through those
doors any American or other nationality
someone who has strange hair nose rings
tattoos on their face a former drug
addict a prostitute an unclean homeless
person someone who's been through
divorce or even committed adultery can
we bring them in and invite them into
our community and make them our family
and call them brother and sister what is
our problem have we forgotten who we
were without Christ or we those people
can we bring in the transgenders from
the street and bring them into our
church and say this is the place of
healing I'm a sinner in you're a sinner
I don't know like okay like think one
step at a time of Luna like let's go
little by little where were you and I
before Christ's where are you an eye
before Christ can we bring in the world
to this place and love them transformed
relationships what I learned about
transformed relationships first is that
it was all inclusive elder Porphyrius he
said that my heart only has entrances
and no exits his a Orthodox elder he
says my heart has no exits it only has
entrances I can only allow people in but
I can never let somebody out that's
somebody that understands the love of
that's somebody that says Christ let me
into his heart and he never let me out
he never let me out second thing is I
learned about transformed relationships
are a new perspective through Christ
eyes a new perspective through Christ
eyes therefore if anyone is in Christ he
is a new creation old things have passed
away behold all things have become new
recently I went to go visit somebody who
was pretty far outside of the kingdom of
God okay person who was very very very
far away from the kingdom of God and i
visited her and we had a heart-to-heart
she was touched and she began to want to
change and start a new life and this
person is somebody that has got a long
way to go and I began to think can I
bring her to church what do you guys
think can I bring her to church she
lives a sinful lifestyle can I bring her
to church when I started praying that
night I was crying before the Lord I
said Lord is your church sick is this
the place of healing is this the place
where people going to come in their
lives are going to be touched if I can't
bring one of your sheep into the church
what's their hope what's their hope and
I began to cry before the Lord and say
Lord maybe this person's a hopeless case
don't know if I can bring them she might
be looked at funny she might be known
you might know her past is there any
hope for her what do you guys think can
we bring her can we bring our shoes say
yeah but keep her away from my boyfriend
or my fiance I would like that's all
work that way we have to embrace and we
have to make people new brothers a
brother is even better than being a
superhero saying
could you imagine that somebody became
your brother or sister from the street
I'm going to end in a minute Hebrews
chapter 13 verse 2 says do not forget to
entertain strangers for Vice so doing
some have unwittingly entertained angels
maybe God is going to bring that person
that looks and smells like a sinner into
our midst and he's going to give us a
chance you want to know what makes me
very sad is that if you already gave us
a chance and we failed that if people
came they didn't smell Jesus here they
didn't see him here and so they said
Jesus isn't in the church that would be
a disaster what do you think then my
question is what are we going to stand
before the throne of God and say Lord we
had all my prayer meetings at 24 hour
days of prayer and we did this and we
did that he said I know I sent one of
the angels who is disguised as a drug
addict into your church and you threw
them out you didn't love them you didn't
invite them into your home you didn't
have compassion you didn't help them get
off the street you didn't try to give
them a new beginning you don't try to
give him a new identity you know when
we're baptized you get a new name when
you're baptized because you have a new
identity in Christ and so anybody that
comes in here and is baptized through
repentance has a new identity so we
cannot treat somebody based on who they
were but on who they are in Christ are
you aware one of the most common reasons
that people come to a church believe it
or not they come for social reasons and
I don't blame them if a church is
supposed to be what it does can you
blame everybody want to have the best
set of friends in the world can you
blame them for wanting to come to be a
part of this family who loves
sacrificially who gives generously
who does everything it takes to make
somebody feel like they've received new
life of course they're gonna come for
social reasons I don't blame them but
they also said one of the most common
reasons for people leaving the church is
it long sermons which are getting used
to okay it's not inadequate coffee it's
not bilingual services because somebody
prayed in different language because
they no longer feel welcomed they're no
longer sensing fellowship within the
community we need this new mentality if
we could all adopt this mentality I
think we'll all be happier everyone is
welcome everyone has new life here
everybody's past is forgotten today is
the new beginning I'm a new creation old
things have gone new things have come we
need to be like the father of the
prodigal son the father of the prodigal
son didn't see the Sun from a way off
and say all right go to your room go get
me the money that you lost girls nasty
clothes before you come into my house
what'd he say give my son the best robe
in the house his rope and he saw him
from afar way off and he had compassion
and ran and fell on his neck and kissed
him we need to be embrace as loving
fathers brothers mothers sisters
recently I saw another person he was far
from the church and from God she wrote
on her facebook she said I wish I could
find a motherly figure and I wanted to
be like come to the church there's
plenty of beautiful women that could be
like a motherly figure to you they could
give you the nurturing that you need it
when you were out on the streets that
maybe your real mother didn't give you
so touching so touching the thing that
God has given us the opportunity to
fulfill those gaps so we need to be
embraces you don't have to hug everyone
some people are huggers some people
aren't okay
but we need a joyful greeting I don't
like welcoming tables because everybody
is the welcoming table we do welcoming
tables because we got a problem okay
thank God for our welcoming table but I
hate welcoming tables we're not supposed
to be in churches you are the welcoming
table you see a foreign face you hug you
embrace you rejoice that they've come
into our home as our new brother or
sister I want you to call someone this
week meet someone new this week ask them
how they're doing we got a lot of hurt
people in this church a lot of people
that feel rejected let this be the week
that you think about them let this be
the week that you say you know what this
bad kid whoever they are messed up
family whoever they are we're gonna have
them over for dinner and we know their
drama we know their problems we know
they're annoying but they're gonna come
into our house because they are my
brother or my sister and I'm gonna
embrace them into my home and we are
going to become the acts 29 church maybe
you know someone who's suffering from a
sickness and economic hardship people
who just moved here from Egypt having
difficulty getting settled Jews and
Gentiles all in one house we don't
separate from them they're our family
they're part of us they're part of who
we are they're part of this church and
so we have to we have to serve them I
pray that we would have transformed
relationships now with our best friends
or our family members but with the
hurting world that we can call people
brother Saul and they could feel that
this is the place of new life and glory
be to god forever amen