Key Values for Missional Living (10-18-14)
Grab your bible and let’s go deeper into Acts 13-15
There is a lot to learn from this testimony of the early church that we can apply to our work in the mission field God has called us to as Soldiers for Jesus MC.
As we look to this text in Acts 13-15 we see three important values for the early church:
They were God Centered,
Focused on Disciple Duplication,
And accountable to their leadership.
Acts 13:2-3 “2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”
Right out the door what we find time and time again in the ebb and flow of the early church is that they were serving on mission out in the community, but they would never forsake the central need to be at the throne of God together as a body.
Constantly we hear of them praising God with song, fasting, and spending time in prayer. – Notice it is out of this time with God that they received leading form the Holy Spirit to send Barnabas and Saul.
Make it personal:
How often do you make big decisions to go “here” or do “that” without first going to God in Prayer? How truly committed are you to your local church family? To worship, tithing, discipleship, service?
Another way the early church members were God-centered in their missional lifestyle was they: SAW GOD IN ALL THINGS! One of the vital foundations we need to keep us pressing-on in our service of others outside our comfort zone is to see God in all things. Paul demonstrates this to us as he responds to the rulers of the synagogue’s request to give a word of encouragement to the people.
15After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’
Now think about all this for a moment. Don’t take this kind of narration of history for granted. Let it strike you as strange as it really is. Is this the way you tell stories about what happened? When you tell somebody about the past, do you say, “God did this and God did that and God did that and God did that, etc.”? Paul consciously chose to narrate history this way. In this he is making a statement. One that we need to listen to again and again today.
He was saying, “There is a great and glorious God. Know him. Reckon with him. Think about him.” He was saying that God is really working in everything. It’s reality. If you want to be a Christian, it means believing that God is the main character in world events—that he is the most important factor in all matters.
Paul is talking to unbelievers here. He is evangelizing. And part of what he was trying to do was show them a way of looking at the world that sets the stage for the gospel—namely, that it is God’s world. He made it. He owns it and everyone in it. He works in it. He is guiding it to his appointed goals. Everything without exception, everything has to do with God, and gets its main meaning from God.
Do you, like Paul, see God at work in all things in your life? Do you see how he is at work in your car not working or in your job changes, in your health, in your relationships, in your coffee brew flavor? When we are out there loving others we must remember it is never God then us, it is always God before us, in and through us, ahead of us. It is vital that we see God in all things!
There is an important trend that we see Jesus begin when he trains the disciples to go two by two. Not only are you vulnerable alone but who are you duplicating yourself into?
There is a clear and undeniable design of God in the NT church and that is that we are not meant to do life outside of Gospel Community. Most of the NT is written to the church because the most basic understanding is that Christians do not do life alone. This principle is essential in the ministry of the early church and is critical that we do not miss it today.
21When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
Notice: the church missionaries did not just go into an area and preach salvation and then move onto a new area.
They understood that God’s most central design of the Body of Christ was to duplicate themselves into new disciples.
This is the way God designed the Gospel to thrive in a new area. The investment in discipleship gave opportunity for growth and a new church was planted as Elders were prepared and raised up to lead and as brothers and sisters continued to invest themselves into each other in discipleship community. This is how Soldiers for Jesus must expand as well.
Make it personal: Who are you purposefully discipling in this season?
3. Accountable to their Leadership
Even though there is equality before God as children and heirs and priests and ministers, some, and not all, are called by God to serve as spiritual shepherds of Gods flock.
Some examples of this are:
Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life and imitate their faith.”
Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account.”
1 Thessalonians 5:12, “We beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are over you “in the Lord” and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.”
Acts 20:28 (speaking to the elders of Ephesus), “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God.”
So what God has set up is that each local congregation, under the authority of Christ and by his Word and Spirit, recognizes and affirms leaders whom God calls. Then the congregation puts those people in positions of leadership and voluntarily supports that leadership by learning from their teaching and following their Christ-centered initiatives.
This is a model that we should live out in our local chapters.
– This is exactly what Paul and Barnabas needed when a major problem arose in their mission work.
Acts 15:1-29 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 6The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.
They joyfully sought out and submitted themselves to the leadership that was above them.
We must recognize society’s influential bend to rail against any kind of authority. Mankind in our sin does not like anyone or anything to have authority over us. Our First sin is in direct rebellion to God’s authority and kingship. We want on the throne. To rule our own selves. To have the spotlight on us.
Today, this often translates into a pride that keeps us from following others well. We must humble ourselves and joyfully submit to those that God has put over us. So, how are you doing at keeping God the center of every aspect of your life? Are you purposefully investing into another soldier? Are you being invested into? Are you joyfully submitting to the leadership over you? Inviting others to help you make important decisions and receiving their counsel?
No doubt, the early church thrived in Christ as these values remained central practices. Soldiers for Jesus MC must be a God centered, disciple making, submissive to our leadership club.
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC