Chronicles of a Quiet Hero – Sermon by Alex Moir – 1 November 2020

communion cup and broken bread

Communion Worship Service

Reminder: If you are planning to take part in the Lord’s Table at the end of the service, have your bread and juice ready.

WELCOME

We are glad that you have chosen to worship with Kingsville Baptist today. We pray that all that we do and all that we say points you toward God’s great love for you revealed in the life, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.

As many will know, last week we said goodbye to Jim and Tracey Bagley, the pastoral team who led us so well for so many years. We will continue to feel that void for some time to come. Still we move forward toward what it is that God has in store for our future at FBK.

We are very grateful that Rev. Alex Moir has agreed to be with us and lead us in worship through the new year. Alex will be known to many of you, having served for many years in churches in the CBOQ and most recently at Banwell Community in Windsor. Alex thank you for agreeing to lead us. May God richly bless you as you serve Him and share with us what He has laid on your heart for us to hear.

As this is the first Sunday of the month, we will be observing the Lord’s Table at the end of the service. If you are participating, be sure to have bread and juice ready. Even though we know that we will not be taking part at the exact same time, we ask you to use your imagination and place yourself in the sanctuary among us. We look so forward to the day we will no longer have to use our imaginations!

Call to Worship: Deuteronomy 33:26-27

“There is none like God … who rides through the heavens to your help, and in his majesty through the skies.  The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Prayer

Our gracious Father … we have had occasion over this past week to experience your power and presence in new and remarkable ways.  We humbly ask you to use this gathering time to empower us anew to serve in your Kingdom.  In the strong name of Jesus we pray … amen.

Song

Scripture – Acts 4:32-37

 32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Today's Message: Chronicles of a Quiet Hero – Part 1

In beginning this message, I recall an experience my wife Linda and I had a few years ago.  We were spending some time in the city where we had met as seminary students (Louisville, Kentucky) and were looking for a church to visit on the Sunday morning.  We had one in mind, a rather large congregation associated with a famous “seeker church” as they were known at that time.  Since I did not have a laptop in those days and it was long before Facebook pages, we called the church number for directions … to our surprise, this is what we heard!

“If you’re coming from Indianapolis (109 miles away), press 1”

If you’re coming from Nashville (156 miles away)”. press 2”

“If you’re coming from St. Louis (300 miles away) press 3”

Being a pastor myself, of a congregation that I thought was at least somewhat “healthy”, I couldn’t help making some comparisons.  However, a few years ago I read the results of a survey conducted by the Southern Baptist Convention (2007) … that the 1200 or so “mega-churches” (defined as 2,000 in attendance or more over a weekend) represented only one-half of one percent of all churches in the U.S. and accounted for only 5% of all weekend worship attenders.

I found myself asking the question … “what about the vast majority of the rest of us who attend much smaller churches than this one?”  I suddenly realized that I needed to go back to the New Testament to answer this question.  Here we will find lessons for church ministry that every church, large or small, can learn and apply, while focusing on one life in particular.

In Acts 4:32-37 we are given a glimpse into the life of the early church.  In this passage we discover hints as to what church ministry is all about … and encouragement that we can be part of the expansion of His kingdom, no matter what size our church happens to be.

  • Mission – We read in verse 32, “All the believers were on in heart and mind.” We need not think very long and hard to imagine what the essence of this unity might entail.  In spite of the worship choices available today, from the classic world religions, to what we might have called “cults” in another time, to everyday options such as power, prestige, profit, pleasure, etc. (after all, as Bob Dylan sang, “You’re gonna serve somebody!”), we still believe in the words of a Greg Nelson song … “People Need the Lord.”  From our early beginnings in the late sixteenth century, we as Baptists have believed in freedom of worship … but we also believe that only Jesus, through his Spirit can change our lives from the inside.  Being Christocentric (Christ centered) is the unity that holds the church together.
  • Money – “No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own”, we read in the second part of verse 32. One of the things that characterized that first group of believers was their relationship with personal finances. The early church discovered quite early, the power of the generosity of a group of believers, gathered in Jesus’ name.
  • Their Theme – The first part of v. 33 reads; “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” This is the centre of our ministry, the truth that gives the church its power.
  • The Needy – Verse 34 reminds us of the first social ministry in the Christian church. Even today we encounter folks, both within our congregations and outside as well, who are experiencing financial challenges and for whom the various social safety nets are inadequate.  In Jesus name (remember “the least of these” from Matthew 25) we can come alongside these folks who have slipped between the cracks in our society.

