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Welcome to our third installment of the six weeks of community. Today we're talking about Transparent Fellowship and notice the blocks here on this particular view that we're looking at. All of these people can go together and make something but also we can become stumbling blocks to one another which we don't want to do. I want you to just take a minute with me now and take a look at this video.
[Video depiction and narration: - Thunder Christian Community have sent out invitations to their neighbors to join them in experiencing the love of Jesus at their church. This "perfect" family, so they think, are excited and are anticipating their neighbors any moment now. Let's peek in and see what happens. And that's why love is the greatest. Love is what has brought men to Jesus. Love doesn't get hung up on appearances or things we don't agree with. God's love sees past the appearances, past the sin and sees the heart in need of a savior. He's called us to love with that same love. The bible says that people will know we are his disciples by our love one for another. This production was brought to you by Fishers of Men Products. Do you clean your fish before you catch them?] Video Title – “They’ll Let Anyone In That Church” at Sermon Spice - http://www.sermonspice.com/search?topic=2&q=anyone+in+that+church.
Now the bible tells us that on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2, that the Lord launched his church and Peter went fishing. Now, Peter of course, came from a fishing family except this time he's not going for trout, he's not going for bass, he's not going for salmon; he's going for people. And on that particular day, old Peter threw out his net and through the work of the Holy Spirit, 3,000 people were baptized in one day, Amen. Isn't that what the word of God says? Now did you ever wonder who those people were, those 3,000 people? Well, they were just ordinary folks like us and like these folks we just saw, just like us. And they brought them altogether and there were two places that the early church met. The large group met at the temple, because there was a large area where you could meet, so they met on the temple grounds. That's the large meeting like we're doing today. The second place they met was in the homes. So these people, 3,000 in one day, came together, sat together, ate together; they were together.
And as I was reflecting this week, I thought, I wonder who these people were? Well let's just use our sanctified imagination a minute and get a feel for whom might have been in that congregation. First, there was old Isaac. Isaac was the grain seller and when you bought grain, of course, the grain seller would ask how much you want, put a weight on one end and then on the other end of the scale measure out the grain. Isaac was known as accidentally, occasionally, putting his thumb on the weight side. Then of course, there was Rebecca who was known as a woman of the night. Wider trade at that time. And then there was Mary. Very common name in the first century. Very common. Not the Marys you are thinking of. This was a totally different Mary who was living with a man that was not her husband. All of these people had just come to the Lord, all of them. They all came and now they found themselves sitting next to each other. In fact, there was a lady who used to buy grain from old Isaac until she discovered the thumb on the weights. She was sitting right next to him. What did she think about Isaac and of course, there was a gentleman there in the congregation who knew Rebecca, the lady of the night, kind of a business deal. All of these people were gathered together in one place and this is what brought them together. Would you read this with me? "Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come." Wow! Is this true? It says: "Therefore if …" How many? "anyone is in Christ he or she is a new creation. Brand new, just rolled out. The old is gone, the new has come. Isn't that amazing? Does that amaze you? I'm always amazed by the goodness of God. And when I think about my own life, I'm really amazed. You may feel the same way about your life as well.
Now I wanted you to see something and I hope you caught the very last few seconds of the video up there where you had the woman dressed in the overalls and the hat on and she's got a fishing pole in the pond and she pulls the fishing pole up; there's something attached to the hook and then the announcer says these words: "Do you clean your fish before you catch 'em." Do you? And when you got the close-up then of what this woman was hauling in, what was it? It was a filleted fish. You know what, we need to learn from old Peter, good, old fisherman Peter, that we need to cast the gospel net and bring in to the Lord whoever will come, Amen. We're talking about family and friends, the guy at work you can't stand, that woman you know, that drives you crazy. Those are the people we're talking about. Maybe their problem isn't their problem, maybe it's, aah, do I say it's your problem? Sorry. You know, this is God's church; we're his people and people don't come in here filleted and clean, do they? Uh! Do they? No. The fact is, every single person in here has come to a hospital. This is a hospital setting where we're injured. All of us are, including the pastor and we're here for the protection and care and the renewal of our God. Isn't that right? That's why we're here. The bible says: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come."
