“After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31
Boldness is an attitude of strong confidence in God, such that godly things are said and done openly without fear of the consequences. In this chapter, we see Peter and John before the council. They were being told that they should stop preaching and talking about Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20) This is the same Peter that denied Jesus not once but three times. What gave Peter the boldness to preach the Gospel? It was stated in Acts 2, “Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.” (Acts 2:3-4) To have the courage and boldness to reach out for Jesus, we need the filling of God in our lives. The boldness then does not come from us, but it comes from the Holy Spirit living in us. The early church had the boldness to speak up and change lives for Jesus Christ. Do you have that boldness? If not, then wait on the Father. “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)
“Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.” Mark 2:21-22
A tradition is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. The concept of tradition is the notion of holding on to previous times. The church has many traditions. Traditions are not bad things; they can connect us with our past. It can connect us with our memories of a simpler time. We all have traditions and they are not just limited to the church. We have family traditions that we pass down to our children. The problem with traditions in the church is that our traditions tend to become our god. We worship tradition not the one true God. More than once I have heard people in the church say, “we have never done it that way before.” Traditions in the church can lead to not wanting to think outside the box. I talked to a gentleman yesterday. We were talking about the changing neighborhood that his church was in. He told me the problem is they just don’t know how to reach the changing neighborhood. Maybe we just need to change some of our traditions so that we can reach a changing neighborhood. We need to think outside the box. This scripture in Mark speaks volumes about traditions in the church. It tells us some things may have to change and if we put the same old thing back in our church, the wineskin may just burst.
“One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Luke 9:1-2
Jesus tells us to preach the Kingdom of God, but He also tells us to heal others. This healing is not just physical. It is spiritual and emotional. The spiritual and emotional healing are more important than the physical. We pray for a person’s physical healing, we feel that God did not answer our prayers. The reason for this is that we only see the worldly view. We don’t think in the spiritual realm. I believe that the spiritual world is more real than the physical world that we live in. Which is more important; healing physical here on earth or healing spiritual so that we can spend eternity in heaven with Jesus? There was healings in the early church. “Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:4-6) This healing was to show the people the power of God in His Kingdom. If you are not seeing signs and wonders in your church, you may not be a church like the early church. Where the Kingdom of God is, there are signs and wonders.
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” Matthew 4:23
The message of Jesus was the Kingdom of God on earth. In the kingdom of the world, powerful leaders lord it over others. They want everyone to know that they are powerful and they can do what they want. The Kingdom of God is governed in a wholly different way. It is governed by love and service. Jesus came as the suffering servant. “He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with the deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5) Jesus tells us, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Not many of us want to be a servant, we want to be the leader. That is why the way to the Kingdom of God is a difficult way. The concept of the early church was that of being a servant. This was one of the reasons for their growth. Today our church needs to be a church that serves and this will bring in the Kingdom of God.
“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
These words of Jesus was just before He went to heaven. He left us with this mandate. A mandate is the authority to carry out a policy or course of action. Jesus tells us that He had been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Then He is telling us that we have that authority because we are His disciples. Then what is the mandate of the church. To make disciples. That seems like a simple thing to do. The problem is to make disciples we must get out of the way and allow God to work through us. The Holy Spirit in us is not a lake; it is a river and we must allow that river to flow through us to others. Everything that Jesus did here on earth He did with God flowing through Him. Jesus emptied Himself so that God could flow. This is what we must do in order to fulfill our mandate. We have to empty ourselves so that it is not us doing the work, but the work is God. The word “I” gets in the way too many times in the church. We want to feel important and think that we are in control. When to be honest, we have no control over making disciples. Making disciples are the work of God and the Holy Spirit. If we are to look like the early church, we must get about the business of making disciples.
“Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.” Jeremiah 6:16
“Three crucial decades in world history. That is all it took. In the years between AD 33 and AD 64 a new movement was born. In those thirty years it got sufficient growth and credibility to become the largest religion the world has ever seen and to change the lives of hundreds of millions of people. It has spread into every corner of the globe and has more than two billion putative adherents. It has an indelible impact on civilization, on culture, on education, on medicine, on freedom and of course on the lives of countless people worldwide. And the seedbed for all of this, the time when it took decisive root, was in three decades. It all began with a dozen men and a handful of women: and then the Spirit came.” (Michael Green)
In the past couple months I have been praying with a friend on Tuesday night. My prayer has been, “Lord, what do you want your church to look like?” He told me that we need to get back to the basics. Back to the roots. We need to look like the early church. The church that we read about in Acts. The church that started the revolution. We must start the Jesus Revolution. We need to look at the book of Acts and see how these people changed our world in thirty years. For a while we are going to look at the early church and see if we can find the old path that God wants us to follow.
“The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him. For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command.” Psalm 33:6-9
I love to sit on the beach and watch the waves come in to the shore. My minds goes to God and how wonderful and powerful He is. God has created everything and it all is perfect. He created it all so that we can enjoy His creation. So many times we just don’t slow down long enough to see the beauty that God has made for us. Take time today to slow down long enough to see God’s beauty.
If we look at the world that God has made, we can see God’s Sovereignty in all of nature. No matter what troubles you are going through, remember that God is in control and He loves you.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.” Revelation 4:11
I am a photography and I love to take pictures of flowers. I am amazed at the detail of a flower. The beauty of a flower. How can anyone look at a flower and not realize there is a God and He created everything.
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” Revelation 1:8
What do we mean by God’s Sovereignty? We mean that God is the one and only God. That He is the first and the last. That He is the Almighty One. It declares that God is God. There is no one that is above Him. It declares that He is the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth. To say that God is sovereign is to say that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I believe in the sovereignty of God. It’s so important in our walk with God to believe that He is the Alpha and Omega. I know in my life He has proved to me that He is the One True God. If we don’t believe this, how in the world can we trust a God that is less? Why would we believe a God that is not totally in control of the heavens and earth? Jesus tells us, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Mathew 6:34) If we did not believe in the One True God, we would worry. Jesus also tells us, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33) Your view of God matters. This view of God must be your view. It cannot be your parent’s view, your pastor’s view, or your spouse’s view. It must be your view. Only with the right view of God can we seek the Kingdom of God.
“The Lord has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything.” Psalm 103:19
God is in control of all things and rules over all things. Nothing is too difficult for Him. If we are obedient to Him, He will direct our lives and lead us in all the ways that we should go. In 1981, I was called to the ministry. After much prayer, we decided that God wanted us to move to Colorado to attend Bible College. Our plan was that when our house sold we would move out and start school. God was in control of the entire matter and we just did not know it. God gave me a date that we should move, no matter if our house was sold or not. I told God that He had to talk to my wife also. Well as faithful as God always is, He gave my wife the same date. So we packed up and headed to Colorado. No job and no place to live. When we arrived in Colorado, the first place I called was a hospital that I had sent a resume to. This is the place that I went to work and stayed the entire time that I was in college. God was in control and He knew when I needed to be there to go to work. I did not have a clue, but God worked it all out. It was rare for a job to be open at this hospital. God is in control of our past, present and our future if we will just be faithful and obedient to what He is telling us. I have many stories that show God’s sovereignty in my life.