Extra(Ordinary) Power Manuscript

DATE: 5-19/20-18
SERIES: Witnesses
SERMON: Extra(Ordinary) Power
TEXT: Acts 2:1-13 (ESV)

WELCOME

It’s good to be with all of you at Gateway Church this weekend. And one thing I want you to know — and it doesn’t matter if it’s your first time with us or if you’re worshipping at our North Main campus — one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too.

SERIES INTRODUCTION

And we’re continue our series through the first few chapters of the book of Acts, which we’re calling “Ordinary” because — let’s face it — every follower of Jesus is pretty ordinary — there’s nothing particularly spectacular about any of us — we’re all called to be witnesses — someone who shares the news about what Jesus has done in His life, death, and resurrection — we all have the same purpose — we’re all so — ordinary.

So let’s jump right in the Bible — if you have your Bible, please turn with me to Acts chapter two. We’ll be looking at verses one through thirteen.

And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions. So if you have a question during the sermon, you can text your question to the number printed on the bulletin or you can submit it on the Gateway app.

SCRIPTURE INTRODUCTION

And while you’re finding Acts chapter two, let me catch us all up in case you’ve missed the first few weeks in this series. The disciples — the followers of Jesus — number one hundred and twenty people. And they’re in Jerusalem. And it’s been a few days since Jesus ascended to Heaven.  

You probably know that Jesus was crucified on a cross, but death could not keep Him in the grave. And for forty days He appeared teaching and preparing His disciples for the mission He was about to give them. And on the day of His ascension — the day He went up to Heaven — Jesus said His last words on earth — and — as you know — people don’t waste their last words on unimportant things.  

And with His last words Jesus, “ordered them (His followers) not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4b-5 ESV)  

And then He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:8-9 ESV)

And with His last words, Jesus gave His disciples their mission and He promised them that they would be given the power needed to accomplish this mission — they would be empowered witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes upon them. But this mission wasn’t just for them — the mission to be His witnesses is for every follower of Jesus — even us today.

BIG IDEA

And our passage today — Acts chapter two — is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise. We’re going to see how we — a bunch of ordinary people — are empowered to be witnesses for Jesus — people who take the news of His life, death, and resurrection to the ends of the earth. Because this isn’t some puny mission we’ve been given — this is global in scale — and it can be overwhelming to think that we’re to take the gospel to people of all nations — us — you and me — there’s something about this mission we’ve been given — that — instinctively we know we can’t do this on our own — we can’t accomplish our purpose in our own power. We need extraordinary power in order to be the ordinary witnesses we’re called to be.

And here’s the truth for you and I. “Because the Holy Spirit has come, all Christ-followers are empowered to be ordinary witnesses for Jesus.” Because the Holy Spirit has come, all Christ-followers are empowered to be ordinary witnesses for Jesus.

So here’s what I want to do — but let me tell you a secret first. I haven’t been at Gateway for very long — just over two years — but I’ve already preached Acts chapter two to you. And there’s a temptation — as a preacher — when you come to a passage you’ve already preached. And that’s to repeat the sermon you’ve already preached. I mean, no one’s going to remember it anyway — except for like one guy in the congregation. In fact, I had a staff member ask me if that’s what I was going to do. But I’m not. I understand how sermons work. Preaching isn’t about one life changing sermon — preaching is about hundreds and thousands of sermons being used by God to change your life.

But as tempting as it was to just re-preach a sermon you’ve all forgotten — that’s not what I’m going to do. So we’re going to take a second look at Acts chapter two together over the next few weeks. And we’re going to allow this passage to add some more sermons to God’s work of transformation in our lives.

And — today — we’re going to answer three questions about the Holy Spirit. We won’t be able to look at everything the Bible has to say about the Holy Spirit, but there are a few things we see in our verses that give us answers to three questions. In fact, both the questions and the answers come from our verses — though we’ll look at some other passages in order to bring clarity to our answers.

The three questions we’ll be answering today are: Where does the Holy Spirit come from? What does the Holy Spirit do? And why does the Holy Spirit do these things?

Where does the Holy Spirit come from? What does the Holy Spirit do? And why does the Holy Spirit do these things?

Let’s begin in verse one of Acts chapter two.

MAIN POINT 1

“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they (the one hundred and twenty disciples) were all together one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:1-2 ESV)

So the disciples are all together and as they’re praying, something like a mighty rushing wind comes — Luke’s trying his best to describe this unusual event that’s happening as the Holy Spirit comes.

But notice — in verse two — where the Holy Spirit is coming from. Where did the sound that was “like a mighty rushing wind” come from? Luke tells us that the sound “came from heaven” — the Holy Spirit came from Heaven.

Now what does this tell us about the Holy Spirit? At the very least, we see here that there’s something supernatural going on. Supernatural things comes from heaven — not natural things. But our text doesn’t give us enough information to know much more than that about the Holy Spirit. And — if you’re familiar with the Bible — you know that angels come from Heaven — so is that all that the Holy Spirit is? Is the Holy Spirit just an angel or something like that?

Well what we do know — from other places in the Bible — is that the Holy Spirit isn’t an angel sent from Heaven. Let’s look at a few passages that tell us more about the Holy Spirit who comes from Heaven.

In the opening verses of Genesis we read, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2 ESV)

So in the beginning — we see the Spirit of God — that’s the Holy Spirit — actively involved in the creation of all things. So before creation — the Holy Spirit existed. This tells us that the Holy Spirit isn’t created — He is Creator.

Additionally, scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit is present everywhere. In Psalm 139 we read, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalm 139:7-8 ESV)

King David knows that there is nowhere he can go where God’s Spirit will not be present. “If I go up to heaven — Your Spirit is there.” And — something you may have not thought much about — but David says, “If I go — not to heaven — but to hell — or Sheol — God — Your Spirit is there.” Some people think of Hell as the absence of God’s presence — and that’s not quite accurate. Hell isn’t the absence of God’s presence — it’s the unfiltered presence of His wrath and justice — by unfiltered — I mean — the presence of God’s wrath and justice without His love and mercy. So God’s Spirit is everywhere.

Additionally, the Holy Spirit knows all things. The prophet Isaiah writes, “Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?” (Isaiah 40:13 NLT)

The implied answer is “no one is able to give advice to the Spirit.” We just don’t know enough, why? Because He already knows everything. I was driving into Gateway a few weeks ago, and I remember thinking, “God, You know what I’m thinking right now. That’s incredible. You know my desires, my hurts and pains, my hopes and dreams...You even know my darkest secrets. But You also know what the person driving that car is thinking. You know their desires, their hurts and pains, their hopes and dreams, their darkest secrets...You know everything about them too.” And then another car passed and God knows everything about them. And when you think of all of the people who are alive today and — right now we’re just limiting ourselves to what people are thinking, hoping, dreaming about — that’s just a small slice of the knowledge pie — yet God knows the thoughts and desires, hopes and dreams, and darkest secrets of the seven and a half billion people who are alive today. That’s absolutely incredible — the Holy Spirit knows all things.

In Hebrews chapter 9, the Holy Spirit is called the “eternal Spirit.” We touched on this a bit earlier when talking about creation — but the Holy Spirit — not being part of creation — means that He existed before creation — even before time — because time is part of creation. And to exist before time is to be eternal — to have no beginning or end. The Holy Spirit is eternal.

Now we could keep going, but let’s pause and ask ourselves what all this adds up to. Regardless if you consider yourself to be a Christian or not — what do all of these things add up to? The Holy Spirit is Creator, present everywhere, knows all things, and is eternal. So what does that mean? That the Holy Spirit is God, right?

So the Holy Spirit — coming from heaven — isn’t just supernatural — like an angel or something — the Holy Spirit is God coming from Heaven — just as Jesus promised. When Jesus left earth to go back to Heaven, He promised to send the Holy Spirit from Heaven to earth — and that’s what we see happening here in Acts chapter two.

Now for some of us — who are followers of Jesus — the Holy Spirit may be the least familiar and understood person of the Trinity. As Christians we believe in One God in three Persons:  the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And the church typically has done a better job of helping us understand the Father and the Son, and left the Holy Spirit to be this sort of mystery.

