Map My Life Plan
These are notes from my teaching at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, July 15, 2018.
MAP MY LIFE-PLAN
Part 3 of What Your Church Can Do For You
We're in a three-part series called What Your Church Can Do For You. It's a overview of our Cornerstone 101 class. It's important for all of us to know what the Cornerstone is all about.
Last week, I said that the Cornerstone's purpose is to help you find and follow Jesus. This week, I want to add a word to that: our purpose is to help you find and follow Jesus TOGETHER - together as a church. The church is these people sitting around you. They are essential to all God wants to do in your life.
You're in church today, so I know you agree with me. I don't need to convince you to love the church. Today is more of a reminder and maybe an encouragement.
I want us to focus for a few minutes on God's plan for his church, for THIS church - and what each one of us can do to fit into that plan. Acts, chapter 2:41-47 describes the ideal church. Ideal, not perfect. Ideal, but real. It describes the church in Jerusalem in 33 AD.
GOD'S PLAN FOR THIS CHURCH
1. THIS CHURCH WILL SEE THE SPIRIT MOVE IN POWER.
(Acts 2:41) Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
(Acts 2:43) Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.
(Acts 2:47b) And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Sociology isn't the reason for 3000 people turning to Jesus as their God and Savior. Peter wasn't that good a speaker. It wasn't mass manipulation. The people weren't primed for this; in fact, they were the same people who a month earlier had demanded Jesus be crucified.
There's only one rational explanation: God's Spirit was moving in power to build the church from 120 to 3000 in one day. In fact that's the whole point of Acts 2: the church is built when the Spirit moves in power.
How we fit in: Ask the Holy Spirit to move in power at the Cornerstone. Make that a daily prayer. Create a prayer group to ask for more of the Spirit. Online even. Then watch for signs that he is moving: people turning to Jesus as God and Savior.
I love the church's prayer in Acts 4. This is exactly what I'm suggesting we all do. Look how God answered:
(Acts 4:29-31) Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
2. THIS CHURCH WILL LOVE CONNECTING TO GOD
(Acts 2:42a) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching ...
(Acts 2:46) Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.
(Acts 2:42c) They devoted themselves ... to prayer.
(Acts 2:47a) ... praising God
"The favorite meeting place of the early believers was in the temple (cf. Lk 24:53), at the eastern edge of the outer court called Solomon's Colonnade (cf. 3:11; 5:12)." The Expositor's Bible Commentary (abridged)
In the Greek, "The prayers." The daily Jewish prayers. Typically, introductory psalms, the Shema (Hear O Israel) and its surrounding blessings, and the Amidah (18 blessings).
The ideal church was "devoted" to Bible-teaching and prayer and worship. "Devoted" means committed, faithful, focused. Why? The Spirit made them thirsty for more of God. They couldn't get enough of God. They wanted to be saturated in God.
How we fit in: Ask God to make you thirsty for him. When you don't desire God, when you are busy and distracted, that's when to pray for thirst. Thirst is God's gift to us.
(Psalms 40:1) I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
3. THIS CHURCH WILL FEEL LIKE A TEAM
(Acts 2:42d) They devoted themselves to ... fellowship, to the breaking of bread ...
The joke is that the Baptist definition of fellowship is donuts and coffee. Funny, but oh so wrong. It's true that they ate together - "breaking of bread." But they did that because they wanted to be together. They were committed to "fellowship" - not to food, but to each other.
Fellowship means to participate in a common cause. It's like being on a team or on mission together. Our students will experience this on their mission trip. They'll work together and help each other and sacrifice for the mission. This was happening in the ideal church:
(Acts 2:44-45) All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
(Acts 2:46b) They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
Open hearts, open hands, open homes.
We had a lot of this team feeling when the church started 21 years ago. People went all in to make things work. Those were amazing days, but it's hard to keep that going when everything goes back to normal. The closest team-spirit I've seen these days is in our small groups when they get serious about serving and supporting each other.
How we fit in: Ask God to give you a small group that feels like a team.
(1 Thessalonians 2:7-8) Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.
The Christian life is taught AND caught. Mostly caught. We learn by watching, by being with Christians and our Jesus-following families and friends. That's why it's so important to love the church. It's in fellowship with other Christians that we catch the life and we learn to follow Jesus.
So the church really matters to your spiritual health and growth and maturity. We can't do it alone. Solo Christians don't do well and are definitely not God's ideal.
I mentioned last week that I used to hate the church. Even when Jesus came into my life, I didn't want anything to do with the church. God had to really work on my thinking in that area. Today, I love the church - even when I don't like it very much :)
It's true that churches can burn you. I've been burned. And there are some very unhealthy, even abusive, church situations I wouldn't want anyone to go through. And the temptation is just to back off. I totally get that. Frankly, I've even done that from time to time.
BUT ... that's not the answer. Because backing off from church doesn't help. God has designed things so that the place to find the healing and the help we need is with his people. Maybe in a formal service like this, but also maybe in a small group or on a ministry team where the Spirit is moving.
When you are mapping out your life-plan, make room for the church - or better, for the fellowship, for genuine relationships. In fact, find some people you trust and give them a prime spot in your heart and in your schedule.