Morning. David Sorn. Pastor of Renovation Church.
I gotta tell you one of my big pet peeves is when people tell you the same story they’ve already told you.
You know what I mean? Anyone in here feel my pain?
I mean, someone just launches into this, “Oh, so let me tell you about the time my grandma got pulled over”
And you’re thinking, “You JUST TOLD me about your grandma getting pulled over last week.”
I love confrontation more than the average person, so I usually just interrupt and say, “You told me already. Boy was that funny…..”
Personally, I’m so paranoid about repeating myself, that I often preface my stories with, “Have I told you this already?”
I mean, it just seems silly…a waste of time to tell the same story over again.
Yet, the Bible apparently disagrees with me.
Especially when you read any narrative in the Bible, like where they are telling stories of history…
The Bible is notorious, especially in Books like Genesis, the Gospels, or Acts for retelling the same story.
Often the very next chapter.
And you and I think…
“Um seriously. You just told me this story. Last chapter.”
But here’s what we have to keep in mind…
Somebody yell out a country for me…pick a country…
Okay, let’s pretend, you go to _____, and you listen to the stories they tell for a week or two.
Do you think their stories would be like American stories? In content? In Structure?
NO. They wouldn’t.
Now, let’s go half-way across the world…to Israel…and on top of that, let’s rewind 2,000 years (even 100 would be vastly different…but let’s go back 2,000).
Are the stories going to be structured differently? Absolutely!
And one of the most common ways they wrote in Biblical times was through the device of repetition.
And whenever they repeated a story…it meant…pay attention!
So, as we continue in our Book of Acts series today, we are going to start w/ a repeated story.
Acts, is the 5th book of the New Testament, and tells the story of how the church got started after Jesus.
When we left off last week, one of the leaders, Peter, had just brought the good news to the Gentiles (non-Jews), which is a huge turning point in history.
It’s where Christianity transforms from just a reformation of Judaism to a revolution that’s going to sweep the world.
And God did it in a miraculous way.
So we start off our chapter today, with a recap.
We are going to be in Acts chapter 11 today, so if you have a Bible you can turn there, or if you have a smart phone, I have something amazing for you today
If you have the main Bible App (the one that says Holy Bible on front…it’s actually called YouVersion), open that up.
(Give you a moment)…then, click LIVE
You should see our church show up w/ today’s title: Worldwide Renovation.
If you open that up, you’ll see that all of today’s verses are already there for you, prayer requests, announcements and more.
If you don’t have a phone, that’s okay, we’ll still get all of this info to you on the screen, but if you’re a phone junkie, this is a cool day.
(Acts 11:1-18) – NIV
1 The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. 6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ 8 “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again. 11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter.14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”
So, quick “recap of the recap”
Believers everywhere quickly get wind of Peter’s history changing conversation, and how the Gentiles are now becoming Christians.
Peter meets with the skeptic leaders in Jerusalem, brings his witnesses with him, and puts the nail in the coffin on the debate by simply saying, “Who was I to think that I could oppose God?”
I rest my case your honor.
And now, even the leadership of the church is satisfied with what God is doing, and God is REALLY going to start reaching the Gentiles. Our passage continues for today
(Acts 11:19-30) – NIV
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
Okay, so we’ve got this huge city where God is really going to build a great church.
A church that is going to have A LOT of Gentiles in it.
By the way, Antioch, where this is taking place, was the 3rd largest city of the Roman empire at the time. Only Rome & Alexandria were bigger.
Historians think it was around 300,000 people (that’s bigger than St. Paul’s 2010 population).
(SHOW MAP) – LEAVE UP UNTIL NEXT YELLOW MARKER
So, the church in Antioch starts growing, & Barnabas decides he better go get Saul
We’ve met Saul before in the book of Acts… in case you’re new, Saul was a fierce persecutor of Christians, but Jesus appeared to him, turned him around, and he became one of the greatest advocates of Christianity…ever
In fact, and sorry to give it away, he’s going to become Paul…who eventually writes half the new testament.
And even though it’s been something like 6-10 years since Saul fled Jerusalem cuz all the Jews wanted to kill him, Barnabas decides, I’ve got this crazy-fast growing congregation, of Gentiles even, I better get help.
So he travels (100 miles actually) to Tarsus (SHOW ON MAP), to get Saul, and brings him back.