Let's take out your sermon notes now, because I want to look at two points now in this message, that I give to you and you can take them home. Now I'm going to ask you to do a "terrible, horrible" thing today. Oh pastor, don't ask us to talk to each other. Yes, I am. You know in the past how I've asked you to talk to one another? It's "terrible" I know. Come to church, you want me to talk to a stranger? How can that be? Well because this is God's house and you're God's people. Now you guys have been so good. I love you guys. You're so responsive because I've asked you to meet three… How many of you have met three? That's good. That's excellent. Today I'm asking you to go back to the three and then meet one more and then remember those cards, look in your bulletin again and pull out those little cards that says you're invited too. Yep, Richard hold that up higher, will you. See Richard's cards right here. Alright, take those cards out, because here's what I'm asking you to do? When you go to the three people that you know, did you remember their names? Uh? Absolute silence in church, I can't believe it. Did you remember their names? Okay. And if you don't remember their names, you go, "you know what, I forgot your name. My name is Mitch" and then he'll tell you. But anyway, I want you to go to those three and then to one more which makes four and say, "Here, you're in a small group?" If they "yes" you go, "praise the Lord." Go to the next one: "Are you're in a small group?" "Yes", go to the next one: "You're in a small group?" "No" "Why don't you come to my small group?" 'cause on the flip side of that card, raise up your cards again, Richard, on the white side at the bottom, you write your phone number and that's the invitation to the person, okay. I believe there's somebody here in this congregation today who will come to the small group because you asked them. Do you believe that? See, this is the training ground. If we can learn to do something this "horrible" as "outrageous" as "disturbing" as to talk to each other in here, as we learn to do that then it gives us strength to go out there, uh? But if we can't do it here, guess what? Not gonna happen out there, so you can see my theory. So let's do it, okay. How many will do this? Don't raise your hands, don't raise your hands. Thank you, praise the Lord! Okay, we'll do this after the service.
Now take your notes out. Here's what we're trying to do today. We want to be used by the Lord. We want to be in a church that’s called a transparent fellowship. A transparent fellowship is a fellowship where people come as they are and you come who you are. You come with whatever needs you have and who you are and don’t be surprised. I loved it when they asked the girl with the black on, you know, in the video, and the hair, and she accepts the invitation and comes to their door and the little kids mouths open us, gaping, you know. It’s perfect. That’s who we want to invite. That’s who needs to be here in our group, in our church. Don’t you think. I’m certain that part of that 3,000 that came to Jesus on the Day of Pentecost had a couple of those girls. What do you think? Maybe they have some people like us too. I’m sure of it. So what we want to do here is say, Lord where do we start. Where do we start being the transparent fellowship and how can we learn to invite someone to the fellowship, or better yet, to your small group. It’s really better to invite someone to your small group before you invite them to church. It’s not as stressful.
This is what you do. Number one: pray that God will use you as his ambassador. See that word ambassador. Pray that God will use you as his ambassador. That’s where it always starts. The small groups are the opportunity to invite the neighbors just like we say in this video to your home. I’ve often told you how I talked to my neighbor next door and I might be working outside, he might not be but he’s imbibing in an adult beverage, and I ask him. We talk about God. That’s the time to do it. That’s a perfect time to do it. Ginny and I are here because we had loving, caring neighbors who came down the street, knocked on our door, made friends with us, invited us into their home and were just really loving people, and that’s why me and Ginny are here. Now, without raising your hand, think about it. Some of you are here because someone took the time to love you; someone took the time to bring you; someone took the time to pray for you and nurture you. Is that true? It is true. We just want to pass along that blessing to someone else.
See, an ambassador represents the values of something. An ambassador to the United States represents our values. We are God’s ambassadors so we actually represent the values that God teaches us. And the number one value that God teaches us is the greatest commandment, which is love for him with all of our heart, all of our mind, all of our soul and then love for one another, right? Just like we love ourselves. That is the key value that we carry. So when a person, any of us, interacts with people, it’s not about how much bible knowledge you have. I’ve often heard people say, oh pastor, I would be glad to talk to someone about coming to my church, but I don’t know my bible really well. Hey, that’s a cop-out. That’s a cop-out everybody, sorry. I want to tell you why. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Isn’t that right? And see, people don’t want to know what the bible says until they hear what you say and what I say, who God is. They want to hear from you. You are the friend, you’re the one that’s there. They want to hear from you. You tell me about God in your experience, and this is where the love of God flows through you, you know, to them. And a lot of times, many times, there is a need that a person has and as you’re praying, Lord bring me to someone to be an ambassador, bring someone into my heart, into this opportunity I have at work, or the neighborhood, or whatever, and what the Lord does? Many times the person has a particular need and that’s why God brings that person to you. And then the love of God just overflows to them through you. You don’t have to say anything about who God is because God is working through you just like when Peter and all the apostles were preaching on the Day of Pentecost. It wasn’t Peter and his theology, that brought those 3,000 people. Do you think it was? It wasn’t. The reason that people came was because the Holy Spirit was working through Peter. Through his words, challenging the people, the people came, and that’s who we are today. We are God’s ambassador.
