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Sharing the love of God (CC)

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Please rise for the reading of this morning's sermon text recorded for us by Luke in the Book of Acts, where we read from Chapter 11 beginning with Verse 19: NOW THOSE WHO HAD BEEN SCATTERED BY THE PERSECUTION IN CONNECTION WITH STEPHEN TRAVELED AS FAR AS PHOENICIA, CYPRUS AND ANTIOCH, TELLING THE MESSAGE ONLY TO JEWS. SOME OF THEM, HOWEVER, MEN FROM CYPRUS AND CYRENE, WENT TO ANTIOCH AND BEGAN TO SPEAK TO GREEKS ALSO, TELLING THEM THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT THE LORD JESUS. THE LORD'S HAND WAS WITH THEM, AND A GREAT NUMBER OF PEOPLE BELIEVED AND TURNED TO THE LORD. NEWS OF THIS REACHED THE EARS OF THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM, AND THEY SENT BARNABAS TO ANTIOCH. WHEN HE ARRIVED AND SAW THE EVIDENCE OF THE GRACE OF GOD, HE WAS GLAD AND ENCOURAGED THEM ALL TO REMAIN TRUE TO THE LORD WITH ALL THEIR HEARTS. HE WAS A GOOD MAN, FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND FAITH, AND A GREAT NUMBER OF PEOPLE WERE BROUGHT TO THE LORD. THEN BARNABAS WENT TO TARSUS TO LOOK FOR SAUL, AND WHEN HE FOUND HIM, HE BROUGHT HIM TO ANTIOCH. SO FOR A WHOLE YEAR BARNABAS AND SAUL MET WITH THE CHURCH AND TAUGHT GREAT NUMBERS OF PEOPLE. THE DISCIPLES WERE FIRST CALLED CHRISTIANS AT ANTIOCH. DURING THIS TIME SOME PROPHETS CAME DOWN FROM JERUSALEM TO ANTIOCH. ONE OF THEM NAMED AGABUS, STOOD UP AND THROUGH THE SPIRIT PREDICTED THAT A SEVERE FAMINE WOULD SPREAD OVER THE ENTIRE ROMAN WORLD. (THIS HAPPENED DURING THE REIGN OF CLAUDIUS.) THE DISCIPLES, EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY, DECIDED TO PROVIDE HELP FOR THE BROTHERS LIVING IN JUDEA. THIS THEY DID, SENDING THEIR GIFT TO THE ELDERS BY BARNABAS AND SAUL. This is the Word of our Lord. Let us pray: This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Amen. [Text taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, 1973, 1978, 1984, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.] Dear Followers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: Each congregation, that the Lord brings together, of His people, has its own history. Its own characteristics. Its own purposes and its own reasons; for coming together as a group of Christians to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. To be encouraged each and every day on that message that is so precious and so dear to all the children of God ... that we follow Jesus Christ. That Jesus Christ IS our Lord and our Savior; the ONLY hope for sinful humanity. The One who God sent into this world to save humanity. He died on the cross of Calvary and He rose from the grave. He sits at the right hand of God and rules everything for the benefit of the Church. And the Church of this world gathers together in His name. To sing His praises. To worship Him. To teach themselves and to encourage each other. So even though every congregation has its own unique history, it all comes back to Christ. And the congregation that was formed in Antioch is truly the same in that respect. Yes, that's where those groups of people gathered together and were first called Christians. Those who followed Christ. But they were there proclaiming Christ. They were there living their life of faith. And it certainly was not an easy life for them. The people that had come to Antioch had come from the persecution in Jerusalem. The persecution of Stephen that tremendous and first martyr of the Church who gave up his life defending Christ who was killed at the hands of sinful men. And yet Paul, we know, stood there with the coats of those people who picked up stones and hurled them at that man until he died. The Church that was persecuted in Jerusalem fled for their lives. We know that that persecution was severe. Paul himself, before his conversion, was getting letters to go to other cities to put men, women, and children in prison and to death for their faith in Jesus Christ. We can see how easily it would be for those Christians maybe to denounce their faith. Or to just leave and go somewhere else and remain quiet. But that is NOT what those believers did. It's not what they could do. Because their faith in Jesus Christ enabled them; it empowered them to tell others. They reached out to Jews who were looking for that Messiah; the One that God had promised. I'm sure they reached out with all of those things that Jesus Christ had done in fulfillment of the Law and the prophets. Teaching those Jews that Jesus was the One that the Father had sent. And He met all of that criteria. And He was their passover Lamb sacrificed for them. And that His sin [misspoken] that that His blood washed away their sins. But those Christians didn't only reach out to the Jews who had that tremendous background. They also reached out to others ... to Greeks ... with the wonderful news that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of all. They didn't fear persecution. They continued to speak and they would not be silent for the hope that they had in them for the knowledge that the Holy Spirit had brought to them and what a tremendous example for us as the modern-day church. To not fear persecution. To not fear what other people are going to say about our faith and our beliefs. Satan so wants us to remain quiet and NOT share the knowledge that we have. He puts fear into our hearts and lives that we're gonna be mocked and we're going to be mistreated. But I don't know that any of us are being faced with death because of our faith. Or having difficulty coming here this morning to worship the God that we love and adore. We're reminded today to share the knowledge. To not be afraid