So let me offer two book recommendations to you, if you want to learn more about the Holy Spirit. The first, is a bit more technical — scholarly — kind of book. It’s written by Sinclair Ferguson and it’s titled “The Holy Spirit” — it’s part of the Contours of Christian Theology series. A more accessible book — less on the technical side, but still very helpful — is Francis Chan’s “Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit.” Either of these books would be a great addition to your book collection and your understanding of the Holy Spirit.

We’ve been asking the question:  Where does the Holy Spirit come from? He comes from Heaven and — more importantly for us — this tells us that the Holy Spirit is God.

MAIN POINT 2

Now on to our second question. What does the Holy Spirit do? Now that He’s come down from Heaven to earth — what is the Spirit doing? Let’s begin in verse three.

“And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.

Now remember the mission Jesus gave His disciples. They were to be witnesses to the ends of the earth — meaning to all nations — and here the nations have come to the disciples at the exact moment the promised Holy Spirit has empowered them. And in verse six we read…

6 And at this sound (the sound of the Holy Spirit coming like a mighty rushing wind) the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one (in the crowd) was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?

And to give us an idea of the nations that are represented — in verse nine — we read that there are…

9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians

We’ve got people from Northern Africa, Greece, Italy, Turkey, and modern-day Iran.  And look at what they’re all hearing in their own language. Finishing verse eleven…

— we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”” (Acts 2:3-13 ESV)

What does the Holy Spirit do? Again — more could be said than what we find in our verses — but here we see two things that the Holy Spirit does. He fills believers and He gives spiritual gifts.

First, the Holy Spirit fills believers. Look again in verse three. “And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:3-4 ESV)

And skip to verse twelve. “And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”” (Acts 2:12-13 ESV)

If you were here at Easter, you may remember the story from the gospel of Mark where Jesus talks about old wine and new wine and how new wine needs to be stored in new wineskins. And here — as the Holy Spirit comes and fills the disciples in a new way — I find it interesting that one of the responses of the crowd — of those who were resistant to what they were seeing and hearing — one response is that the disciples were filled with new wine — that they were drunk.

And how wrong and right they were. They’re wrong because they assume the disciples are drunk on actual wine. But they’re right, because the disciples are filled with new wine — the wine we saw Jesus speak of on Easter weekend — the wine of His Spirit filling His disciples so they are empowered to be His witnesses.

Now the Bible shows us that there are two parts to this filling of the Spirit. The first is when you initially believe in Jesus. God’s Spirit then fills you — comes in you — takes up residence in you. The second filling is more of a spiritual boost. There will be times when we may fall back into depending upon our own strength, or get distracted by the things of the world, maybe have a sickness that wipes us of our spiritual energy — and then — we experience a personal revival — a new filling or empowering of the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t mean we’ve been saved again — just that we let our spiritual tank get a little low and God decided to fill it back up. But if you believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit has filled and is filling you.

Second, the Holy Spirit gives believers — disciples — spiritual gifts. Look with me in verse four. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4 ESV)

And as you know, the crowd — this crowd made up of people from many different nations speaking many different languages — could all understand the disciples even though the disciples hadn’t “downloaded the app that millennials are raving about because it can teach you a new language in under three weeks” — at least that’s what the advertisements say. But what we’re seeing here is a preview of how the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to every follower of Jesus. Here the gift is speaking in tongues — speaking in a known language they couldn’t previously speak in — so others hear the Good News about Jesus in their native language.

And throughout the New Testament we find passages that tell us about these gifts of the Spirit — gifts, talents, special skills, even some that appear to be rather usual behavior — but anointed gifts given by the Spirit.

So what are some of these gifts? There are quite a few passages on the gifts. One — written by the apostle Paul — is, “Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this…To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. 9 The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10 He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have...Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages. 29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not!” (1 Corinthians 12:1, 8-11, 28-30 NLT)

Wisdom, special knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, speaking in unknown languages, interpretation of the languages, apostleship, teaching, helping others, and leadership are just the gifts of the Spirit listed in this passage — more gifts are listed elsewhere.

But notice four things about the gifts of the Spirit. First, we need to be informed about them and be aware of them. Paul doesn’t want there to be any misunderstanding about the gifts — nor ignorance. It’s hard to properly use something if you’re ignorant about it.

Second, the Holy Spirit is the giver of the gifts. Who gets what gift is up to Him. We’re to desire the gifts. We’re to pray for the gifts. We’re to use the gifts. But which gifts we have or don’t have isn’t up to us. The Spirit alone decides which gift — or gifts — each person should have — implying every believer has at least one gift.

Third, no one has all of the gifts and no gift is given to all people. We see this in Paul’s repeated question “do we all have?” and his answer being “of course not!”

And fourth, no gift is better or more important than any other gift. All are needed because all the gifts are given for the building up of the church. In another of his letters, Paul writes, “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16 NLT)

Here we see the purpose of the gifts given to us. Now the gifts given to us here are given by Christ — but notice that many are the same gifts given to us by the Spirit — which is Paul’s way of saying all of the spiritual gifts come from God. Sometimes the work of the persons of God are distinct and sometimes they overlap — here’s an example where the work of Jesus and the Spirit overlap.

But here we see how these gifts are meant to build the church up to maturity in Christ. So we need you — if you’re a believer — no matter your age or gender, socio-economic or educational background, single, married, or divorced — if you’re a believer in Christ we need you using the gift — or gifts — the Spirit of God has given you for our maturity.

But — Josh — how do I know what gift — or gifts — I’ve been given? Well there are spiritual gift tests you can take for free on the internet, but I find them to be only sort of helpful. One of the easiest ways to figure out your spiritual gift is to ask other believers — who know you — what they think your gifts may be. Sometimes we can be blind to what seems to come naturally to us — so blind — that we don’t realize that it’s not natural — it’s supernatural. Others will see that. Also, pray for the spiritual gifts — that’s biblical. Pray for God to reveal to you the gifts the Spirit has given you. But always allow others to confirm the gift. Sometimes we need confirmation to encourage us to use the gifts we’ve been given. Other times we need others to tell us — lovingly — “that definitely ain’t your gift.”

So what does the Spirit do? He fills believers and He gives us spiritual gifts.

MAIN POINT 3

Finally, why does the Holy Spirit do these things? Why does He fill believers and give us spiritual gifts. Look with me in the last part of verse eleven.

The crowd — upon hearing the disciples speak in their language — said, “we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (Acts 2:11b ESV)

Why does the Holy Spirit fill us and give us gifts? So that we will be His empowered witnesses — ordinary people with extraordinary power — who testify about the mighty works of God. Power that enables us to tell others about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ so they might believe and find life in Him.

The Spirit’s goal is to magnify Christ and what He accomplished in His life, death, and resurrection. The Spirit’s goal in filling us — of residing in us — of living in us — is to empower us so we tell others about Jesus. The Spirit’s goal — the reason why He fills us and gives us gifts — is that as we mature as a church — we accomplish the mission Jesus has given us — the mission to take His gospel to our community, our country, and our world — even to the hard places. Places where we may be hated because of our faith in Christ — places where — if we’re honest — we’re afraid to go to.

But — as is said elsewhere in the Bible — “God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NET)

When I was in Lebanon, we found ourselves in what I’ve called “Hezbollah land.” We were in an area controlled by Hezbollah — which — if you don’t know — is a terrorist organization stemming out of Islam. Driving into the area, the light poles had Hezbollah flags on them — kind of like the UF Oiler flags on the light poles on Main St here in Findlay. So it was a pretty wild place to find ourselves in — in a country that already has a wild reputation. A week after we returned there was an assassination attempt on someone running for government office. While we were there, the locals kept saying that assassination stuff was all in the past. Guess not.

But while in Hezbollah land, I spoke with a man who was a Muslim and — most likely — had some connection to Hezbollah. And I was amazed because he was talking to me — with great excitement — about the number three — how the number three is found in most religions — he even mentioned God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And this blew me away because — if you know anything about Islam — Muslims don’t think very highly of the Trinity. Yet here’s a Muslim man — living in a community run by a terrorist group — talking to me about the Trinity. A little later he mentioned that his sister had cancer — it was back for the second time — and given our recent conversation about God — I asked if I could pray for her and him. And he said yes. So I was able to pray for this Muslim man and his sister — in a place known for radical Islam — and I prayed to and in the name of Jesus. And the guy shook my hand and thanked me for praying for his sister.

