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The Church With A Heart
Aren't you glad you're in church today? Church doesn't have to be a drudgery, around here it is fun and worthwhile and something we look forward to and miss when we're not there...because this is a church with a heart! Growing churches love, and loving churches grow.
Some people only go to church 3 times in their lives: when they're born, when they're married, and when they die...so basically--when they're hatched, matched, and dispatched! Well, I want to come every time the doors are open!
The Kaleidoscope—a favorite toy of many of us who are now “over the hill”! [cardboard tube, colored glass/mirrors/designs]…as you turn it, it changes because you are looking at the contents from a different perspective.
This passage of scripture is much like that…every time you look at it, and turn it this way and that, you see something new…a new ministry of the early church…you realize how caring and compassionate this early church was…it was truly a Church with a Heart…and GBC needs to be that church as well, so let’s look at it from a few different angles!
1. The early church had a heart for humans—they cared about people/individuals…they weren’t just a mass of people, though thousands were being saved, perhaps 25k saved in just first few months of ministry!
But God takes the time to share w/ us about 4 of these early converts, showing us they are real people w/ real names, real feelings and real needs.
Proper names mentioned:
Peter-v. 32 God is doing a work in Peter’s heart—up ‘til now, Peter has been thinking that the gospel is only for some, only the Jews, so God sends him to Lydda, about 25 miles from Jerusalem, but primarily a Gentile city. God’s breaking down walls of prejudice in Peter’s heart, and he’s learning what Paul would later state in:
[look at thru the Kaleidoscope]
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
It’s wonderful what God does in the hearts of individuals to help prepare them for what He has planned in the future.
God loves individuals…you’re more than just a number to Him!
Aeneas—v. 33-34 Crippled for 8 years, but instantaneously healed! Why did God insert this brief story? Well, it shows the power of God yes, but it also speaks of the fact that in the midst of thousands being saved, God knew about this one man, a real man, w/ a real need, and God met that need! God cares about individuals! He knows where you live!
Tabitha—[aka Dorcas…I’d prefer the former!] v. 36-38
This is a demonstration of incredible faith on the part of the disciples…up to this point there’s no record of any apostle raising anyone from the dead, but they believed by the power of Christ it could be done!
Yes, it’s a demo. of faith and power, but more than that…this is further proof that God cares about individuals, God knew her name, He knew where she was, He knew her need, and He met that need.
Every day a long list of names appears under “Obituaries”, and some like to look and see if they knew anyone…but mostly, we pass over most of the names unless their age listed is lower than ours!
But God cares for individuals, in this life, and even afterward, and proved it by snatching this one from the clutches of death.
Aren’t you glad he cares for individuals and what awaits them as well! We should too! We must never lose sight of the individual…there are as many needs here today as there are people here today, and every need is different.
Simon the tanner—v. 43 When Peter goes to Joppa he is invited to stay w/ this taxidermist, he skinned dead animals, tanned the hides, and sold them [I’ve tanned a few hides lately myself!]
Why include this info.? Again, God is working on Peter, for in those days a tanner would have been ceremonially unclean and despised by a “good Jew”. He wasn’t “Kosher”, for he worked w/ dead animals.
God is moving Peter away from the bonds of Jewish legalism and another step closer to the freedom of grace! And God uses a real man w/ a real name, a real job and really dirty hands to do a great work for Him in the heart of Peter! God loves individuals and has a plan for each one and will often do His best work thru ones who least expect He could!
We live in an impersonal century…to our government, we’re just a #, to Sears, we’re just an acct. #, on websites we’re a user name and password, to Radio Shack for some reason we’re just a phone #!
Even at a hotel, you can give your name if you want, yeah-yeah, but really we want your confirmation # and license plate #!
I’m glad God sees me as an individual, a real person w/ a name and needs, and He wants to meet those needs and know me more!
Jesus calls each of us by name:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
And if the church is gonna be what God wants it to be, we’ll have to have a heart for humans and care about people! Our area is full of tens of thousands of real people w/ real needs.
No doubt in our area this week there are children who found out their parents are divorcing, and they need to choose who to live with.
No doubt a woman found out her husband is cheating on her/someone who has lost a job or a child/addicted to drugs, porn…they need to find a church w/ a heart that sees them as a real person w/ real needs!
As we turn the kaleidoscope today, we see not only a church w/ a heart for humans, but…
2. The early church had a heart for helping.
v. 36—Tabitha “full of good works and almsdeeds” means she lived her life to help others.
v. 39 apparently she was a great seamstress, and used her talent to bless people w/ threads! She used her gifts and abilities for others.
She knew how to sew… “Sew what?” What they needed!
And you may not have the flashiest abilities in the church, singing, teaching, etc…but all that matters is how it’s bent, how you use it for others! So...how are you bent?
“Little is much when God is in it, labor not for wealth or fame, there’s a crown and you can win it, if you’ll go, work, serve, in Jesus’ name!”
The people of Grace are using their gifts and abilities in many ways, but there's room for much more…and it’s not important what gift you have, what’s important is how you use it…do you use it to help people?
The body of Christ is functioning well together, and in the middle of it all is a heart…shared by all...a heart for people!
We have that kind of church, where when one suffers, all suffer, and want to take them food! Someone having a baby? let’s shower them w/ gifts! Van rattling, roof leaking, door squeaking?...let’s fix it for God’s glory!
A church w/ a heart has a heart for helping!
Let’s turn the kaleidoscope one more time…
3. The early church had a heart for heaven.
2 miracles in this passage…the healing, and the one raised from the dead…look at the ultimate result of both miracles:
When Aeneas was healed in v. 34, look what resulted in v. 35:
v. 35 they turned to the Lord! People got saved!!
After Tabitha was raised from the dead, notice the result:
v. 42 people saw what the church was doing and got saved!
That’s what it’s all about…and even today, when God answers our prayers and someone receives a healing of some kind, that’s great, but they are going to die anyway eventually!
In the NT we can read of scores that Jesus healed, but they’re all dead! Now the big question is, where has their soul been for the last 2k years?!
We can’t just have a heart for helping, we must have a heart for heaven…realizing what people’s main need is! If we're not supernatural then we're just superficial. If all we are is programs and events and we don't focus on getting people saved then we're just making the world a better place--to go to hell from! If we don't evangelize, we will fossilize.
If we can help someone get off drugs that’s great, but we must see their main need.
Our parish nurses do blood drives and give shots, but thankfully their main concern is people’s eternity!
Our food pantry is there to meet a temporary need, but we must take the opportunity to be a tangible help to them that will last!
Don’t just view that person w/ a flat tire as one you can share help with, but one you can share heaven with!
I met people all week who are going to die. They weren't in the hospital or on their deathbed, just living and breathing and their clock is ticking because it's unavoidable...they are going to die!
Everyone we meet is going to die, and we must help them w/ their greatest upcoming need!
If you’re here today and not saved, your greatest need is not a social ministry, though we’ll offer it, but a spiritual ministry, and God offers the forgiveness of sins and a new life of victory for you!
If you’re here today and you’re sick, we’ll pray about that with you, but your greatest need is a spiritual healing thru the blood of Jesus Christ!
Many churches offer culture, but w/out Christ, they just produce dignified lost people. Offer education—produce enlightened lost people
Offer religion—produce religious lost people…
To be the church w/ a heart, we must offer at every opportunity the gift of salvation, their greatest need…we must have a heart for heaven!
God help us to be, to better be a church w/ a heart for humans, for helping, but most of all, for heaven!
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