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Are you in an 'awakened state' of a personal revival?

I am excited about the ‘take home’ value of the Lord Jesus’ letters to the seven churches found in the Book of Revelation. In these letters, the Lord Jesus Himself is giving us the keys to living in revival.  I’ve titled Sunday’s message, “The Danger of Living in A Dream State” (Revelation 3:1-6).  In Revelation Chapters 2 and 3, all the churches are called to be fully awake to the One who is in their midst.

 

The first chapters of the Book of Revelation focus on the privileges of our new life in Christ.  His life is the Overcoming Life!  He offers us what it takes to live a life that is well-pleasing to Himself and brings benefit to others.  Through fresh obedience to Christ we can overcome difficulties, discouragement, complacency, distractions, compromises with worldliness, deceptions of false teachings and false practices, and the kind of leniency that permits the enemy of our souls to extinguish our potential from bringing the glories of Christ to light in our part of the world.

 

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”

 

Pastor David

Preserve Your First Love. The Drift to Cold-Heartedness is Subtle.

Lamentations 5:21 Restore us to You, O LORD, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old,

The drift to cold-heartedness is subtle. Don't allow apathy, indifference, or familiarity to take the place of your 'first love'.  

The Lord Jesus offered the church at Ephesus both encouragement for their commendable qualities and exposure of their hidden sin. He commended their deeds, their discernment, their doctrine, dedication, and discipline (Revelation 2:2-3, 6).   'But I have this against you', he said, 'that you have left your first love.' (See Revelation 2:4)

In His grace, the Lord Jesus calls the Ephesians to circumvent the potential disastrous consequences of their sin. Recognize your slippage and falling from your first state of gratitude, amazement, and whole-hearted devotion. Remember your first affections for Jesus and the wonders of your salvation. These were produced by the Indwelling Holy Spirit. Repent of your sin of having given permission for other things to take His place in your affections. Return to those first works that were inspired by your new life in Christ. As you give yourself to Him with a fresh surrender, remember WHO you are serving, WHY you are serving and HOW you are to serve (in His strength and not your own).  Let Him fuel your affections as you focus on WHO He is and WHAT He has done.  

Call upon the Lord to keep the fire of your passion alive.  Delight yourself in the Lord. Let the light of His Word drive away shadows of unbelief. Anchor yourself to His rock-solid truth and He will keep you through the storms. Be steadfast for His Name's sake and He will refine you in the fires of affliction. Set your affections on things above. Love what He loves and hate what He hates. Never stop singing His praises. Return to those first inclinations of your newborn life in Christ.

Your commendable deeds, doctrines, dedication, discernment, and discipline may be in place, but if they are not fueled with genuine affection for Who God is (upward affections), His Church (inward affections), and the lost (outward affections), you are missing out on your reward.  At this moment you could be partaking of fellowship with the only One who is the restorer of the Paradise of God and the only One who gives access to eternal life (fellowship with the Eternal Godhead).  (Summary of "First Love Restored" Part Two)

Join us for a continuing series from the Book of Revelation at New Life Community Church which continues on August 16th. 

We are pleased that Paul Cooke will be preaching on John 8 this Sunday, August 5th at the Concord Scout House. 

 

Divine Appointments

When a Christian reads the Book of Acts, he or she is not just reading interesting history, they are reading HIS STORY. They are reading the account of The Acts of the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished by His Spirit through His corporate body of believers.  We witness how the church became the corporate living expressions of His resurrection life. The fruit of the gospel is the expression of Who He Is in the context of a new community. Every true local expression of the body of Christ is a New Life Community.

The 4 gospels answer the questions, "Who is Jesus?" and "What did He accomplish?"  The early chapters (1-7) of The Book of Acts answer the questions: What is Christianity? What is the church? What is its mission and what is its message?

In Chapters 8- 12 we see how Christianity spreads beyond the one church at Jerusalem, according to Jesus' prophecy (Acts 1:8). Ordinary believers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, go everywhere 'gossiping the gospel'. (Acts 8:4)

What we see in this second section (Acts 8-12) are a series of Divine Appointments. God sovereignly prepares both the communicators and the hearers for the spread of the gospel. Philip proclaims Jesus is the Messiah to those who were considered half-Jews- the Samaritans, and they "welcome God's message" (Acts 8:14).  The apostle Peter opens the door of the gospel to them and they are born again of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17).

