We Need a Dependence Day

Guest post by Shawn Cornett based on his July 3rd, 2016 sermon entitled "Dependence Day." Shawn is the Pastor of Griffith First Christian Church in northwest Indiana. He blogs regularly at The Lavished Pauper.

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As a pastor, I experience feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy and insecurity. I cry out to God and say, "I'm not strong enough! I can't do this!" That's when He says to me, "You're right, you never could do it on your own." It's easy to forget that self-doubt is often a result of self-reliance.

Sometimes we get too independent for our own good. We think that if we follow the three steps to growth or the five steps to health or avoid the seven pitfalls, we'll grow and experience success.

But when we look at the book of Acts, we see people who were completely dependent upon God in four key ways. Their example isn't another formula for us to copy, but it is a model for us learn from and make our own.

Dependence on God's Word

The early church was built on the apostles' teaching. The apostles were those men who had been with Jesus during His earthly ministry for at least three years. They listened to Him and watched Him do miraculous things. They took His words, the very words of God, and applied them to their lives and the lives of the first believers.

Along with the rest of the Bible, God gave us the apostles' teaching as a love letter. He tells us over and over again about not only His love for us, but how to have a relationship with Him through Jesus. Without dependence on the Bible, our souls are malnourished because we don’t regularly receive His teaching and correction.

Dependence on Each Other

The early church needed one another because they were all that they had. They sold their possessions in order to provide for each other as they had need. They met together regularly to share meals, the Lord's Supper and their lives. Luke tells us that they were devoted to fellowship. It was not an optional part of the Christian experience. It was something to which they were committed and seen as vital to following Jesus.

Lone Ranger Christianity is never a thing in the New Testament. Without dependence on each other, our fellowship runs dry because we don't share our needs or bear with the needs of our fellow believers. We allow petty grievances and malicious gossip to tear us apart instead of working together for the cause of Christ. If we are going to impact this world for Jesus, we have to be devoted to each other in brotherly love.

Dependence on Prayer

The early church was also a praying church. When they prayed, things happened. The Holy Spirit came in power. Buildings were shaken. Prisoners were set free. Lives were transformed. Prayer was not only a part of their lives as individuals. Prayers were part of the gathering of the community of believers. Later in the book of Acts, the apostles considered it to be a vital part of their ministry.

God has given us the gift of prayer to express our deepest needs and desires to Him. He is our Father and He wants to hear from us. Without dependence on prayer, our hearts feel far from Him because of a lack of communication. And we may soon find ourselves more committed to the programs we pray to succeed than the One who grants their success.

Dependence on the Spirit

Finally, the early church was led by the Spirit. There was no formula to follow or conference to attend. There was only the Spirit filling the people and teaching them about God's will. From the apostles to the first deacons to every believer, God's Spirit led the early church.

Jesus' promise that the Holy Spirit would come in power and fill His children was fulfilled on Pentecost. Fear and trepidation were replaced with boldness and a real experience of the living God. Without dependence on the Spirit, we are powerless because we're trying to manufacture a synthetic experience.

If you are depending on your own efforts or your ministry is depending on human wisdom, you need a Dependence Day. The early church didn't need to manufacture an experience of God. They genuinely experienced Him through the apostles' teaching, through the fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ, through prayer and through the Holy Spirit.

May this day be our Dependence Day, and may we never forget that we cannot do this on our own.

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photo credit: Redhill Kitchen - May 2014 - Unsuccessful Maiden Flight via photopin (license)

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