Saturday, August 4, 2018

Date: August 4, 2018 

Speaker: Merlin Parsons 
Passage: Acts 6:7

"So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.''
  • Jesus' last message to the disciples:
     Matthew 28:18-20
"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Acts 1:8 
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
  • The apostles joined constantly in prayer and waited for the Holy Spirit to come.
  • The people were cut to the heart and asked Peter and the apostles what they should do. 
"Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call." Acts 2:38-39
  • "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:47
Everyday souls were saved for the Kingdom.
  • We often assume that the growth of the church was because of Peter and John only, but that was not so.
"They devoted themselves (the believers) to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:42-47

Basic formula for church growth: 
1. Quality Bible Study.
  • "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching..." Acts 2:42
  • The apostles taught from the Word of God. Each of the believers studied the Word. 
  • We need to put emphasis on Bible study.
  • Join a small group of Bible study.
  • Know your Bible. Read it everyday.
  • The speakers in the church should have full knowledge of the Bible.
2. Quality Worship.
  • "They devoted prayer." Acts 2:42
  • Everything we do should be in worship to God. 
  • Worship God, not only in the church but in everyday life.
  • In church, we should direct our focus and attention towards God.
  • We need to return to our first love, Christ and His church.
  • The speakers in church should be prayerful.
3. Quality Community Building.
  •  "All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need." Acts 2:44-45
  • The believers helped and supported each other.
  • Most people leave our church not because of doctrine but because someone looked at them with a judgmental eye. Someone was unkind to them, they had no support from the church, they sat the back and no one ever talked to them.
They leave not because of doctrine but because of an unkind and unfriendly church community.
4. We need to be a Prayer Centered Church.
  • There are three types of churches:
  1. Prayerless church - focused on the program of the church rather than prayer.
  2. Churches with prayer - same prayers repeated over and over again.
  3. Praying church - places prayer at the center of all activities.
  • We need to pray before we do anything because everything we do must be done for the glory of God.
  • The whole church must learn to pray and be united in prayer.
  • Don't pray that there will be no persecution, but pray that you will live through it.
Why do we need each other?
"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6:12-13

"above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." Ephesians 6:16
  • Faith needs to build with others.
  • Faith - first line of defense against the enemy's attacks.
  • Shield - 3 and a half feet tall and 2 feet wide.
  • In a Roman legion, the soldier stands side by side with their shields.
  • A soldier requires other soldiers in order to fully protect each other. In the same way, we need each other to stand strong.
  • If you stand alone, you are exposed to the enemy's attacks.
  • A shield is the only armor that requires a community. 
 Jesus said, "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." John 10:16
Jesus won't send them to our church, if we are out to destroy them because our hearts are not right with God. 

In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Moses, before he died, encouraged the children of Israel to continue to tell their stories. Because stories build faith.

A pastor's wife was praying to God to show her His heart. One night, she dreamt that she was in the New Jerusalem. The walls were covered with glass and she could see from the inside out. It seemed to her that she saw a shadow. But that shadow turn out to be people. They approached the New Jerusalem. Among the crowd, she saw her son, crying and shouting, "Mom, let me in." Her heart broke and she cried but she couldn't do anything. She woke up feeling horrified from that dream. 
God's heart is breaking for every lost soul like a mother's heart is breaking for her son.
Now is the time... to read our Bibles and pray everyday.
Now is the time... to welcome others to our church.
Now is the time... to stop gossiping and criticizing others.
Now is the time... to build a loving church community.
Now is the time... to become a first love church.

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