More "divine appointments"  follow. The Holy Spirit coordinates evangelistic one-on-one encounters: Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch ( Acts 8:26-40); Saul of Tarsus' encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-8; 22:6-11; 26:12-18; 1 Cor 15:8); Ananias and Saul (Acts 9:10-19; Acts 22:12-14); Peter and Aeneas (Acts 9:33-35); Cornelius and the apostle Peter (Acts 9:43-10:48; 11:

Each of these encounters involved a conversion story. The Holy Spirit disclosed the Person of Jesus, the Living Word through the spoken Word which corroborated with the written Word.  The Lord instructed Cornelius that he would be saved through hearing and believing the words that Simon Peter would bring to him (Acts 11:14).

The Lord Jesus continues to bring about conversions today through "divine appointments" where sovereignly-prepared messengers share a specific Christ-centered message with sovereignly-prepared  hearers. Jesus has won for us the privilege of open doors and an open heaven. Let us utilize these privileges as we see new life communities mobilized to make disciples of all kinds of people!
 

What Did the Early Church Believe and Preach?

Many Christians are familiar with the expressions "The Apostles Creed" and "The Apostles Doctrine". What is known today as the official "Apostles Creed" of the church is an early, eloquent and simple 12 point clarification of what Christians believed in contrast to the pagans. Its form dates back to the second century. These beliefs were often recited when believers were baptized.

However, it is in the Book of Acts and the New Testament epistles themselves that we have a fuller record of what the apostles believed and preached. Dr. Luke proves that the message of the early church is consistent with the message Jesus commissioned them to preach.

Luke 24:46-47  , "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem."

He also proves that, contrary to misconceptions that abound today, there were not many gospels and many versions of Christianity in the first century.

The church at Pentecost was unified in spirit and in truth. They gathered regularly to learn more of what Christ has accomplished on their behalf. They were continually catching up on what had happened in their conversion!  And they grew in their appreciation of the good news. Soon they were going everywhere gossiping the gospel! And the Word spread and the life of Christ was multiplied as the Lord added new members to His corporate body, the church.

There is much that we can learn from the example of the apostles and the early church!  How they responded to each challenge informs us as to how we can experience victory in the midst of temptations to sin and compromise and deal with onslaughts of persecution. 

Join us this September as we are encouraged, equipped and mobilized to be effective ambassadors for Christ and as we continue to compassionately impact others in Jesus' Name.

 

 

 

What is Christianity and What is the Church?

What is authentic Christianity? What is the church? What is its message? The Book of Acts gives a clear answer to these questions.

Do you realize that Pentecost did not originate with Pentecostals?  Do you know that the first Pentecost was not the birthday of the church?

Pentecost was an ancient annual Israelite feast, full of prophetic meaning. It was celebrated centuries before the day we read about in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.  In Leviticus 23 the annual Feast of Pentecost was also known as the Feast of Weeks, and marked the start of the ingathering of the wheat harvest. The priest lifted high two leavened loaves of bread and waved them before the Lord. Leaven speaks of sin, and the loaves represent Jews and Gentiles, presented faultless before the Lord by one saving act. The waving of the loaves represents the fact that the harvest has just begun and there is much  more to come- from the north, east, south and west.  He did this in conjunction with the traditional burnt offering, drink offering, meal offering, fellowship offering and sin offering representing Christ's perfect devotion, selflessness, purity, fellowship and His atoning sacrifice for sin. This symbolic act foreshadowed the fruit of the gospel, both Jews and Gentiles, being accepted as one new humanity before God, and made to sit in heavenly places in Christ on the basis of His perfect work of redemption (the five offerings of Leviticus 1-5).

It was on this day that Jesus was glorified (John 7:39; Acts 2:33, 36) and on this day that the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to believers in fulfillment of the Father's promise. It was on this day that believers were first joined to Christ and joined one to another through the gift of the Holy Spirit. This day was the birthday of the church as the body of Christ!

What does this mean for us?  First, Pentecost is about Christ being glorified as He is presented as our representative at the right hand of the Father and glorified in us by the Indwelling Holy Spirit.

Secondly, Pentecost is about our being joined to Christ, the Head of this new humanity, as members of His body that are joined to one another.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Thirdly, it is about the Holy Spirit empowering the church for witness. When we come alive to God from faith in Christ, we are given the capacity to be continually filled with the Spirit.

What are the abiding elements of Pentecost? What were the meanings of the supernatural signs? Which of these supernatural happenings came and stayed? Which disappeared after they arrived?

Can we hope for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives? How can we experience all that the Father and the Son have promised? What are we to do to be filled with the Spirit?

Come join us at New Life Community Church for worship at 10:30 AM on Sunday mornings at the Umbrella for the Arts, 40 Stow Street in Concord, as we anticipate an experience with the Purposeful Power of Pentecost.