What Happens When the Church is Activated on Mission?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

In the book of Acts we see the Holy Spirit set the early believers ablaze for the work of God. We encounter Peter, who steps forth with boldness to preach the good news and thousands come to believe Jesus is the Messiah. We see bold people like Stephen, who speaks of Christ and it costs him his life, and Philip, who shares across cultural and religious barriers to bring the Samaritans to Jesus. We see an enemy of Christ, Saul of Tarsus, become a passionate evangelist and bold church planter, the Apostle Paul.

Acts is an active book where we see the church activated on mission. What does it look like when individual believers and church communities are activated by God for His work? Suffice it to say that things happen.

But let’s look at something we could miss here. Acts is an active book but we also see two things in Acts that Christianity is not about.

Christianity—following Jesus—does not leave us much space for being boring or apathetic. Sometimes in the midst of the world, with all the needs, all the challenges, all the serious situations, we can become overwhelmed by the needs. This sometimes leads us to turn away from the needs of the world, focusing on our own lives and challenges. Essentially, we become apathetic. But activated churches and Christians are not apathetic or boring. They are engaged with the needs of the world because God cares about people and the needs of the world. God is an active, giving missionary God.

At the same time, even though Acts is an active book, it is not a busy book. In fact, there is a big difference between being busy and being active. The early church was activated by the Holy Spirit to join in with God in a focused way for God’s mission. But the early church was not meaninglessly busy. Some of us, when we become Christians, think that we are to become busy for the kingdom. But there is not a lot of space for busyness in the activated church. Some of us need to remember that God is not all that interested in uncommanded work. He wants us to join in with His kingdom mission but not to be aimlessly rushing around with whatever captures our attention in the moment. In fact, what captures our attention may lead us away from the activated mission God has for us. As a wise mentor once shared with me: we may need to consider whether we are more in love with the work of the Lord than we are in love with the Lord of the work.

Activated Christianity is not about being boring and neither is it about being busy. Activated Christianity is not about apathy to the world’s need nor is it about frenzied activity. The book of Acts shows us that the church is activated by the power of the Holy Spirit for the mission of God in the world.

The Messiah’s Family

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I concluded our series entitled “The Messiah’s Mission,” by looking at Matthew 12:46-50. Here, Jesus’ earthly family comes looking for Him, probably making the journey from Nazareth to Capernaum. Jesus uses their arrival to reframe family in relation to discipleship and the disciple-community.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’” (Matthew 12:49-50)

Jesus and His Earthly Family (12:46-47)

  • Beginnings and parents: Matthew 1-2
  • Siblings: Matthew 13:55
  • Eventual disciples: James (Galatians 1:19; James 1:1), Jude (Jude 1:1), and others (Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5)

Jesus and His Disciple Family (12:48-50)

  • The one who does the will of the Father in heaven
  • Encountering the Father
  • Jesus as our Brother

Living as Jesus’ Family

  • Living by belonging to the Father
  • Living the Father’s will
  • Living together with our new brothers and sisters

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper into what it means to be part of Jesus’ disciple in one or more of the following ways:

The Messiah and Satan

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I continued our series entitled “The Messiah’s Mission,” by looking at Matthew 12:22-37. Here, Jesus is accused of casting out demons by the power of Satan, but offers a stern rebuke of this and some words about what has come to be known as the unforgivable sin. I explored what that unforgivable sin really is, and also the significance of our words in showing forth who we really are.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” (Matthew 12:25)

Jesus’ Power Over Demons

The reality of demonic powers and Satan’s kingdom

  • the effects upon this man (12:22)
  • the reality of Satan’s kingdom (12:26)

The work of Jesus in relation to these powers

  • healing (12:22)
  • driving out demons (12:27)
  • kingdom of God breaking in (12:28)
  • tying up the strong man and restoring house (12:29)

Jesus’ Power and the Unforgiveable Sin

  • Jesus delivers by the power of God’s Spirit (12:28)
  • Jesus’ deliverance divides humanity (12:30)
  • Jesus’ work and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (12:31-32)

Jesus and the Significance of Words

  • Our words come from within (12:33-35)
  • Our words reflect who we are (12:35)
  • Our words define whose we are (12:36-37)

Making It Real

  1. Acknowledge Jesus as Lord over all, including demonic powers.
  2. Trust in the victory of Jesus and the Cross.
  3. Be aware of and beware the power of our words.

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper into Jesus’ power and authority over all things, including the spiritual, in one or more of the following ways:

The Messiah and the Sabbath

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our series entitled “The Messiah’s Mission,” by looking at Matthew 12:1-21. Here, Jesus offers tangible examples of His invitation to find rest for our souls that we explored last week.

I spent quite a bit of time expounding on Matthew’s quotation of Isaiah 42. Specifically I talked about the significance of this very important verse:

A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. (Matthew 12:20)

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8)

What Is the Sabbath?

  • The biblical background (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15)
  • The rabbinical background

Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath (12:1-8)

  • The accusation
  • The comparisons
  • Greater than the Temple
  • The call to mercy

Lord of the Sabbath

Jesus, Doing Good (12:9-14)

  • The entrapment
  • The comparison
  • The healing

Jesus, the Promised One (12:15-21)

  • The summary of His activity
  • The quotation from Isaiah

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper into Matthew’s understanding of Jesus as Lord of the Sabbath in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Matthew 12:8 or 12:17-21.
  • Paint, draw, or ink one of the stories or the Isaiah text quoted by Matthew in 12:1-21. As you do that, prayerfully ask the Lord to grow your relationship with Him.
  • Read and study Hebrews 4:1-13, which expands on the Christian understanding of the sabbath in light of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath.
  • Explore the 39 Melachot, the rabbinical categories of “work” prohibited on the sabbath here
  • Consider reading this interview with pastor and author Mark Buchanan: “I Know You’re Busy”

The Messiah’s Challenge and Invitation

Some of the most meaningful words to me personally in the Gospel of Matthew are these:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I had the privilege of preaching on those words as we continued our series entitled “The Messiah’s Mission,” by looking at Matthew 11:20-30. Here, Jesus offers both a hard word and a tender word, a challenge and an invitation.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

The Messiah’s Challenge (11:20-24)

  • The call to repentance
  • The nature of repentance
  • The reality of judgment

The Messiah’s Invitation (11:25-30)

  • Jesus’ prayer of thanks
  • Jesus’ unique relationship with the Father
  • Jesus’ stunning invitation

Responding to the Messiah’s Challenge and Invitation

  • Turning from sin and self
  • Turning like children to the Father
  • Turning toward the easy yoke of Jesus

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper into Jesus’ teaching here in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Matthew 11:28-30.
  • Take time in prayer this week to consider what weariness or burdens you need to bring to Jesus. Also, pray about how you can respond to Jesus’ invitation to enter His easy yoke.
  • To reflect more deeply on this passage, sketch, ink, or paint a response to Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30. As you do that, prayerfully talk with Jesus about your burdens and His easy yoke.
  • Consider reading one of the following: