Sunday, January 6, 2019
Picture It… A Fruitful 2019
It is time for a new year! 2019 is a few days away. How did your 2018 go? Was it a good year? Do you wish you could live it over again? Are you just glad it is over?
I am looking forward to the New Year because it is an opportunity for us as a church to build on the past year. It is a chance to maybe do some of the things that we let slip by in the past year.
Somehow the words, “New Year” have a fresh ring to them.
Why is it important for the church to be successful? Because every day people in our community, our family and our friends are dying without Jesus. We must be successful; the dying world is depending on us to do so.
What I want us to look at is some biblical principles for us to have a successful 2019.
Today we are going to look at Acts 2:42. Why go there? The early church in the book of Acts was very successful. It grew in number and in Spirit. Churches can numerically by slick marketing campaigns. I am not against getting the word out about FBCR as long as it does not run against the scriptures. We have to first apply the blueprint God has given us for success.
This is one of the reasons the Restoration Movement started in the mid 1800’s. The church had gotten off course. It got hung up on man-made stuff. The clergy in many cases became nothing more than another political system. Many of the churches were getting stale.
Many preachers decided to go back to the Word of God as their guide. That is why our church is here. We believe that answers to life’s questions are found in God, not man.
When I look at our church, I see a great potential for having a deep impact on our community. As I look into the eyes of many of you I see the same potential in your life also.
Let us picture how we can have a fruitful 2019! READ ACTS 2:42
To have a fruitful 2019…
I. BUILD ON THE FOUNDATION OF GOD’S WORD
Look at Acts 2:42 again. It says the church was devoting themselves to the Apostles teaching. This was the word of God.
Jesus tells us in MATTHEW 28:20 “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
In Matthew 7:26 "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”
We MUST be people of the Word! The Word must guide our lives and decisions!
The church must be built on the foundation of the Word. The Word of God is our authority. When we step outside of it, we have no authority.
Too many Christians live their lives without incorporating God’s Word into it. We do things because they “feel” right or because we “want” to do it. We do things because “our friends” tells us to do it. We do what “everyone” else is doing. We wonder why God does not bless us when we do not do what He asks us to do.
God gives us the Word for our benefit. God gives us the standards of conduct for our own good, not to be a killjoy. We need to know God’s word. What we think does not matter unless it lines up with the Bible.
God will not bless us if we do not hunger for the Word. It pains me when I see folks who do not take the time to do their Bible studies for a class. Or when we offer a wonderful Sunday School program that only less than half of the church takes advantage of. This is about the national average for churches according to studies done by Barna Research.
I hope that when we have Bible Studies in our church that they will be well attended. I pray that our Sunday School classes get so large that we need to create some more. I hope that we all will devote ourselves to study of the Word!
To have a fruitful 2019…
II. BUILD A STRONG SENSE OF COMMUNITY (FELLOWSHIP)
Our Acts passage says they devoted themselves to fellowship. What is that? The word means to “have something in common” or “to strive for a common goal.” To be one in action.
Do you know how many people out there are lonely? Do you also realize that many people who start coming to church do so to connect with other people?
Do you know what helped me seriously considered Jesus? Getting around other Christians. (EXPLAIN)
We need to build a strong sense of community with people when they come to our church. We want them to belong. When they feel a sense of community, they will see us live our lives and they will want to believe what we do, then they will behave life God wants them to.
If we make sure our church is a place where everyone feels welcome, they will eventually believe and behave.
I believe our church does a good job of that. Our people are wonderful and loving. Let us commit to spending more time together this year.
That is also something that gets people to want to study together and come worship together. When people see we really care for them, they will want to be a part of the kingdom of God.
I want to ask each of you to commit to getting more involved in each others lives this year. Not only will the church benefit, but you will benefit greatly.
I know that some folks are afraid to get close to people because they might move or something. That is a sad way to live. We miss friends we’ve made in other places. Would have we gotten involved in their lives if we knew we would be moving?
YOU BET WE WOULD. They added something to our lives and we hope we did the same for them.
We need each other for encouragement and accountability. .
HEBREWS 3:13 “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
HEBREWS 10:25 “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
To have a fruitful 2019...
III. MAKE PRAYER A PRIORITY
The context of this verse is that the Peter had preached his great sermon on the day of Pentecost. 3,000 people gave their lives to Jesus and they were immersed into the kingdom of God. This was the beginning of the church.
One of the things that the early church did was devote itself to prayer.
Notice we are told “they”, that is the people who were a part of the church were devoting themselves to prayer.
This was something they did all the time!
Prayer was such a vital part of the success of the church that in Acts 6 when the church leaders were being over burdened with taking care of the physical needs of the church, look at what they did.
ACTS 6:4 "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
If we are going to succeed, prayer is one of the keys. Without prayer, we are without power. Jesus spent a lot of His time in prayer to the Father during His ministry. Was Jesus busy? Yes. Too busy for prayer? NO. Are you busy? Yes. Too busy for prayer? NO!
Why did Jesus spend so much time in prayer? Because it was important. If Jesus made time for prayer, I think we better do so also.
Prayer needs to be a central part of your life and the life of the church. Tuesday’s
I hope that you are praying for those on the prayer list during the week and that you are spending time in prayer each day throughout the day.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:17 says, “pray without ceasing;”
Many times we make a mess of things then we ask God to bless it. We need to go to Him first; it would save a lot of heart ache. I believe we act before prayer because we know many times that what we want is not really good for us, but we want it anyway.
I hope that we all will commit to making prayer a priority in our lives. I appreciate it when our leadership takes time to pray about important decisions before they make them.
Prayer is so simple, but so neglected.
How many people are you trying to win to Jesus? How many of them are on your prayer list? What about your children, lost family members. We need to pray about more than Aunt Jane’s health, we need to pray for her salvation!
To have a fruitful 2019...
IV. HAVE A VISION FOR WHAT GOD CAN DO
This last key is not in the text, but I think it is very important. I want to ask you, when you look around what do you see?
Some would see a church of around 80 - 90 people. Some would say they can’t do much. Some see some a nice building with nice chairs.
How about you? What do you see?
I tell you what I see. I see a church that is positioned to take this community by storm. I look out here and I see a lot of loving people, I see a lot of gifted people. I see a lot of people who care for each other.
I see a church that could reach 2 to 3 times its’ current size because of the untapped potential of the each of you.
When I look out I see what God can do with each of you. What am I talking about?
I am speaking of seeing things for what they can be, not the way they are! I am talking about VISION.
When this church was built, it took vision. When we decide to build upon it, it will take vision. We cannot look at what we are now, but what we can be as we partner along side God!
What can God do with this church? ANYTHING!
What can He do with you? ANYTHING!
We will sell ourselves short if we do not look at ourselves and the church with VISION!
Don’t be tied to the way things are now, see them for what they could be with God!
Have VISION! – God’s Vision
What are you going to do with this New Year?
Let us make 2019 a year we will never forget!
Let’s make prayer a priority, let us build our foundation on the Word. Let us build a strong sense of community and let us have a vision for what God can do with us!
Picture It... A Fruitful 2019!!!