We're Here For You - Acts 2:43-45
Hello, and welcome to this message from Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary, Albuquerque. We pray that God uses these messages to impact others for His glory. And we're excited to hear lives are being changed by His perfect love.
If this message encourages you, we'd like to know. Email us at email@example.com. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving. In this series where lives are changed, we've had the opportunity to share about the vision of Calvary, Albuquerque. We also want to convey that every member of our Calvary family is important to us, and whatever season of life you're in, we want to go through it with you.
Now, let's turn our bibles to Acts, chapter 2, as Skip begins the message, "We're here for you."
Father, thank you for this time of the year, where we get to turn all of our thoughts toward thanking you, to give out a voice, a strong voice of Thanksgiving, and tell you that we don't deserve the least of your mercies, let alone your grace that's lavishly poured out on us. Thank you for your goodness to us.
Thank you for one another. There's people around us, Lord, that have walked with us through thick and thin. There are others around us we don't even know. But perhaps you brought us to this place at this time to meet them, and to know them, and develop and build community with them.
Thank you for the Church. It represents truth on the Earth, a place we can come and a family that we can gather with. And then Father, Lord, as we turn toward Christmas, I pray that our hearts would be filled with the anticipation of hope that you won't leave this world as it is, but you have a plan in the future for it. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Would you turn in your Bibles, please, one final time to Acts, chapter 2? I know you're thinking, goodness, could you squeeze any more things out of Acts, chapter 2? And I can't, except for just a few that I want to share with you this morning.
Acts, chapter 2, the final paragraph of that book. We've been doing a series on who we are as a fellowship, and we have stated that vision statement, that we are a group of people, that we pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do it with one another. True worship, by the Word, to the world.
As I look back on my own time of service here, my ministry, there's one period that was an epic failure to me. Oh, there are several. But one that really stood out to me this week of epic failure was the time that I was supposed to be at a wedding. I was invited to the wedding, but I didn't show.
And the reason that was an epic fail is I was supposed to officiate the wedding. Yeah, I was that guy. And I think I had three, maybe four weddings, that week to do. And there's really no excuse. It was on my schedule. I just got preoccupied, caught up in the moment, and I forgot to be there.
And my failure wasn't that I feel I have to be every wedding, or that I particularly enjoy being at all the weddings. But I had made a promise. That was the failure. I had promised that couple, I'll be there for you. And I wasn't.
And I feel strongly about it simply because in the ministry, we are called to serve people. We are the body of Christ, and people have needs and expectations. And you can't fill them all, but you are representing God after all, to some degree. And you're representing the god. Who is always there for you. He will never leave you or forsake you.
Can you imagine praying and getting a response from Heaven, something like this? Thank you for calling Heaven. For English, press one. For Spanish, press two. All other languages, press zero. Please select one of the following options. Press one for request. Press two for thanksgiving. Press three for complaints. Press four for all other inquiries.
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If you are calling after hours and you need emergency assistance, please contact your local pastor. Of course, he might not show up at your wedding. No, seriously, on behalf of our staff, our pastoral staff, our volunteer staff, our team of people who serve here, from people in the children's ministry, to ushers and greeters, to security, we are here for you. And we want you to know that.
I want you to know that as a pastor, I absolutely love church. I love being at this church. And what I love about ministry, quite frankly, when I'm asked, why do you love it so much, what I love is being a part of people's lives from birth to death. All of the different experiences in between. The joy of a wedding. Even the grief and the ability to give comfort at a funeral. All of those various experiences. Life is never dull.
But what I'd really love is for not just a few of us, but all of us, to say, I'm here for you. We're here for you. One of the reasons I come is to share my gifts with you. That's what I want all of us to be able to say. You know, as evangelicals, we have a curious phrase. It's not found in the Bible, but we use it a lot. It's called "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." That's the phrase.
It's a good one. And I know what we mean by it. I know what I mean by it. Usually, I say that, we say that, because we want people to know there is the difference between just going through the motions religiously and having something relationally real with the living God.
But in using the phrase "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ" one might get the idea that we're just a bunch of individuals in a private, isolated, self-contained relationship with God. But do you know that you will not find in the Bible the phrase "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ"?
You will find the idea and the phraseology about our corporate relationship with Christ called the body of Christ. And perhaps it's better to say, I am a part of those who belong to Christ. Because when you start viewing it that way, you will coming into this situation with other believers with the mindset that says, I'm here for you, just like you would feel that they are for you as well.
Now, in an age when the Church is viewed skeptically-- and it is-- in an age when there is a low level commitment Christianity, when the Church is viewed as intrusive, so people will go irregularly, sporadically, instead of actively involved, how do we fight against that? Are there ways to do it?
I'm going to suggest four steps to take to improve your and my availability. Four steps to improve our availability. First of all, we must recognize variety. Recognize variety. We got it right here, right now, in this room.
But let's look at it in the text. Go back once again to Acts chapter 2, verse 40. And we read part of that paragraph. "And with many other words, he, Peter, testified and exhorted them, saying, Be saved from this perverse generation. And then those who gladly received His word were baptized. And that day, about 3,000 souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayers. And then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the Apostles.
Now, all we believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all as anyone had need."
Would you notice the diverse range of believers in the paragraph we just read? You've got on one hand Apostles. They're mentioned. Apostles are the advanced believers, the mature believers, the ones who know truth. They walked with Jesus. They're teaching the truth.
But on the other hand, you have 3,000 brand new believers. 3,000 souls were added to them. They just were born again. Then you have those who sold their possessions and goods, and also those described as being in need.
So in this group, you have the variety, and it ranges from spiritually immature all the way up to spiritually mature. You have those who are economically blessed all the way up to those who are economically depressed. There's variety in any church group. We need to recognize that.
I remember a Sunday morning like this. I don't know which service, but the image is in my mind. I looked over to the front row, right over in this section. And sitting on the front row, there were two people that got my attention because they were so opposite.
One was a man in a suit and tie, impeccably dressed, with a Bible. Next to him was a young man all tattered up with leather spiked arm bracelets and a Bible. And they were worshipping the same God. And I thought, that's variety right there. You couldn't get two diametrically, culturally opposed people than that.
I don't know why it is, but we have sort of come up with this little thing in our heads that we try to conform people to an image of what a true Christian is. Now that you're saved, you need to like the psalms that I like, read the version of the Bible I read from, and dress like I dress. I would be so boring.
But we just have this little thing of putting people in a mold instead of recognizing the variety that exists in the church. And what this shows as we look at it, it shows how the body of Christ works. You see, the Body of Christ is essentially a variety of gifts that are meeting a variety of needs. A variety of gifts meeting a variety of needs.
Listen to what Paul says in First Corinthians 12. "Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the Church, but it's the same Lord that we are serving. There are different ways in which God works in our lives, but it's the same God who does the work through all of us."
So there's not one gift. There's not one person. There's not one way that the Holy Spirit works. There's not one denomination or special group that God works through. We should by now get the idea that God loves variety. He loves variety. I mean, look at the world he made. If you go on a road trip far enough, you will encounter desert, mountains, maybe even rain forest, ocean. If you go far enough, tundra.
So the world that God has made is so varied. In the Church, the Body of Christ, there's a variety of gifts that meet a variety of needs. In the New Testament, some people have counted nine spiritual gifts. Others count 15. Others count 19. Others say there are 22 spiritual gifts. You have at least one of them. Probably more. And if you think of your unique personality and others' personalities, and the gifts that God would put in each one, there is an infinite combination that begs to be discovered and enjoyed.
The variety that God puts. And frankly, it's the variety of people with a variety of gifts that, for me, keeps the Church interesting. I was thinking this week of all the different people who have come to this church that I have known. That have spoken here. That have sang here. They were on staff here. Some low key, some eccentric. Some I liked. Some I didn't like.
But you know what I've discovered? God reserves the right to use people you don't agree with. He reserves the right to use people that you don't particularly like. That's the variety that he builds into his body. So let's not fight the variety. Let's enjoy it. God made you. He saved you. He called you. He gifted you. And then he threw the mold away.
You are unique. And here we are, a variety of people. Some of us astute theologians, others of us just entering what it means to believe in Jesus Christ, altogether. Recognize variety.
Here's the second step. Emphasize unity. Emphasize unity. Back to verse 44, just the first part. Look at what it says. "Now all who believed were together." What does that mean? Well, it means the obvious. They were in one place, right? But it means more than that. It's not just a unity in location. It's a unity in vocation.
They were of one purpose, one heart, one vision. They shared the same purpose. One translation says, "they lived in wonderful harmony." So on one hand, you've got variety. On the other hand, you've got unity. And you need both. Because with a variety of individuals, you run the risk of every person doing his or her own thing, unless you have unity. Once you have unity, then you have all the parts working together.
So though there was variety. It's counter-balanced by unity. Without unity, a group of people will malfunction. It's like a human body. Without unity, a human body will malfunction. Listen to this. If you're an adult of average weight-- I know you're thinking, well, I'm an above average person. Well, maybe so. But if you're a person of average weight, here's what you accomplish in 24 hours. Your heart beats 103,689 times. Your blood travels 168 million miles. You will breathe 23,040 times. You inhale 438 cubic feet of air. You'll eat 3 and 1/4 pounds of food, drink 2.9 quarts of liquids.