Kind of a cool illustration of a guy who gets that it’s okay to ask for help.
SO, they’ve got this church that’s just taking off, with a whole lot of Gentiles, in a place where they were first called Christians, and then this prophet guy, named Agabus, comes to visit.
By the way, Agabus is gonna pop back up again in Acts 21 and make yet another prophecy that will come true about how Paul will be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.
But this time, he says, “Hey…there’s going to be a HUGE famine!” (which by the way, there really was in the year AD 46) (TAKE MAP DOWN NOW)
Now, I want you to think about this. What would you do if you heard this?
What if some guy that you really trusted was a prophet and heard from God, came and said, there’s going to be a HUGE famine in MN, ND, SD, WI, and IA.
What would you do?
Well, our first instinct would probably be, let’s start stockpiling.
“Maude, start stocking up on bottled water!”
But yet, look at the passage again,
(Acts 11:28) – NIV
28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)
I must have read this verse 10 times before I noticed it said… “Entire Roman world” The whole empire.
This wasn’t just going to be a famine in Judea.. It would hit everyone. INCLUDING THEM!
Yet, who did they help?
(Acts 11:29-30) – NIV
29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
So, the Christians in Antioch decided, that EVEN THOUGH the famine is going to affect them too, that they should send help to the people in Judea (which is the region where Jerusalem/Bethlehem are in) instead
It would be like us hearing about the famine, and saying, “We better really send help to the people in the inner city of Milwaukee because this is going to hit them hard”
And just watch as we continue through the Book of Acts, because this church is going to set the bar high for missions…reaching out to other people in the world.
This is the same church that is going to launch Saul (who will become the Apostle Paul) on his first 3 gigantic missionary journeys.
And when they help the church in Judea, which is probably the church in Jerusalem, it’s a cool non-issue that they’re helping them out.
It’s sort of a role-reversal.
Because the mother church in Jerusalem is the one that sent the Gospel. They sent people like Barnabas there
And now the daughter church in Antioch, is going to send money back to the mother church to help them out.
But often, today in missions, money screws up most partnerships.
See because, what happens is, whoever has the money, often feels like they are superior.
Which really if you think about it, is a ridiculous thing to feel superior about in a Christian context.
Think about it.
Let’s do an exercise.
Everybody think of a celebrity. First one that comes to mind.
Ok, everybody think of a famous athlete. First one that comes to mind.
Now, I played this game too, and don’t ask me why, I’m just being honest, the two people I thought of were Tom Cruise and Lebron James.
Now, let’s pretend your celebrity and athlete come to your door.
And they say, “Hey. We’re just going to hang out here for a week and help you get your life together. You know give you some wisdom on how to do things. How to manage your family. How to follow God. You know stuff like that?”
Most of us would say, “Um, it’s cool that you’re here and all. I’ll gladly take your autograph and sell it on eBay, but don’t think I’m gonna take advice from you on how to run my life and worship God.”
And you probably wouldn’t be. Because just because someone has money, doesn’t mean they have all the answers.
“Having money doesn’t entitle us to anything but figuring out how to give it away.”
And when we work with other churches around the world…with other people…there must be partnership.
There is learning to be done on both ends.
And if you go to a developing country to do missions work, they might not hand you a check, but they might hand you some perspective. Some life change.
Sam Kamaleson, and Indian Pastor (from country of India), said once, “The church is not an organization but a supernatural organism: She feels, she throbs with vitality. In other words, when the church in the United States is pinched, the church in India must say, “Ah, that hurts.”
Now, God has given us at Renovation a specific mission: It’s to reach the people in our area w/ the Gospel. In Blaine, and its surrounding areas.
The Mission starts here. It doesn’t matter if your church is giving all their money to missions and can’t even reach the people in their own context. What’s the point then?
The mission starts with us. But it doesn’t end with us.
Because…we’re all one church. One worldwide church.
Renovation Church is not an island unto itself.
To begin with, that’s why we’re serious about church planting
We want to start, one, maybe even two churches in the metro within the next two years.
Why? Because it’s not all about us.
It’s about reaching people for Jesus.
And it doesn’t stop with just starting new churches here in MN, because as we see in our Bible passage today, it’s about reaching in people in need as well.
Feeling out, okay, where is there need right now in the body of Christ? Where is there hurt in the world? Where is God calling us?
And I want to present an opportunity to you.
