The Early Church – In Awe of God

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“A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.” Acts 2:43 My last devotion was on the fear of God. I gave the definition of awe. Awe is an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, and extremely powerful. Let’s look at why the early church was in awe of God. They were in awe of God because they knew how grand and sublime God is. They knew how powerful God is. They also knew how much God loved them. The apostles had walked with Jesus for three years. They had seen the many acts of love that Jesus had performed. The many healings that Jesus performed was not only to show the glory of God, but it was to show God’s love for mankind. “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) This is the reason Jesus came to earth; because of God’s love. Then Jesus summed up all the commandments. “Jesus replied, “you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40) The early church took these commandments to heart. To them these was not just words they had heard, they lived these commandments of love. Think long and hard about what Jesus says. What would happen if we loved everyone as Jesus tells us? What would happen if we loved others the way God loves […]

The Early Church – Fear of God

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“A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.” Acts 2:43 Awe is an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, and extremely powerful. This definition is just what the disciples felt as they started a new church. They were overwhelmed by what had happened. They came to realize that Jesus was God’s Son. With this, we see reverence, admiration and fear. We see fear of God. They had a fear of God, but not a fear as we sometimes think of fear. We think of fear as being fearful of something. We fear that something is going to happen. “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!” (Psalm 111:10) This scripture in Psalms tells us that fear of God is the foundation of wisdom.  Just how can fear be the foundation of wisdom? So, in what sense are we to fear God? The “fear” that brings God pleasure is not our being afraid of him, but our having a high and exalted, reverential view of him. Knowing that God is all powerful. Knowing that He is the one that created everything and He is in control of it all. “He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:10-11) God delights in those who fear him, those who stand in awe of him, and instead of trusting in their own human abilities or resources, put their hope in His steadfast love. The early church was in awe of God and with that they had […]

The Early Church – Devoted to Prayer

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“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” Acts 2:42 The early church devoted themselves to prayer. Prayer is the most important part of the early church. They prayed and the Holy Spirit came. “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) This gave them the boldness to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To reach out to this dark world and give hope. They prayed for others. “But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.” Then an angel opened the gates of the prison. (Acts 12:5) Nothing happens without prayer. To me, prayer is the hardest thing that we can do, but it is the most powerful thing that we can do. Satan fights prayer more than any other thing that we do. It is because he knows that prayer will defeat him. Satan knows the importance of prayer. There has never been a move of God without prayer. In the years that I have walked with God, I have tried to start many prayer meetings. Nobody wants to come and pray. People will come for a meal. People will come for fellowship. They won’t came and pray. “No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shop-window to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.” (Leonard Ravenhill) If we want to look like the church that Jesus wants, we must be praying.

The Early Church – The Gospel of Accommodation

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“You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.” 2 Corinthians 11:4 “People don’t like to hear this, but we’re heading for perilous times, just a few years away from a collapse like the world has never known. When that happens, all who preached prosperity are going to disappear because people will say, “Your gospel has failed me.” When that time comes, I want to grasp onto Jesus, and I want everyone I’ve preached to have faith in the keeping power of Jesus Christ, I want them to know Him in His fullness. I want to know that I’ve done it in love, in grace, that they know the difference between the holy and the profane.” (David Wilkerson) The gospel that is preached in so many of our churches today is a gospel of accommodation. Accommodate means to adapt, to make suitable and acceptable, to make convenient. The early church never preached a gospel of accommodation. Jesus tells us about the true gospel, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Mathew 7:13-14) The world tells us if we just get the right formula, we can be a success and our churches can be filled with people and money. The early church never had a worldly formula. They had a Godly formula. They preached Jesus Christ. “But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews […]

The Early Church – God was Moving

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“The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade.” Acts 5:12 God was at work in the early church. We see God moving in all areas of the church. We not only see signs and wonders in the church, we see God moving in the lives of people. One example is Saul whose name was changed to Paul by God. Paul was out to destroy the early church. He was part of the religious order of his day. He felt that Jesus was blasphemous toward God and the religious order. What happened to Paul was a move of God. “He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:4-6) This was God moving on Paul and calling Paul to plant churches. Paul went on to write most of the New Testament. Without this move of God, the church would not have spread as far and as fast as it did. We see many more moves of God as the church grew. I asked the question as I started to write about the early church, what God wants His church to look like. God wants to move in His church to show the world His power and love.

The Early Church – Boldness

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“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)

The Early Church – Traditions

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“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 […]

The Early Church – Signs and Wonders

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“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.

The Early Church – The Kingdom of God

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“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 […]

The Early Church – Our Mandate

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 “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 […]