Interaction with Providential Relationships (Acts 1)

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In 2001, director Steven Soderbergh gave us a visual reminder through film of a life and leadership principle: “Relationships Matter”. Here is a conversation that took place between two characters, Rusty & Danny:

Rusty: You’d need at least a dozen guys doing a combination of jobs.

Danny: Like what do you think?

Rusty: Off the top of my head, I’d say you’re looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros, and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever!

These characters and conversation took place in the popular movie “Ocean’s Eleven”. George Clooney played the idea man, Brad Pitt was the pro, Matt Damon was the protégé, and Julia Roberts was the wild card. The movie struck a chord with people showing relationships matter that the full cast reunited in 2004 and in 2007 for Ocean’s 12 and 13.[1]

There is an unmistakable reality in life that friendships and relationships shape our lives. Relationships are the glue that holds society together and are the working parts to make things work. Without relationships the world would be a lonely place – literally. God has designed the world for relationship and community. It is so hard-wired into our psyche that we hardly can identify ourselves without others – “I’m so and so’s father, mom, friend, etc.” Even more, we look to others to affirm our identity or somehow we feel inadequate or incomplete when we go without or hear a negative response.

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Message Series “Starting Point” is about points God uses to bring about our spiritual growth.

April 3     Instruction with practical teaching (Matthew 7:21-29)

April 10   Interaction with providential relationships (Acts 1-2)

April 17   Implementation with personal disciplines (Acts 2:42-47)

April  24  Investment with purposeful service (Acts 6:1-7)

May 1      Incidents with pivotal circumstances (Acts 9)

 

So, today we are discussing how interaction of providential relationships can be used by God to grow our faith.

 

◊      God’s purpose for relationships is exalting His glory (imago Dei).

John 17:21 “[I pray] that they may all be one, just 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 have sent me.”

è Jesus prayed for friends to be filled with love and sacrifice to exemplify the unity that existed in the Trinity (Father-Son-Spirit) and to utilize Christian community to reach the world. God created us not because He was lonely but to share His love. And we are most God-like when we are in fellowship and friendship with others.

 

◊      God’s purpose for relationships is eternal friendship (make disciples)

Genesis 2:18 “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” John 13:34 “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 17:21 “[I pray] that they may all be one, just 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 have sent me.”

Matthew 28:19 “make disciples of all nations…”

 

è SPBC Mission: Love God – Love People (friendship is mission) – Lead Generations

 

è The only thing you can take from earth to heaven is friendship – people!

◊      God’s purpose for relationships is earthly support (love neighbor).

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times”

Proverbs 18:24 “but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs 27:9 “the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.”

Proverbs 27:10 “Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.” Ecclesiastes 2:9-10 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, and has not another to lift him up… a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.”

Relationships in my life

–        SS teachers: John Riedesel, Betty Tavenner (she gave me my first Bible)

–        Elem Teachers: Mrs. Evans, Mrs. Wesner, Mr. Kozik, Mrs. Phelps

–        – – – Divergent Teachers: Mrs. Jerock

–        – – – Divergent Friends: Erik, Brian, Cliff

–        Pastor: Doug Myers (not all perfect…)

–        Church: Tim Dexter, Tom Brown, Tom Phelps, Jeff Dwyer, Charlie Brown, Marnie Shumate, Rosemary Phelps

–        High School randomly sitting at a lunch table with a girl named Jessica Harahush who invited me to her church youth group. I went and met several others who would have a profound impact on my journey of spiritual growth.

  • Matt Leach, Jesse Holston, Jeremy Bury
  • Tara Fallin-Gornick, Brianne Leas-Tonker, and Danielle Leas-Brown.
  • And so many others… not to mention our YP Steve Howell

–        SEBTS with William Aleshire and Will Aberneth

–        SCBC with Carl Jennings

–        Severna Park… a body of faith.

 

In Acts we see the important of interaction of relationships

 

EXAMINE              Acts 1 – 2

Acts 1:1-3 / Interaction with Individuals

The book of Acts is a second volume work that tells the events happening following Jesus’ resurrection in the early Christian church. The first volume work was the Gospel of Luke, with the same author writing Acts.

Luke writes to Theophilus, who needed clarification and assurance about Christianity (cf. Luke 1:1-4). Indeed, this relationship between Luke and Theophilus was providential not just for each other but for the purpose of detailing the record of Jesus to thousands of generations. Luke states that there were many “proofs” (τεκμήριον = tekmerion – means a fixed boundary, certain or infallible designation) with Jesus appearing to individuals during forty days.

The proof of Jesus’ resurrection clear, credible, considerable, and compelling. Those who doubt or dismiss the resurrection have to deal with the facts that Jesus spent 40 days with over 500 eyewitnesses, and the movement of the early church.

è 2 volume book was the byproduct of Luke & Theophilus’ friendship. Our lives should leave a spiritual heritage but also tangible heirlooms for others to receive in being pointed to faith in Christ.

o   My wedding ring was my g-dad reminds me of our family dysfunction (gdad died of alcoholism and my gma followed with variety of male relationships) but also reminds me of family devotion (gdad loved my gma – she was in abusive marriage relationship before my gdad – and my gdad loved me, evidence of me having ring bc he told my gma to give it to me).

