CONNECT in 2018

Last Sunday was awesome!  Testimonies of God doing miracles in peoples lives.  One lady has been recently healed of cancer.

I only had enough time to share the first point in my message.  My text was found in Acts 11:19-21 19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.

The church in Antioch was remarkable.  They, like the other churches mention in the New Testament, were very successful?  How do you ask?  Well, let's understand what a church is.  

The church isn't an organization.  Even though it is organized.  The church isn't a building.  But many churches do meet in one.  The church is people.  The word church means an assembling of people.  

So how did these churches become so successful?  Their people became proficient at understanding and doing Christ's will in their lives.  Both as individuals and as a corporate body.   This is the time of the year that you analyze your past and determine how the need to change your future.  This is the time that you set goals and reignite old dreams.  But how can you be successful? 

Well, that was the crux of my message Sunday.  Do what they did in Antioch and the other New Testament churches.  Or in other words, find out what God is doing right now and get on board with it.  

CONNECT (For those of you who were in service with me Sunday, yes this is a recap.) 
- Connect to the Word of God  - Acts 15:35
The Word gives you life, hope, and wisdom. During 2018 I challenge you to read the New Testament.
Before Christ, people were taught what the Word of God said and what God's will was the religious master.  But no more - it was theirs now!  They studied it and poured over it.  God provided those who taught and exhorted from the Word.  But it belongs to the person.  The early Christians realized that the Word was their lifeline. Make it yours!

- Connect with Prayer - Acts 11:21
The believers sought the will of God for their life, and they placed their life's needs in His hands.
Pray every day in 2018.  Seek Him with all of your heart. Fast and pray for serious needs and personal change. Before Christ, people prayed for hope. After Christ, people prayed to hope.

- Worship and the Holy Spirit  - Acts 13:2-3 2
The Believers in Antioch sought a worship experience that involved the presence and action of the Holy Spirit.  The gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12)were an expected part of their worship.  When the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking in other tongues, of Acts 2 happened, the average became the empowered, the poor became valuable, the slave became a messenger for the the Gospel.
In 2018, discover how you connect to the Holy Spirit through worship.  Discover your God-given gifts and allow them to be used to change peoples lives for Christ.

- Connect to Your World
Our text verse shows us that the church in Antioch was a soul winning station for multicultural people of different backgrounds. Racism was the rule of the day - but the church was a shining example how faith could bring differences together. We can be racially divided, religiously divided, theologically divided, and economically divided.  You have to believe and practice the fact that everyone deserves to hear and experience the Good News about what Jesus has done for them.

- Connect with Compassion - Acts 11:22-24
Compassion isn’t pity. Christ’s compassion has a purpose. To show others that you do love them and that Christ loves them  How are you going to be an encouragement to someone?  What are you going to say? What are you going to do? Are there any grievances that need to be settled? Are there any friendships that need to be deepened?

- Connect to Each Other - Acts 11:25-26
Community - It’s more than fellowship.  These are relationships that are valuable and worth protecting. If you are going to be a defender of the the faith, according to 1 Pet 3:15, then you need to understand this community and defend every one to the teeth. Trashing your family and friend or each other isn’t acceptable. Dealing with offenses in a healthy way is. Devaluing someones potential isn’t acceptable. Investing in someone with your life is. It is easy to set the bar low on your expectations so when someone makes a mistake you can justify your lack of faith. But it isn’t Biblical. In 2018 how valuable are you going to be to your church? 

Tomorrow - GROW in 2018

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to connect.  AMEN