Sunday, June 1, 2008
“Meeting The Needs Of People…..”
As I was perusing through Marshall Shelley’s book “Renewing Your Church Through Visions and Planning, I ran across this illustration. The story is told of a major corporation that launched a new brand of dog food: Through research, they developed the most sophisticated, most nutritious dog food to date and poured millions into marketing it.
But it didn’t sell.
Out of frustration, the corporation gathered in a Chicago hotel. The national sales manager got up and said, “What’s the problem? We have this nutritious product that is cheaper and better marketed than our competitors’ product. Why is nobody buying it?”
There was a long, uncomfortable silence. Then, from the back of the room, a salesman from Iowa drawled, “The dogs don’t like it.”
What would happen if we were to come together in a conference of church leaders and ask, “Why is the Gospel not selling?” That is the same for us. The Gospel has never lost its power. We have to continue to ask ourselves, are we meeting the needs of people of this community spiritually? Are we seeing the greatest miracle of all occur with the transformation of a lost sinner into a child of God? That miracle meets the greatest need, lasts the longest and costs the greatest price, the blood of Jesus Christ. The problem that I am finding with church in America is that we have to find a way to show people their need for Jesus Christ. People are not seeing their need for eternal values and they think that it will be taken care of when they cross that bridge. We have everything in America. We have money, we have all of the material things that we need, and we even have religion. And people in America want more of what they have. I find that makes for a tough hurdle in the church today. People are always searching. When they do search, they are finding that there is a school of thought that says that there is more than one way to get to God. They think that they have it all, but they are always searching for something better. We have a task at hand to show them that they need to be connected with Jesus Christ in a relationship with Him. So, what is the answer? I want to propose to you this morning that the application is still the same that it was 2000 years ago. Continue to be obedient to the Holy Spirit in exposing a persons need for righteousness, reveal God’s amazing gift of Jesus Christ, and eternal life in Him.
Act 5:12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.
Act 5:13 And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
Act 5:14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
Act 5:15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
Act 5:16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
I. We have to continue to be aggressive in the obedience of the Holy Spirit. Vs. 12-13
a. The aggressive obedience of the apostles, authenticated by “signs and wonders” (healing miracles), led to a revival. “More and more men and women believed in the Lord”
i. These miracles were signs and wonders done through the hands of the apostles by a merciful God that wanted to show sign and miracles intended to convince Jewish onlookers of the credibility of the Christian message and movement.
ii. They had already seen the death of Ananias and Sapharia and now signs and wonders. What is the response? A complete triumph over the attacks of Satan. People coming to know the Lord as their personal Savior. Things happening.
b. The apostles: they continued in one accord.
i. The assembly was now unified and magnified, and it therefore multiplied.
1. Friends, this will always happen when an assembly is purged of sin. I see this personally, and corporately. Often, the fact that God’s people are together all with one accord is a greater display of the power of the Holy Spirit than any particular sign or wonder. Our hearts and minds can be tougerh to move than any mountain! That is exactly the task that is at hand with the church today! We have to remember that we are working toward hearts and seeing the miracle of people coming to know Jesus. That the Gospel still shows a person the bad news of unrighteousness, and the Good News of being declared righteous.
2. This will always happen when an assembly is in one accord.
c. None of the rest dared to join them.
i. What? This verse probably means that no hypocrite or unbeliever dared joined them. The community of Christians had a marvelous reputation for integrity, and everybody knew it was a serious thing to be a follower of Jesus. An Ananias and Sapphira incident would cut down on careless commitment!
ii. Some may have been afraid to face the same kind of persecution the apostles had just faced (Acts 4:17), while others may have feared a similar fate as the one that fell on Ananias and Sapphira.
– I look at the context of this passage and think, “Whoa God you just took care of Satan’s grasp in the church, and now what are you doing?
-What makes Christianity attractive? It is easy to be drawn to churches because of programs, good speakers, size, beautiful facilities, or fellowship. People were attracted to the early church by expressions of God’s power at work, the generosity, sincerity, honesty, and unity of the members, and the character of the leaders in place.
-Then I ask, “Have our standards slipped?” God wants to add believers/disciples to his church, not just newer and better programs or larger and fancier facilities. What is God doing here at Sugar Grove? I ask myself that question everyday.
