Paul gives us a good example of listening closely to God and following God's instructions.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation.
Thanks to Rachel, Carlina, Joe, and Jeremy for filling in for Zach today.
Zach is up at Camp Shamineau leading worship again this Sunday.
I can tell you though that he will be back consistently starting next week as Fall camp season is over after this weekend.
For over a year now, we’ve been on and off again teaching through the Book of Acts in the Bible.
The book of Acts is in the New Testament (which is the stories of Jesus onward), and it’s the 5th book in the NT
And the Book of Acts is story of how the early church got started after Jesus ascended back into heaven.
At the beginning of summer when we rejoined our Acts series again, I played you a video recap of what had happened in Acts so far.
I want to play that for you again, and now with an extended part of what we covered this summer.
This is from another church, so we can’t take credit for it, but it’s a great way to fill you in if you’re new, or catch you up if you forgot.
(PLAY ACTS VIDEO)
So, why do this? Why go verse by verse through a book of the Bible? Why not just do another series like “The Replacements” or “disCONNECTED?”
I feel like I’ve explained this a lot, but I also know so many of you are brand new here as we’ve doubled as a church in the time since we started covering Acts, so I think it’s worth explaining again.
Sometimes there are practices that are worth covering as a series.
Spiritual disciplines, “God’s Gym”
Sometimes there are topics that are worth addressing
An unbalanced church: Church Teeter Totters
Idolatry: “The Replacements”
Those are important to do, But often, when you ONLY do those things, the danger is you can tend to sort of edit your own Bible. Pick out what you like, and leave out the hard stuff.
And sometimes, not always, it can be hard to really understand the context of what’s going on in the Bible.
And that’s what’s really powerful about going through verse by verse through a book.
But often, when you just go through a book, you can miss some really relevant and pressing topics as well
So, it’s a bit unique for a church, but we’re really a fan of both here at Renovation.
DISPUTE AND CIRCUMCISION SECTIONS
So, when we last left Acts in August, our hero of the story, The Apostle Paul, had just left Jerusalem where the Apostles delivered a decision that the Gentile (non-Jewish) believers didn’t have to turn Jewish first to be saved.
Let’s rejoin them there:
We’ll be on PAGE 897
(Acts 15:36-41) – NIV
36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Kind of an interesting passage. Interesting in the fact that even two of the greatest Christian workers of all time still had their disagreements.
Paul just didn’t feel Mark was worthy of taking with on their next missionary journey.
After all, we read in Acts 13 that Mark, who also happens to be Barnabas’ cousin, left them the last time because he most likely couldn’t cut it and got homesick
But don’t fret. In case you were emotionally invested in their friendship, everything worked out in the end.
It looks like we see Barnabas and Paul working together again in 1 Corinthians 9, and at the end of Paul’s life, he asks Timothy to have Mark sent to Him because Paul writes, “he is very helpful to me in my ministry”
It’s a good testament of not giving up on people.
Maybe there’s someone in your life, maybe even a friend in this church who’s let you down or not lived up to the expectations you had
Much like Mark, who couldn’t hack it and went home.
But listen, Mark, not only goes on to be very valuable to Paul, but almost all scholars believe this is the same person who wrote the Gospel of Mark.
Don’t give up on people.
The passage continues…
(Acts 16:1-5) - NIV
1 Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. 2 The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
So Paul adds this young guy Timothy to his team. Most people think Timothy was in his teens when they asked him to join the team.
15 years after this, when Paul writes to him in 1 timothy, he still calls him a young man
Paul also has Timothy circumcised here, even though the last chapter was just all about the fact you didn’t’ have to be circumcised to be saved
This week at House Groups, we’re going to go more in depth on why Paul would do such a thing.
By the way, if you’re not in a House Group yet, let me highly encourage you to try one (or even try more than one) out.
Our passion is that every one here eventually feels comfortable to get connected in a House Group.
