We continue to meet as family in the bi-annual Convention with the Thailand Foursquare Churches. This family carries with it a variety of backgrounds. We have city people from Bangkok and Chiang Mai, village people and hill-tribes all gathered together. Yesterday we sang the hello song with the four ways to greet one another in the different regions of Thailand. This highlights the various dialects in Thailand.
Clayton continues to speak on the theme of family. Today we look at how to appreciate our differences. Appreciating our differences…it is our differences that make us unique. This is one of my favorite topics about community or family. We all bring something special to the table. As individuals, we can easily see the differences as negatives rather than something beautiful that can enrich our lives. Clayton walked through this issue masterfully.
Here are some questions as you read the notes.
- How do we see people’s differences as a benefit to us?
- What can we do to avoid murmuring or complaining about one another?
Here are the notes to his sermon:
Acts 2:5-11, We all know the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The key is how many people were there? People came from all over the world and all different languages, completely different from one another. Yet, the same message was preached to all.
Acts 2:41, those that accepted the message were baptized and about 3,000 were added to their number. How do you think they lived together? What would happen to such a diverse group?
Acts 2:46-47, So many kinds of different people, such diverse cultures and yet they were one, the same family. They had great unity. They boldly proclaimed Jesus. Because of that the church grew rapidly. One word to key in on, they were of one accord.
One accord throughout the New Testament.
- Acts 1:14, before the Holy Spirit came and after Jesus left, the disciples along with the women and Mary and the brothers of Jesus were together in one accord. In Greek, homothumenia (sp.?) meaning of one mind and of one thought. What was that one thought? To worship Jesus.
- The concept of one accord is not one culture, one style, one language, but of one mind. Everyone has a different culture, different economic level, may live in the city or on the farm or in the mountains, but none of that matters, it is that everyone has the same mind, the same attitude to serve Jesus.
- Acts 2:1, the day the Holy Spirit fell, the church was together as one accord
- Acts 4, when great persecution came against the church, and they raised their voice to God. It was one accord and one mind.
- Phil 2:2, Being like minded and having the same love, being of one accord and one mind. A little later he challenges that nothing be done through selfish ambition, but in lowliness of mind in humility, let each one think of others as being better than themselves. Do not look out for your own interest, but for the interest of others. This is the foundation of strife. Envy for what others have. God comes where people are of one mind and not where there is envy and strife.
A story of how people stayed behind on the last night of the Bible Confernece in the SW District. The sme people that stayed in meetings 30 years ago were still hanging around in the presence of God today. Sometimes we envy what others have in position or influence, wonder what is wrong with me. What is really wrong is the envy in my heart. Is it not good enough to just be in the presence of Jesus. I observed that those who had a passion after God and not after a position 30 years later grew to be the spiritual elders. I looked around at the young people that were still there. I said to my wife, those are the spiritual elders for thirty years from now, and I want to get to know those people.
How did David get to become king. He was a shepherd in the field worshiping God. God reached down and took him from the field and made him king. If you are striving for position, you have your eyes on the wrong thing. Have your eyes on God.
God moves in us when we are one family. Find a passion after God and love each other dearly. Unfortunately, human nature is the same. Even the early church had problems.
Acts 6:1, A complaint rose from the Hellenists as their women were neglected in the distribution of food. We had people from Jerusalem and outside the country. What held them together was the Greek language, those on the outside were Hellenists. Prejudice is happening. A lot of widows in the church, but the food was coming from those in Jerusalem feeding their widows first and the foreigners later. They were all Jews, but some were Jews from Jerusalem and some that lived other places. When the food ran out, the women from other places began to grumble. How many think this pleased God? Suddenly the church is divided. Fortunately, by God’s wisdom they handled it. They put the Hellenists in charge of the distribution of the food.
The church continued to grow. Peter began to travel and visit the different churches. God gave a vision to Cornelius. Peter was praying and saw a vision. A sheet came down from heaven, full of all kinds of animals (the kind that Jews don’t eat). God spoke, rise, kill and eat. Peter objected, it is against the law. God said what God has purified is clean. Meanwhile the men from Cornelius came. Peter went and preached a message. The Holy Spirit fell and all began to speak in tongues. Excitedly, Peter went back to Jerusalem to tell what God had done. The Jerusalem church was not happy.
Acts 11:2, After specific visions and angels brought Peter to Cornelius and God fell without prompting on the gentiles, the Jews grumbled and complained that Peter would even go in their house. How easy it is to grumble and complain.
Acts 15:36-39, Even the apostles were not immune to grumbling. Paul and Barnabas argued over Mark going with them again.
If we are going to appreciate each others differences, we need to be of the same mind.
Peter and Paul disagree, Gal. 2:11 I opposed him to his face…when we keep our eyes on Jesus, we do well, but when we put our eyes on each other, then we begin to criticize. When we criticize each other, it may be true, but it is not good and does not show God’s love. God can take care of me, and he doesn’t need your help.
Divisions come straight from the pit of Hell. I Corinthians 1:10-13, be joined together in the same mind and same judgment. Is Christ divided? Chapter 3:1-4, Where there is envy, divisions and strife, are you not carnal and acting like men…They thought they were super apostles. Paul said, you are kidding yourselves, you are babies in Christ. Chapter 6, we are the temple of God in which the Spirit dwells. Anyone who destroys the temple of God, God will destroy. We are the temple and need to be careful how we treat others (the temple of God through the Holy Spirit).
James 4, where do wars and fights come from among you? The root of dissension is envy, that when we judge a brother or sister, we are judging the law (isn’t God the judge).
Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James is talking about envy, gossip and criticism. Root of envy is the devil.
Appreciate our differences, God only made one of me. Rom. 10:12, there is no difference between Jew and Greek, the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon him.
I Cor. 12:13, the body is one with many members, though many, one body, so it is with Christ. In the One Spirit we are all baptized into one body.
Gal. 3:27, many baptized into Christ Jesus, clothed in Christ, no longer Jew or Greek, American or Thai, slave or free, hill-tribe or city, male or female, all are one in Christ Jesus.
Col 3:11, Neither Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, Cythian (African), slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.
We have a choice, we can be carnal babies, or we can be mature and trust in God and be of one mind, one heart and filled with one spirit.