I remember watching the movie “Apollo 13” and that dramatic moment when the explosion occurs. One astronaut speaks into his radio those brief words that are so full of meaning and emotion – “Houston, we have a problem.”
In Acts chapter 15 the early church has a problem that threatens to tear it apart. The way in which the early church dealt with this problem is very instructive for us today. They did it together. They did it according to Scripture. And they did it as godly leaders applied God’s Word to their specific situation.
Sometimes today we still need a “Systems Check” to see if we are in line with God’s Word or if we too have a problem. Thankfully, in Christ every problem is just another opportunity to see God at work!
I kill plants. It’s something I’m fairly gifted at. I’ve killed tomato plants, cilantro, flowers, bushes, even trees. My skill at killing plants knows no bounds. I may not grasp the intricacies of helping a plant to grow, but I know that God’s Word has a lot to teach us about growing strong in the gospel.
This week at Orchard Community Church we are looking at the end of Acts chapter 11 through Acts chapter 14. This is the first of Paul’s three missionary trips. We are going to pay specific attention to the church that sent Paul and Barnabas on this trip – the church at Antioch – which is a great example of a church that is Grounded and Growing. Then we will look at the things they encounter on the trip and what they do on their way home that shows how important it is for churches and believers to be “Grounded and Growing”!
Take some time before Sunday to read Acts 11:19-30 and 13:1 – 14:28 as we prepare to gather with other believers and be “Grounded and Growing” in the gospel together!
We will also be participating in Communion. I like to think of Communion as a sermon that you do instead of a sermon that you listen to. In the act of taking the bread and the cup, we are declaring that Jesus’ death on the cross is our hope of salvation. It is always such a meaningful experience and a great reminder!
photo by Flickr user churl
We don’t like to be uncomfortable. Unfortunately, comfort can be very limiting. There are lots of things in the world that are amazing, but not always comfortable. This Sunday at Orchard Community Church we are going to look at Acts chapter 10 and the idea of getting “Out of our Comfort Zone and into the Gospel Mission.” God has amazing things to do in and through us, but they are not always comfortable. Are we willing to lay aside what keeps us comfortable for the sake of the Gospel Mission? This Sunday we will look at how Peter stepped out of his comfort zone because he LEARNED something new about God, he RESPONDED in faith and obedience to what he learned, and this led to a new EXPERIENCE of who God is and what God was doing. Spend some time in prayer before Sunday and ask God where you might be stuck in your comfort zone and then read Acts chapter 10 in preparation for Sunday morning.
This Sunday at Orchard Community Church we will be looking at Acts 9:1-31 which is an amazing account of a man named Saul (a.k.a. Paul). He was absolutely against Christ and all Christians until he met the risen Jesus on the road one day and it changed his life forever. In fact, saying he was “against” Christians is way too weak. He went door to door arresting Christians and putting them on trial which sometimes ended in their deaths. This man goes from being one of the biggest enemies of the church to being it’s main spokesperson. He changes from arresting those who speak about Christ to being one who is willing to give his own life so that others can hear about Christ. His story is a reminder to us that none of us and none of our friends or relatives is beyond the reach of the great power of God for salvation! The sermon is called “This Changes Everything” and is about how the fact of Jesus’ resurrection really does change everything.
Another great thing this weekend is that in about 5 hours I am taking a group from the church to Pennsylvania for a one day mission trip on Saturday to help victims of the recent floods. Another group is coming on Saturday morning for a total of about 15 in all. This trip was completely planned and implemented by some wonderful volunteers in the church. They found the need just a few weeks ago and immediately put plans in action to see who could go. I am really looking forward to it and I’m so proud of the people of OCC for their love for God and for others!
That’s what we’re doing this weekend…what about you?
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
We are constantly confronted with choices. This Sunday’s Sermon on Acts 6:8 – 8:40 is called “Worlds Colliding” and is Part 6 in the series “Acts: The Gospel Mission.” Throughout the book of Acts we see times when the ways of God collide with the ways of this world. One of the most dramatic instances of this is when Stephen points out to people who thought they had it all figured out that they were actually entirely missing the point. Stephen is horribly put to death for standing up for God’s ways. The early followers of Jesus Christ have to flee for their lives. But even through all this, God’s way triumphs as the Gospel Mission Continues. Read Acts 6:8 – 8:40 in preparation for worship this Sunday and spend time in prayer asking God to challenge you through his word.
Everyday we are pulled in many directions. This happens to individuals and to the church. How can we stay on course? How can we be sure we don’t sacrifice what is best for what is good? This Sunday at Orchard Community Church we are going to look at the first part of Acts 6 where the leaders of the early church are faced with a tough decision and they take a stand for staying on course. We will look at how their decision is a model for our church and for our lives.
A few days ago I opened our refrigerator and noticed it wasn’t very cold. I looked at the butter and it was starting to melt. I opened the freezer and our ice bin had become a bucket of water. The really weird thing was that the light in the fridge was still on. It appeared to be working.
One of the reasons I hear for why people don’t believe in Jesus is that all Christians are hypocrites. People think we look like the light is on, but there is no evidence of God’s power at work in our lives or in our churches. Our actions will proclaim what we believe to be true much louder than anything we say or preach.
My sermon this Sunday at Orchard Community Church is on Acts 4:32 – 5:16 which takes place at a time when God was doing amazing things in the early church. Many people were believing in Jesus and becoming part of the church. Evidently there were also others joining the church for the wrong reasons. They were coming because it made them feel good, made them feel important or meaningful but they didn’t really believe in God.
We are introduced to one such couple. Ananias and Sapphira are part of the church for what they can get out of it and not for God’s glory. They want to look good on the outside. They are a potential drain on the power of God at work in the early church.
But God was present with the early church and His presence in the church then as well as now makes a HUGE difference. Do we live like we are in the presence of God? Do we “do church” with the recognition that God is here? If you are in the Greece/Rochester, NY area and don’t have a church, come Sunday and hear about how God dealt with the power drain in the early church in Acts 4:32 – 5:16 and what we can learn from this key event in the early church.
Oh, and before anyone gets us a new refrigerator… It turns out my 2 year old turned it off using the knob inside the fridge. It had probably been off for a few days without us even noticing. How’s that for looking good but lacking power!?