I share that story not to make much of me, but to show you what God’s powerful Spirit can do in any of us. Places like Hezbollah land can be intimidating. They can put you on edge. When we heard AK47 gun fire going off — what the locals called a “domestic dispute” — well — it’s a bit concerning even for this Army vet who’s been to war. But we must remember that we’ve been promised a Spirit of power — not of fear. A Spirit of power to be witnesses for Jesus.

CONCLUSION

And the Good News for us is that Jesus has fulfilled His promise to us — He has sent the Holy Spirit to empower us. And because the Holy Spirit has come, all Christ-followers are empowered to be ordinary witnesses for Jesus. If you believe in Jesus, you’ve been empowered to be His witness — here in Findlay and even to the ends of the earth.

And dear Christian — no matter your past or present — no matter the mistakes you’ve made or the hurts you’ve experienced — no matter your intellect or how much money is in your bank account — the Holy Spirit has come from Heaven to live in you — to fill you — if you believe — and to give you gifts, so others might hear of the mighty works of God, repent of their sins, and believe in Jesus.

That may sound extraordinary, but it’s not — it’s the ordinary work of the Spirit in the life of those who believe in Jesus. For that’s why He has come — the Holy Spirit has come to empower ordinary people who believe in an extraordinary God. The God who is the Creator of everyone and everything. Who knows all things, is present everywhere, and is eternal. This God empowers everyone who believes in Him — so they can be His ordinary witnesses.

Do you have this power in you? Would you like to? Would you like to experience more of God’s power if you already believe. How about we pray for you to experience the power of God’s Spirit right now? Let’s pray.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, I pray that You will remind us often that all Christ-followers are empowered to be witnesses for Jesus. And I pray that we would remember that Jesus has fulfilled His promise by sending the Holy Spirit to empower us — a bunch of ordinary folk — called to be Your witnesses. And we’ve been empowered to go to all people, as we call them to You, and proclaim Your Word to them.

Father — for anyone who longs for You Spirit’s power — I ask You to guide them in repentance and faith even now as I pray. Give them confidence to tell someone before they leave today that they believe. And God we thank You for being the Giver of life to all who call on Your Name. We pray all of these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

Being a Nobody is Ordinary Q&A

Matthew states that Judas hanged himself. I've always wondered about this contradiction.   

Here's a helpful post that helps us reconcile the two gospel accounts of Judas' death.  

Is it possible, that Jesus picked Judas, to be the one to betray him, by giving him the bread??? 

As I said in the sermon, we focus more on the choice (either Judas' choice or, as you're asking, "Did Jesus choose Judas?"). The focus of Scripture is that Judas' actions were fulfillment of Scripture. In the gospels, you can almost feel Jesus' sorrow towards Judas because of what He knows Judas is going to do. He loved all of the disciples even while knowing that they would betray and abandon Him while He was arrested and crucified. Thus, I wouldn't confuse Jesus giving Judas the bread with Jesus choosing Judas to be His betrayer.

Go with Gateway To The Dominican Republic

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Do you have medical experience?  Are you looking for a way to share Jesus with others?  Then pray about joining us on our trip to the Dominican Republic this fall.  This is a great opportunity to love on others and encourage brothers and sisters in Christ in the DR. Learn more about the trip below.

Dominican Republic
Medical Trip

October 6th - 13th This will be primarily a Medical Trip. We are looking for doctors, nurses, PA’s, pharmacists, dentists, and anyone else I’m maybe leaving out. If you have no medical experience, that is ok, we need you also. There will be plenty of opportunities on this trip to serve and share Jesus with the people of the Dominican Republic..                     

The D.R. shares the island Hispaniola with the country of Haiti. It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Nearly 80% of the country’s 49,000 sq. km. is covered with mountains, but some 20 different topographical areas exist in the country. About 2.5 million of the country’s 10 million residents live in the capital, Santo Domingo. Over 10% of the population is of Haitian descent. Roman Catholicism is the country’s o cial religion and about 85% of the people profess this. About half of the population is believed to be involved in occult practices. Average annual income is $5,000 per person.

Cost Per Person - $750.00 Cost includes trip insurance, meals, transportation, and lodging in country

Participants need to cover -

  • Meals during travel
  • Any extras (snack/drinks)
  • Vaccinations - Tetanus

Being a Nobody is Ordinary Manuscript

DATE: 5/12-13/18
SERIES: Ordinary.
SERMON: Being a Nobody is Ordinary
TEXT: Acts 1:12-26 (ESV)

WELCOME

It’s good to be with all of you at Gateway Church this weekend. And one thing I want you to know — and it doesn’t matter if it’s your first time with us or if you’re worshipping at our North Main campus — one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too.

SERIES INTRODUCTION

And we are continuing our series in the book of Acts today. So if you have your Bible, please turn with me to Acts chapter one. We’ll be looking at verses twelve through twenty-six together today. And if you’re new to the Bible, the chapter numbers are the numbers in large print and the verse numbers are in the smaller print.

And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions. So if you have a question during the sermon, you can text your question to the number printed on the bulletin or you can submit it on the Gateway app.

RE-ANNOUNCE AND READ TEXT:

And with that, here are the words found in Acts chapter one. Verses twelve through twenty-six.

“Then they (the disciples) returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us — one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:12-26 ESV)

SERMON INTRODUCTION

So just like last week, I need to set the stage for the verses we’re looking at today. And, honestly, I’ll probably have to do something like this every week as the book of Acts is a narrative — it’s a recording of history — so the context really matters.  

Last week, we ended with Jesus having ascended into Heaven leaving His followers a bit confused about what was going on. You probably remember that two men appeared — they were actually angels — and they had to sort of get the disciples moving again. “Stop staring into the sky. Jesus isn’t coming back right now. You’ve got some stuff to do first.”

That’s why our passage begins — in verse twelve — with, “Then they (the disciples) returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet (the mountain that Jesus ascended into heaven from), which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:12-14 ESV)

So that’s where we find the disciples in our story. They’ve just returned to Jerusalem — the city where Jesus was murdered just a few weeks earlier.  

Now something in this story — that we’re not going to have much time to spend on — is the story about Judas. Judas isn’t a guy I want any of you to imitate, so his story gets the short end of the stick today. And I bet that even if you’re not that familiar with the Bible, you probably know that Judas was the guy who betrayed Jesus. He took the thirty silver coins offered to him by the religious leaders as a bribe to help them arrest Jesus.  

And here’s what the disciples discuss about Judas and the situation they now find themselves in. Beginning in verse fifteen, “In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about one hundred and twenty) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (And this next part is a commentary by Luke, it’s not something that Peter said, that’s why it’s in parenthesis. In verse eighteen we read…) (Now this man (that’s Judas) acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 (And in verse twenty, we’re back to Peter speaking again. And he says…) “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.” (Acts 1:15-20 ESV)

When I was on staff at a church in Connecticut, a mom came up to me after a worship service and she said that her upper elementary aged son had a question for me. He had asked her first and she didn’t know how to answer the question and she thought I was a good sucker who would give it a try. And here was his question: “Did Judas even have a choice to not betray Jesus?”

Have you ever thought about that? It’s actually a really great question. A question we don’t have time to answer right now — but it’s a really great question. I won’t do that to you.

Now I won’t give this question the time it deserves, but here’s a quick look at what these verses do tell us about Judas. These verses tell us that the Bible is focused on something more important than whether or not Judas had a choice.

Now we just looked at these verses but this time I’m going to stress some of the words which will help us better understand what’s going on. So look with me again in verse sixteen. Luke — quoting Peter — writes, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” (Now skip to verse twenty with me.) 20 “For it is written (where? In the…) book of Psalms, “‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it’; and “‘Let another take his office.” (Acts 1:16-17, 20 ESV)

Now if you go and look at everything written in book of Psalms, you won’t find Judas’ name mentioned anywhere. So what is Peter doing? Well what we’re seeing here is how the early church leaders — like Peter — how they were able to look back at the Old Testament and see how it all pointed to the life of Christ — including the man who would betray Him.

And what’s more important to Peter — and to Luke, and the early church — what’s more important is not “did Judas have a choice in the matter of betraying Jesus” — what matters is that Judas’ actions were the fulfillment of Scripture. Peter — in verses sixteen, seventeen, and twenty — quotes or alludes to three different psalms as he interprets the betrayal of Jesus.  

