Faithlife Sermons

The Church God Wants Us to Be

The Book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
0 ratings
· 7 views

How can we be the church God wants us to be? 1. We must make sacrifices for our Savior (vs. 1-3). 2. We must have spiritual strength (vs. 4-5). 3. We must stay in step with God's guidance (vs. 6-10). 4. We must speak about our Savior (vs. 11-15).

Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

The Church God Wants Us to Be

The Book of Acts - Part 52

Acts 16:1-15

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - August 10, 2014

*Christians: We are part of the most important organization the world will ever see: The Church of the living God!

*Many of you have heard my favorite description of God's Church. It came from Pastor Russ Blowers when he was speaking to the Rotary Club in Indianapolis, Indiana. Each week, a different member told a little about his job. And this is what Russ said when his turn came up:

*"I'm with a global enterprise. We have branches in every country in the world. We're into motivation and behavior alteration. We run hospitals, feeding stations, crisis pregnancy centers, universities, publishing houses, and nursing homes. We care for our clients from birth to death. We are into life insurance and fire insurance. We perform spiritual heart transplants.

*Our original Organizer owns all the real estate on earth, plus an assortment of galaxies and constellations. He knows everything, and lives everywhere. Our product is free for the asking. (There's not enough money to buy it.)

*Our CEO was born in a hick town, worked as a carpenter, didn't own a home, was misunderstood by his family, hated by enemies, walked on water, was condemned to death without a fair trial, and arose from the dead! I talk with him every day." (1)

*God's Church is the most important organization the world will ever see! Thank God for the Church of Jesus Christ! But how can we be the church God wants us to be? -- The Lord shows in today's Scripture.

1. First: We must make sacrifices for our Savior.

*We must be willing to sacrifice for our Savior, and young Timothy is an excellent example for us in vs. 1-3. Remember that Paul and his mission team have started on their second missionary journey. And vs. 1-3 tell us that:

1. Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

2. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.

3. Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

*Timothy's circumcision was a sacrifice he was willing to make for the cause of Christ. But even before he was circumcised, Timothy was giving himself as a living sacrifice to the Lord. Verse 2 tells us that Timothy was well spoken of by the brethren. They gave a good report on his life.

*And it helps us to know that the original word for "report" here is "martureo." That word means "witness," "testimony," or report." And "martureo" probably sounds familiar to you, because it's where we got our modern word "martyr."

*Timothy must have been doing what Paul asks all Christians to do in Romans 12:1. There Paul said: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." Timothy was already presenting himself to the Lord as a living sacrifice. But then he took the further step of being circumcised.

*Now from a legalistic point of view, we know this Jewish religious rite was completely unnecessary. The previous chapter is almost completely devoted to establishing this fact. Acts 15:1-2 tell us that:

1. . . certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.''

2. Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

*So, they went up to Jerusalem, and there Peter gave a strong affirmation that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Acts 15:7-11 says:

7. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

8. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did to us,

9. and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

10. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

11. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.''

*Then James suggested that they write a letter to the other churches to confirm this truth. And Acts 16:4 says: "As they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem."

*Paul and his mission team were delivering the letter that told new Christians they did not have to be circumcised. And how ironic that newly circumcised Timothy is helping take the good news that you don't have to be circumcised!

*We don't have to be circumcised, but Timothy was. He was willing to make that sacrifice to serve the Lord! He was willing to make that sacrifice to spread the good news about Jesus Christ! He was willing to make that sacrifice to help Jewish people open-up to the truth about Jesus.

*And we must also be willing to make sacrifices. We must be willing to give our time, our talents, and our money for the cause of Christ. We must daily "present our bodies a living sacrifice" to the Lord. God help us to do it!

*Bruce Riggins told the story of a lady whose life was changed by a great sacrifice. When Bruce met her in 1980, she was a very dedicated Christian working with poverty-stricken people in London, England.