of what the world is going to say. The world is always going to hate us, because they don't begin to understand love ... so clearly described in John's Epistle Lesson for this morning. And in the Gospel Lesson where Jesus talked to us. That love only begins with an understanding and a knowledge of God and His love. That HE LOVED US! And He showed that love for us by sending His Son and sacrificing His Son so that we could be adopted as His children. As the family of God, brothers and sisters, together with Christ for all eternity. And that is the essence and the basis of love. It is our motivation for reaching out with the message that we have. To share that love of God. To reach out to others with that same love because our desire is that no one should perish. But that everyone should come to a knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and be saved. Have that same wonderful confidence that we have, that our eternity is secure. That heaven is our home. And that we live in this world proclaiming that faith, sharing that faith. Teaching that faith to others. It's the faith that Brandon, this morning, is going to confirm before us. To stand among us, to say he believes what we believe. He knows the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And everything that that Lord has done for us. And he knows it, trusts it, and believes it just as we do. That thing that unites us as a congregation and propels us to preach and teach the Word in its truth and in its purity to people who need to hear it. And we need to hear that message, time and time again to refresh the wonder of God's love for us. To hear that our sins have been forgiven. To hear that heaven is ours. And to reach out to others to teach them who Jesus is. And what He's done for them. The church in Antioch did that. They were instructed by Barnabas and Saul. They taught great numbers of people. They came together around the Word. To learn it and to share it as we ourselves do. And how important that gathering together in worship and study is because it invigorates our faith. It strengthens our faith. The Holy Spirit works with that Word to sustain us each and every day through all of the trials and all of the difficulties of our lives. And every congregation has faced those same trials. Those same difficulties ... some unique to them and some they share with the Church across the globe. And it is the Word that provides strength. It is the Word that provides answers. But also we have opportunity to show our love. Look at the example of those Christians of Antioch! When they heard that there was going to be a severe famine, it touched them. And they put their love into action. They collected an offering to be sent back to Jerusalem. Each and every one of those members looked at their finances. They looked at what they had and how God had blessed them and they gave in accordance with what they could ... to help their brothers and sisters in the faith who were going to be going through something that was severe and difficult. And they showed their love in the actions that they took. And what a wonderful reminder to us that we, too, can put our love into practice in the actions that we have because of our faith. Seeing our brothers and sisters in Christ in need touches us. And we pray for them that God would protect them and keep them, but also if we are able to give, we support them with the blessings that we have that God has blessed us with. To be able to share with others in their needs. To reach out to them and know that there are brothers and sisters across the world who care for them ... because we are together in Christ. And maybe because all of a sudden it's tornado season again and the hurricane season is starting up and the turmoil and the power of nature that just reminds us of how quickly someone's house can be there and the next minute it's gone. A reminder though, of the blessings that God has given to us that when there are others in need, we can help. We can offer ourselves. We can offer the blessing of money, an offering, clothing, support. Those are all things that we do because God has loved us and we love one another. And it is a blessing for us to carry each other's burdens, to share that load so that it is not so heavy for one individual. But we come together as the Church of God united in Him, sharing each other's burdens, carrying each other's load because of the love and the strength that we have been given through the power of the Holy Spirit. It's a Church that is active and alive in the Word and living their faith. And we remind ourselves that that is the kind of congregation we are and it is the kind of congregation we strive to be. One that withstands persecution. One that stays solid in the Word. That reaches out with that Word to others and the congregation that when it sees the needs of people, look to themselves to provide help and support. That is, what God has called us together to be and to Him we give all glory for the work that we do in His name. Amen. Let us rise. Now may the peace of God which goes beyond all of our understanding, keep your hearts and your minds and especially your lives in the one true faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

Video Details

Duration: 16 minutes and 24 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: R & M
Director: Jesus
Views: 52
Posted by: hischild on May 15, 2012

This May 13, 2012 sermon, based on Acts 11:19-30, includes the news that the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. Spreading God's Good News to the Greeks and not only to the Jews, they showed by example how to serve and shared each other's burdens.

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