Acts 2:41-42 New Year, Fresh Burden I have made a statement several times as 2016 was winding down. Let me make it again as we start 2017. "The church needs something more than what we have because what we have is not getting the job done." That is a sad statement but very true. Churches are closing. Attendance at good churches is largely diminishing. Souls are not getting saved. We need more. What do we need? I think several things, but one thing we need is more spiritually mature Christians. From the pulpits to the pews, we need god-like Christians. The Bible teaches us about a different brand of believer. Because of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, these baby Christians grew at an amazing pace! Almost instantly, these people went from lost to saved, from saved to spiritual, from spiritual to serving. For some reason today, it is usually a slower process, but the process usually follows the same patter and, hopefully, we have all at least gotten started! I. Infant Christians must minister to themselves. A. There is no doubt that before you can help someone else spiritually, you must first help yourself. 1. You cannot give what you donít have and you cannot teach what you do not know. 2. The first step in every Christianís life is to grow. 3. Spiritual grow is helped along by the mature Christians ministering to the immature, but it is also helped along by infant Christian ministering to themselves. 4. The mature Christians might peach and model the things of Christ to you, but if you are not trying to help yourself, it will do no good. B. Every believer must take responsibility to grow themselves. 1. To do these things requires that you put God first. 2. Christians must change their priorities and do what God says. 3. That includes reading the Bible, going to church, and praying with purpose. C. Notice there are things that the early Christians did to grow themselves. Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostlesí doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 1. They continued steadfastly in doctrine-Bible study. 2. They continued steadfastly in fellowship-godly influence. 3. They continued steadfastly in the Lordís supper- Considering and appreciating the sacrifice of our Lord. 4. They continued steadfastly in prayer-staying in fellowship with God. D. There are far too many anemic Christians who think if God wants to do something in their lives, He will force them to do it. 1. That is not how God works. 2. God wants to use you but He will not shanghai you. II. Infant Christians must get a burden. A. A burden is having the spiritual emotion of compassion. 1. Baptist Christians are taught the importance of not depending on our emotions but building our lives on the sound teaching of Godís Word. 2. Thatís good teaching but it is not the whole story. 3. I think that teach got one sided when the charismatics got to be popular. B. The rest of the story is that God uses our emotions, especially spiritual burdens, to grow and to lead us. 1. Jesus Himself felt and was moved by His emotions. Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. Matthew 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitudeÖ. Matthew 20:34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him. 2. Three New Testament writers commanded us to be filled with and moved by compassionóan emotion. 1Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 1John 3:17 But whoso hath this worldís good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? Jude 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 3. The Bible warns us against being cold-hearted, Re 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Re 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Mt 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. a. That is just the tip of the iceberg! b. There are many such Scriptures. c. So many that I would say that it is impossible for a Christian to please God who is not sensitive to Godís leading through his or her emotions. 4. It is not just our emotions that God watches, but our FIRST reactions to our emotions. a. Elijah warned wicked Ahab of a coming judgment. 1Kings 21:27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. 28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his sonís days will I bring the evil upon his house. b. And again with JosiahÖ 2Kings 22:11 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. 19 Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. C. To have compassion is to have a burden for someone or some thing. 1. God places a premium on Christians having compassion and burdens. 2. When was the last time we were moved to a spiritual action by a burden? a. When was the last time you saw missionary slides of lost cities and nations with no witness for Christ and wept? b. When was the last time you drove by a crowded corner and considered the souls who going to hell? c. When was the last time you watched our President and his family and became burdened over his eternity? 3. This business of a burden is important! D. If we refuse God the opportunity of burdening our hearts or refuse to yield to that burden, we stop the spiritual growth process. III. Infant Christians must get involved in ministry. A. Ministry is just a Biblical word that means "to help others spiritually." B. God wants every believer to be involved in the ministry. 1. God leads us to that place through our burdens. Acts 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. a. Notice, Paul went to Athens to wait for the arrival of others, but while waiting, he was stirred! (1) That word implies that Paul was emotional and moved to act. (2) God did something to Paul that caused him to be incapable of idleness. (3) God burdened him! b. I believe it is impossible to be saved and right with God for long without seeing the needs of others and becoming concerned for others. c. Typically, the first impression of a new convert is to win a friend or a family member. That is a burden. d. These burdens, and others like them, are an important part of moving us along to the next level in the growth process. 2. So instead of just waiting, Paul began preaching. a. Now Paul was a mature Christian who was waiting on his troop to join him but when he became burdened, his plans changed. Acts 17:17 THEREFORE disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. b. It was a burden that moved Paul from waiting and watching to preaching to the people of Athens. C. Question: Do you have a burden that is moving you to help others? 1. Itís our burden that makes us aware that people need us. Deuteronomy 15:7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: 8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. 2. Itís our burden that makes us develop our spiritual gifts. 1Cor 7:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. a. Everyone has gifts. b. Discovering the gifts we have is a part of our discovering ourselves. (Like a child learning he can walk, or a bird learning he can fly.) 3. Itís our burden that wonít let us quit. a. What if we never get a burden? We never grow. b. What if we lost our burden? We stop growing and immediately begin to regress. c. And these two conditions keep us stifled and others lost and without Christ. Are you a spiritual Christian? If not, you can be. Take the responsibility that God has given to you. Grow yourself. Let God burden you for others, and get busy helping people.
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