When you look at what we call the Christian calendar, there are several key dates. Christmas, Passover, Resurrection, and there is one coming up next Sunday called Pentecost Sunday.
Everyone here is pretty aware of what Christmas celebration is. That is the celebration of God becoming man and coming to the Earth to participate in His creation on our level.
Passover- has been celebrated for over 3000 years. It began when the Jews were delivered from Egypt and the death angel passed over their community without killing them. When they put the blood of a lamb on their door post, the death angel passed by. They were saved from death the blood of a lamb.
Fifty days after Passover, Moses went up on Mt Sinai and God gave Him the law. So for thousands of years, the Jews have celebrated the Passover AND the feast of Weeks or it was also called Pentecost to celebrate the law being given.
Fast forward to Jesus’ day. Jesus’ Jewish community continued to celebrate the Passover and Pentecost. LOOK WHAT HAPPENS. When Jesus goes to his death, it just so happens that he is taken into custody during Passover and goes to his death at the same time of the year that the original lambs went to their death. Jesus was the ultimate Passover lamb. Because of his death burial and resurrection, we have been passed over by the death angel. Death has been defeated.
LOOK AT THIS! Remember, what happens 50 days after Passover? Pentecost. 50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus was Pentecost (feast of weeks). Jesus told his disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for something new given by God. Something new sent from heaven. The original day of Pentecost saw the law come from God/heaven to earth. NOW, the disciples of Jesus would be waiting in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost for the Holy Spirit of God. AND IT HAPPENED!
Acts 2:1 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
We continue to celebrate the day of Pentecost as the day that the Holy Ghost descended to us.
More over, we celebrate and recognize that this Spirit is alive and available to everyone in the room today!
To BE BAPTIZED BY GOD.
The word baptism comes from the Bible’s original word: Baptidzo- to immerse, submerge, or overwhelm.
There are thee baptisms a believer can experience. It is necessary to experience these baptisms in order to know the whole counsel of God.
1. BAPTISM OF SALVATION
Maybe you haven’t considered salvation as a baptism, but think about it for a minute.
We are immersed in the Father’s love.
You are overwhelmed by the grace of God.
You are HUMBLED, brought to your knees in repentance.
Your response to God’s love and grace is emotional, psychological, spiritual.
You know the feeling when you are talking to someone that you don’t want to talk to?
Let’s be honest. It’s church. Sometimes you are talking to someone that is driving you crazy. And then a friend near you realizes the state that you are in and comes up to the conversation and grabs your arm and says, “Hey, we need to go so and so is waiting for us and we are late.” SHEW! You tell them, “Thanks…you just saved me from that.”
While you are living your life and it is really messing you up one side and down the other, Jesus comes and takes you by the arm and saves you from depression. Jesus comes up to you grabs your arm, whisks you away and saves you from fear. Jesus is eager to be the friend that steps in and saves you from a lifetime of wandering and Jesus is ready to set you up in the kingdom forever. To spend an eternity with him in the new heavens and new earth. Ruling and reigning with the King of Kings.
We are talking about the Baptism of Salvation.
When you knew nothing of God or his deep love for you and were living a life that often dishonored him, HE CAME FOR YOU.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast.
Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
We call Abraham the father of our faith.
Ephesians 3:5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
Abraham was considered right with God because of his Faith. And so it is with us.
Faith translates to right standing.
When you are married there are many elements to the wedding: vows, rings, songs, license, cake, dancing, sex, living together, kids.
Early on in my pastoring life, I had a bride call me on Sunday evening and say that she want to cancel the marriage and not have me send in the marriage license. I call the county and they told me that if I heard them say their vows to each other then they were legally married. I had to turn in the certificate.
Being saved by God is similar. If you are looking what makes you his, then you don’t have to start completing a list of things that would look appealing to him. Then one day he will consider you married to him. The potent element of your marriage is what Jesus has already done. When you put your faith in his work for you, then you are married to him.
The essence of marriage is a covenant. The essence of salvation is Jesus. He is the covenant.
After we are baptized into the Father’s love and we are His, he shows us another baptism.
2. BAPTISM IN WATER
Matthew 28:18 Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Contains the portion of the Great Commission that instructs Christians to go into all the world and baptize with water.
Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
In our water baptism into Christ, we identify with his death, burial and resurrection.
This is our first public display of affection towards Christ. We are going public, but it is more than that.
There is spiritual transformation when your faith moves to obedience.
Water baptism doesn’t save you, yet baptism belongs with salvation in its very nature.
It is intrinsically connected to salvation.
We believe in what is called Believer’s Baptism. That means that you first believe in the power of God unto salvation.
Water Baptism doesn’t “work” when it happens because you are following religious rules or because your spouse or parent wants you to do it. OR if all of your friends are doing it.
The water is just water. You can go down a wet sinner and come back up a wet sinner, if your faith hasn’t saved you.
You are dipped in water, because you have faith and believed in Jesus for your salvation and now want to identify with his death, burial, and resurrection.
