How can we move from being a “nice” church to being a church that makes a difference?
A couple of weeks ago I shared that I have heard from people, even those who don’t attend church say that we are a “nice” church. Now, it’s not a bad thing to be known as a “nice” church. But is that what God wants his church to be? Can you imagine the church in Jerusalem in the first century being called “a nice church”?
NO! THE EARLY CHURCH WAS EFFECTIVELY CHANGING THEIR WORLD! THEY WERE CAUSING CONFLICT WITH AUTHORITIES! THEY WERE CAUSING PROBLEMS IN FAMILIES AND TURNING THEIR WORLD UPSIDE DOWN!
This is the role of the church in the world: To challenge, to call people to follow Jesus and bring change. Last week we discussed that we’re to be a church at prayer! Prayer will bring revival…that is radical, life changing, Holy Spirit lead revival…the kind that changes communities
Another thing God is calling us to is MISSIONS
A LOCAL CHURCH THAT IS NOT MISSION MINDED IS BY DEFINITION NOT A CHURCH! It’s a religious club that makes little or no impact on the world.
When you read the book of Acts we see a church of action and one that was concerned with the spread of the word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is one of the keys that made them effective, this why they made so many lives miserable. This is why the world was changed!
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers:Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
NOTICE TWO THINGS ABOUT THIS CHURCH
1. They had people working under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, they had prophets and teachers
2. They were praying and fasting, seeking God’s will for them
I THINK TO MANY TIMES WE MAKE A DECISION, WE MAKE THE PLANS AND THEN ASK GOD TO BLESS IT.
Here they are seeking God’s will for them, God’s command. Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
1Cor. 16:5-9 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you —for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
DO YOU HEAR WHAT HE IS SAYING?
Paul is tired, he’s been on 2 other missionary journeys with no break, he’s been preaching, starting churches, facing opposition, sometimes even having to flee from those wanting to kill him. He’s hoping to take that break and come to Corinth to rest for a while, HOWEVER, notice what he says “a great door for effective work has opened to me,”.
What happens next is mind boggling! Paul stays there for another 3 years, the longest he was anywhere! Not only did God use Paul to start a great church in Ephesus, but while he was there many more churches were started all around. Ephesus became a major Christian Center!
NOW THE POINT I WANT TO MAKE IS THIS:
WHEN PAUL SAW THE GREAT DOOR OF OPPORTUNITY HE SAW IT AS A DOOR OF OBLIGATION AND A DOOR OF OPPOSITION.
I. A DOOR OF OPPORTUNITY
A. Ephesus was not where most Christians would want to settle, it was a big city, a major financial and commercial center and a rich city. BUT IT WAS HOME TO THE TEMPLE OF DIANA! And one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. This was a place of immorality and legalized prostitution. It was a city full of superstitious people.
BUT WHEN PAUL SAW THE CITY AND SAW ALL THE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE THERE HE SAW OPPORTUNITY TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL!
The difference between a pessimist and an optimist is that a pessimist sees a problem in every opportunity. However, the optimists sees an opportunity in every problem!
Do we have a door of opportunity in San Antonio? YOU BET WE DO!
In the history of this area we have an opportunity to touch so many people with the Gospel of Jesus.
San Antonio is a city that was founded by missionaries. We have missions in our history. San Antonio is a military city with close to 1.8 million people and more arriving every day!
WE DON’T EVEN HAVE TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE, THEY ARE COMING TO US!
God is giving us a chance to seize the moment, to catch the vision of what can be. Are we ready to do it?
II. A THE DOOR OF OBLIGATION
We have an obligation as Baptized believers to take the Gospel of Christ to the lost. Do we feel this obligation? It’s important to know that I can’t do the work for you and you can’t do my work for me.
Paul didn’t say here that the door had opened for Barnabas and Timothy. He felt the obligation to stay and do the work.
God is opening doors, but it is our responsibility to go through them or not. The question we should be asking then is this: “DO WE REALLY CARE WHAT HAPPENS TO THESE FOLKS?”
III. A DOOR OF OPPOSITION
Whenever God moves there are always people who want to oppose him. Many people do not even realize that is what they are doing. In Ephesus it was open opposition from the worshippers and business men who made their living off the worship of Diana.
BUT PERHAPS THE WORST OPPONENTS OF THE GOSPEL ARE NOT IT’S ENEMIES. IT’S THE NOMINAL CHRISTIANS WHO HEAR THE MESSAGE, THEY SEE PEOPLE WHO ARE LOST, BUT DO NOTHING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
What are we doing to make a real difference in our church, our community, our work, our school?
DOORS OF ALL KIND ARE SWINGING OPEN FOR US. THERE WILL BE OPPONENTS, BUT WE CAN’T LOOK AT THE PROBLEMS, WE MUST SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITIES. ARE YOU PART OF THE SOLUTION OR PART OF THE PROBLEM? IF WE ARE HONEST WE KNOW EXACTLY WHERE WE STAND.
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