*Bruce wanted to know what inspired her Christian faith and action. And the lady told her story of how another Christian's sacrifice changed her life. As a young woman during World War II, this lady was a Jew running from the Nazi Gestapo in France. She knew that she was very close to being caught, and she wanted to give up.

*She found brief safety in the home of a Christian. Soon another Christian, a widow came to tell her that it was time to flee to a new place. This Jewish lady said, "It's no use, they will find me anyway. They are so close behind."

*Then the Christian widow said, "Yes, they will find someone here, but it's time for you to leave. Go with these people to safety. I will take your identification and wait here." As Bruce listened, the Jewish believer said, "I asked her why she was doing that. And the widow responded, 'It's the least I can do. Christ has already done that and more for me."'

*The widow was caught and sent to a concentration camp, and within six months the Christian widow was dead. But that gave time for the Jewish girl to escape the clutches of the Nazis. Infinitely more important, that widow's sacrifice inspired the young Jew to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. (2)

*Someday, we may need to lay down our lives for Jesus Christ. But most of our sacrifices are small things: A kind word, time devoted to Christian service and prayer, a helping hand for someone in need.

*Our sacrifices may seem big to us, until we compare them to the cross of Christ. Then we see that our sacrifices times a million could not repay what Jesus has done for us! When we think about all He gave up for us, when we think about how He suffered for us on the cross, then we know that He deserves our very best.

2. How can we be the church God wants us to be? We must be willing to make sacrifices for our Savior. And we must have spiritual strength.

*We cannot live the Christian life in our own strength. We must have more strength from the Lord. And He often sends His strength through His people. That's the main reason why Paul made this mission trip. Acts 15:41 says: "He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches."

*Now here in Acts 16:4, "As they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem." In other words: "They went through the cities, confirming the good news of our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ." And in vs. 5: "So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily."

*Christianity is a team effort. We are supposed to help strengthen each other, and God gives us more strength so we can pass it on to others. All Christians need the strength of the Lord. Paul prayed for it in Ephesians 3, where he said:

14. For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

15. from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

16. that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,

3. To be the church God wants us to be, we must have spiritual strength. We also must stay in step with God's guidance.

*God guided Paul's mission team in vs. 6-10:

6. Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.

7. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

8. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.

9. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us.''

10. Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

[1] How does God guide His people? -- Sometimes He closes doors.

*That's what happened in vs. 6-7. It's as if Paul prayed, "God: I want to go to Asia. I want to go to Bithynia." Then God said, "No." And we may not understand why, but our Heavenly Father knows best, and He will do what's best for us.

*Sometimes we are like a dog C. S. Lewis described. That dog had his leash wrapped around a sign post. And he was pulling, pulling, pulling at his leash, struggling to go forward. But his master knew that the only way to go forward was to back-up and get untangled. Sometimes we don't understand why the Lord leads us in a certain direction, but we need to keep trusting our Master. (3)

[2] Sometimes God closes doors. -- And sometimes He creates divine appointments.

*A close look at vs. 6-10 reveals a crucial divine appointment in God's gospel plan. In vs. 6-8, Luke later reported:

6. Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.

7. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

8. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.

*Five times in those verses Luke wrote "they, they, they, they, they." But in vs. 10, all of a sudden, it was "we": "Now after he had seen the vision, immediately WE sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them." God sent Paul to Troas for a divine appointment with Dr. Luke, the man God used to write this book of the Bible.

*Now the Lord does the same kind of thing in our lives. He arranges our circumstances. The light turns red. We get held up in traffic, and our lives are changed forever. The Lord puts us in the right place at just the right time to bump into somebody we need to know. That's how He guides us.

[3] God creates divine appointments. -- He also gives us dreams.

*Sometimes God uses dreams to guide His people, and we see Paul's God-given dream in vs. 9: "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.'''

*Now, you have to be careful about dreams. I usually don't remember my dreams, but I do remember one of my craziest dreams. In that dream, our old dog Charlie went to the movies with me, and when I looked back, a monkey was running the projector! That dream meant absolutely nothing, except maybe that I ate too much pizza before I went to bed that night.

*Most of our dreams are not guidance from God, but God does guide people through dreams. He used dreams three times to guide people in the Christmas story. The first Heaven-sent dream was given to Mary's betrothed husband Joseph in Matthew 1:20-21:

20. . . An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

21. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.''

*The second dream was God's warning to the Wise Men in Matthew 2:12, where the Bible says: "Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way." The third Heaven-sent dream was more guidance for Joseph after the Wise Men left. In Matthew 2:13: "An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, 'Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.''' God guided Joseph and the Wise Men through dreams, and they wisely followed God's guidance.

*Again, most of our dreams are not guidance from God, but the Lord God does still speak through dreams today. Some of us here could give testimonies about how God has touched our lives through a dream. So He still speaks through dreams today, especially in places like Muslim countries where the Word of God is so scarce.

[4] How does God guide His people? -- Sometimes He gives us dreams, but the best way God guides us is through the Bible.

*You may never be guided by a dream from the Lord, but we can always find guidance we need in God's Word. Thank God for the amazing grace He gave us to have such tremendous access to the Word of God!

*One great story of God's guidance came out of the Pacific Theater during World War II. It happened to 21-year-old corporal, William Devers. William was a Marine fighting the Japanese. He considered himself to be an agnostic, and no amount of arguing or Bible quoting by the Chaplain or other Marines could persuade him to believe.

*During the company's first major encounter with the Japanese, a number of the men were killed, and the Chaplain was wounded. In great pain, the Chaplain called to William and said, "My left pocket, take it, please. Last night I had a dream. In the dream an angel appeared and told me that I had to make you take the Bible. Take it, son. -- Please!"

*William shoved the Bible into his shirt pocket just to satisfy the Chaplain, but 20 minutes later, his squad stumbled right into a Japanese patrol. Before he knew what happened William was on the ground, his mind fading into darkness, certain he was dying. But then William came to. He felt pain shoot through his chest, but there was no blood.

*The bullet had torn into the Bible he had just put in his pocket, and it stopped at Psalm 91:7, "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee."

*God surely guided that Chaplain to give his Bible to William Devers, and his life was saved. But best of all, William's soul was saved, after he looked into God's Word and trusted in Jesus Christ! God has wonderful ways of guiding His people.

4. And to be the church He wants us to be, we must stay in step with God's guidance. We also must speak about our Savior.

*That's what Paul and his mission team did in vs. 10-15:

10. Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

11. Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis,

12. and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.

13. And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.

14. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

15. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.'' And she constrained us.

*Lord willing, we will take a closer look at these verses next week, but God wants us to do the same thing we see here: Go and tell! Go and tell!

CONCLUSION:

*How can we be the church God wants us to be?

-Sacrifice for the Lord.

-Get new strength from the Lord.

-Stay in step with God's guidance.

-And keep speaking to people about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

*May God help us to do everything He wants us to do!

(1) Andy Mason, amason@accs.net, "Leadership Magazine" -- "to Illustrate" - Source: "Dynamic Illustrations - April, May, June 2001 - Topic: Church

(2) James S. Hewett, ILLUSTRATIONS UNLIMITED - Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988, p. 444 - Source: "Bible Illustrator for Windows" - Topic: Self-Sacrifice - Index: 3224-3226 - Date: 7/1996.1487 - Title: The High Cost of Making Peace

(3) Original source unknown

(4) Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery & Nancy Mitchell. Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul - Deerfield Beach, Fl: Health Communications, Inc., 1997, pp. 377-8 - Source: "Listen and Be Changed" by Kati L. Houts at the Sunshine Cathedral mcc, Fort Lauderdale, 0305 2000

Related Media
Related Sermons