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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