è Heirloom suggestions: Highlighted Bible, journal, geneaology stories, Jewelry, craft, fabric, woodmaking, etc.

è The interaction with individuals whether they be family, friend, or acquaintance is the primary relationships God uses to grow our faith.

è Select friends wisely.  There are interactions of relationships that can help or hinder the outcome of your life.

o   Jay Strack – “Your life will be impacted by the books you read, the places you go, the people you meet, and the Scripture you memorize.”

o   Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

o   Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are kisses of an enemy.”

 

Cost of Friendship

¨     Schedule: goes beyond convenience, comfort; it’s an investment and no time is a waste, even conflict or failure; friends do not fit into schedules.

¨     Shared intimacy: investment of time is revelation of self and receiving of another; in other words not just speaking but also listening.

¨     Sacrifice: will cost you emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and on occasion physically. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

 

Acts 1:4-11 / Interaction with God

Before Jesus left, he stayed with them and gave them instructions. Jesus staying with the disciples was the exact relationship they needed and later it would be remarked how their lives reflected such (Acts 4:13).

 

–        Many have ideas about God but few truly encounter God.

  • The difference is like reading cook books and thinking you’re a chef, or
  • watching hgtv shows and thinking you’re a construction worker,
  • or because you are social media friends that you actually know what’s going on in someone’s life.

–        A relationship encounter with God goes beyond knowledge about Him, or even reading the Bible and going to church. A person can give lip service (“Lord, Lord”) or even life service (“didn’t I do in your name”) but still fail to know God. Evidence of knowing God:

è Acts 1:4 trust in God’s promise for salvation and sending the Holy Spirit

è Acts 1:8 telling others of God’s promise for them to trust

 

Acts 4:13, 20 “they recognized that they had been with Jesus… for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

Acts 8:4 “those who were [persecuted and] scattered went and proclaimed Christ”

Acts 17:6 “These men have turned the world upside down”

 

–        Michael Green in 30 Years That Changed The World “The Acts has so much to say to our half-hearted and cold blooded Christianity in the western world. It rebukes our preoccupation with buildings and ministerial pedigree, our syncretism and pluralism, our lack of expectancy and vibrant faith. As such it is a book supremely relevant for our time.”[2]

 

–        30 years changed the world. I once heard that knowledge doubled From 1 AD to 1500 AD; Again in 1750, Again in 1850, Again in 1900, 1930, 1950, 1966, 1981, 1995, 2006 and since every year. In just a short amount of time our world changes. Likewise, in 3 decades from AD 33 – 64 the movement of Christianity turned the world upside down. Christianity has spread across the globe and history and has impacted the world through education, medicine, freedom and not to mention socially & spiritually. It began with Jesus and on to a dozen men and a handful of women – and then the Holy Spirit came upon the group, forever transforming them and unleashing the power of God.

 

è There is no lack of opportunity to change the world but there is a colossal lack of faith and fearlessness as the early disciples of Jesus.

 

–        Francis Chan in Forgotten God, p.16-17 “If I were Satan and my ultimate goal was to thwart God’s kingdom and purposes, one of my main strategies would be to get churchgoers to ignore the Holy Spirit. The degree to which this has happened (and I would argue that it is a prolific disease in the body of Christ) is directly connected to the dissatisfaction most of us feel with and in the church. We understand something very important is missing. The feeling is so strong that some have run away from the church and God’s Word completely. I believe that this missing something is actually a missing Someone – namely, the Holy Spirit. Without Him, people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-sized results. The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation. And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit. But when believers live in the power of the Holy Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.”

 

Acts 1:12-14; 2:42-47; 4:32-35 / Interaction with Groups

The disciples had each other, they had encountered Jesus and they had a growing group of those who were committed to the gospel mission. Luke notes there were about 120 disciples that rapidly grew to 3,000 (Acts 2:41), and then 5,000 (Acts 4:4), and many thousands more through the known world.

 

The word “together” appears 32x in Acts and is symbolic of why the early church had so much influence and impact. There was unity and urgency, and when these two are combined there is nothing impossible for the people of God.

 

è You need the church and the church needs you. We are interdependent.

è Church cannot force friendships but can create environments for interaction with providential relationships… but persons need to participate.

–        Meaningful membership – must meet the pastor

–        Bible Groups – encourage to connect to a group

o   Spiritual growth happens greater in circles than in rows

–        Fellowship after service – connections

–        Retreats & Mission Trip experiences

–        Not just true for adults but soooo important for children and youth

  • Kids who are uninvolved in CM/YM but then college age and parents ask, “why do my kids not love God or want to come to church?”

 

APPLY/THINK

v  Interaction with Individuals, with God, and with Groups

– Do you think it’s an accident you’re here today?

  • Salvation
  • Church connection
  • Spiritual growth – you are either being discipled or making disciples.

 

 

 

 

[1] Illustration idea from Leonard Sweet, “11 Indispensable Relationships You Can’t Be Without”. p.15.

[2] Michael Green Thirty Years That Changed The World, 5.

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