Look what it says. Would you read this with me? “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us.” Do you believe that God would make an appeal about his love to another person through you? Do you think God would do that? Now, if you’re sitting there saying, oh pastor, if you knew my heart, God sure wouldn’t be making his appeal through me. That’s just the point. God does make his appeal through you, because aren’t we all sinners? Aren’t we all in need of a savior at some time? Isn’t that true? You are the prime person that God works through to another human being and the person would say, would God love a person like me? And you go, yeah, he loves me, see. And it’s not about theology, it’s about experience and about God’s love and opening your heart to doing that. That’s what it means to be an ambassador.
Now, let’s see, where is Dolores. Where is Dolores? Why don’t you bring your group up here now. I have asked Dolores to come up here and bring her group because we’re talking about reaching out; we’re talking about evangelism; we’re talking about being the children of God and it just so happens that in Dolores’ group, they have children. Isn’t that true Dolores? Okay come on up you guys. Looking for Ava and …. Now how many children do you have?
Dolores: We have five children.
Pastor: You’ve got five children and how many adults do you have?
Dolores: And five …
Pastor: You’ve got five adults and five children, okay. This is pretty good.
Dolores: And I think the children being brought into my group was a blessing, because I have been kind of whining that grandkids are grown up. They don’t need me and so the Lord said, okay, I’ve got a surprise for you Dolores. Now these little kids are all … I’m getting very close to them.
Pastor: And let me ask then Dolores, is it possible to have a small group with children?
Dolores: Yes, it is and I’ve been praying for, you know, how to keep them ‘cause their attention span is short and so today, something came into my mind. They’re going to be no more free trip. They’re going to have to do something at home to earn enough money to buy a can of soup or something that we’re gonna prepare, a basket for a friend of mine that has terminal cancer.
Pastor: Okay. This is your outreach or your mission?
Dolores: Well this is part of it and then we’re also collecting clothes for the battered women’s shelter and …
Pastor: Okay, you’re collecting clothes?
Pastor: Excellent, good. So how did you …
Dolores: We lack three more children here. Ava and …
Pastor: There’s three more?
Dolores: There’s three more that aren’t here today. Ava.
Pastor: Now tell me something. How are the kids in your small group? Do they interact with you?
Dolores: While we’re having our potluck and then we have to kind of find something for them to do while we’re doing our study.
Pastor: Okay. How about prayer time?
Dolores: Oh, yes. When it’s prayer time, they are there holding our hands, before and after and they know what it’s all about.
Pastor: Excellent, good.
Dolores: But this whole group has just strengthened our sisterhood in Christ. My family has just increased.
Pastor: And widened out the whole family, hasn’t it?
Dolores: Yes, yes, yes.
Pastor: Oh, that is great, that is wonderful!
Dolores: And we share our blessings in our life and we pray together for our needs and we are getting pretty transparent.
Pastor: Okay. That’s right, good, praise the Lord.
Dolores: Maybe Myrna …
Myrna: Morning brothers and sisters, my name is Myrna and this is my son, Kevin Torres. I want to thank God because he lets me be here with my new family. This is my family because I think all of us, we are the family from God. I give thanks to God because he let me be hear to learn more English and practice and we practice Spanish too. So thanks to God for letting us practice more between us and we can help others who do not know God … [Myrna then speaks in Spanish]
Dolores: [Interpreting for Myrna] She says, it gives everyone an opportunity to know each other better.
Pastor: Okay, excellent. Thank you, Myrna.
Judy: The first week we weren’t able to come and as soon as I told my son the group is going to start, he gets excited, of course, so he can hang out with his friends. He likes it that the church doesn’t finish and then his friends have to say goodbye. And the first week, I’m sorry, we weren’t able to make it and he was really upset and he wanted to stay with Myrna but we were going to the Loma Linda church and I didn’t want to leave him, so last week he was really, really happy to see his friends. And the first group we attended with Dolores and the second group we wanted to ask, are you sure you wanted our kids, because it’s really a challenge that the kids are noisy and we’re doing our group and then we have to stop and tell them to be quiet. We do have a little stuff for them to do but still, they can only sit for a little while.
Pastor: Sure, absolutely.
Judy: We’re very happy and thankful that Dolores puts up with us because …
Pastor: Amen, that’s wonderful, wonderful, praise the Lord, praise God!
Judy: Yes. So our kids enjoy the fellowship and we do, too as we grow up spiritually.
Pastor: So it’s mutual for everyone.
Pastor: Praise God, good! Anybody else? Okay, Pilar.
