August 29, 2012
God’s dream for us is a dream … to become the hands and feet of Jesus in our neighborhoods:
- Actually knowing who our neighbors are,
- Sincerely caring about what happens in their lives,
- Immediately coming to their rescue when life falls apart all around them.
In the book of Acts, the original Spiritual First Responders concentrated on 8 focal points just outside their door …
- Loving their neighbor as the mission of their small group “search and rescue” team. (Acts 2.40)
“And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!” (Acts 2:40)
Love your neighbor isn’t just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle. Compassion doesn’t end because someone doesn’t share our faith … yet. If we are going to actually be a Christian, we will need to go into our neighborhoods and love the people around us.
- Baptizing new disciples as the responsibility of their small group “search and rescue” team. (Acts 2.41)
“So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them.” (Acts 2:41)
Your baptism is your certification, your authorization to baptize a new disciple. Jesus authorizes you, as His agent on Earth, to do the work of His Kingdom on His behalf. And since you are authorized as His agent, you are capable of gathering your small group together and baptizing the new disciple of Jesus!
- Teaching new disciples to obey Jesus as the occupation of their small group “search and rescue” team. (Acts 2.42)
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
When you break this apart, you notice discipleship has three aspects to it …
1) There is a lifestyle to live – “the apostle’s teaching”
2) There is a family to live with (small group) – “breaking of bread”
3) There is a mission to live out – “the prayers”
The first century disciples also show us that Spiritual First Responders will focus on …
- Trusting Jesus to be with them as the reality of their small group “search and rescue” team. (Acts 2.43)
Where Jesus is, there will be power! Thus we read,
“Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles.” (Acts 2:43)
As a small group, when we start praying as a group for the lost, reaching out, sharing Christ, leading people to Jesus … God comes down in your midst! God’s presence does amazing things … impossible things!
- Uniting with God’s family at Pacific as the strength of their small group “search and rescue” team. (Acts 2.44)
“One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1)
The true child of God gets into a small group – they don’t “pursue selfish desires” by isolating themselves. You have heard people say, “I don’t need to come to a church service to worship. I can be a good Christian alone.” That is simply not true. Solomon says you are “rebelling against all sound judgment.” In contrast to such selfishness, we read that the true Spiritual First responder lives a different lifestyle …
“Now all the believers were together and held all things in common.” (Acts 2:44)
You see, it is in a small group where Spiritual First Responders will focus on …
- Sacrificing for the needs of one another as the demonstration of their small group “search and rescue” team. (Acts 2.45)
Love one another is no longer a slogan in a small group. As you sit with others and talk, the conversation inevitably comes around to how things are going. Friends share their hearts with their friends. In a small group people grow to be transparent – it is the mark of love. Who can hear of a friend’s need and not try to meet it? Only a person with a cold heart – a pretender and not a real friend! As we see from the 1st century, the way a true disciple takes care of needs is as follows …
“They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.” (Acts 2:45)
Spiritual First Responders will focus on …
- Devoting their lives to God and His people at Pacific as the glue of their small group “search and rescue” team. (Acts 2.46)
Doing life and ministry together – that’s the motto of a small group! The small group that worships together grows deeper together! We learn this from the 1st century campaign for Jerusalem …
“Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude,” (Acts 2:46)
Note with some emphasis that there were two keys to a strong faith that was “on mission”
1) They worshiped together – they literally went to worship and sat together
2) They lived life with one another – they were in each other’s homes regularly for meals, small group and social occasions
And when this is true Spiritual First Responders will be able to focus on …
- Enjoying the favor of God as the benefit of their small group “search and rescue” team. (Acts 2.47)
Why would we do life with our small group “search and rescue” team? Look at these benefits
“… praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47)
1) They had received God’s answers to their prayers, thus they had something to praise God about
2) They had received favor with all the people – why? Because they had been so generous and caring!
3) They were seeing new men, women, teens and children put their total trust and allegiance in Jesus Christ on a daily basis.
Who wouldn’t want a life like that? That’s my hope and prayer for you! But it will only happen as you surrender your life to the mission of Jesus as we express it in our vision wheel.
Then, and only then, will you enjoy these amazing benefits.
Spiritual 1st Responders understand the dangers of working alone and the benefits of working with others. Since they are the first to respond they use technology to assemble their small group team rapidly and beneficially to meet the need of the moment.