3D Sermon Notes, Sunday, August 18, 2019

8-18-19               Sermon Notes                                "Be Bold! In Your Growth"
This Sunday, we will begin a new five-week sermon series called, "Be Bold!" It is a different look at a series that has been done at our church before based on Bishop Robert Schnase's book, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. Remember that book? In the book, Bishop Schnase highlights five practices that every "fruitful" congregation has in common:
  • Intentional Faith Development
  • Passionate Worship
  • Radical Hospitality
  • Risk-Taking Mission and Service
  • Extravagant Generosity
Looking at these, it is the adjectives that stand out...intentional, passionate, radical, risk-taking, and extravagant. There is a certain boldness to these adjectives! And boldness is how the Christian movement began in Acts Chapter 2. This fits right along with what our Generosity Team came up with for our fall Generosity Campaign. Be Bold! So our take on the "Five Practices" looks like:
  • Be Bold! In Your Growth
  • Be Bold! In Your Worship
  • Be Bold! In Your Hospitality
  • Be Bold! In Your Mission and Service
  • Be Bold! In Your Generosity
So on Sunday, I will be talking about what it means to "Be Bold" in our growth...in terms of spiritual formation. The Scripture I will be using comes from Acts Chapter 2. The Holy Spirit had just come upon those gathered in the Upper Room, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. This was the "official" beginning of the Church. Peter (the same Peter who had denied Jesus 3 times) then boldly preached the Gospel and 3,000 were added to the church that day!
So what now? They had said "Yes" to the Gospel - repented, believed... were "born" spiritually... What happens after anything is "born?" It needs to grow. Here is how the Early Church set about growing...

[42] They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
[43] Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.
[44] All who believed were together and had all things in common;
[45] they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.
[46] Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts,
[47] praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Acts 2:42-47 (NRSV)
When I say the Early Church set about growing, I am talking about the process of spiritual formation. What does that mean? The best definition I have ever found for "spiritual formation" comes from a wonderful book by Robert Mulholland Jr. (New Testament professor at Asbury Seminary) entitled Invitation to a Journey. In this book, Prof. Mulholland says, "Spiritual formation is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others." (Invitation, p. 12)You see, we are all "being conformed" by something - for better or worse. What we "devote" ourselves to, is what makes the difference between our being conformed into the image of Christ or into something else. The Early Church devoted themselves to...
  1. Study
  2. Fellowship and Worship
  3. The Lord's Supper
  4. Prayer
The Early Church had connection with God and with each other, compassion for the needs of the community, and they did all of this with "glad and generous hearts." Not only did the early Christians grow boldly in their faith, but also the number of people who wanted to be part of this joyful band of Christ followers grew boldly! "Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." (Acts 2: 47)
To grow boldly we must be intentional. It's about the little choices we make every day. I love how C. S. Lewis puts this:
Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature... (Invitation, p. 24)
In other words, by our intentional choices, we will start to look more and more like Christ, or whatever else we devote ourselves to. Will you join our "joyful band of Christ followers" this Sunday to hear more about this?
See you Sunday,Pastor Sam 

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