September 27/28, 2014

We are sent.  Those that are in Christ, the Church, are a sent people - sent into this world to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ.  The truth that God sent His Son, Jesus, in to this world to live a sinless life, to die on a cross for our sins and to rise again in victory over death and the grave.  

In this series so far, we have learned a few things.

  • The Church of Jesus is sent.
  • Both individually and corporately, we are sent.
  • We have been sent by Jesus (Matthew 28:16-20).
  • We have been sent with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-9).
  • We have been sent in power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13).

Today we look at the results of Jesus sending his disciples and empowering them with the Holy Spirit to be witnesses.  When they receive the power that Jesus had promised, they go into the streets proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As people respond, the church begins to take shape.  God’s people come together to be His people.  We pick up where Peter has just preached Christ to the people.

Here, Luke writes that 3,000 people are added to the church on the day of Pentecost.  That makes 3,120 total people that make up the Church of Jesus Christ at this moment in history.  The church begins with a bang.  They go from 120 people to 3,120.  It is at this point in Acts, that we get a glimpse of the life of the early church that God is calling to himself.  We see this brand new community of believers and what they are formed around.

There are three characteristics of this new community of faith that we are going to look at today.

 

Devoted (2:42-45)

This first characteristic is devotion. These men and women are devoted. They're devoted to teaching. They’re devoted to fellowship.  The word “fellowship” (kiononia) is built on the root (koina) meaning: common, having in common, sharing.  They're so devoted to one another, that they are willing to sell their possessions to help another in need.  When someone got in a difficult spot, it wasn’t some organized program that met the need.  Instead, they met each other’s needs.  

One of Luke’s greatest passions in his writings it seems is to show that Christ’s followers use their possessions for the needs of others and not just for their own comforts.  As we look back to Luke’s gospel, we see this emphasis coming through.  

  • The good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37)
  • Parable of the rich fool who built bigger and bigger barns (Luke 12:16-21)
  • Story of God’s great banquet that people wouldn’t come to because they had fields and cattle to tend to (Luke 14:16-24)
  • Story of the dishonest manager (Luke 16:1-8)
  • Parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)

Their devotion didn’t stop at taking care of each others needs.  They were devoted to spend time together.

 

Glad and Generous (2:46-47)

They were glad and generous.  Luke says they were day by day attending the temple together.  It seems they were constantly together celebrating what God was doing.  Talking about what Christ has done has become a normal part of their life.  There is such joy that comes from what Jesus has done in their lives, that gladness and generosity is a part of their day to day lives.  They share meals together.  They are praising God together because of what He has done in their lives.  

Now, when you put these three things together - devoted, glad and generous - we see this powerful reflection of the glory of God to the world around us.  Devoted to God.  Serious about what God is doing in our lives.  Spurring each other on to greater devotion, greater generosity, and deeper joy.  Making Jesus and the discussion of what He is doing in our lives a normal part of our day to day life.  

Imagine how different we would live when we are constantly aware of all God has done for us.  Instead of focusing on what we don’t have or what we want, we keep our mind and thoughts on what God has provided and continues to provide.  When we live generously, there is a freedom and happiness.  It helps us to take your eyes off what we think we deserve or what we think we are owed.

Devotion takes root. Gladness becomes a disposition we are known for. Generosity becomes lifestyle choice. This is what God wants to do in the heart of His people.  This is a beautiful picture of what God's people can be like.

We are sent together!

 

Further Discussion

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section as an aid in discussions that may be planned or unplanned during your week.  Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing and fellowship as you open God’s Word together.


Read Acts 2:37-47

Imagine what adding 3,000 people would look like.  One would assume that it would build the faith of the original 120. Can you hear their excitement about what God is doing?  

What do you think of when you hear the word “fellowship”?  How does this change based on this text and the outcome of fellowship for the early church?

Do you have this kind of fellowship in your life at this time?  What steps could you take to have this?  

How does looking to what God is doing in your life bring gladness and generosity?

When is the last time you shared a meal with someone else?  Who could you invite to eat together in the near future?

Read Hebrews 10:23-25

Paul encourages his readers to some of the same things that Luke writes about in our text.  Why is it important to “stir up one another to love and good works”?  How can you do that with the people in your life?  

Are there people you know who you can encourage in the faith?   What would that look like?  Give specific situations.

Pray God would give you moments and opportunities to show your joy and generosity in your day to day life.