Pilar This Pilar, Senior. I thank the Lord for being in a small group again. He gave us the opportunity to share our happiness, our sadness and experience that we have in our life and also thank Dolores for sharing her house, for being patient with us and about our outreach, Dolores has said it already and I pray for that, that everything comes through. Thank you.
Pastor: Amen. God bless you guys. Thank you for sharing, we appreciate it.
Can you imagine children in small groups, ah? I can’t believe it. You know, if we were hanging around with Jesus in the first century, it was pretty chaotic. I mean really, truly. I mean, there were kids and grandparents and parents. There was everybody, filled with joy, filled with happiness. They were there because they wanted to be there and it was like a party. It was good time, and we want to recapture that and we are recapturing it in these groups and so if you have children and you say to yourself, oh I’ve got children, I can’t be in a group. Can you be in a group? Oh, yeah. So, by the way, I asked … now don’t lay all the kids over on Dolores, okay, because I said, “Dolores you want some more kids?” Guess what she said? “Let somebody else have some joy,” you know, okay. So she will be inviting somebody to her group but if you have any kids you’re gonna spread the joy around.
Last thing, here we go. This is the second way we’re gonna engage in being a transparent community by inviting people here and being available, letting the love of God flow through us. We want to pray for a heart of love. Just pray, Lord, give me a heart of love for those who don’t know you. Now think about that a minute. Do we really think about people who don’t know the Lord, people who aren’t as blessed as we are, may not have the support and encouragement that we have, right here. Coming here every week. You know, enjoying one another’s company. Do we ever think about them, do we ever think about, maybe they have a need that you could meet, because you are the body of Christ, you’re the one that God is filling with love. God wants you to use what you’ve got, so start off by prayer. Everything is foundational on prayer. We start with prayer, we ask for God’s love and then we say Lord, help me to think about somebody else besides me. How can I help someone else come to you and know you. The church of the twenty-first century is a church that doesn’t pass judgment on people. That’s it, we just don’t pass judgment. We’re in the net-pulling business. We let God sort through things and really and truly we don’t clean the fish before they’re caught, okay. That’s it.
I want to show this. This is the heart that we want to have and this is going to be two slides. This is from Matthew. This is Jesus and a parable. And the Lord said this, what do you think? Now this is an illustration really about God and about the kingdom. That’s who we’re really talking about. Jesus says, what do you think. “If a man owns a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, will he leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go look for the one that wanders off?” What’s the answer to that? Oh, yeah. “And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” That’s all of us and that’s all of our friends and neighbors and loved ones out in the communities, okay. Wherever we live, these are God’s people too. They just need an introduction and it’s up to you to introduce them to the one that loves them the best. It’s not in God’s heart to lose one single person, one single person, one little child. That’s us, that’s how God feels about us.
You think you might be up to doing something about that? Do you think you can do something as radical as pray and say, Lord give me a heart for somebody at work; give me a heart for someone in the neighborhood; give me a heart for someone that you want me to meet? Of course, if you went with my wife, Ginny, we go to like a little shopping center and there are all these little stores and all of them know Ginny, ‘cause I go over there and she will walk in, hey how are you doing, George, this is my husband, okay. They’re doing … and then she goes into the beauty parlor and then gets the nails done and then the grocery store, they all know her, because she is constantly letting the love of Jesus flow through her and the ladies doing her hair, same thing. I want you to be like my wife in a sense. Let the love of Jesus flow through you. People come to Jesus because of you, not because of what you know. It is because of who you know.
So here’s what we’re doing today. At the end of the service, go back to those three people, did you remember their names? Uh, okay. And then you go to one other that you haven’t met yet. Bring your card with you, show them the card, Richard. Here’s the card, here they are. Bring the cards with you because you can hand the card to someone and say, please come to my small group. Listen to this now. Today is the day of salvation, today is the day of renewal. Remember the first slide we went through? “The very, very first slide said: If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come.” Some of you may have come here for the first time, the second, or third or fifth time, I don’t know, but you need renewal. Don’t we all need renewal? And I want to encourage you today to seek the renewal of God and make it permanent. There are some cards right there in front of you, in your pews. The long cards that say “Welcome” and if you take that card out, write your name on it and say Pastor, I want to know the Lord better, I want to be baptized, I want to be in a small group. There’s the card, Richard’s showing it to you right there. Please do that. Just take it out, write it down and when they pass the offering baskets around, just drop it in there, I’ll get it.
Let’s pray together shall we.
Ведущий 2: Good morning, dear friends! Today we have a wonderful day. Today we have a
«Education twilight». Parallels with problems of a today's pedagogical science and legal regulation of formation are drawn