Sometimes we just hear messages like this, and we leave it general.
Like, “Yes, we should help other people out in the world. Great!”
But I want to literally ask you to help other people out in the world.
In just a “half a year” from now, January 4th-11th, we are going to be taking our first ever international missions trip for adults to Haiti.
About 6 months ago, I was first inspired by Barb Mahr, who attends Renovation Church (she’s one of our phenomenal small group leaders from our Tuesday night group), I was first inspired by Barb to check out World Wild Village and their work in Haiti.
The leader and founder of World Wide Village, is actually an attender of enCompass church, which is one of our 2 parent churches.
As I began to really pray about it, I was presented the opportunity to go check out their work in Haiti for 5 days this past February.
And when I went, I felt God calling me to lead our church their to help in their mission.
The basic premise of World Wide Village is creating sustainability
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and has been for a long time…
And, unfortunately, it WILL be for a long time, unless the Haitian people are taught to create and lead their own ministries, businesses, and schools.
So, what World Wide Village does, is they go into different cities and villages and will start by taking over a school, which is also always in a church.
And they start by providing better salaries for the teachers (or sometimes even salaries in general), they provide lunch for the kids each day (often if the kids don’t go to school, they don’t get lunch)…and they help run the schools, until they can teach the people to do one day do it themselves
Then, they will often partner with the church, and teams will not only be in the process of rebuilding churches and school, but will often partner with the church to go out and bring the gospel to the village
Only 10% of Haiti has a personal relationship w/ Jesus Christ.
Then, they will often work take over a clinic as well, and supply it with legitimate drugs, and often will bring in American Doctors and nurses, which the people will just line the streets for
There’s an average of 1 Doctor for almost 100,000 people in Haiti.
If a Haitian becomes a doctor, the first thing they often do, is leave Haiti.
World Wide Village then often works to bring clean water to the village or city as well, which is rarity, along with even electricity.
Before I get any further, I want to show you a video of Haiti.
This is all footage from my trip in February. So this isn’t just some CNN crew going to one place and making a video of it. This is just what general life looks like in Haiti.
The Church of God is worldwide. WE’RE not just one church. The church is everywhere. Worldwide.
And our call to Renovation…renovating the world for Jesus Christ…is worldwide.
And we have something to bring…time to help…often the resources to help.
But, and this sounds weird to say, it’s not just about us giving.
If you go, you will receive.
Life change. You can’t experience poverty like this and then decide to be the same.
You can’t experience God like this and then decide to be the same.
And we will go with God. We will go to speak his name.
I’m not interested in leading a team down there just to bring a cup of cold water…
We will as the Bible says…bring a cup of cold water, but in Jesus’ name.
So will you go? Would you help bring the good news of God and his love to what will feel like the ends of the earth?
And maybe your mind is just filled with questions right now…
So let me provide some details.
We are going January 4th – 11th.
The cost of a 7-day trip w/ World Wide Village w/o airfare is normally $1,050
Because this is our 1st trip, and we are excited about it. Renovation Church will automatically start by adding $200 to each person’s account if you go.
So the trip itself is only 850 + airfare
What’s airfare? Huge range. Anywhere from 500-800.
But let me be clear about something, if you’ve never been on a missions trip before.
If God wants you to go, He will provide.
This is actually an INSANELY cheap price for an international missions trip.
And the crazy thing is, you can probably fundraise all of it through support letters and go for free.
It’s very attainable. Lots of people go on trips with other churches for 2 to 3 thousand, and raise all of their support through letters.
We serve a big God.
If He wants you to go, He will provide.
If you are even 10% interested, I want you to pick up an informational packet in the hallway today on your way out.
We will have applications available in the coming weeks.
But for now…begin praying.
Would God want you to go?
Would He want you to go and help rebuild, help serve, and help even spread the Gospel?
Don’t be afraid to ask Him that question.
And if you have logistical questions, anything at all, don’t hesitate to ask me
And even if God tells you no, don’t go, our passage today tells us that…
The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea.
Each to their ability, found a way to help.
And maybe God’s just calling you to support another person who is going, but my guess is that He would call you to participate and help in some way.
You know, our vision for this church is: “To be a people, being changed by God, to change the world.”
And here’s our chance to start changing, not just our world here in Blaine, but literally, the world.
Let’s pray God does big things through us.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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