-Are we seeing the power of the Gospel flow through a people that is unified and in one accord that makes disciples?? You see, the attitude of the world may change, but the power of the Gospel never will!! Neither will the charge to go about it making disciples. We have to continue to be like minded and see the miracle flow in us!
-It says that some of the people feared joining them? I go back to the first few verses and am reminded that they were given a fear of God. Is that type of fear in us where we have such a fear of God that hypocrites are afraid to join us?
II. We have to continue to be aggressive in obedience with the Gospel for everyone.
a. No matter what.
i. Act 5:14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
b. Be bathed in the truth.
i. Catch this with me notice that when the church was cleansed from hypocrisy, its leaders pure, then the numbers grew. The church grew spiritually and physically. We shouldn’t miss the connection between the purity preserved in the first part of the chapter (with the death of Ananias and the fear of God among the Christians) and the power displayed here. God was blessing a pure church with spiritual power.
ii. The reason, they were bathed in the truth of the Word. They met the needs of people and showed them the truth.
iii. Friends, that is what revival is all about. It is about people coming to know Jesus as their Savior having their needs met, and those of us who know Jesus having another log added to the fire.
c. No matter the opposition.
i. Here in a minute we are going to notice with Jesus and His healing of the sick that the Pharisees loves to play their mind games with Jesus. Remember they always wanted to keep it (Fair-U-See). Next week, we are going to see the Saducees wanting to give the Apostles a hard time for preaching the word.
d. No matter the task at hand.
i. Contractor Stops His Project
1. I was in revival services in Amarillo, Texas, years ago in a little Baptist church. Acontractor got converted. He was building two houses, and had two big crews of men.We were having morning services at ten o’clock. Do you know what he did? He went around to these houses and said to all those carpenters, plumbers, and painters, “Boys, we are having a meeting down at the church.” Then he said some good things about the preacher, and said: “I want you to hear him. I will tell you what we will do. Nobody will work on my job here from ten to eleven o’clock. We are all going down to the church on my time.” One man said: “I do not care to go to church. I’ll stay here and work.” “No,” the converted man said, “nobody is going to work on my job while the preacher is down in my church trying to have a revival. We are all going down there.”So they came in their overalls, and some of them got converted. You know if you really break up a business or break up a roof—if you really go to breaking up things for Jesus—you can have a revival.
—Sword of the Lord
III. We have to continue to be aggressive in the obedience of the needs of people.
a. When Jesus performed miracles during His ministry on earth, He had three purposes in mind: (1) to show compassion and meet human need; (2) to present His credentials as the Son of God; and (3) to convey spiritual truth. For example, when He fed the 5,000, the miracle met their physical need, revealed Him as the Son of God, and gave Him opportunity to preach a sermon about the Bread of Life (John 6).
b. The apostles had the same idea with the healings and miracles that they did. I would bet that it must have been tiring to them to have to have met all of these needs. and they were healed every one.
c. Friends Of Jesus’ Patients
i. Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman, famous evangelist, said that the New Testament records tell of forty people, each suffering from the same disease, which were healed by Jesus. Of this number, thirty-four were either brought to Jesus by friends, or He was taken to them. In only six cases out of forty did the sufferers find the way to Jesus without assistance? Of the vast number of people who find their way to Jesus today, most of them reach Him because the friends of Jesus are concerned about the welfare of their souls.
d. “brought forth the sick” “bringing sick folks”
i. Other translations say that they “carried” the sick. So, not only did they bring them. The Greek even says that they carried the sick into see the apostles.
ii. Jesus healed people because they were sick, and we must heal people because they are sick.
1. Matthew 9:9-139 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
e. Faith doing it.
1. Reminds me Matthew 9:14-2214 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? 15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. 16 † No man putteth a piece of newa cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. 17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottlesb: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved. 18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. 19 And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. 20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: 21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. 22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
2. Luke 5:19 And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.
3. One Could Become Many
a. Andrew brought Simon—just one. But that one was many, for under God, Simon brought three thousand in one day. Joel Stratton, a waiter in a restaurant, brought John Gough to Christ. Just one. And Gough brought many to Christ. Ezra Kimball, a Sunday school teacher, brought Moody to Christ—just one. But that one was many, for Moody rocked two continents for God. But why say more? Just as one digit is valuable in the multiplication table, and one letter in the alphabet, far more valuable is just one soul in God’s sight.
—Robert G. Lee