Old Testament baptism was every time you came to temple to worship to cleanse. We only have one baptism when we publically identity with his death, burial, and resurrection. This happens once in your faith journey (at the beginning) to symbolize that Jesus’ work was once and for all sufficient.
If you haven’t been water baptized as a believer, then I urge you to enter into Water Baptism! Today, Next Sunday, don’t put it off. Those who have been water baptized, give me a good amen!
There is a 3rd Baptism. That Day of Pentecost, Holy Ghost Baptism.
3. BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit was present in the Old Testament, but only for short periods of time and for specific purposes.
When Jesus baptizes one with the Holy Spirit, that Spirit takes up permanent residence in the person.
John 1: 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
The Holy Spirit was upon Samson, David, and Elijah. They Holy Spirit was accessible to the High Priests once a year when they would enter into the sacred room of the Temple called the Holy of Holies.
God’s Holy Spirit had never descended and remained until Jesus died on the cross.
Acts 1:4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
He will be with you when you know it and when you don’t. He will be with you always. He is not a relic that you connect with at the altar of PSM, he goes home with you. He meets you wherever you go.
Let’s be baptized with all three dimensions. Accept God into your heart, repent, baptized into Jesus Christ, and be filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
PUSH you want everything that Jesus died for you to have. Don’t settle for less than what God has promised for you.
Don’t put it off another day.
John and Mary went to Ephesus. It was a strong church.
Acts 19:1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. 2“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 “Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked. And they replied, “The baptism of John.” 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.” 5 As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied.
They were true seekers. Never stuck in their ways. Baptised by John but left the holy land to do missionary. They were spreading the message of repentence of John and Paul pushes them to the next level of holy Spirit. They weren’t religious. They didn’t try to prove themselves. They said, “tell us all about it.” Paul, “After you left…Jesus….”
Don’t stop short of all three baptisms. Yes! You received forgiveness from God. Don’t stop. Be bap
Before you start thinking we were real creative, we completely ripped this idea from Elevation Church in NC. However, we did STEP it up a HUGE notch.
The idea is to show your congregation what it would be like if no volunteers served at your church. When people arrive at ‘No Show Sunday’ they have no idea what is going on. It was extremely important for us to keep this a big secret. The first clue they get is that there are no folks in the parking lot to help them park. There are no greeters at the door, no greeters anyway. The children’s building was locked with a sign that said, “All kids will be joining us in the service today.” (This is where we differed from Elevation. They offered children’s ministry on their No Show Sunday)
When people arrived into the sanctuary, there were a few lights on the stage (very basic), all the screens were off. I think we had a stack of worship guides on a side table. People could find them if they looked around.
Once church started, our worship leader went to the keyboard and a drummer started playing. They led us in 3 or 4 songs. She even taught a new song (without words on the screens or printed guide with words). After worship, I went to the stage and spoke. I clued everyone in to what was happening. We told everyone, “If you guys can sit nice and tight during the sermon, everyone gets FREE ice cream after church.”
At the end of the service, people filled out a card where they could commit to 4 months of serving in one of our ministries. They gave their offering in baskets at the door as they left.
Here are our conclusions:
- It was a huge success. People loved it.
- Our volunteers were HONORED and felt appreciated.
- Having kids in the service was not as distracting as we thought. We supplied crayons and coloring paper in the pockets of several seats on each row.
- We had a TON of volunteers sign up
- The worship music part of the service was actually awesome. God didn’t need all the hype. People learned words the old fashioned way. People stepped up and engaged in worship. This is not what we were aiming for, but it was a great lesson for us all.
- The chaos was awesome. The confusion on people’s faces was worth it! It was a great palate cleansing for our church. I do recommend making sure volunteers that have to plan during the week (teachers) know early. No need in surprising them at last minute. We did surprise all other volunteers and simply said, “You don’t have to volunteer today.” It was funny to see naturally friendly people being forced to not be friendly and greet people. So awkward.
- I recommend it in Mid-August when crowds haven’t fully returned from summer and it is great prep for the fall.
7. Serve One Another through Accountability:
James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
Healed from addiction. Healed from fear. Healed from depression. Your healing comes from God through your connection to others. Your accountability does not just keep you from sinning, but it heals you.
You are saved by God through faith. You are healed by God through community.
We often skip the confess your sins to each other part. And when it comes to the second part, we just highlight the pray part. We say…Pray and you will be healed. However, the “confess” AND “to each other” parts are JUST as important. “Oh I just can’t do that. It’s too personal. People don’t need in my business.” “OK, don’t get healed.” “Ok, keep sinning.”
Hebrews 3:13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
Admit to sin and look to another human to help you overcome it.
Voluntarily develop a circle of Christian friends to whom we are regularly accountable for areas of behavior that are especially difficult, or in which self-deception is easy.
WE ARE TO LET OUR CHRISTIAN FRIENDS INTO OUR LIVES DEEPLY ENOUGH TO SEE OUR WEAKNESSES AND HOLD US RESPONSIBLE TO GROW INTO CHRIST’S LIKENESS.