A place where you don’t just have to be a face in the crowd. Where you can get to know a community of 20-30 people who love, challenge, and support you as you grow spiritually.
In fact, we’re so serious about it, right now, over 80% of our adults are in a House Group.
National average for churches, 22%.
But if you’ve been here for a little while, I want to challenge you today to sign up at the table today, and take another step forward to grow in your relationship with God.
There are 5 more verses in Acts I want to cover today, and I want to spend the remainder of our time this morning studying them and figuring out what they mean for our lives today
(Acts 16:6-10) – NIV
6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
One quick study note on this before we look at what it means, this begins a section of Acts where the author starts saying “We did this.” We went here, etc.”
That’s because most scholars believe, that Luke, the author, joined Paul at this point in the city of Troas.
Now, there are a lot of regions listed in this passage, and almost all of them you’ve maybe never heard of.
Let me walk you through it again, but this time, let’s put a map up.
(Put up MAP of 2nd Missionary Journey)
So, our friend Paul is trying to reach more people for Christ, and he’s out trying to bring the Good News to people who’ve never heard it, but Jesus keeps saying, “Nope. Not there.”
Let me read verses 6-9 to you again, but this time, let’s do it looking at the map
6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
So, it’s kind of interesting. Here you’ve got Paul, trying to do good. But God’s like, “Hey, I don’t want you to go tell people about Jesus here.”
And it’s like, “Really?!? Why not?? What’s so bad about that?!?”
But God’s got a master plan. And perhaps for Him, it wasn’t their time yet. Or the Gospel would spread faster if it went to Macedonia first.
We can’t be sure, but we can trust God knew what He was doing.
“But it’s a fascinating story for us today because look at the uncertainty they keep facing.
They’re traveling from place to place thinking they’re going to bring the Gospel, but each time they get close, Jesus is like, “Nope. Not here”
And they weren’t going on a half day’s walk. Their journey had already taken them across the entire modern-day country of Turkey while this was happening.
Nope. Not here. Nope. Not here.
Which to me, begs the question? Why didn’t God just tell them from the beginning? Go to Macedonia (which is Greece)
In my life, I’m a time saver.
Even if I have to go someplace that’s 5 minutes away, I still go on Google maps, and see if I can find some back roads that’ll let me do it in 4.
And this story makes me want to ask God, why not just save the time and tell them right away?!?
You might be thinking the same thing. Why isn’t God just telling me what I need to know right now?!?
But here’s the deal:
Often, God wants you to just trust Him in the journey.
Because it’s in the journey that we get to truly know Him and develop trust in the first place.
Imagine a scenario with me: What if God came to all of us at age 20, and for 5 hours, he just outlined your future life for you:
“Ok, at age 25, you’re going to live here and do this”
“At age 30, you’re going to marry this person and serve me this way”
“At age 40, you’re going to have move here and start this job”
And so on and so forth
If He did this, do you think you would rely on Him more or less in your life?
For most of us probably less.
The road is already mapped out.
But when the road isn’t all mapped out, guess what, you’ve got to stop and ask for directions!
And sometimes He’s gonna say, “NOPE! Not that way.” And sometimes He’s gonna say, “Yep! That way!”
But there are two major ways to screw this up:
One, and this is the most obvious way: “Don’t ask for directions”
And this is not a dig at men. I’m a man, and I would stop and ask for directions, it’s just…I always know where I’m going, so I don’t need to” J
But seriously, if you don’t ask, how can you know…
(James 4:13-15) – NIV
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
a) It isn’t up to our discretion. and b) We’ve got to know the Lord’s will on things.
How many of you played Simon Says as a kid?
Is it okay if we play a little game right now? Okay, if you don’t remember how to play, it’s simple, you only do something if I say, “Simon Says” before I ask something of you.
Okay, let’s begin:
Alright, let’s start with everybody standing up
Simon Says, Stand up
Simon Says, Put one hand in the air
Simon Says, “put the other hand in the air”
NOW wave them around like this….
