July 4, 2021
What is Our Mission?
Before we begin looking at what God is calling us to do, let us read Acts 2, verses 46 and 47. First of all, we see there was a sense of unity that was incredible in the new church. The result of the one voice coming from the apostles and others who were working closely with them is that the Lord was adding to their numbers or to the early church daily.
Last week we read about the way the Holy Spirit made himself known to not only the apostles but also to many who were in Jerusalem at this time. Now we see the results of the unity that existed at this time. In the 3rd chapter of Acts, we see the Holy Spirit is confirming the authority of the apostles by a miracle that no one familiar with this man could deny. When people are agreeing together in the church, great things can happen. Here Peter and John were going to share their faith in the temple when God provided this incredible opportunity for them.
As I listened to what was one of the topics of discussion at this year’s Annual Conference, I was struck by the acknowledgement that the Church of the Brethren in America needs to sharpen its focus on unity within the church. This has led the denomination to come up with “A compelling vision for the Church of the Brethren.” Conversations have been going on for three years about what that means and how to practically apply the vision in individual churches and across the entire denomination. The basic vision statement says, “Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ though relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable and fearless.”
As I have listened the past several days at how we can put this into practice, I was drawn to what the early church in Acts was doing. The apostles were allowing in a meaningful way the Holy Spirit to guide them wherever he wanted them to go. The apostles were also willing to do whatever they were asked to do to accomplish God’s purposes at this time in history. As we read about the apostles in the early church, they are putting into practice what the vision statement of the Church of the Brethren is reminding us today of what we should be doing.
The Holy Spirit’s guidance was so powerful and the apostles’ willingness to serve was so evident that God was doing great things through them. Peter and John saw a need that this man had and they were so full of faith God would provide what this man needed that they simply, without thinking, said and did what the Holy Spirit encouraged them to do.
In our Bible Study on Tuesday, there was a question asked, “What is holding you back from witnessing for God?” Clearly nothing was holding Peter and John back from sharing what God had to offer. The healing part of what happened would be easy for any of us to do if we knew for sure God would make it happen. What happened next is what is more difficult. Peter boldly asked the question, “Why does this healing surprise you?” There were many who were there and witnessed this man who had never walked a day in his life, now miraculously healed and walking. Peter and John quickly pointed out it was not them that made this miracle happen, it was the God you all should know about. They go on to say, “The one you had killed, Jesus, is the one who has made this incredible miracle happen!” Peter and John tell those gathered, “Repent of your sins and turn to God for the forgiveness of those sins.” This is the part of God’s story for his creation that is more difficult to share. It is easier, not always easy, but easier, to tell of God’s love, mercy, grace and peace, but when it comes to telling of God’s righteous judgment that is where it gets hard. The last sentence in the vision statement seems to recognize the need we have in the Church of the Brethren to tell the whole story of God. That sentence, again, says, “To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable and fearless.” Does that sound familiar? That is the statement Peter and John could very well have created. This is a vision of what God wants to do through me and I dare say you. We must grab hold of it with both hands and go forward with it. It has always been true, but today maybe more than ever, we need to be innovative, adaptable and most of all fearless.
In America today this nation celebrates the 4th of July, which is the official founding of this new concept called self-governance. This nation is not and never has been perfect, but it is still the nation in the world that millions of people want to come to, whether by legal or illegal means. These holidays are good times for its people to take a step back and think on what we are doing right, both past and present, and what we need to work to change.
God has inspired many of the good things that have happened in this nation’s past and in the present as well. However, because men and women make the ultimate decisions in this nation, we will always make some mistakes. When I look at the difference between our nation and the church, I see one major difference. If we as the church allow God and His word to guide and direct us, we will always be victorious because it is not us, it is God leading. I am not saying that means there will never be pain and suffering or that we will live in total perfection on this earth. What I am saying is God will make clear what the mission of the church is and what our individual mission is as well. I was encouraged by a lot of what I heard at this year’s Annual Conference. The denomination wants to recommit and refocus the mission we have in this nation and the world.
What is our mission? When we look at what was happening in the early church in Acts, I think we can learn what we need to do today by looking what happened in the past. Here are 6 steps we must do to fulfill our mission.
1. Allow God’s Holy Spirit to lead us.
2. Continue in the unity of the faith.
3. Make ourselves available, whatever that might mean to each one of us individually and as a church.
4. Be willing at times to share how Jesus brought forgiveness of sins to us as believers.
5. Be willing to admit to our shortcomings.
6. Do all of this as the Church of the Brethren’s vision concludes with living our lives for the cause of God through Jesus Christ fearlessly.
May God’s church here in Cerro Gordo and across this country and around the world recognize this mission and catch this vision just as the apostles did 2000 years ago.
Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday
If you were previously giving children’s messages, we will put you on the schedule unless you tell Beth Sawyer otherwise. Thanks in advance for doing this!
July 14 Board Meeting—6:15 Exec. Comm; 7:00 Commissions; 7:30 Board
Pick up your new Upper Room in the back. Daily Bread is also available.
Hard copies of the July newsletter are available in the back.
Stolley Pest Control treated the church for free—thank you!
Thanks to everyone for your faithful giving!
Donation Box: AC bills
First Sundays: food donations for food banks
Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362
To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:
Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.
District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook
Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook
Keep in Your Prayers
Family of Galen Handley; Family of Holly Flenner; Marlene Schultz & family; Sarah Rudelick; Sydney (Nancy Gorrell’s niece); David Roe; Tera Runyan; Tim Laird; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 600,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; victims of the volcano in Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
Our Mission Statement:
Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.