“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. […] They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42,46-47 NIV)
We see the zeal of the early church in the Book of Acts. Luke and Paul heard stories of Jesus from eyewitnesses–those who were with Jesus, who saw Him, witnessed his miracles and felt what it was to be in the presence of Emmanuel, God with us. Together they proclaimed the exciting news of Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles (those who were not Jews). Imagine your father or mother telling you the wonderful events they saw of Jesus–raising a man from the dead or allowing a blind man to see for the first time. Many were filled with the Holy Spirit and became witnesses “to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
Once the early believers received the Holy Spirit, they were tasked to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The Gospel of Jesus is for everyone; those who saw Jesus crucified in Jerusalem, those in Judea who rejected Jesus’ ministry, the outlaws and “half-breeds” in Samaria, and the Gentiles with no hope who lived at the ‘end of the earth’ to the early Christians. We are reminded that Jesus tells us to go to these places as witnesses to those who live there. We are reminded that it is not only “missionaries” who are called behind enemy lines, but we as a Church body are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus both where we feel comfortable and where we don’t. Are there places we are afraid to bring the light of Jesus? God calls us to be his witnesses, and the love that characterizes the Church body is how Jesus says we are identified as His.
In Acts 1:21-26, we see that when Judas was no longer with the Apostles, there was an open seat. The remaining leaders (eleven Apostles) looked to those who have been serving alongside them, since the early days with Jesus. Two were nominated. Now, this is interesting: instead of making a human decision to choose one of the two nominees, they picked one at random, essentially rolling the dice. They had full reliance that God would guide them to the new Apostle. This is opposed to having the decision driven by emotions, human logic, carnal desires, feelings, or some other human state of mind.
As we explore deeper into the working of the early church, a key element is how opposition within the church was handled. At the beginning of Acts 6, we find two groups of people in conflict relative to the feeding of widows. One group believed the other group was neglecting their widows in the daily distribution. Today, we see situations like this split churches across the nation. Conversely, the Apostles gathered a counsel of people and requested the number of people it would take to alleviate the pressure on everyone. Seven were chosen to assist with helping the widows and the conflict was resolved.
Daily Battle Order
Do any of these stories resonate with how you see your church? Has a desire to be a witness become stagnant or do you see division, where you stand on the sidelines as opposed to bringing union? Reread the passages mentioned above and pray to the Lord. Ask where you can act as a disciple, helping bring God’s glory to others and being a witness. Be the Kingdom Man you were created to be.
Tomorrow we will wrap up the week with a focus on our personal discipleship response.