Simon Says, Clap four times
Simson Says Clap three times
Clap two times
Ok, ok, sit down.
Oh…Gotcha! Simons says sit down.
Ok, we’re done for real.
You know what I love about this game?
It’s a cool picture for what life should be like. Because really, life is like a game of “Jesus Says.” (point to screen)
Ok, where’s God calling me? What do you want me to do God? What’s your will? Where do you want me go?
And I love that picture of “Jesus Says”
Are you just doing stuff in your life without asking? Or are you waiting for Jesus’ instructions? Are you playing a game of Jesus Says or a game of “Insert your name here says”
Follow the example of Paul who listened for the Spirit of God and his instructions.
Are you stopping to seek him out? And seek what He wants? Seek His will???
HE ALREADY SPOKE
BUT…I said earlier that there are two major ways we can screw up following God as he slowly reveals the map of our lives to us
One was to not ask for directions…to not listen to what He says to do first!
And the other is to sit around, wait, and do nothing.
Now, at first glance, those just seem like a blatant contradiction of one another.
“David, didn’t you just say, “wait for instructions from Jesus!”
Yes, yes I did.
But I’m also saying, don’t wait around and do nothing.
Well, what in the world does that mean?!??!??!?
Let me explain
See, God speaks to us in a couple of different ways:
For one, he can speak to us today. God is real. He can speak to you. Maybe that’s through a thought in your mind or your heart…or through another person…or through a worship song…or through anything
But, here’s the other part…He already spoke: In his Bible.
And the most important rule is number one can’t contradict number two.
God’s never going to say something to you that contradicts what He says in the Bible
So, on the one hand, God can speak to you today and give you specific instructions, but on the other hand, He already gave you a lot of instructions in the Bible.
And sometimes I think Christians forget this second part.
And they just sit around and wait… Waiting for instructions. Well, God hasn’t told me to go yet. God hasn’t told me to this yet.
But, He HAS! Haven’t you read the Bible!
And this is what I love about Paul and his companions in this passage of Acts
They are on the move. Telling people about Jesus. Not sitting at home!
Did God call TELL them specifically to go to some of the cities they went to already?? Not that we see anyway.
IN fact, at the beginning of our passage, we just see Paul saying that HE thought they should go back and visit the towns they went to.
There wasn’t some special revelation.
But, that’s okay. They didn’t need one. The Bible already is telling them to take God’s word to the ends of the earth.
So, we see them on the move. Always on the move. Spreading the Word…
And always praying along the way; making sure they are on course.
MOVING, LISTENING, MOVING, LISTENING, MOVING….
And when God says DIRECTLY, “Hey, don’t go here. They don’t go.” They listen.
But here’s the mistake so many Christians today make.
They don’t do anything. They just sit and wait for God to speak through some megaphone…
And if He doesn’t, well then, that’s His problem.
But guess what?!? He already given you instructions!
Go love people! Go serve people! Go tell people to come hear about God! God tell people about God!
What are you waiting for?
Let me ask you a question?
Did God tell you directly to come to church today? Then what are you doing here? Did God tell you to read your Bible yesterday? So why did you do it?
Cuz you already had that instruction from His Word.
“And I think our problem is this: There are so many things that we think we need further instruction still when really, we don’t!
Listen, it’s still indeed a game of “Jesus Says,” it’s just that with a lot of things, He already said it! In His Word.
So follow the lead of Paul and his companions.
Get up, and start radically living for Christ.
LISTENING, MOVING, LISTENING, MOVING
Start serving people more.
Go rake your neighbors lawn.
Start loving people more.
Be the girl who bakes food for everyone else at work.
Start telling people about Jesus..
Bring an invite card from church. Start a spiritual conversation with somebody.
You don’t need further instructions for that. You already got them.
But be like Paul, keep moving and keep listening.
Always moving always listening.
Not one or the other.
Don’t be the Christian who’s always moving and never listening.
And Don’t be the Christians who’s always waiting and never moving!
