Renew Your Meetings (Acts 13:1-3)
To Be a Model Church for All Who Believe (2)
Renew Your Meetings (Acts 13:1-3) / January 10, 2016
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While 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.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Last week, we began this year with the message “Renew Your Upper Room First”. The meaning of the message was twofold. First, focus on the answers and blessings that began in Mark’s Upper Room in the Bible. Second, in order to experience the blessing of the gospel, which is God’s absolute goal that began in Mark’s Upper Room, renew your relationship with God. That is why we must change the wrong imprints, roots, and habits that drive us into conflicts and failure time after time. The problem is that incorrect things have been imprinted and rooted in us and become part of our nature. Extremely speaking, Satan imprinted those things in us. Who planted slave mentality in the Israelites for 400 years? Complaints, resentments, and unbelief did not simply come from scars (1 Corinthians 10:9). On one hand, people have been imprinted with the standards of the world (materialism and success-ism), and on the other hand, they have been seized by their own standards, greed, and need. All they say is “They don’t acknowledge me,” “They are not helping me,” and “My needs are not met.” That is why relationships break. Because we have been saved in the gospel, we have a clear life’s conclusion. God has finished all authority of Satan, curses, destiny, and hell. Now do not shake, complain or fall into trials. You must enjoy everything in life. Enjoy even your problems. Only then the forces of Darkness will flee. Among many blessings we can enjoy, one of the most important blessings is that of meetings. You must enjoy every relationship God has allowed you. Renew your relationships in the gospel. Today’s message is entitled “Renew Your Meetings”. There are three kinds of meetings.
1. But there is something that applies to all meetings: you must enjoy every meeting as a blessing. There are close relationships. People who are closest to you can make you happy or sad and encourage you or bring you down.
(1) The first kind of relationships is that with your family including your spouse. God has allowed you your family as someone who can help you as people who are closest to you (Ecclesiastes 9:9).
a. Some people try to seek the love and strength they should receive from their family at church because they do not think of their family as precious and are estranged or scarred. Even if your family members do not believe in Jesus, serve them and help them to the extent they acknowledge your heart. You cannot do that with money. Pray sincerely for them to a point they know your heart. Even if it is something small, find a way to help them. That is the key to family evangelization.
b. Some couples are church officers, but they only click physically and end up like Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). You must help each other to a point you can guide your spouse in the midst of a conflict to choose God’s will instead of your own benefit. That is why your everyday spiritual state is important.
(2) Second, you have relationships with people of the world at school, work or business field.
a. They are watching you. They are looking to see if you are trustworthy, responsible, and selfless. As they are watching, God will open a great door to evangelism. Joseph was acknowledged by his slave master and beloved by his prison guard.
b. They may not believe in Jesus themselves, but they might connect you to someone who will. Even if they end up not believing in Jesus through you, you must let them be an important system in your life. You need letters of recommendation when you apply for college or a job or even when you are in a crisis. Apostle Paul said everyone he met, especially the members of the church, was his letter of recommendation before God (2 Corinthians 3:1-2).
2. There are people who give you a hard time. Some are like bitterroots, persecutors and even a cross to you (Matthew 16:24). With the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, not only should you overcome these people, but you must enjoy your relationships with them as blessings.
(1) There are people who are used as an evil instrument. Imagine you are used as an evil instrument to someone. It is your life that is sad and pathetic, not theirs. Even still, they are an instrument that is used to fulfill God’s will (Proverbs 16:4), and you must enjoy your relationship with them as a blessing. King Saul who tried very hard to kill David eventually suffers a pitiful death. The time David was running from his father-in-law was God’s training to be the next king of Israel. During that time of suffering, David made God his one and only (Psalm 62:1-2) and made himself a vessel of a leader who can embrace anyone. Jesus says of Judas Iscariot, “It would be better for him if he had not been born.” (Mark 14:21) But God used even Judas to fulfill the work of the cross (John 13:31).
(2) There are people who fail and do evil deeds for a moment out of ignorance but whom God will eventually use for His important work. For those who are used for evil deeds, you should pray for them out of pity, but for those whom God will eventually use for His greater work, you should pray anticipating their future.
a. How did Saul the persecutor completely crumble on his way to Damascus? There was a disciple named Ananias who would turn Saul to Paul. He was a disciple who could see people through the eyes of the gospel, pray for them, and help them to be used by God.
b. Onesimus, who was in prison after stealing from his master, becomes a servant of the Lord. And he meets Paul in prison. Paul gives the gospel to Onesimus and persuades his master Philemon to raise him up as a disciple. Do not look at the person as he is now, but help him thinking about God’s will. That is how disciples like Paul and Onesimus will be raised up.
3. There are meetings you must absolutely enjoy: the meetings with people of the conclusion. These people are disciples with whom you must go together for the sake of world evangelization, which is God’s absolute goal and our heavenly mandate (Matthew 12:28).
(1) When you have a team of disciples in your life, God’s absolute answer will begin. Jesus had disciples (12 Disciples and 70 workers), Peter had Tabitha, and Paul had his team (Romans 16).
(2) Do you understand how important your lifelong team is? Through that blessing of meeting, you will change the world and enjoy blessings throughout your entire life. Even for nonbelievers, your team and the people with whom you are going together determine everything (characteristic of successful people).
a. A team must have order, but it is not exactly a vertical hierarchy. When people start asking questions, “Who is the highest?” or “Who wields the most power?” you are not in a team; you are in a hierarchy. That is why Jesus washed His Disciples’ feet and encouraged them to do the same (John 13:5-15).
b. People who get upset and fall into trials because no one at church helped them are just churchgoers, not disciples. You must seek them out and help them. But if you start thinking one day about how you can help others, you are ready to be on a team. You are ready to be a church officer, a disciple.
(3) If you want to enjoy the blessing of the team, be a disciple yourself who follows Jesus. Disciples are characterized by the following three standards (Matthew 16:24-25).
a. “Deny yourself.” You no longer have any reason. You no longer have your standards, opinion or excuses (work produced by faith).
b. “Carry your cross.” You are ready to sacrifice yourself according to Father’s will (labor prompted by love). Why did Jesus use the word “cross”? The cross stands for a resolution that you do not necessarily want to carry but will willingly if it is Father’s will (Matthew 26:39). Sometimes in carrying your cross, it may take not just simple sacrifice or loss but your life, like the cross Jesus carried.
c. “Follow me.” You fix your eyes on Jesus and follow Him to the end (endurance inspired by hope). Most people do not follow the Lord. They follow their own gains and needs. That is why they lose hold of the blessing of the team and walk on their own paths. Judas Iscariot, Barnabas (Acts 15:39), and Demas (2 Timothy 4:10) all decided to take their own paths.
I bless you enjoy the greatest blessing of meeting disciples and your team this year. In order to enjoy that blessing, I bless you prepare yourself first.