Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What Are You Devoted To?

"They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Acts 2:42

I love spending time in the book of Acts.  The early church was in it’s prime, especially in the first six chapters or so, before the persecution really began.  The Apostles are hands on, they are in Jerusalem, with the people, teaching and discipling the new believers, people are devoted and actively seeking out opportunities to fellowship.  And their numbers are growing! 
It must have been an exciting time for these early believers.  They were involved with something new, something exciting, something powerful, something that had the power to change lives.  Not only did it have the power to change lives, the people saw changed lives on a regular basis.  I imagine daily they saw the evidence of God’s power at work transforming lives.
Today, our faith isn’t anything new.  Many of us are continuing in our parent’s footsteps.  We grew up in the church, and for some, the same church.  We sort of grew into our faith.  And while most of us have stories of how that faith became real to us, the excitement has faded.  Real life has demanded most of our focus.  We no longer daily see the evidence of God’s power at work transforming lives.  And while we do occasionally get a glimpse, witness a healing, we can quickly return to normal without thinking too much about it.  Without letting it affect us.
How did we get here?  This seems to be so far from what we see in the first six chapters of Acts we might even question if it’s the same faith.  Have we become more intelligent, as some might say?  Do we know better know?  Or have we strayed so far from the practices of the early church that God’s power is diminished?  And if that’s the answer, can we get it back?  Do we want to get it back?  Or are we too comfortable where we are?
I think there is good news here.  I think we can get it back.  And I think that deep down inside we want to get it back.  We long for a closer fellowship with God.  We long to see that fellowship lived out in our lives.  We want to witness the power of God change lives in us, and in our friends, and in our community.  Perhaps we’re afraid.  Perhaps we just don’t know how.  Perhaps we’re a little spiritually lazy.
Whatever is holding us back, the answer to how we get there is found in verses 42.  The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bead and to prayer.”  This was their focus.  And I believe that if we can change our focus, and devote ourselves to the same thing the early believers were devoted to, we will see the same power that they saw. 
They were devoted to the apostles teaching.  We can find the apostles teaching in the New Testament.  Now all of Scripture is God breathed and good for us, but it is specifically the New Testament that was written by apostles and the earliest believers.  So read all of Scripture, but devote yourself to the New Testament and what the apostles wrote and taught.  Pastors are the modern-day successors of the apostles.  They devote themselves to God’s Word and to prayer, so they can teach what the apostles taught.  I love teaching – come and talk to me!
Fellowship was another of the things they were devoted to.  They met together daily (v.46), they spent time together, they shared together, encouraging and supporting each other.  If you don’t come together daily with other believers, you’re missing out on what true fellowship is all about.  There is something going on in the church almost daily, there are opportunities to fellowship the way the early church did.  So make sure you get yourself plugged in – devote yourself to it.  Don’t let the distractions of the world take you out of fellowship with the body. 
When we think of the breaking of bread, we often think of communion.  In this passage, the breaking of bread was probably a common meal that included the Lord’s Supper.  But it is not limited to the Lord’s Supper.  Are you devoted to eating with your church family?  We try to have fellowship meals monthly, are those meals a focus for you – are you devoted to them?  Try to get together every time we share a meal.  Sharing and discipleship happens as we break bread together. 
And how about prayer?  I hope you pray at home.  But do you make it a practice to pray with other believers?  Do you pray together?  At FBC, our prayer gathering is on Tuesday nights at 6:30, but only a few come out for that time of prayer.  But there is power in corporate prayer.  There is power when we come together and lift each other up.  There is power when we share the names of the sick, the ministries of the church, the needs of the community.  There is power when the people of the church pray together.
There is power when the people of the church get together for all four of these practices.  Change your focus.  Put aside the concerns of the day and devote yourself to the apostles teaching, to fellowship with your church family, to breaking bread and sharing meals with other believers, and to corporate prayer, times you pray together as a church family. 

The early church is a witness to the power of God exhibited when His people are devoted.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Grace is Greater Than Your Circumstances

We've just posted Sunday's message to FBC's website - check it out!

It's the third in our series based on Kyle Idleman's book, Grace is Greater.  This week we see that grace is greater than our circumstances.  Sometimes things happen, not so good things, things that we have no control over, yet affect us in very powerful ways.  the good news is that God's grace is greater than those circumstances, and we find healing and power, even through the things that happen to us.

10/22/17 - Grace is Greater Than Your Circumstances

Leave a comment - I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

An Evening of Missions w/Tim & Patti Long

Join us on Monday, October 16, at 7:00 pm for an Evening of Missions. Waverly FBC is hosting Tim & Patti Long, missionaries in Mexico.

Patti and Tim Long began their mission service in Baja California, Mexico, in July 1996. Patti ministers as special
education teacher and resource specialist at the Monte Horeb Baptist Grade School in Tijuana, a school that reaches out to the most vulnerable of the city's young population, its children with special needs. She also coordinates the STEP scholarship program for students at the school. Tim serves in leadership development through the Baja Baptist Seminary, teaching present and future church leaders, both at its Mexicali campus and extension centers located throughout Baja California. He also coordinates a scholarship program for seminary students.

Come hear what God is doing in Mexico, and how you can support the work that's being done!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Worry or Trust?

In fact, we felt sure that we were going to die.  But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God, who raises the dead to life.
– 2 Corinthians 1:9 (CEV)

We seem to live in a time of great anxiety.  There are plenty of things to worry about.  We worry about having enough money.  Whether it will be enough to retire one day, enough to last as long as we do.  Or it might be that worry that we’ll have enough to get by until the next payday, will there be more money that bills due next week. 