We said in an email to our church this week (and on facebook) that we were going to be making another announcement about how we are going to reach more people for Christ…and I wanted to tell you about that this morning as well
because I think it relates well to Paul’s vision of the Macedonia man
Because that’s what beats deep in my heart as the leader of this church. That’s what keeps me up at night. It’s lost people.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, our leaders at this church, our staff, etc., are a little bit crazy about reaching more people with the hope & forgiveness of Jesus Christ. It’s why we do what we do.
And that idea of people like the “Macedonian” man crying out saying, “Help us!” That’s what compels us.
And I believe the best and most effective way we can do that EXPONENTIALLY is actually NOT by just expanding Renovation Church.
It’s through Church Planting. Starting new churches.
I’ve made it no secret since we started this church that we want to be a church that plants more churches.
I mean, think about the impact of Church Planting.
Our parent church, enCompass church decided to plant a church (US) 2 years ago, and even though at the time, they were a church, of around 150 people, there’s now another church that exists (US) that is a church of 250.
Just like that. That’s crazy.
Our other parent church is Grace Fellowship in Brooklyn Park pastored by Dave Reno.
I believe Grace Fellowship, even though it’s lesser known than some of the other huge churches in the area, I believe it’s potentially the most influential church in the upper Midwest.
In 2009, we were Grace Fellowship’s 18th church plant!!!
They’ve now planted 20 churches, and if you add the attendance of all their churches together, it equals 7,500. Which would make them the 2nd biggest church in the 5 state-area.
And yet hardly anyone knows who they are. And that’s ok. Because that’s never what it was about it the first place.
And it’s not just putting bodies in the seats where everyone just anonymously attends…these are church plants… many of them just 100-400 people that are radically influencing communities and reaching people for Jesus. It’s awesome.
And we aspire to be a church like that. And we have from the beginning.
So much so, that from DAY ONE of this church, we’ve put aside 5% of our offerings in an account to help us plant more churches.
And that’s what we’re gonna do.
And we’re gonna do a lot of it. Because we’re serious about reaching people for Christ, and I could care less if it’s at Renovation or someplace else.
The fastest any church in our network of 20 churches has planted a church of their own is 4 years.
I’m telling you this morning that we are going to plant TWO churches by year 3 of our church. J
For the last year, I’ve been working with Kevin Thomas from enCompass church to find and coach church planting candidates, and two weeks ago, Kevin and I sent two candidates to the church planter’s assessment center, and both of our candidates passed.
At this point, our two daughter churches will both be launching in September or October of 2012.
One of our candidates feels called to the Plymouth area and another to the Roseville/Maplewood area.
And for these guys, God has been calling to them for quite some time, and Renovation & enCompass Church coming along to them, has been part of the Macedonian call….just like it was for Paul.
They were ready to move…but also ready to listen.
I can’t tell you their names yet, because they’re both youth pastors, and they won’t be letting their youth groups know for a little while yet.
But I can tell you that I’m pumped. J And I hope you are too.
What does church planting mean for Renovation? Having a daughter church. What does that mean for us, what does that require of us?
Well, for one, we’re going to support these churches by giving them finances, coaching from our leaders, and we’re gonna support them with you.
Once we get to the Spring, and we introduce these guys to you, we’re (and this is going to sound crazy), we’re going to ask if some of you would be willing to leave our church and help them out
WHY? Because it’s not about Renovation, it’s about reaching people.
And for some of you, that’s going to be about moving and listening. Moving and listening.
Always trying to make an impact for God, but listening along the way…Maybe he’ll call you to go help in Plymouth for a season or in Roseville or wherever. Or maybe not.
But always moving for God. Always listening.
As we get closer to this happening, and as we start to see our church planters hanging out here in the Spring, we’ll explain even more.
But for now, if you have questions don’t hesitate to ask.
And let’s continue to be a church that is moving for God and listening to his instructions.
And may God use our church to reach people for Christ in an exponential way that hasn’t been seen before!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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