You will lose 7/8 of a pound of waste. Sorry, it's just in there. You will speak 4,800 words. Some of you, much more, including some unnecessary ones. You will move 750 muscles. Your nails will grow 0.000046 of an inch. I knew you were dying to know that. Your hair will grow, if you have it still, 0.0174 of an inch, and you will exercise 7 million brain cells. In 24 hours, you will do that.
You can't do that unless there's unity. There has to be the brain coordinating all of the functions. In the nervous system, the autonomic nervous system, so all the parts function together. And you know the Church is like that. The head of the Church isn't the pastor. The head of the Church is Christ. And Christ has the right to send signals to all the different people, the members of the body, saying I want you to do this, I've gifted you to do that. There's a need over here.
The Holy Spirit conveys the message of the head, like the nervous system would to all the different parts of the body, so that there is unity involved. It's what Jesus prayed for. In John 17, he prayed for the Church. And he said, "that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may be one in us." Jesus prayed that we would exhibit unity. And Paul the Apostle added to that, Ephesians 4, verse 3. "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
What does unity mean anyway? Does that mean we're all going to agree on every topic? Are you kidding? That's insane to think that. That's uniformity, not unity. And that will never happen. Unity doesn't mean uniformity. Unity doesn't mean we're going to agree on every topic, every policy, every song choice.
It's like a family. Is everybody in your family as wonderful as you are? Is everybody in your family as easy to get along with as you are? No, there's different personalities, am I right, in your family? Some are low key. Some are high key. Some are morning people. Some are evening people, night people. Different personalities, all in one family, in God's family. Not everybody gets along.
You know, the twelve Apostles argued, right? Not once, but a few different times. In a few short years, they argued about who'd be the greatest in the kingdom. Paul and Barnabas even split company because of an argument. That's in the Church.
In the book of Acts, there was a disagreement, in Acts 15, about salvation and the relationship to the law of Moses. So I think after 2,000 years, we shouldn't expect that we're all going to smile at each other and agree on every topic. It's not going to be that way.
In the Church, you have everything from those fuzzy fundamentalists to those cookie charismatic, and every flavor in between. How do you get unity out of that? If unity doesn't mean uniformity, what does it mean? Simply this. We were all saved the same way. It's the same Savior who saved me that saved you. It's the same blood of Jesus Christ, not by our effort, but by His work, that's saved us. And we can all agree on that.
And there are essentials of the Christian faith that we can all agree on. There are non-essentials, and there are essentials. And we must always say, OK, we disagree on song choice, or the rapture of the Church, but those are non-essentials.
What are the essential doctrinal characteristics that make us Christians? That we agree on. It's what Augustine said. He said, "in essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity." That sums it up nicely. So we recognize variety. Second step, we emphasize unity.
Here's the third step. Develop community. Develop community. Now that's different than unity, and I'll show you why. We should develop a sense of community. Would you go with me to verse 44 once again and verse 45?
"Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common." "Koine"-- remember the word "koinonia?" We talked through that one. But look at verse 45. "And they sold their possessions and goods, and they divided them among all as anyone had need."
Who does that? Only people who say, we're here for you. We're here for you. Now, let's just take it a step further. Not much, but just a step further. Turn to Acts, chapter 4. Just go right a couple blocks. Acts, chapter 4. Look at verse 33. "With great power, the Apostles gave witness to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all. Nor was there any one among them who lacked. For all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the Apostles' feet, and they distributed to each one as anyone had need."
In the very next chapter, there's two people, Ananias and Sapphira, who sell land, give it to the Apostles. Actually, they lie about it. But this was beginning a common practice in the Church of sharing what they had with other people. Giving generously to one another. But here's what I want you to see. Because maybe you're thinking, uh-oh. He's going to ask us to do the same. Here's what I want you to notice.
This was purely voluntary. This was not forced. It was not compulsory. And not everyone did it. Not everyone did it. Now it says in chapter 4 that everyone was selling lands and homes. But I want you to see something back in chapter 2, verse 46. Look at this, verse 46 of Acts 2.
"So continuing daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from--"
What? House? What do you mean house? I thought everybody sold their house? But now we have somebody with a house. And house to house. So a few people with houses. So apparently, not everyone did that.