We worry about our health, especially if something is going on, some disease or condition that has presented itself.  When that happens, that condition tends to always be present in the back of our minds.  Especially if it’s a more serious condition.  Heart disease, cancer, or diabetes are conditions that steal our joy and keep us, at least to some extent, constantly worrying about them. 

We worry about our children.  As a new parent, I thought about my kids all the time.  I thought that would change now that they are older.  It hasn’t.  Just a few minutes ago, Sarah left the house to go to work.  Within a few minutes of her leaving, a fire truck zoomed by the house.  I grabbed my phone and used the Find My Friends app to make sure she got to work okay.  She did.  That’s an app I’m very thankful for. 

We worry about our nation, whether the course we are on is the right course, praying that our nation, and especially our leaders, will use Godly wisdom as they make decisions that affect us all.  As I said earlier, there are plenty of things to worry about.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul opens with giving thanks to God.  But then he talks about being in trouble, and how God helps us when we are in trouble.  Then he talks about sharing in the suffering of Christ, and how he knows that the believers in Corinth are suffering, too.  He finishes his thoughts of suffering by telling of a hard time he had in Asia.  Verse 8 says, “Our sufferings were so horrible and so unbearable that death seemed certain.”  And then we see verse 9a, “In fact, we felt sure that we were going to die.” 

We worry about a lot of things.  Rarely is our worry this serious.  We rarely worry about our own imminent death.  But Paul did.  We see several examples in Scripture where he was at risk of imminent death.  Where did he find the strength to go on?  How did he find hope in such anxious circumstances?  Where do we find hope in our anxious circumstances?

He gives us his take in verse 9b, “But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God.”  No matter how dire Paul’s circumstances got, he saw them as a call to trust God more.  For Paul, every bad thing that happened made him stop trusting in himself and start trusting in God. 

Here is a challenge for you.  Can you adopt Paul’s attitude of suffering?  When something bad happens, instead of worrying about the thing itself, can you see it as a reminder to stop trusting yourself and start trusting in God?  Let everything that happens make you trust God more.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Missions in the World

“So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’  He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times of dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’  After he said this, he was taken up before their eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.  ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’”          Acts 1:6-11

So again we see this two-fold mission: to follow Jesus, and to be His witnesses in the world.  He didn’t tell us to stay in our own communities, our Jerusalem, but to go into the entire world, to the ends of the earth.  We have a message of hope we should be spreading to people worldwide.  Each one of us should be involved in taking Jesus to the world. 

There are some easy ways to do this.  We could begin a fund raising effort for one of our ABC Missionaries.  We could do a little research and find something that speaks to us, and make an effort to go beyond our walls to make an even bigger difference.  One possible project we could get behind is the Palm Project in the Congo.  That’s our missions project for the month of March, we’ll hear about it next week.  Our goal is $800, which should help ten families buy about an acre of Palm trees each.  An acre of Palms should support their family for the next 25 years or so, making them self-sufficient.  Last year, we didn’t make $800.  But if we put our heads together and took Jesus’ call to be His witness seriously, and found a way to take this project into the Valley.  We could do a lot more.  And every $80 can help reach another family.  That’s one way we can be involved in taking Jesus to the world. 

Another easy way is to get involved is by taking a short term mission trip.  There were three trips in last week’s bulletin, one of which I found very interesting.  From July 30 to August 5, there will be a trip to Baton Rouge, LA.  We’ll be doing some minor home repairs, helping with community gardens, cutting grass, installing insulation, and encouraging those in need.  Now even if you’re slightly elderly, I suspect you can encourage those in need, so there’s something for everyone to do here.  And the cost is just $250 per person for the week, which covers housing and meals. So maybe you can’t do much, but most can get a way for a week and make a difference. 

If you are  able to do more, there are opportunities to become longer term missionaries.  Opportunities to leave for a month or two, or to even make the sacrifice and make it a longer term commitment.  We have some friends serving in Jamaica who retired from a job in Wellsville, NY, got their pension and social security retirements, and used that money to help fund their ministry.  Now they are full time missionaries in Jamaica. 

I want to close with this thought.  Please don’t think you can’t do anything like this.  If you can dream it you can do it.  This passage ended with the ascension of Jesus.  This is the key. Because Jesus ascended, we can receive power from the Holy Spirit to build His church.  You see, we don’t do it alone! Don’t think you can’t be involved in missions.  God is with you. He can do what we can’t do alone.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Missions in Our Community

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came and to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always,
to the very end of the age.’”
Matthew 28:16-20

We can see from this reading that God desires for us to reach out to those in our world and make disciples of Jesus. Where do we start?  We start in our communities.  We start where we are, with the people we know.  Sometimes, when we see this passage, we might be tempted to think one of two things.  Either we’re only called to make disciples abroad; or, we are only called to evangelize to our friends and family.  The truth is, both are important!  And each of us is called to do both.

Understand that.  You are called to make disciples.  A lot of people think that they aren’t ready to make disciples. They have a number of excuses: “I haven’t been a Christian long enough; I don’t have my act together; people won’t listen to me, I don’t know enough.”  But when Jesus called His first disciples, He called them to follow Him, and make disciples.  Being a Christian is a two-fold calling:  we’re called to follow Jesus, and to make disciples.  Christians are called to be people who disciple others.

Faith First

  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”  Taking him...