In 15 years, the church of Jesus Christ grew from a small sect in Jerusalem to a group of thousands in Samaria, along the Mediterranean seacoast, and into modern Syria and Turkey. In another 15 years, it would spread all the way to Rome, the capital of the empire. Dr. Mark Foster tells the story of how the church grew and spread, even in the face of challenges and persecution.
We all grow up with assumptions about which people are "our people," but God moves us beyond those assumptions. In Acts 10, Peter finds himself in the 'wrong' neighborhood with the 'wrong' people, and the Holy Spirit comes to a Roman centurion and his family. In one of the great turning points in the history of the church, people who were enemies become family. Today, the Holy Spirit still invites us to broaden our circles of welcome.
After all the disruptions of recent weeks, now is the time to remember who the church really is. We are much more than people who gather in a building once a week. We are the people of God on mission with Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit. In this message, Dr. Mark Foster shares about the birth of the church and what it means for us today.
When we go through events like a global pandemic, we desperately want things to be different than they are. Yet if we don’t learn to take life as it comes, we will always be waiting for our real lives to begin, and God’s desires for the world through us will go unrealized. In the stories of the Babylonian Exile and the early church, the Bible teaches us how to take life as it comes so that we can experience the abundant life that Jesus offers to all.
In the midst of a global pandemic, problems abound, and we often want out of those problems as quickly as possible. But God is not as concerned about getting us out of problems as in getting us through them. Problems bring us to the end of ourselves, and they teach us to rely on God, who uses those problems to help us grow. While it's uncomfortable, when life is disrupted, we can learn to embrace problems as gifts.
If we don't leave our baggage behind, our past will become our present. But baggage we carry around does not go away until we deal with it. In week 4 of the Disrupted sermon series, Dr. Mark Foster shares how acknowledging, grieving, and forgiving can set us free to enjoy the freedom God has for us.