All of that to show you that it was not compulsory. It was voluntary. You see, if it's forced, if it's compulsory , that's communism. If it's voluntary, that's common-ism. It's you know what? I don't need all this. But you obviously have needs to even live. I'm going to pool my resources with those of others, and we're going to freely give to those who have a need voluntarily.
They developed community. They were saying, we're here for you. Jesus said, "wherever your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Their heart was with each other. And so, their treasure followed. Martin Luther used to say there are always three conversions necessary-- the conversion of the heart, the conversion of the mind, and the last was the conversion of the wallet. And he said that is always the most difficult conversion in a person's life.
But the idea here isn't about currency as much as community. They had all things in common. They were basically saying what's mine is yours. As one translation puts it, "they were holding all things in joint participation." So I have a deficit, and you may have an asset to cover my deficit. I have weaknesses and I have strengths. You have strengths and you have weaknesses. And if we can match a weakness with a strength, we have a wonderful thing going on. We can develop community together.
True story. In the days in Argentina when military service was compulsory, everyone had to go to the induction center and be conscripted for military service. One man showed up at a induction center very angry to be there. He had no arms.
And he complained saying, I don't know what good I am. Look at me. I have no arms. They took him in anyway. They put a uniform on him. And then the CEO, the commanding officer, said you see the guy up on the hill pumping water? Go tell him when the pail is full. He's blind.
Get the picture? He has an asset you don't have, arms. You have an asset he doesn't have, eyes. Work together. The job will be completed. In this man's army, we all have blind spots. We all have strengths. We all have weaknesses. But we need the community of everyone with the variety and the unity working together, with all of us covering each other, pooling our gifts and resources together.
First Corinthians, chapter 12. I made reference to it. Here's more of what Paul said. "Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, I don't need you. The head can't say to the feet, I don't need you. In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. And so we carefully protect from the eyes of others those parts that should not be seen, while other parts do not require the special care.
So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other equally. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it. And if one part is honored, all the parts are glad."
Recognize unity. Or recognize variety. Emphasize unity. Develop community. I'll close with a fourth, perhaps the most important. Certainly the most important when we gather together like this or in small groups. And that is anticipate majesty. I don't know what you anticipate when you come to church. But all of us should be anticipating a divine move of God.
I want you to see this in the text, verse 43. "Then fear came up on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the Apostles." The idea is that everyone was in awe. The word fear, "phobos," is translated into English, phobia. Don't put that as a definition in your mind.
The idea behind the word here is that it was a sense of the divine presence. An expectation that I'm in the presence of God. I realize God is at hand. It's the acknowledgement that Heaven is interacting with Earth, and that there's a higher power at work. Lives are being changed, and people live in a majestic awareness of the supernatural.
You know what? When we gather, we must never lose the sense of the majesty of God, the fear of God. AW Tozer, whose writings most of us know and love, asked a very important question. He says, are we losing our Oh? Are we losing our Oh? And that doesn't mean "Oh, what would be," but our sense of "Oh!" as we realize God is here now. I'm in His presence. He's really here with us.
Are we losing our Oh? A sense of majesty. A sense of majesty comes when I realize that God is here and now. So we can say we're here for you when we recognize variety, the spectrum of gifts, and the spectrum of maturity that lies within this group right here right now.
We can say we're here for you when we emphasize unity. We're united in heart and purpose, as well as geography. We can say we're here for you when we develop community. My weaknesses match with your strengths. And we can say we're here for you when we anticipate majesty. We don't treat this lightly. We don't treat gathering together lightly, but a sense of Oh. We're before the Lord.
I'm going to close with a question. I think I know the answer to it, because I didn't know this answer, but some of you may be much more advanced. I know some of you are. You're like English teachers. So let me ask if you've heard of this word. I had never heard of this work before this week. It's the word "accidie." Accidie. A-C-C-I-D-I-E. It's an English word. Accidie.
Have you ever heard of that word before? I never had. But apparently, it was a word that was used by medieval Christians to describe a spiritual condition among early Christians that they had noted. They called it accidie. And it's actually in the dictionary.
Accidie is a word that means listlessness or indifference. They used it, the medieval Christians, to describe an apathy of the soul. An apathy of the soul. The enthusiasm has worn off. Says one author, "People with accidie have grown cynical about their Christian ideals and strong hopes."
If you're in the ministry, it shows up when you just go through the motions and the mechanics, but your heart isn't in it. You have no expectations of God going to do anything different at any time. That's accidie. We have to guard against it. The cure for that, the cure for that, is when we say and we mean, I'm here for you.
God wants those and his family to show love and support, not just to the world, but also to one another. How has God used the Body of Christ to make a difference in your life? Let us know. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Skip Heitzig of Calvary, Albuquerque.