Unity of Purpose

Scripture

Acts 4:32-37 (NASB)
32  And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33  And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. 36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, we can do all things through You who strengthens us. Please help us to be Christ-like, Christ-minded in all that we do. Give us unity of purpose so that we can collectively produce fruit that is pleasing to You and provides a powerful witness of Your love and righteousness. Thank You for Your Son, our Lord ands Savior, Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

Illustration

When man fell from grace, we inherited a tendency to

  • Hide from God
  • Hide from one another as well

We struggle with conflicting desires

  • On the one hand, we desire to be close to one another
  • On the other, we want to keep one another at arm’s length

We have learned to be suspicious of other people’s motives

  • At times we’ve been burned and so we fear being burned again and erect barriers
  • These barriers effectively insulate us from one another, and block Church unity

Proposition

When united in heart and soul, the church is richly blessed, wanting for nothing, and able to accomplish anything.

Probing Question

How do you recognize unity?

Transitional Sentence

Unity can be recognized by…

Main Points

1. Lack of Division

Acts 4:32a (NASB)
32  And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; …

“United we stand, divided we fall”

Paul stressed the importance of unity throughout his ministry

Romans 12:5 (NASB)
5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

1 Corinthians 12:24b-27 (NASB)
24  … But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25  so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NASB)
12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 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.

1 Corinthians 1:10 (NASB)
10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.

2. Lack of Selfishness

Acts 4:32b (NASB)
32  … and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.

Illustration

Burger King: an elderly couple came in and ordered one burger, one order of fries and one coke with two glasses. When they got to their booth, the man placed a napkin in front of himself and one in front of his wife, then proceeded to divide the fries, cut the burger in half and divided the coke equally.A gentleman nearby noticed and offered to buy them another burger, fries and Coke.

The woman then said, “No you don’t understand. We’ve been married over 50 years and all our life we agreed to split everything right down the middle.”

Her husband then began eating, as she sat with her hands in her lap. The gentleman nearby noticed and asked the lady why she wasn’t eating.

She replied, “As I said before, we split everything right down the middle, and it’s his day to use the teeth first.”

Selfishness is never satisfied and always desires more as if it could be owned

True disciples recognize that all belongs to God and we’re at most stewards

1 Chronicles 29:10-16 (NASB)
10 So David blessed the LORD in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 12 “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. 13 “Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. 14  “But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You. 15 “For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. 16 “O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours.

3. Lack of Shyness

Acts 4:33a (NASB)
33  And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, …

Remember, the disciples had just prayed for and received boldness

Acts 4:31 (NASB)
31  And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

Jesus had promised them they would receive power and be witnesses

Acts 1:8 (NASB)
8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

1 Thessalonians 1:5 (NASB)
5  for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

These same promises exist for us

4. Lack of Need

Acts 4:33b (NASB)
33  … and abundant grace was upon them all.

There were none among them that wanted for anything

Acts 4:34-35 (NASB)
34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.

We are given an immediate example in Barnabas, who would later become Paul’s traveling companion on his missionary journey

Acts 4:36-37 (NASB)
36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Illustration

Bruce Larson, in his book, Wind and Fire, points out some interesting facts about sand-hill cranes:

“These large birds, who fly great distances across continents in a ‘V’ formation like geese, have three remarkable qualities.

    • First, they rotate leadership.  No one bird stays out in front all the time.
    • Second, they choose leaders who can handle turbulence
    • And third, all during the time one bird is leading, the rest are honking their affirmation.”

This is not a bad model for the church: we all should be honking encouragement to each other.

Conclusion

Unity can be recognized by

  • Lack of Division
  • Lack of Selfishness
  • Lack of Shyness
  • Lack of Need

When united in heart and soul, the church is richly blessed, wanting for nothing, and able to accomplish anything.

Jesus prayed, in John 17, that we might be one, even as He and the Father are one

  • For that to happen, many barriers have to fall
    • Suspicion has to be replaced with openness
    • Uncertainty has to be replaced with willingness
    • Fear has to be replaced with love
  • On the day of Pentecost, that is precisely what happened
    • The barriers came falling down
    • The Holy Spirit moved in, producing unity in that first group of believers

John 17:11 (NASB)
11 “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.

John 17:20-23 (NASB)
20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

The first believers shared a

  • Unity of Spirit
  • Unity of Resources
  • Unity of Purpose

The Lord expects no less from His believers today.

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus Christ Who unites all Christians in love and service. may we never be found wanting or divided in these areas. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Gospel Invitation

Is the Holy Spirit stirring within your heart? Is He convicting you of the need to make changes in your life and/or calling you to take action? The Bible says:

James 4:17 (NASB)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

1 John 5:3 (NASB)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to take action, it is important to respond with immediate obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Please read the following sections that apply to your current situation and prayerfully consider the suggested course of actions.

I am lost. I need to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

John 3:16-18 (NASB)
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Action

  • To learn more about Jesus and His gift of redemption, read God's Plan of Salvation. If you are already familiar with the Plan of Savation, skip forward to section How to Become a Christian.
  • If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please let us know by filling out the Contact Form below.

I am saved; but, I have sin in my life that I need to confess and repent.

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially confess the sin in your life and your desire to repent. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

I am saved; but, I need to rededicate my life to the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Action

  • In your own words, pray a prayer similar to the following:

Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of Your glory and have failed to live up to Your expecttions for me. Please forgive me. Lord, I rededicate my life to You. Not my will; but, Your will be done. Thank You for being a God of second chances. Use me Lord. Shape me and mold me into the person You would have me to be. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

  • If you just rededicated your life to the Lord, please let us know by filling out the Contact Form below.

I need to discuss my situation confidentially.

James 5:16 (NASB)
16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially discuss the situation in your life that is troubling you. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

Contact Form





Rejoice in Suffering

Scripture

1 Peter 4:12-19 (NASB)
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? 19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, hallowed be Thy name throughout all eternity. You gave Your only begotten Son, who willingly suffered, bled, and died and defeating death, rose on the third day so that we may have eternal life reconciled to You. Until that day of eternal rest comes, please lead, guide, and direct us through life’s sufferings. help us to walk in the light of Your righteousness for Your namesake. Help us to rejoice in righteous suffering we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Probing Question

Why should Christians rejoice in suffering for Christ?

Transitional Sentence

Christians should rejoice for suffering in Christ because…

Main Points

1. They Are Sharing in Christ’s Sufferings

1 Peter 4:12-13 (NASB)
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

There is nothing unique or strange about the trial or temptation you are going through.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB)
13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

So why do Christians suffer? Because Christ suffered.

John 15:18-20a (NASB)
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; …

But, make sure you are suffering for righteousness’ sake.

1 Peter 4:15 (NASB)
15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;

2. Christ Is Glorified

1 Peter 4:14 (NASB)
14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

Matthew 5:11-12 (NASB)
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Gamaliel, discussing what to do about Peter and John with the council:

Acts 5:38-42 (NASB)
38 “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” 40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Paul reminds us:

Romans 8:16-18 (NASB)
16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

3. Christ Will Preserve Us to the End

1 Peter 4:16-19 (NASB)
16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? 19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

Paul encourages us through his encouragement to Timothy.

2 Timothy 3:10-12 (NASB)
10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

God is faithful.

Isaiah 51:11-16 (NASB)
11 So the ransomed of the Lord will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, And everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away. 12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass, 13 That you have forgotten the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth, That you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, As he makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor? 14 “The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon, nor will his bread be lacking. 15 “For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (the Lord of hosts is His name). 16 “I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’ “

Conclusion

Why should Cristians rejoice in suffering for Christ? Because

  1. They are sharing in Christ’s sufferings
  2. Christ is glorified, and
  3. Christ will preserve us to the end.

Colossians 1:12-23a (NASB)
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. 13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. 21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, …

Revelation 5:6-14 (NASB)
6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8 When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang* a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, our suffering on this Earth is for but a brief moment compared to the eternity of joy in which we will rejoice in Your holy presence. During those times in which we are suffering for Christ’s sake, please remind us that they are worthy of rejoicing too. Please set our eyes eternally fixed upon you we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Gospel Invitation

Is the Holy Spirit stirring within your heart? Is He convicting you of the need to make changes in your life and/or calling you to take action? The Bible says:

James 4:17 (NASB)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

1 John 5:3 (NASB)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to take action, it is important to respond with immediate obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Please read the following sections that apply to your current situation and prayerfully consider the suggested course of actions.

I am lost. I need to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

John 3:16-18 (NASB)
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Action

  • To learn more about Jesus and His gift of redemption, read God's Plan of Salvation. If you are already familiar with the Plan of Savation, skip forward to section How to Become a Christian.
  • If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please let us know by filling out the Contact Form below.

I am saved; but, I have sin in my life that I need to confess and repent.

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially confess the sin in your life and your desire to repent. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

I am saved; but, I need to rededicate my life to the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Action

  • In your own words, pray a prayer similar to the following:

Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of Your glory and have failed to live up to Your expecttions for me. Please forgive me. Lord, I rededicate my life to You. Not my will; but, Your will be done. Thank You for being a God of second chances. Use me Lord. Shape me and mold me into the person You would have me to be. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

  • If you just rededicated your life to the Lord, please let us know by filling out the Contact Form below.

I need to discuss my situation confidentially.

James 5:16 (NASB)
16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially discuss the situation in your life that is troubling you. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

Contact Form