Acts 3-6: "They had been with Jesus"
About 100 Christians gathered for a snowy Sunday to worship, communion, fellowship. We were to celebrate and say goodbye to Jonny Williams, but he got sick and was not able to attend his going away worship, so perhaps he and Makayla can come back for another time and Jonny can lead worship then. Another gathering is planned with mainly the praise team at the Erwins, and they plan to give the Williams a money tree, so if you'd like to give to that, please give money to the Erwin family. We did get to pray for Ben and Beth West, who are heading to Uganda, Ben for a month and Beth for half of that. Ben is working with Kibo, and Beth is going to continue deepening friendships with the Garners, Ida, Ronald, Abraham and others there. We gathered around Ben and Beth and several prayed for them. Jacob and Jill Taylor had made chapatis in honor of Ben and Beth but because of snow did not make it with the chapatis, so they put them in the freezer and we'll have them another Sunday.
So I preached on Acts 3-6 and the theme was "They had been with Jesus. I discussed four points, each beginning with "C" and all centering around a key idea, that the apostles had been with Jesus, and that's what gave them the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to do the things they did. We learned that in order to do great things for Jesus, we must be with Jesus!
In Acts 3 the apostles cared for the lame and sick like Jesus did, and this led to what happened in Acts 4: they had conflict with the religious leaders, just like Jesus did. But in their persecution they greatly rejoiced, and there is a powerful prayer for boldness in Acts 4. I showed a great scene from the musical, Upside Down, where John and Peter are released from being held and threatened by the Sanhedrin, and they call the disciples together for the prayer for boldness.
In Acts 5 we see a great contrast to the Christians "sharing all things in common." Ananias and Sapphira sell land and claim they are giving all the money to the church leaders, but they have secretly held some back. Separately the apostles question the couple, and both claim they've given the whole amount. It's not that they had to, but it's not right to act or claim as if they have given all when they haven't. They both drop dead. This is the early church's first burial. We learned that the apostles confronted disobedience and dishonesty and this brought great awe and fear among the early church members.
Finally in Acts 6, the apostles chose helpers to distribute food. Some Hellenistic Jews who had become Christians were being neglected in distribution of food. The "sharing all things in common" was again in jeopardy, and yet the apostles did not want to get sidetracked on taking up more of this responsibility, so they chose men and assigned them to this task to make sure all were taken care of, no one had needs unfilled, and they attended to the ministry of the word and prayer as they were called to do.
How did the apostles care for the sick, conflict with religious leaders, confront disobedience, and choose more servants? How did they have the wisdom and power to do these things. As we learned the first two weeks of our Acts series, the Holy Spirit is the star of Acts, and by the power of the Holy Spirit -- the Spirit of Christ -- they did all these things. Christ had given them a monster task, and they prayed, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and one more thing . . .
In Acts 4:13 Luke records the thoughts of the religious leaders after seeing the courage of Peter, John, and the other apostles. They noted that these men were ordinary, not highly educated, some fishermen, and the one unique quality they noted was this: "they had been with Jesus."
So I related this to our church. As we are choosing elders, we need to choose men who "have been with Jesus." They have a relationship with Jesus. They have been with Jesus, are still, and continuing to deepen that relationship with Jesus. Maybe the person you are thinking about writing down as a candidate is a "good guy," nice, a handy man, a good business man, wealthy and seems to handle his affairs well, seems to have good kids or grand kids. All these qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are important, but the sum of them is this: "Have they been with Jesus?"
I'm so happy that the elders selection committee had their first meeting Sunday morning, and so the process continues, and they will inform us soon what the next step is for selecting 4 new elders.
We had one new member, Charlene Calhoun, declare that she'd like to join the journey with us at Garnett, and we rejoice with her. The next step when you make this declaration by writing your information on a bulletin card is to meet with Greg Taylor and the elders. We want to share our church's journey, our own faith journey, and learn what your journey is. The main way that we enter the church is to be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ, so if someone is already baptized, they do not need to be baptized again into our church. We try to keep the entry requirements of our church the same as entering into the Kingdom of God, in belief and baptism upon the name of Jesus Christ.