In verse sixteen — where Peter says that David spoke of Judas — Peter alludes to Psalm forty-one verse nine. For some context, let’s begin in verse eight of the psalm where we read, “They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him; he will not rise again from where he lies.” (Now think of how Jesus’ enemies were so satisfied at His death — so certain that He would not rise again from the tomb where He’d been laid — and now listen to the words in verse nine — where David writes words that are a perfect description for something that not only he went through, but describe the ultimate betrayal experienced by Jesus.) 9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. 10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me and raise me up, that I may repay them! 11 By this I know that you delight in me:  my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. 12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. 13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.” (Psalms 41:8-13 ESV)

Was Judas close to Jesus? Yes. Did he eat bread with Jesus? Yes. And those of us who know the story of the Last Supper — probably couldn’t help but think of the disciples asking Jesus — while eating bread at the table — “Who will betray you” — and Jesus saying “the one to whom I give this piece of bread” and then He gives it to Judas.

Now to save us some time, I won’t take us to the other two psalms — but you can go and look at them for yourself — because the point is that Peter — in verse twenty of Acts chapter one — quotes from Psalm sixty-nine verse twenty-five and Psalm one hundred and nine verse eight — to describe the actions of Judas as the fulfillment of words that are found written in the Old Testament.  

So Peter’s concern is with how Judas’ story demonstrates the reliability of God’s Word. What God’s Word says will happen is guaranteed to happen. Down to the very smallest details — such as who the person is who would one day betray Jesus.  

And what this story about Judas does — is it leads us to the tension in our story. The disciples find themselves in a dilemma. There was once twelve of them — an important number to them as they believed themselves to be representatives of the New Israel — just as the twelve tribes represented the Old Israel — they were the New Israel — and now — they’re a man short. Thus Peter’s quote from Psalm one hundred and nine, “Let another take his office,” which sets up the rest of our story.  

Let’s start in verse twenty-one. “So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us — one of these men must become with us a (what? So one of these men who’ve been with the other disciples since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry must become a…) witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:21-26 ESV)

And the eleven became twelve once again.  

Now I want to highlight something in this story that I first stumbled upon while reading through the book of Acts — not for any sort of sermon preparation — but just to read it. And it was during this time that the phrase “A nobody for Jesus” — and “being a nobody is ordinary” — came to me.

And what I’ve realized, is that a lot of us see ourselves as being a nobody. If you’re like me you weren’t great at sports in school. And even if you were pretty good, odds are you didn’t make it to the pros. You had like four more years of playing sports than the rest of us before you flamed out and became nothing more than an ordinary athlete once again.

Maybe you took piano lessons as a kid — and I know — you can nail “chopsticks” and play a mean “heart and soul” — but — let’s be real — that’s pretty ordinary.

You see most of us are ordinary people. A bunch of ordinary nobody’s when it comes to making waves on social media or having an influence in the world.

And that’s why our big idea is such good news for all of us ordinary folk — because being a “nobody” is so ordinary. Here’s our big idea.

PROPOSITION

Jesus loves to use a “nobody” for His glory. Jesus loves to use a “nobody” for His glory. Let me explain what I mean by sharing a phrase I’ve heard said by a few pastors. So I’m not sure who was the first to use the phrase, but here it is. They describe themselves as, “A nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody.” A nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody.

And in our story, there are actually two “nobodies.” Joseph. Also known as Barsabbas. Also known as Justus. And…Matthias. Also known as Matthias. Joseph has got three names and Matthias has just got...Matthias.

I bring this up because it seems like Luke is setting us up to believe that Joseph is going to be the replacement for Judas. Luke’s wanting to make it clear who this particular Joseph is. He’s the one who some of you know as Barsabbas and others of you know as Justus. But he’s not Joseph also known as Bob. So don’t get them confused. So it’s interesting that Joseph isn’t the one picked to replace Judas. Mister “I’m so special I’ve got three different names” fades off into history as an unknown, forgotten, ordinary guy. He ends up being a “nobody” for Jesus.

Now to keep things in perspective — to keep us all humble — because we all think we’re the most important person in the world don’t we — so to keep us all humble — what’s the only thing that we do know about Joseph? Look at verses twenty-one and twenty-two again. “So one of the men who have (done what? Joseph was someone who had…) accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us — one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22 ESV)

Both Joseph and Matthias had been with Jesus since the beginning of His ministry. They were at Jesus’ baptism. They were with Jesus for the three years while He walked on this earth doing the things we read about in the gospels. And Joseph and Matthias were both present when Christ was lifted up into Heaven. I don’t care how special you think you are — none of that stuff is on your resume.

And do you know what happens to Joseph after he gets passed on to replace Judas? Nobody has a clue. A few Bible scholars think he may be referred to again in Acts chapter fifteen, but no one knows for sure.

This man — Joseph — who was important enough to be one of two candidates selected to become one of the twelve apostles — ends up being a nobody as he fades off into history.  

And what about Matthias — after all he’s the guy who gets picked — do you know what we know about him? Nothing. Nada. Zilch-a-rooney. Do you know how many times he’s mentioned in the Bible after this passage in Acts. Never again. Even the guy who gets picked to be an apostle ends up being a “nobody” for Jesus — he’s so ordinary. He ends up fading away into history too.  

Here’s my point. Being a nobody for Jesus isn’t a bad thing. It should be a humbling thing — but it’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a very ordinary thing.

And there’s one thing in our passage that this group of “nobodies” do that’s something that we group of nobodies — known as Gateway Church — would do well to learn from them. And that’s how these “nobodies” pray. Prayer should be an ordinary activity for someone who’s a nobody for Jesus.

Look with me again in verse twelve. “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying…(let’s skip all of their names to verse fourteen. Notice in verse fourteen what these nobodies were doing.) 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to (what? They devoted themselves to…) prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Now skip down to verse twenty-one when they’re finding a replacement for Judas. There we read…) 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us — one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they (did what? They put forward two men who met their requirements and then they…) prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen.” (Acts 1:12-14, 21-24 ESV)

MAIN POINT 1

The first thing we notice…is that ‘a “nobody” for Jesus is a person of prayer.’ A “nobody” for Jesus is a person of prayer. Which leads us to an important question. What is prayer?  

You may not know this, but our denomination has a book that answers questions like “What is prayer?” It’s a book that dates back to the eighteenth century — it’s called the Westminster Confession of Faith along with the Longer and Shorter Catechisms. The catechisms are books of questions and answers that are useful in helping us understand what we believe.

And the ninety-eighth question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is — drum roll please — “What is prayer?” And the answer it gives is this:  “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q98)

So there’s a historic definition of prayer. A modern definition of prayer — by theologian Wayne Grudem — is “personal communication with God.” And personal communication doesn’t have to mean individual communication because we — as a church — can come personally before God in prayer — as we do every time we gather together.  

So prayer — in its simplest definition — is “communication with God.”  

So what were the disciples praying for in our story? Most likely they were praying that they would be faithful witnesses since that was the mission they were just given by Jesus. Remember what we looked at last week? Jesus had just told these disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)  

And that mission was just as daunting to them as it is to us. And it’s probably why they wanted a replacement for Judas. They needed someone who would be a faithful witness with them. Someone who would testify about the truth of Jesus Christ. If they were going to reach the world with the Good News of the gospel — they needed all hands on deck — and they were one man short. And — oh by the way — if we’re going to reach the world with the Good News of the gospel — we need all hands on deck too — we can’t afford to be one man or one woman — or one youth or one “not as youthful as I once was” — person short. We need all believers here at Gateway to be a witness for Jesus Christ.

SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 1

So this group of “nobody’s for Jesus” prayed that they would find a faithful witness to replace the unfaithful, betrayer — Judas Iscariot.

Being a “nobody” for Jesus isn’t a bad thing. But never forget that a “nobody” for Jesus is a person of prayer. Which leads us to our second observation about prayer in this passage. And that is…

MAIN POINT 2

A “nobody” for Jesus is devoted to prayer. A “nobody” for Jesus is devoted to prayer. So what does it mean to be devoted to prayer? Look with me in verse fourteen. “All these (meaning the disciples) with one accord (meaning, in unity with one another) were devoting themselves to prayer, together with (who? They were praying along with the…) women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Notice how they’re praying together. They’re praying as a group. They’ve been given a mission to accomplish together — so they naturally see the need to pray together as a group. Now skip to verse twenty-four.) 24 And they (the whole group of Jesus followers) prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”” (Acts 1:14, 24-25 ESV)

These “nobodies” for Jesus were devoted to prayer. They prayed together. And they prayed with great confidence knowing that God would provide for their need of a replacement for Judas.