But there was something else that made that early church special and it had to do with the quality of the membership itself.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the life of Barnabas, the quiet hero of the New Testament.  His influence and leadership in the early church begins in this passage.

  • His nickname – Barnabas means “son of encouragement” … would that all of us be viewed in such a way. Believers should never be in the habit of participating in the “ain’t it awfuls” as author Thomas Harris used to refer to inter-personal conversations in his book “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.”  In spite of the problems in this old world, we believe that the living God is moving all of history toward a victorious conclusion … as He is leading us personally to grow and mature as well (see Phil. 1:6, “He who began a good work in you …”).
  • “Sold a field he owned” (v. 37a). Once again, the impact of our possessions is important.  Barnabas owned the field … it didn’t own him, and thus was available to be used for the ministry of Christ.
  • “brought the money” (v. 37b). The Greek verb used for “brought” is often used in the New Testament to refer to the action of the Holy Spirit (i.e. men and women brought by the Spirit of God).  We need to remember that the bringing of financial resources for mission and ministry is a spiritual exercise.  So, the work of the Finance Committee must be viewed as mission minded.
  • “and put it at the apostles’ feet” (v. 37c).  Any church treasurer is delighted when the church receives a donation with no strings attached (just ask Wayne Wharram)!  By laying the money at the feet of the apostles Barnabas was signifying his desire that the funds be used however they saw fit. 

What wonderful blessings are in store for those who generously give to the Kingdom!  There is a poignant scene in one of my favourite movies, Chariots of Fire.  The Olympic Committee for the 1920 Paris games is meeting in closed door session with one of its athletes.  Eric Liddell, star runner from Scotland has just learned that the heat for his 100 metre race is scheduled for a Sunday, which is a problem for Liddell, a Christian with a strong belief in the Sabbath.  Enter another U.K. athlete, Lord Andrew Lindsay who has already medaled and offers the Flying Scot his (Lindsay’s) place in the 400 metre, the heat for which will be held at a more convenient time.  As the scene ends, Liddell thanks his friend and Andrew Lindsay’s words are precious (and I so hope they are true) … “just to see you run” he exclaims.

When we model Barnabas’ generosity in giving to the call of Christ, we assure ourselves a chance to witness something special we get to see Yahweh, the Father God, run and change lives with His presence.  There may be nothing better in life!

PRAYER

We are glad this day, our Father, to be reminded from Your word of our kinship with the early church.  Continue to bring to our minds the mission eternal which has been part of the ministry of Your people from the very beginning … in which we too may share, even these many years later.  We confess that, in a world of glitz, glamour, power and indulgence we often forget the simple things to which we have been called … and the needy ones we have been asked to serve.  We humbly ask You to use all that is a part of everyday life to remind us of Your purposes here on earth.

As we turn to face another week, we pray for Your guidance as we serve as Your people within the kingdom.  May we view every encounter in life as an opportunity to reflect Your love and care in this challenging time.  In the strong name of Jesus, we pray … amen.

Song

LORD'S TABLE

Introduction to the Lord’s Supper

Come to his sacred table, not because you must but because you may; not to testify that you are righteous, but that you sincerely love our Lord Jesus Christ, and desire to be his true disciples.  Come, not because you are strong, but because you are weak; not because you have any claim on heaven’s rewards, but because in your frailty and sin you stand in constant need of heaven’s mercy and help.

The Sharing of the Bread

Hear Paul’s words, “the Lord Jesus, in the same night He was betrayed, took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take eat this is My body, given for you.”

Benediction

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Prayer for the Bread

Be present, be present, O Jesus, good High Priest, as You were in the midst of Your disciples; and make Yourself known to us in the breaking of the bread … who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  World without end … amen.

Sharing of the Cup

“In the same manner also, He took the cup saying; this cup is the new agreement in my blood.  Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of Me.”

Prayer for the Cup

O Father, who by the blood of your dear Son has consecrated for us a new and living way into the holiest of all, grant unto us the assurance of Your mercy and sanctify us by Your heavenly grace; that we, approaching You with pure hearts and cleansed conscience, may offer unto You this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in righteousness.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord … amen.

Benediction

Deuteronomy 6:4-8

“Always thinking about the Lord’s guidance to you, teach His word to your children, talk over the things of His Word when you are at home or out walking, at bedtime and before breakfast.  Let your whole life give evidence that God’s Word is at its centre.”