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The Kind of Church That Makes God Smile

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The Kind of Church That Makes God Smile

January 22, 2012

Acts 2:5-12

If you’re a student of the Bible at all, you know that the smallest of details are often the biggest of clues to a greater message.
 
So, as you read through God’s Word you always have to look for “the story behind the story.” 
 
And there’s a GIANT clue for us to dig deeper into here in Acts chapter 2; it’s the story of the birth of the church.
 
The writer of Acts was Luke, and Luke wrote this book 30 years after the fact. So that means Luke had 30 years to see God at work in the church, 30 years to process what God was trying to accomplish. His vision was clearer.
 
In verses 5-12 Luke points out something that must have been very important to the heart of God or Luke wouldn’t have been so detailed.
 
He meticulously pointed out each and every nationality that was present that day and he carefully identified all sixteen of them, country by country.
 
Luke could have just written, “There were many different nationalities present on the day the church was born,” but no. Luke felt strongly impressed by the Holy Spirit to list them one by one – Acts 2:9-11
 
Through this passage God was sending a clear message that is still important for us in 2012, and here’s the message. 
  • It was God’s plan from DAY ONE that His House shall be a House for ALL NATIONS….every tongue, every nation, and every tribe within the nations.
But SADLY it has never become that, even to this day. You can go almost anywhere in the world and find churches that are almost exclusivly for one culture and one race.
 
At the launch of the N.T. church God’s House was still exclusive for one race and one race only, the Jews. 
 
And I believe it hurt the heart of God because it was not His intent, it was not His plan, and He intended to change that.
 
We see this same theme of God’s desire for all to worship together at the end of the Bible Revelation 5:9 “For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”
 
We see this same kind of heart and passion in God the Father at the beginning of the Bible in – Genesis 12:1-3.
 
Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation. God told Abraham he had to GET OUT of his father’s house and go to another people in order to fulfill the plan of God for every nation, tongue, tribe and people!
 
We are so comfortable in our house, so comfortable with our people, and our culture, that God still has to say to us GET OUT of your country, GET AWAY from your family, STEP AWAY from your father’s house to a people that I will show you!
 
And isn’t that EXACTLY what Jesus did when He came to earth!
 
God will accomplish His purpose and plan even if He has to cause us pain and discomfort to get it done!
 
It seems to me there’s a pattern that flows all the way through scripture, and that pattern is this; God scatters His people either through hardship or persecution in order to position them to take His message of love and salvation to every nation.
 
#1 God Allows Us To Be Scattered By Hardship To Build His Kingdom
 
We see this same pattern with the first Jewish family, the 12 sons of Jacob {Abraham-Isaac-Jacob}. God sent a severe drought and the first family was forced to go to Egypt to survive and stayed for 400 years {Genesis 39-50}.
 
God strategically put them there to share His love and His plan of salvation with Egypt and the world. Think of this…
  • Egypt was the first nationality that God reached out to thru His people.
  • From a biblical standpoint, Egypt has always been seen as a symbol of the world.
  • God sent His people into the world, into a culture other than their own, among a people other than themselves, to convey His love and salvation.
 
3000 years ago the Jews left Egypt and went into the Promised Land, their own land, the land of the Bible in Palestine, and created their own nation, the nation of Israel.
 
BUT they stayed exclusively to themselves. They did not take the blessing of Abraham to all the families of the earth. They did not OPEN their doors.
 
In fact they closed their doors and their hearts to others. They began to believe that they were superior and it became sin!
 
So what did God do? In 722 B.C. because of their own sinfulness and self focus, God sent them into Babylon as slaves.
  • They married, they intermingled, and 700 years later during the time of Christ they came back to worship in Jerusalem, and that’s who was in the crowd that day at the birth of the church.
  • They came back to Jerusalem to embrace their Spiritual Heritage but now they WERE the other nations of the world ethnically!
  • They now had language barriers to overcome.
  • They now had cultural barriers to deal with. 
 
God put them out into the nations and then brought them back to His House!
 
Tell the story about our first trip to Israel in 1993…
  • Three Airliners full of Ethiopian Jews were brought back to Jerusalem that week
  • Russian Jews selling wares – show our picture.
It’s very clear when the church was born there were ONLY Jews in the crowd, but that crowd represented the nations of the world!
 
That crowd represented the heart og God!!!
 
The same pattern happened in the N.T. Church. They stayed to themselves, they stayed in their comfort zone, but God allowed persecution and tribulation to send them out and mix it up. (Turn to Acts 8)
 
The first seven chapters of Acts were focused on Jerusalem and the Jews, but something happened to get them out from their brethren – Acts 8:1, 4-5.
 
Here’s another clue that God gave to Luke as he wrote the Book of Acts! 
 
Do you remember how prejudiced and hateful the Jews and the Samaritans were towards each other during the time of Christ?
  • Tell the story of the Samaritans: Woman at the well/calling down fire from heaven/etc
 
The Jews were forbidden to go to Samaria, they were not to enter into the home of a Samaritan, and they were not to eat with them, or even so much as touch them.
 
But the Samaritans were the FIRST people that God sent the church to reach out to.
 
Why was that, because God wanted them to get over their man-made barriers and build the church with every tribe, tongue, people and nation.
 
Jesus last words….Go into all the world…beginning in Jerusalem, Judea…
 
#2 God’s Greatest Anointing Is On Us When We Reach Out To Others
 
Instead of avoiding the Samaritans God told the Jewish disciples to go to Samaria and lay loving, Spirit-anointed hands on them and see what He would do.
 
And when they did it amazing things began to happen – Acts 8:14-17.
 
Next we see Philip being sent to an African man – Acts 8:26-29.
 
Philip led him to the Lord, stopped and baptized him in water, and then God did something so miraculous – Acts 8:38-40.
 
When they began to push themselves out of the borders of their comfort zone, God began to manifest Himself in ways that were unprecedented!
 
I believe with all my heart that a church that reflects every nation, tongue, tribe and people makes the heart of God VERY glad.
 
But more than that, it opens up the windows of heaven and the RICH blessings of God are poured out as a result of it!
 
In the very next chapter, Acts 9, God handpicked an Apostle to bust open the doors to the Gentiles {non-Jews} and to make the church reflect the diversity the God has always intended.
 
Note the calling that God revealed to Ananias regarding Saul – Acts 9:15.
 
Saul was renamed Paul and his great mission in life was uniting the family of God to represent every tongue, tribe, nation and people.
 
The Apostle Paul later wrote in…
 
Ephesians 3 {God’s Word Translation}
5 In the past, this mystery was not known by people as it is now. The Spirit has now revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is the Good News that people who are not Jewish have the same inheritance as Jewish people do. They belong to the same body and share the same promise that God made in Christ Jesus. 11 This was God’s plan for all of history which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 We can go to God with bold confidence through faith in Christ.”
 
Next week – Acts 10-11
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About Ron Bontrager

Lead Pastor of Lakeview Church in Indianapolis.

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