The word “devoted” appears six times in the book of Acts and it means “to persist in; to be intently engaged in; to constantly attend to something.” It means to be “strong and steadfast” over a long period of time. It means that these “nobodies” for Jesus did not give up on prayer.  

And this type of devotion to prayer is something that all of us “nobodies for Jesus” should want to improve in. If there’s one thing that distinguishes the early Christians from most modern day Christians is their devotion to prayer.

Acts chapter two tells us, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42 ESV)

In Acts chapter six we see that — when faced with some difficult choices about what should be their primary focus — the early church leaders decided, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4 ESV)

In both passages we see the disciples being devoted to prayer and other things. But it’s not a coincidence how often the words “devoted” and “prayer” are found together in our Bible.  

In Romans chapter twelve we read, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12 ESV)  The word “constant” is the same Greek word translated as “devoted” in our other verses.

In Colossians chapter four we read, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2 ESV)  And — again — “steadfastly” is the same Greek word.

In Ephesians chapter six we read that we are to be, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:18 ESV) “Perseverance” is the same word again.

SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 2

And if you keep your eyes open around you, you’ll notice how devoted people are to things that won’t matter in a million years — most won’t even matter in fifty years. Whether it’s how well your college football team will do this season, or getting into a certain college program, or becoming a YouTube sensation, or planning your next trip to Disney World — will it even matter a century from now?

We live on a planet full of people devoted to all sorts of things that are fading away. Yet we’ve been given the opportunity to be devoted to something of eternal significance. Communicating with God — so that we grow in our trust of His power and provision as we seek to accomplish the mission He’s given us — the mission of being His witnesses to our world.

Which leads us to our final observation — which is why these “nobodies” for Jesus prayed.  

MAIN POINT 3

They prayed because “one of these men must become with us a witness to his (Jesus’) resurrection.” (Acts 1:22b ESV)

They needed another “witness.” They needed another witness to accomplish the mission they were given. And — similarly — ‘a “nobody” for Jesus prays with their mission in mind.’ A “nobody” for Jesus prays with the mission Jesus has given them — and their church — in mind.

So how do we pray — and let’s be sure to keep our thinking in the plural — but how should we pray as a church for our mission?

  • We should pray that our church would be a growing witness for Christ.

  • We should pray that the mission God has given us would become the fire in the hearts, minds, and souls of everyone who’s a member of Gateway Church.

  • We should pray for more people to be “connected to Jesus Christ and to one another.” Every member — together — living out our mission. And if you want to join with me in a bold prayer, I’m praying for 100 baptisms in the next year — evidence of 100 lives connected to Jesus Christ showing us that we’re accomplishing our mission.

  • We should pray that we inhale and exhale joy to everyone around us. A joy that comes from a passion of knowing God through worship. A joy that comes from connecting to others in life groups. A joy that comes from serving others. And a joy that comes from going and telling the whole world that there is hope — and His name is Jesus.

SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 3

We should joyfully be a group of “nobodies” for Jesus — who are devoted to praying for our mission to be accomplished as we send out witnesses from among us. Missionaries who we’ve raised up in this congregation to help people connect to Jesus Christ in other parts of our city, our nation, and our world.  

CONCLUSION

I mean, can you imagine what God is wanting do through us — Gateway Church — if we all committed today to being a bunch of “nobodies who were trying to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody”? What kind of church would we be if that was our collective heartbeat? What kind of congregation would we become if our hearts were content with being a “nobody” for Jesus — a bunch of ordinary witnesses of an extraordinary God?

A bunch of “nobodies” for Jesus who pray. A group of “nobodies” who not only pray — but are devoted to prayer. A congregation full of “nobodies” who pray with the mission God has given us in mind.  

Remember, Jesus used the group of “nobodies” — that we’ve read about today — to change not only the world — but Jesus used them to change the history of the world. Jesus used them to continue all that He began to do and teach while He was on this earth. And Jesus is just as eager and able to use us too — this group of “nobodies” known as Gateway Church — to continue all that He began to do and teach. Because Jesus loves to use a bunch of “nobodies” for His glory.

And when His glory becomes the purpose behind all that we do — reaching the ends of the earth with the gospel — and reaching our nation with the gospel — and reaching our community with the gospel — and reaching your friends and family members who right now do not love Jesus — well all of that — and even more — will be possible.

I hope that we — that you and I — will commit to being a congregation of a bunch of ordinary people who exist to “connect people to Jesus Christ and to one another.” That we’d wear as a badge of honor — the title of “nobody.” Because being a “nobody for Jesus” isn’t a bad thing. Let me say that one last time. If you feel like you’re a “nobody” who doesn’t have much to offer — that’s not a bad thing — that’s a great thing — because Jesus loves to use “nobodies” for His glory.

Let’s pray.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, I pray that You will remind us often that You love to use “nobodies” for Your glory. Father, I also pray that if there’s anyone here whose heart is stirring to be a “nobody” for Jesus — yet they’ve not yet believed in Your Son — that they would do so right now. That they would commit themselves to being a “nobody” for Jesus all the days of their life.

Help all of us to humbly receive this gift of being a “nobody” for You. Give us contentment with being ordinary. May fame, fortune, and the world’s definition of success and fulfillment all easily slip through the desires of our heart, as we focus ourselves on the mission You’ve given us — of connecting people to Jesus Christ and to one another — of being Your witnesses in our world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Intentional Church Planting Q&A

Q&A_banner.jpg

Rarely, if ever, do sermons center on Bible prophecy re/l Christ's second coming. Why is that? 

We primarily preach through books of the Bible. Verse by verse. Chapter by chapter. This is the way God has given us His Word, so this is the way we choose to preach through it. When we come across a passage about Jesus' second coming, we will be sure to preach on it. 

This past Sunday, the speaker talked about "discipleship." His examples of direct one-on-one interaction with people (e.g. Are you a Christian?) is something many Christians feel intimidated by. Are there plans to employ this version of discipleship at Gateway? If yes, please explain how it would be implemented (e.g. a class, mentoring, "teams" formed and deployed, etc.). 

If you came to any of the Meet Pastor Josh meetings (last Fall) or to the Think Tank meetings (earlier this year), you are aware that discipleship is something we're taking a close look at. A team of staff and congregation members has been informed to investigate how we're doing at making disciples and what we should be doing to improve this critical area of our church. Be on the look out for more information from this group in the coming weeks and months.

You Will Be My (Ordinary) Witnesses Manuscript

DATE: 5/5-6/18
SERIES: Ordinary
SERMON: You Will Be My (Ordinary) Witnesses
TEXT: Acts 1:1-11 (ESV)

WELCOME

It’s good to be with all of you at Gateway Church this weekend. And one thing I want you to know — and it doesn’t matter if it’s your first time with us or if you’re worshipping at our North Main campus — one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too.

SERIES INTRODUCTION

And we’re beginning a new book of the Bible today — we’re going to spend a few weeks — as we head towards summer — looking at the first five chapters of the book of Acts.

So if you have your Bible, please turn with me to Acts chapter one. We’ll be looking at verses one through eleven together today.  

And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions. So if you have a question during the sermon, you can text your question to the number printed on the bulletin or you can submit it on the Gateway app.

INTRODUCTION

And while you’re finding Acts chapter one, I want you to imagine that you’re living some time around the year sixty AD — not the 1960s — but the year zero zero six zero. It’s been nearly thirty years since a man named Jesus was crucified, but what’s grabbed your attention — is that this Jesus guy has a group of followers who are still claiming He’s God decades after His death. They even say He’s still alive. And they’re living radically counter cultural lives because of Him.  

They’ve planted churches, helped the poor, some have been killed for their faith, and one follower of Jesus that you know — Luke — has been near the center of the action for some time. And you want to make sure that what you’ve heard about Jesus — and His followers — is true. So you hire Luke to do an investigation into all that’s happened regarding Jesus and His followers. Because you want to be certain that this whole story about Jesus isn’t nothing more than a silly hoax — you’re concerned about facts only.  