The best way for accountability to work is for you to be around people enough for them to pick up on the difference. If you only have a meeting once a month where you are supposed to confess your sins to a person and you don’t even know them. It is much more likely for you to hide. However, if you are in close proximity with someone you are able to say…something isn’t right with you.
Jesus left us here after the ascension so that we would become one and so that THE WORLD MAY KNOW that Jesus was of God and that God loves everyone. (John 17)
Romans 12:4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
What is the prerequisite to become a member of this body or community?
There is only one! Faith in Jesus’ Gospel. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This faith compels us to obedience and allows us to BELONG to each other.
Belong = I fit AND I’m possessed by/the property of.
Over the next three weeks, we will be talking about the 9 core practices of Biblical Community. We get these truths from all the “one another” passages.
Today, we tackle three practices are all about affirming one another
1. In Community, We Affirm one another’s Strengths, Abilities, and Gifts!
Romans 12: 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
Be much more concerned to praise, affirm, honor, and celebrate others than you are to receive the same. Christians should be people who are quick to praise and celebrate what others have done, who love to praise, appreciate and make supportive statements.
We deliberately identify the following in others:
- Where they are growing and making progress. (Do you see them growing in their ability to handle problems, difficulties, and criticism? Do you see them growing in peace, joy, self-control? Affirm and speak to them about it.)
- What talents and gifts they have that benefit others. (Do you see them ministering in ways that benefit others spiritually? If you see a pattern to how they do it, is that a gift or a talent they should be cultivating? Affirm and speak to them about it.)
- Which sacrifices they are making to do the right thing, even though others may not be aware of it. ( Are they perhaps making great sacrifices to honor God? Notice the ongoing sacrifices and affirm their obedience.)
1 Corinthians 13:6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Think about it from the reverse perspective: What would happen to your depression, anger, stress, anxiety, if you lived in a healthy community and were affirmed!
2. In Community We, Affirm one another’s Equal Importance in Christ
Romans 15:7 – “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you”
When we are gospel-changed we can accept one another like Jesus accepted us. We are all so different. There are so many races, backgrounds… Some of us are “rich”, “poor”, “middle class” There are many things that the world uses to divide and separate us.
Galations 3:29 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, have put on (clothed yourselves with) Christ. There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring and [spiritual] heirs according to promise.
To Accept someone equates to becoming vulnerable (to allow in). To open up… If we are always “Alright or OK” when someone asks us, or we ask them, we will never grant them access to our heart… We keep them at arms length. Keeping someone at arms lengths KILLS COMMUNITY and diminishes opportunities to bless or be blessed!!!
1 Peter 5:5 “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another”
Pride is the exact opposite of humility and is another barrier to building community. In fact, it kills community and keeps you from connecting with others.. Pride puts us above one another. We we are prideful we overestimate our status, title, merit, abilities, race, etc… Pride causes us to always try to one-up each other… We should not be in competition with each other.
Humility puts others above you. The term “Clothe” in 1 Peter 5:5 comes from the Greek word “egkomboomai” which means to wear a servant garb that identifies you as being a servant. In biblical times this was the white scarf or apron of servants, which was fastened to the belt of the vest and distinguished servants from freemen. Therefore, 1 Pet 5:5 (“gird yourselves with humility as your servile garb”) encourages Christians to show their subjection one to another by putting on humility. Are we doing this?or are we FREEMEN?
Right before his crucifixion, Jesus removed his garments and put on a servant’s towel and washed His disciples feet. Peter said no! Jesus answered him, Unless I wash you, you have no part with in Me [you have no share in companionship with Me].
John 13:’34“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We can only really have community if we clothe ourselves with humility and love each other. This can only be fulfilled as we yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
3. In Community We, Affirm one another through Visible Affection!
Communicate love and affection in a visible way.
Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. (in Christian Love) Affectionately greet one another.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.
James 1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
LISTENING is one of the best ways to visibly show your affirmation. Hearing vs Listening
1) Since you think about four times faster than a person usually talks, do you use this time to think about other things while you’re keeping track of the conversation?
2) Do you listen primarily for facts rather than ideas when someone is speaking?
3) Do you avoid listening to things you feel will be too difficult to understand?
4) Can you tell from a person’s appearance and delivery that there won’t be anything worthwhile said?
5) When someone is talking to you do you appear to be paying attention when you’re not?
6) Do certain words and phrases prejudice you so you cannot listen objectively?
7) When listening are you distracted by outside sights and sounds?
Disclaimer: my sermon notes are a rough outline. Not intended for grammar perfection. If you have questions about certain parts, please comment and I will respond.
Hunger for the “Moment”
Based on last week: ‘at that moment’ God and Man connected and great things happened.
Why do so many believers have a shallow relationship with God? Why don’t they dive into a deeper, more consistent relationship with Him? What holds them back? What would ignite and cause them to respond to His call to draw near?
Revelation 3- shows us a letter to a church that is very similar to the American church of 2012. It was in a town called Laodicea. On the outside, they looked very successful. On the inside, they were wishy-washy.
1. GOD IS INTERESTED IN ME