Pastor and Reverend Dr. Lester A. McCorn
“42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
In the season of Pentecost we are reminded of the importance of our gathering together as a Church family. We are here for the grace, glory, and mission of God. We come to Church to give praise with a purpose. The goal is to receive the power of the Holy Spirit so that we can live out the vision, mission, and goals for our individual lives here on earth. We are gathered today in worship to praise God for who he is and what he is doing in our lives. Jesus told the disciples to wait in the upper room to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were in the right posture and had the right attitude. Something happened while they were in the upper room… they begin to speak in tongue. That was a praise party!
We as a people have a party with a purpose. After all that we have gone through each week, we come to Church to fellowship. When we fellowship and worship, we can let go of all of the week’s accomplishments and challenges as we worship together and give praise and thanksgiving to God that we came through the journey. It is good to give God praise. Praising God does something through us and to us. It really is not about us. It is about God bringing us together for a single purpose to be a blessing to others. God formed the Church in such a way to ensure we are not self-centered; instead we are focused outwardly on others. We cannot remain on the mountaintop because God has called us to go in the valley. The disciples in today’s scripture realize that they had to go out and make a difference with a purpose. The protocol for the party is to ensure that the praise party has a lasting impact after the party is over. We must go out after the party (i.e. worship and praise) and make a difference. This weekend the world mourned the transition of the life of Muhammad Ali. It is clear from all of the media covering Mr. Ali’s live that he was beloved. We should live such a life that people will miss us when we are gone from this world. Jesus left something behind for the disciples… a vision, mission, and goals for them to carry out. The protocol for a praise party includes three (3) things:
1. Etiquette. Growing up our parents, grandparents, and others taught us how to behave in a proper ways. We were taught the dos and don’ts. To have a party, the invitations must go out. This is proper etiquette. The good news is that all of us in Church worshiping and praising God received the invitation. We are invited to the party today. We are to be focused, anchored, and working with a purpose. Before we eat a meal, we must bow our head and tell God, thank you. The protocol for the praise party for the disciples was to pray and to give God thanks. After they received the power of the Holy Ghost they helped each other, looked out for one another, kept each other accountable, they prayed for each other. They had a proper etiquette. We need to learn how to pray for and look out for each other. God is a God of order. When I think about all that God has done for me I will give him some praise – and also give him praise when my neighbor has been blessed. Give God praise for what he has done in your life and the lives of others. We cannot stop our praise; God has been too good and too kind to us.
2. Aesthetics of the praise party. We need to take care to plan and prepare for the praise party. When we attend a party of any kind, someone has taken time to think about how the atmosphere will be set. We ought to pay more attention the aesthetics of our praise party. We are to come with a single purpose, focused on God, focused on working on the inside of ourselves… i.e., our spirit, our soul, our character… and ask God to examine us, stripe us of anything that is not aligned with his will. We must pray for all of those involved in the worship experience. We never know what God will do in the life of someone who comes into the church and sees our love, worship, and praise. We must demonstrate the joy of the lord all over us. We must be careful about our appearance, attitude, and the atmosphere. Sometimes God has to work too hard because we come to church with the wrong spirit. The Holy Spirit will work in the midst of us. The disciples in today’s scripture were careful about caring for each other.
3. Ethics. Morality is one thing. Ethics is another thing. The way I treat you will tell you who I really am. God will change our character. We must learn how to share with each other, pray with each other, and celebrate with each other. How do we treat each other? Our ethics are displayed in our fellowship. We must be a church with a rich fellowship. There is something in us that God still loves, sees worth using, and building us up from where we are. Fellowshipping is a deep priority. There is power in breaking bread with one another, praying with one another, sharing with one another. When we attend a Homecoming, party, or potluck, we bring our best dishes and everyone comes to enjoy and fellowship one with another. There is something about food that reminds us of the good times and of our ancestors that have gone on.
4. Effects. There must be transformation that happens because we came together. In today’s scripture lesson, we see that the disciples met every day and God added to the number daily. God added to the Church because the disciples had a new attitude. When we have a praise party, there is something in our lives that says to the world that we have been changed from the inside out. The Church will grow daily when the people on the outside see transformations in those of us in the Church following Jesus in our daily lives. We are here for the praise party, in the house of the lord, to give God praise for what he has done in our lives. A party has to have a purpose. The honored guest for our praise party is Jesus Christ himself. He died on Calvary. He heals us, keeps on making a way out of no way for us, and brought us out of darkness into his marvelous light. Be glad you received an invitation. We are the apple of his eye. Jesus gave his life for you. He loves you. We must head in the right direction and be in the right seat. Today, you are in the right place. You are headed in the right direction, you could have been dead, gone, sleeping in your grave, on crack…, but the lord touched your body and healed your mind. Give God praise for what he has done for you. Give your testimony and shower/share it with someone else. Be committed to blessing God at all times. “Oh, magnify the lord with me and let us exalt his name together.” Hallelujah! Amen.