Now — more than likely — you’ve experienced some of your friends and neighbors — maybe even some of your family members — make fun of you because of your curiosity about Jesus. You’re becoming — or maybe have become — one of Jesus’ followers too. So to prove to them — and maybe even to prove to yourself that these stories are true — you send Luke off on a journey to verify the facts about Jesus and what His followers have been up to for the past thirty years.  

Now Luke — the man you’ve hired to do the investigation — is a smart guy. He’s a medical doctor. He pays attention to details. He has an eye for finding the truth. And now he’s finished his investigation and he’s written down his findings for you.  

So if you’ve ever wondered about the Christian faith. If you’ve ever questioned if this religion known as Christianity is reliable — then I want to invite you to join us on this journey as we experience Luke’s findings from his investigation into Jesus and His followers.   

RE-ANNOUNCE AND READ TEXT:

And this is how Luke begins his report. Acts chapter one — verse one.

“In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:1-11 ESV)

INTRODUCING ACTS

Now notice how Luke begins in verse one. “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,” (Acts 1:1 ESV)

Now a couple of things should stick out to us. First, Luke refers to a “first” book he’s written. And the first book is the gospel of Luke. In the time when Luke was writing, books were usually written on scrolls. Scrolls were a great way to record things, but they had some limitations. For instance, if the scroll was too long it would become too bulky to carry around. So most scrolls would keep to a length of about thirty-five feet — which obviously restricted how much could be written on a scroll. Authors had to keep the length of the scroll in mind as they were writing. Kind of like when writing a paper in school — I remember writing some papers in college with a minimum word count in mind. The prof wanted a thousand words, so that was my goal. And I found creative ways to use filler words just to get to the goal. Well writing on a scroll was the exact opposite of that. The scroll forced you to get to the point quickly because space was running out.

And Luke — in this opening verse — shows us that he’s done something quite novel for his day. Knowing that the scroll had a limit to it, he’s written two books to Theophilus. The first book was his gospel and the second book is the book of Acts. A part one and part two of his investigation. Two books that go together. Two books that tell one story.

The second thing to notice is the way in which Luke refers to his gospel. In verse one he writes, “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.” (Acts 1:1-2 ESV)

Notice the word “began.” The gospel of Luke tells the story of what Jesus began to do and teach, which would imply what about the book of Acts? That in our book, Luke will deal with all that Jesus continued to do and teach through the life of the early church — a bunch of ordinary people who believe in Jesus.  

And finally, notice how Luke indicates that he’s found verifiable evidence that — though Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross — He indeed rose from the dead. Look with me one last time in verse one.

“In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering (which — from Luke’s gospel — we know means Jesus’ death. And how did Jesus present himself alive to them after his death? He did so…) by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:1-3 ESV)

Now remember, Theophilus has hired Luke to do a thorough investigation into the accuracy of the Christian faith. He wants Luke to confirm that this isn’t all just a fairy tale or something. And Luke ends his first book — and begins his second book — with an incredible statement — Luke says, “I’ve found proof that Jesus died and rose from the grave.”

So in these opening verses we learn that the book of Acts is a companion to the gospel of Luke. And where Luke’s gospel tells us what Jesus began to do and teach — the book of Acts continues the story of what Jesus does and teaches through His ordinary followers.

CHRIST’S ASCENSION (v9-11)

And now I want to skip down to verse nine. “And when he (that’s Jesus) had said these things (which we’ll look at in a moment), as they were looking on (the “they” being Jesus’ followers), he was (so look at what happens to Jesus. He was…) lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? (And Peter said, “Did you see what just happened? Jesus just flew into the air. Walking on water was awesome — I even tried it myself — but flying...come on...Jesus can fly!” At least that’s what I think Peter would’ve said. But the angel said…) This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11 ESV)

And this helps you to understand why followers of Jesus have reason to hope no matter how hopeless this world may seem. It’s been promised that Jesus will return one day to Earth. And this is the not just Good News — this is the Best News for everyone who believes in Christ. Because when Jesus returns He will make all things new — restoring the peace this distressed world once had — and that’s really great news. So that’s the big view of what’s going on here.

And now I want us to focus in on verses four through eight. And in these verses we see some of the last words that Jesus spoke while here on earth. And with these words, Jesus gives us a mission — He gives us our marching orders.  He also gives us the scale of the mission — Jesus tells us exactly where our mission is to take place. And Jesus also tells us what will be our power so we accomplish the mission He’s given us. Because we’re just a bunch of ordinary people — who need some help to accomplish the mission He’s given us.

We’ll see the mission we’ve been given. The scale — the scope — of the mission. And the power — the fuel — that enables us to accomplish the mission we’ve been given.  

Let’s begin with…

MAIN POINT 1

The mission. What’s the mission Jesus has given us? Read with me in verse four.  

“And while staying with them he (that’s Jesus) ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my (what? We will be Jesus’...) witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”” (Acts 1:4-8 ESV)

So our mission is to be witnesses for Jesus. Our mission — our purpose — the reason why we exist and believe in Jesus — is to be His witnesses.

You’ve got to love the disciples — they come across so ordinary — don’t they? They’re confused all the time — which is so refreshing — because it helps me to not feel so bad about how confusing it can be trying to follow Jesus. I mean — this isn’t the first time Jesus has explained to them what He’s going to do — yet they’re still confused. They think Jesus defeated death so He can kick the Romans out of power and restore the kingdom of Israel. If they had a short term plan — that was it. Kick the Romans out of power. And once that’s done we’ll have some vision meetings and put together a 3-5 year church growth strategy.

They’re so focused on what they think Jesus should be doing  — “Kick out the Romans!” — that they’ve missed what He’s been preparing them to do — “Be my witnesses.” And doesn’t this happen to us? Do you ever get so focused on trying to tell Jesus what He should be doing that you end up missing what He’s been preparing you to do?

When I first was contacted about coming to Gateway Church, I had no desire to come. I was happy right where I was pastoring. I had this rule that I didn’t go looking for other church opportunities — just keep your head down and pastor the people God has given you to pastor. But one day, I got an email from our denomination saying you should consider this opportunity at Gateway Church. And — honestly — the email felt more like a distraction than anything else.

But I shared the email with my church leadership — who were more sensitive to what God was doing than I was — and though they didn’t want me to leave — they counseled me to not miss out on something that they saw God had been preparing me to do. I could’ve just ignored that email and assumed that I knew what Jesus was supposed to be doing with my life. But thankfully — and the credit goes to the godly men at my previous church — they saw what Jesus had been preparing me for.    

What about you? Are you busy trying to convince Jesus what He should be doing or are you listening to what He’s already told you to do?

And if you’re a Christian — a follower of Jesus — your life mission — the reason why you exist —is to be a witness for Jesus. What does that mean? Well to be a witness for Jesus means you live differently — it means you have values, beliefs, and morals that are different from those who are not witnesses for Jesus. It means you have a story to share about what Jesus is doing in your life and in the world because of His life, death, and resurrection.

A few weeks ago I was in Beirut, Lebanon. And while there, I met a man who used to be in the Lebanese army. And when he was in the army he hated Syrians. He fought against them and — out of his hatred for them — he did many evil things to Syrians. But then he believed in Jesus. And there are a lot of Syrian refugees in Beirut who don’t believe in Jesus. And this man — who used to hate Syrians — began opening his home to them — he began to show them love — to tell them about Jesus — he became a witness for Jesus to these Syrian refugees. And now he pastors a church of Syrian refugees. Over 180 of them cram into a room that’s a little larger than an average hotel room. Some are there to worship Jesus. Many are Muslims who come to learn about Jesus. Others are there just because an ordinary man — changed by Jesus — has been kind to them.

How has believing in Jesus changed you? How has believing in Jesus given you a story you share with others so they might believe in Him? How are you being a witness for Jesus like this pastor in Beirut?

Here at Gateway our mission is to “connect people to Jesus Christ and to one another.”

SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 1

And as witnesses — we’re united together as one church — so we must accomplish our mission together. We must be witnesses for Jesus together. Living lives together. Connecting to one another as proof — as evidence — that our faith is reliable, trustworthy, and true. That’s what it means to be ordinary witnesses. That’s what it means to be engaged in the mission God has called all of us to accomplish together.

