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The Acts of the Apostles Part 1
01/01/2006
Scripture: Acts
Track 1 of 9 in the Flexing the Muscles of God series
Sunday-school class transcript.



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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

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The Acts of the Apostles
Getting Started
Acts 1

April 2 , 2006

I have seen many things in my days at MPCC in the last 30 years. I became a Christian on August 16th, 1971. That is 35 years ago. It seems like a long time. Some of you have been Christians a lot longer than that. All the days that I have been a Christian, it has been in this church. God has been very good to MPCC over the years but I have to ask myself and this church a question, what have we really accomplished in the last 35 years?

I can look back and see many miracles that God has done for us. We have a very rich history and God has done some amazing things for us. But again, I have to ask this question, what have we really accomplished for God? Have we really stretched ourselves and changed our society the way God really wants us to? I have to admit that every day I come to this building and worship with the people here, I give thanks to God for all the people here, I give thanks for all the hearts that are right in Christ. I am humbled by all the good works that are done everyday in Jesus name by people in this church.

But the question still remains to be answered and addressed, what have we really accomplished in the last 30 years as a church in Quincy, IL? We are going to spend some time going through the Acts of the Apostles. I am not sure how long we will be in it. I expect it will take longer than 13 weeks. The reason I want to study this is because in just 30 short years, not only did the church get started, not only did the church change Jerusalem, but in 30 short years, the church turned the entire world up side down for Jesus. What started out as a very small local body of believers quickly became a world changing movement.

The last time I taught Acts was in 1988 or so. At that time I was teaching the Everready class. We met in a number of places back then because we no longer had a permanent class room. It all depended on the weather. We were in the YMCA then and our class was down stairs on the running track. It was a covered space but was exposed to the elements outside. In the winter months the class met in the foyer of the YMCA. Through that period of time, the class grew, it did not dwindle.

I named this series Action with Confidence…Flexing the Muscles of God. If I had to describe what the book of Acts is all about in one statement, that is what comes to my mind. I have in my minds eye when I think about teaching Acts the area close to where the Everready class met, the weight room in the YMCA. The church makes a very critical mistake sometimes when serving out the ministries God gives us to fulfill. We go to the weight room and try to build our muscles up when we should rely on God's muscle to get things done for him. The Apostles and that first church learned very quickly that God's strength can do amazing things way beyond our wildest imaginations.

There are hundreds of scriptures dealing with the God's strength but what is interesting to me, in the Book of Acts, every time the church was strengthened, the church saw and experienced massive growth.

Acts 9:31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit; it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

Acts 16:4-5 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

What I want to focus on as we study this Book is not necessarily the details and history of the first century church, but the strength of the church. I want to look at and study the day to day life these simple Christians experienced and how they relied on a different strength than their own. They were faithful to God and relied on God flexing his muscles for them so they could accomplish in their ministries all that God wanted them to do. God's strength gave them the confidence to even die in their ministry work for him if necessary. The Book of Acts is a book of Action It speaks loud and clear what can happen if the church allows God to flex his muscles on its behalf.

If you have your choice, in a fight or a battle, which person would you pick to fight your battles...a skinny weakling or a muscle man?

Basically that is the difference between our strength and God's strength. But the Bible is loaded with examples of the weak and most unassuming heroes winning the battles over the strength of the wicked. In every case, it was God who flexed his muscles on behalf of the weak to give the victory. It was true in Acts and it is true today. We are still living in the times of Acts. This is the only book that is not yet complete. We are it! We are no different. They lived in the first century, we live in the 21st century, but both of us lived in the "end times". But unfortunately, the church today relies on its own strength than the strength of God and has lost its first love.

This lesson series is going to be a body building class for the next number of weeks. Not necessarily concentrating on our body, but looking at what happens when the BODY of Christ allows God to flex his muscles on their behalf. If MPCC would train itself to pump God's iron, what would our next 30 years look like?

Let's do a check up on our body at MPCC. What would you list as our strengths? What are our weaknesses and what do we need to improve on. I want to know these things because I want to keep them out there in front of us so we can see if the first church struggled with the same problems. If they did, I want us to see the impact they when they fixed their problems and how they fixed them.
We ended our lesson with a class discussion on the strengths and weaknesses Madison Park has when it comes to fulfilling our ministry in Quincy, IL. Listed below is the list the class came up with. The purpose of this exercise was to show where we think we are the strongest and where we need improvement. The Church during the 1st century was a not a perfect Church. We aren't either. But the the 1st century church was able to do some amazing things in spite of their weaknesses. We will use our study to see how the Church back then dealt with the same problems we have and use their weaknesses for the promotion of Christ and His Gospel. They believed that God, through His Holy Spirit could improve their weaknesses and use them to become strengths to win the lost. As we study Acts, we will compare our strenght and weaknesses to the 1st church and hopefully we can learn to respond and improve they way they did and affect the world for Christ like they did.

Strengths Weaknesses

We reach out to others
We are respected in the community
We have sound Biblical teaching
We are Bible-based
We have great intentions
We help divorced people
We try to be friendly
We are accepting of others
We are generous and loving
We have a large body but we are flexible
Our membership is diverse
We have a strong youth group program
Our worship is not in a rut
We have a strong and Biblical Eldership

Our weaknesses come from our strengths
We need to improve our communications
We are too cliquish
We are not open about our needs with each other
Overall depth of maturity is shallow
Need to improve our commitment levels
Follow up with those who have not attended lately
We are not accountable to each other