Main Idea: God calls us to be thankful for our church, and to be a good church, serving one another.
We’re going to focus this morning on how God wants us to be thankful for our church, and to be a good church, serving one another.
BE A SERVANT: I need 12 volunteers to play a game. Three of you will run around, and 9 of you will just have to sit and read something I give you. You 3 will be the waiters. You’re going to try to fulfill as many orders as you can from the 9 people at your restaurant. They’ll tell you what they want, and you have to remember what they ordered, and bring it back to them. If you got their order right, they’ll pay you and you can move on to the next order. If you get it wrong, they’ll say, “No, I ordered…” and you have to try again. Keep playing until all 9 people have been served.
Have them then serve what they have to others.
So in this game, your job was to serve people. Was it fun to serve people? Was it fun to be served? Yeah, in an ideal world, when you’re served, you’re thankful for the person serving you, and even as you serve, you can enjoy serving.
In the same way, God wants us to be thankful for our church, and to serve our church, which is really all about serving each other. To talk about that, we’re going to look at what’s typically called the early church, or first church.
I need someone to read Acts 2:44-47 for us.
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47)
The first thing it says in verse 44 is that those who believed were together and had all things in common. So, two things, it’s important that we be together, and it’s important that we realize just how much we have in common as a church.
Being together is easy. That’s what we’re doing right now. As a church, we come together every week to worship God and grow in our faith. It seems so simple and even in some ways counter-intuitive, but one of the most crucial ways to worship God is simply by being together.
COME TOGETHER: Turn in your hymnal to Hymn #386. Some of you might find a puzzle piece in your hymnal. If you have one, hold it up. We should have 11 of them. If you didn’t find a puzzle piece in your hymnal, check another hymnal near you. Your job is to put together the puzzle without getting out of your seat, and without giving your piece to anyone else. Can it be done? No!
Ok, now you can get out of your seats, but you can only let go of your piece if your full first name has 5 or less letters. Can it be done? I mean, kind of, but some of you are still holding onto your pieces! Ok, now you can all let go of your pieces.
Here’s the thing: in order for us to function as a healthy church, we need to all come and serve. Some people think they can worship God without being part of a church. And it’s true that you can be a Christian and serve God in many ways without being part of a church. But God’s plan for us is that we would come together.
It’s kind of like saying a car doesn’t have to be in a garage in order to be a car. And that’s true. But if you have an empty garage, and it starts to hail softball sized hail, you’re going to wish you had your car in the garage! The church is the same way. Coming together as part of the church allows us to be safe and growing as Christians.
That’s the first thing, and it seems pretty easy: just coming together. But the second thing it says in verse 44 seems harder. It says that the first church had all things in common.
Having all things in common sounds pretty impossible, doesn’t it? Nowadays, people like to argue over the smallest differences in opinion. So how can we say that we have all things in common? Well, it’s kind of like this.
DIFFERENCE OF OPINION: I’m going to read a series of statements. You can agree, disagree, or somewhere in the middle. If you agree, you’ll point to that wall, because it says agree on it. If you disagree, you’ll point to that wall, because it says disagree on it. If you’re somewhere in the middle, or if you don’t know, you can point at both walls, or just raise your hands like this to signal that you don’t know. For each question, we’ll choose one person to voice their reason why it’s their opinion.
Pineapple is a good pizza topping.
Ice cream is the best dessert.
A hot summer is better than a cold winter.
Taco Bell is the best fast food restaurant.
Cats are better pets than dogs.
Today is Sunday.
This morning, we all have all sorts of opinions. And sometimes we have very strong convictions about things, and we can disagree with one another. But when we have the most important thing in common, when it comes to what is true, and not just opinion, like saying today is Sunday, like saying Jesus is our Savior, all the other things don’t matter as much, so much that we can say that we’re in perfect agreement, and we have all things in common.
But really this is talking not just about having common beliefs, but about seeing our lives as being shared with one another. Verse 45.
And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. (Acts 2:45)
There’s obviously a specific example in this verse in which people gave their money and possessions to help each other. But there’s also a general principle that we’re going to focus on, and it’s this: we’re to serve each other, even when it costs us something.
So the mission trip is coming up, and it generally costs the youth and their families $20 per youth to go. But just by giving faithfully to our church, you’ve already paid for them to go! Acts 4:34-35, it says this:
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 4:34-35)
Now, here’s the cool thing, we’re serving the youth with our money by helping them go on the mission trip, and then they’re serving others with their time and energy when they go. All I’m saying is that serving others costs us something.
So since this is the case, since serving costs us something, why should we do it? I mean, why should I work hard to earn money, and then just give it away? It’s very simple. It’s to love God and His people as a way of praising God Himself. Verse 46.
praising God and having favor with all the people. (Acts 2:46)
In everything we do, we’re to glorify God. God is our Creator, and we owe Him all praise. So even as we serve each other, our aim ought to be to serve and praise God together.
I recently heard in a sermon from Peter Hiett about some missionaries in a village in East Asia who set up a croquet game in their yard. Some of the local tribesmen became interested and wanted to join the fun. So, the missionaries explained the game, how you wanted to hit your ball through each of the wickets, and how you could knock an opponent’s ball away so that it takes them longer. One of the tribesmen looked puzzled and asked, “Why would I want to do that?” The missionary explained, “So you can win the game!”
The little man, wearing only a loincloth, shook his head in bewilderment and kept playing, but none of the tribesmen played like the missionaries played.
When one of the tribesmen successfully got through the wickets, the game wasn’t over for that player. He went back and gave advice to his friends. It was entirely a team effort until the very last player got his ball through the last wicket. And only then did they begin to dance and sing, shouting, “We won, we won, we won!”
And that is how we, the church, ought to be. We’re a team, so we all win together.
BINGO: So we’re going to play a game kind of like bingo. Usually, in bingo, one person wins by having five in a row. But we’re going to play by having any five of us raising our hands at the same time, at which point, we all yell bingo, and we all win.
Raise your hand if your middle name starts with an S.
Raise your hand if you’re wearing shoes, but no socks.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone on a blind date.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had milk squirt out your nose.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever worn something you took out of the dirty laundry.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever read an entire book in one day.
Raise your hand if you were nearly arrested for reckless driving when you were going 104 miles per hour, but the officer wrote the ticket for 98 miles per hour so that he didn’t have to take you to jail right then and there. Just me?
Raise your hand if you’ve ever cried during a Disney or Pixar movie.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever cleaned your room by throwing everything into a closet or under your bed.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever scared yourself when you saw yourself in the mirror.
Raise your hand if you’re here this morning.
That’s how we ought to be with us. When we win, we all win together. You see, God calls us to be thankful for our church, and to be a good church, serving one another.
Someone read Ephesians 1:15-16 for us.
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:15-16)
Be thankful for one another. Thank God for your church family, not just once in a while, but all the time. Paul wrote, “I do not cease to give thanks for you.” It’s hard to grumble about your church if you’re always thanking God for your church.
Thanking God for your church, serving your church, these are things that are a direct result of believing in Jesus. As we read at the beginning of verse 44, “All who believed were together.”
You see, we don’t come to church simply to sing some songs and have a good time together. We come together because we believe. We believe that there is no God except the one true God. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins. And we believe that by grace, through faith in Jesus, we’re saved.
Pastor Chris Huff has been with us since July 2009. He and his wife, Abby, have four children. Chris is originally from St. Louis, MO and even though he was raised as a city boy, he has a small town heart. Chris is all over the internet, so you can find him on Facebook, Twitter,… (read more)