That’s our mission:  to be witnesses for Jesus. Now let’s look at…

MAIN POINT 2

The scale of the mission. The scale — the size — the scope — of our mission. Look in verse eight again.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses (where? We’re to be witnesses in…) Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)

So the scale of the mission is our city, region, nation, and the world. The scale of the mission — where our mission is to be accomplished — where we are called to be witnesses — is in our city, in our region, in our nation, and in our world.

The disciples were to be witnesses in Jerusalem — think of this as their local town. But they were also to be witnesses in Judea and Samaria. Think of Judea as the region around their city made up of people who are mainly like them — Jewish people. But Samaria was a region nearby made up of people who were not like the disciples — they weren’t Jews. So we’re to go to people who are both like us and not like us.  

And we’re to be witnesses to the ends of the earth. Our testimony about Jesus is to go out to all people — both near and far — so that all people might hear the Good News, believe in Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, and find everlasting life.

That’s the scale of our mission — we’re to be witnesses right here in our own city. We’re to be witnesses in our Judea and Samaria — in northwest Ohio area and in our nation — the United States. And we’re to be witnesses to the ends of the earth — having a global perspective and a love for people — in our world — who’ve yet to connect to Jesus Christ.  

And remember, this isn’t just an individual mission or a corporate mission — it’s both. So — if you’re a follower of Jesus — this is your mission. You have an obligation to be a witness about Jesus. You can’t pass the buck on this one. And as a church, we’re to be witnesses — together — in our city, region, nation, and world.  

So what are some ways we’re being a witness as a church?

Around the world we partner with missionaries who are taking the gospel to people who’ve yet to believe in Jesus. Earlier this year I was in Sri Lanka where less than two percent of the population is Christian. I met with pastors who are receiving Bible training so they can be better equipped witnesses for Jesus. We’ve got mission trips this summer that our high school students are going on in Haiti and the DR. We’re wanting our youth to understand that following Jesus means being a global witness.  

In our nation, we partner with missionaries who are taking the gospel to people who’ve yet to believe in Jesus. You heard from one last week — Troy Wilson — who leads a church in San Francisco — a city filled with people who — for the most part — are unlike us Findlay folks. And through our partnership with Troy — and others like him — we’re helping people connect to Jesus Christ throughout our country.

And in our city, we unite together as one church in two locations full of ordinary witnesses — you all — who testify to the joy you’ve found in Jesus. Just as our missionary partners around the world — and throughout our country — are taking the gospel to people who’ve yet to believe in Jesus — we — Gateway Church — exist in Findlay Ohio to take the gospel to people in our community who’ve yet to believe in Jesus.  

And our hope is that every person of Gateway Church would be a witness for Jesus in our Jerusalem — we’re to be a whole bunch of witnesses right here in Findlay.  

SUMMARY OF MAIN POINT 2

That’s the scale of our mission. It includes our city, our region, our nation, and our world.

Finally…

MAIN POINT 3

The power of the mission. How do we possibly accomplish the mission we’ve been given — because — it’s kinda really big? Verse eight one last time.

“But you will receive power when (who has come upon you? You will receive power when the…) Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)

The power of our mission is the Holy Spirit. The power that fuels — and sustains us — is the Holy Spirit.  

Back in verses four and five Jesus told His disciples “to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with Holy Spirit not many days from now.”” (Acts 1:4b-5 ESV)

“Wait,” Jesus says — for what? “The promise of the Father.” And what’s that? “The promise of the Father is the Holy Spirit who will come and live in you and empower you to accomplish the mission I have given you. And the Holy Spirit will be your Guide, Teacher, Helper, Power, and Hope. The Holy Spirit will keep your eyes fixed firmly on Me. He will keep your love for God and others deeply rooted in God’s love for you. And the Holy Spirit — finds great joy in keeping your joy in Me alone.” This is Jesus’ promises to us.  

And throughout the book of Acts we see this promise — the promise of the Holy Spirit — we see the power of God’s Spirit give ordinary people — ordinary followers of Jesus — great boldness in the midst of persecution. Some will face death without fear because of the power of the Holy Spirit. Others will experience hardships that are unimaginable — yet they will do so courageously because of the power of the Spirit in them.  

We’ll read about shipwrecks, riots, demonic attacks, and angelic rescues. We’ll read about people being dumbfounded by the witness of ordinary people who live counter cultural lives for the Lord. We’ll read of people coming to faith because their prisoners sing hymns all night long while chained to the floor because no situation can keep them from worshipping God. All because the power — by which they accomplish their mission — is not power found in their own strength — but is power found in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  

SERMON CONCLUSION

And here’s the crazy thing — this same Holy Spirit lives in every person who believes in Jesus Christ. This same power is available to you if you believe in Jesus. This power takes ordinary men and women and makes them into bold witnesses for Jesus.

I’ve seen the power of the Holy Spirit in brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka who tell stories of having a gun held to their head as they’re told to give up their faith in Jesus or be shot — and they refused to do so. I’ve seen the power of the Holy Spirit in brothers and sisters in Beirut who are leading a church that averages 1,200 people a week — nearly the size of Gateway — yet 700 of them are refugees from Iraq and Syria who depend upon the church for food as they have no means to feed their family. Yet — whether in Sri Lanka or Lebanon — when you talk to these people you see that they have joy and hope and trust in God that will make you jealous. Because they’re experiencing a power that often times we don’t.

But — the same Holy Spirit lives in you — if you believe in Jesus. The same Spirit that lives in them — is in you. And you have the same power in you to accomplish God’s mission. You’re no less ordinary than a believer in Sri Lanka. You have access to the same power they do. And you to can be an ordinary witness who believes in an extraordinary God.

“You will be my witnesses,” Jesus has promised. “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you. Ordinary witnesses with extraordinary power.” Let’s pray together.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, remind us often that our mission in life, our purpose for living, the reason why this church exists, and the reason why every person hearing my voice is still alive today — is to be a witness for You. Through faith in Christ, we’ve been saved from eternal destruction and have been given Your Holy Spirit who now lives in us, so that we will take Your Good News of salvation to all people. People who live in our community. People who live in our nation. And people who live in our world.  

Father if there’s anyone listening to me today — who has yet to believe — I pray that they would do so right now. That they would acknowledge their need of a Rescuer — their need of Jesus to save them from Satan, sin, death, and hell. And that in being rescued — their heart’s desire would be to live as ordinary witness for You. Depending upon Your Spirit’s power to accomplish Your mission. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

COMMUNION

One way that we celebrate the good news — that God gives ordinary people extraordinary power — is by participating in communion as a congregation. Communion is a time of remembrance, but it’s even more than that for a follower of Jesus.

Communion is the good news. It’s the gospel. It’s a communication of the power of God as displayed in the sacrifice of Jesus. And though it’s not written down — or spoken in words — this is the gospel — the good news of Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection — it’s just in a different form.

The bread and the cup. His body and his blood. Wounded for us. Pierced for us. Shed for us. Beaten for us. Bloodied for us. Humbling us by reminding us of the death that we deserve. Yet stirring joy in us as we feast on the reward of grace we don’t deserve, but a reward we’re given because our Heavenly Father loves us. Communion is a celebration of God’s love displayed for us in the sacrifice of His Son.

The apostle Paul writes it this way in First Corinthians.

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians chapter 11:23-26 ESV)

And with these words Christ has commanded all believers to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup in true faith and in the confident hope of His return in glory.

However we must remember the warning given to us.

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

A person who takes communion while knowingly, blatantly, or unrepentantly rebelling against God’s commands participates in an unworthy manner. Paul says they drink judgment on themselves. God takes seriously His gift to us — the sacrifice of His Perfect Son — and we should take His gift seriously too. So let’s take a moment in silence to examine our lives for present sins that need to be repented of.

- moment of silence -

In a moment — at both of our locations — ushers will be passing the bread and cup to you as you are seated. Go ahead and eat the bread on your own, but hold on to the cup — which your campus pastor will lead you in taking together as a congregation. So eat the bread on your own, but save the cup as you will take it as a congregation led by your campus pastor.

And now — to bless this time of receiving God’s grace through communion — let’s pray these words out loud together.

Congregation: Father, we thank you for Your generosity towards us, knowing that through Your Son, Jesus, You have generously given to us. We rejoice that You have given us everything and we joyfully give everything back to Your care. Amen.

END VIDEO STREAM

BENEDICTION

God loves to empower ordinary people. So having believed in Jesus, go empowered by God’s Spirit to be His witness to our world. Amen.

God loves you. I love you. You are sent.

 

Welcome, Jon McKanna!

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Starting June 1, we will have another addition to our growing staff. Jon McKanna will be joining our staff full time as a part of our Communications team and as the North Main Worship Leader. His primary responsibilities will be helping with graphics and other responsibilities in the Central Resourcing Communications department as well as leading, organizing and training our North Main Worship and Tech teams.

Jon, his wife, Kasey, and their two children, Molly and Cooper, will be moving from the Detroit area to be with us. Jon has been in full-time ministry leading worship and doing church communications for the past six years. Before that he served in the Lima criminal justice system, much of that time as a parole officer. Jon is originally from the Lima area, and they are excited to be closer to family and friends. Jon loves coaching and spending time with his kids, building and repurposing furniture, and playing sports.

Jon will be a great addition to the Gateway family. When you see them in June, give them a warm welcome!

 

Songs for the Weekend

Check out these songs for the weekend as you prepare your hearts to worship Jesus together with us in our Communion services.

N Main

Only King Forever - Elevation Worship
Ever Be - Bethel Music
Broken Vessels - Hillsong
Hallelujah What a Savior - Vineyard Worship
Worthy Worthy - Mia Fieldes

 

CR9

Greatly To Be Praised - Citizens & Saints
I'm Going Free - Vertical Worship
Before the Throne of God - Charitie Bancroft
His Mercy Is More - Matt Papa

The Role of Worship Leaders

If we’re being honest, most folks probably have a fairly limited understanding of what the role of a worship leader entails on a given week. This is the case with most vocations, though, as I don’t do your job, so I would hardly be conversant in what you do every day at work.

“Oh, you’re an IT procurements manager with the specialization in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration? What, uh… what’s that mean?” Shaun said.

The forest gets a bit more dense when we discuss what actually doing that work consists of, but we’re not here for that today. What I’d like to do give a quick glimpse into what the worship leaders here at Gateway do beyond leading music during Saturday and Sunday services. The fact is we hold this role to a high standard not only because of its visibility, but also because of its function.

It’s been said by more than a few pastors through the years that some folks will walk out of church and won’t remember a word of the sermon, but they’ll definitely remember the music. Part of that is, obviously, because music carries melody and melodies stick with us, especially the catchy ones. But the role of the worship leader begins long before Saturday or Sunday, and involves much more than merely singing/playing songs. Dr. John D. Witvliet has this to say regarding the responsibilities of worship leaders:

We also have the holy task of being stewards of God's Word. Our choices of scripture in themes of worship represent a degree of control over people's spiritual diets, over how they feed on the bread of life.

The role of the worship leader at Gateway stretches beyond simply leading songs when you consider the additional elements worship leaders write or select for our worship times. On any given week, the individual who serves as the “worship leader” on stage is also the person who has spent more than a few hours of their week thinking and meditating on Scripture verses to serve as our congregational readings and in writing or outlining the prayers they offer. And in all honesty, we make it a point to think about and pray for you, the congregation, when we’re planning out services and the elements that we incorporate.

The reality of our responsibilities as noted by Witvliet is further distilled by of one of my favorite authors, Mike Cosper, when he says, “The songs and prayers we place on the congregations lips will, to varying degrees, be taken with them into the rest of the week.” And this thought certainly has merit: we hear from the gracious people of Gateway now and then about the prayers we offer and the songs we sing and the impact they have long after people have left the building. We want to put prayers and songs on your lips and in your hearts that stir your affections for Christ, and deepen your awe of him. As worship leaders, have two goals in mind each week: to glorify God and to edify the congregation.

In closing, I think I can freely speak for the rest of the worship leaders when I say that it is truly a gift to hear the people of Gateway read these scriptures, sing these songs, and respond to these prayers. It’s a joy to serve in these roles because we get to see the curtain of eternity pulled back a little as we gather together to sing and share in the gospel as the gathered church. We love you folks and are grateful to serve you as we serve God!

 

Songs for the Weekend

As you spend time in worship this week, check out the songs for this weekend.

N Main

Greatly To Be Praised - Citizens & Saints
God With Us - Mercy Me
Lamb of God - Meredith Andrews
In Tenderness - Citizens & Saints
Christ Be All Around Me - All Sons & Daughters

CR9

Rising Sun - Leslie Jordan
In Tenderness - Citizens & Saints
This Is Amazing Grace - Phil Wickham
Jesus, Thank You - Sovereign Grace
I Surrender - Leslie Jordan

 

Guest Speaker Troy Wilson

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This weekend, we are excited to have a guest pastor preaching at all of our services.  Troy Wilson is the lead pastor of an EPC church plant in San Francisco that Gateway has prayerfully and financially supported for the past year.  Prior to planting The Table San Francisco, Troy and his wife, Caroline, served in Thailand as missionaries and then at a large church north of San Francisco.  

Gateway is honored and encouraged by the partnership we have with The Table as we seek to GO and reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  San Francisco is the most unchurched city in the United States, and Troy and his community operate more like missionaries than a typical midwestern church plant.  This high percentage of unreached people combined with the challenge of the astronomical cost of space in San Francisco is what motivates Troy and his team to be focused on establishing smaller relational communities within the local “neighborhood” communities that make up San Francisco.  They put a high emphasis in creating spaces for people to connect with one another and be encouraged by God’s Word in the context of tightly connected fellowship.

The long term goals of The Table is to not just build a big single church, but to expand the reach of the Gospel by multiplying these missional communities into each neighborhood across all of San Francisco.  The name, “The Table”, is a picture of the heart of a family gathering together to break bread and share their lives. And Troy and his team pursue this attitude of ministry and outreach in everything they do.  

As we gather together as a community of God’s people in Findlay at both of our campuses this weekend, we pray that you will be encouraged by Troy’s passion for the lost and the city of San Francisco.  Thank you for supporting and praying for Gateway Church as we seek to honor God by GOing and partnering with churches like The Table.

 

Suggested Resource: Five Reasons for Spiritual Apathy in Teens

The book Five Reasons for Spiritual Apathy in Teens: What Parents Can Do To Help is a great read not only for parents of teens, but for parents with kids of any age.  This short book (only 80 pages!) is a quick read for parents who may be sensing some spiritual apathy setting in with their children. Throughout the book, authors Rob and Amy Rienow suggest five possible reasons for this apathy, but they don’t stop at just diagnosing the problem. Using Scripture as a foundation, they also offer many practical action steps parents can take to cultivate faith and character during these challenging years. Whether you are just beginning to sense spiritual apathy in your child or you feel like you have an all out war on your hands, this quick book is a great resource to pick up.

 

Welcome Ed Grable!

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We are excited to introduce our new full time Connect Director, Ed Grable. Ed is coming to us from the Toledo area where he and his wife, Lea, have lived and ministered for the past 7 years. He has an extensive military background, serving in the Navy during the Gulf War, as well as serving for 9 years in the Indiana National Guard. Ed has led several churches and comes to us with valuable life and counseling experience. The Grables have 3 adult children and 2 energetic grandkids, and enjoy watching movies and spending time with family in their free time.

As our Connect Director, Ed is part of our ministry resourcing team and will primarily be responsible for casting vision for our Life Group ministry, membership classes, and discipleship at both campuses. Connie Lyon and Scott Miller will both remain on staff part time as Life Group coaches helping to equip and support Life Group leaders.

We are excited to have Ed join our staff as he has a strong desire to see lives changed and relationships healed as people are connected to Jesus and one another. Please help us welcome Ed and Lea to Findlay and to our Gateway family.

 

Songs for the Weekend

As you work out, clean the house, drive to work and more, check out the songs for this weekend at Gateway.

CR9

Come People of the Risen King - Keith & Kristyn Getty
Beautiful Scandalous Night - Bebo Norman
All the Poor and Powerless - All Sons & Daughters
Great Are You, Lord - All Sons & Daughters
All Creatures of Our God and King - David Crowder

N Main

Come People of the Risen King - Keith & Kristyn Getty
This is Amazing Grace - Phil Wickham
Beautiful Scandalous Night - Bebo Norman
His Mercy Is More - Matt Papa
Called Me Higher - All Sons & Daughters