Scripture: Acts 12:5
But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.
Have we made church complicated? Have we allowed our own lives to get so full that we don’t have time to take a step back and give time to the most important things? As I read Acts 12 today, I was reminded that the early church gave their time to God and to each other. They lived their lives in front of the world but were devoted to these two things.
When I add up my life I’m a bit worried I spend too much time on other things than God and His people. Suzanne and I watch our favorite shows a couple nights every week. Sometimes we even just sit around and star eat each other (well, not really. Usually I’m doing work and she’s reading a book). I then use a word I seem to like a lot these days – balance. We need balance in our lives. Nobody can just spend all their time with God and people. But is there really anything more important?
I dont want to be religious about this. I want to enjoy life, enjoy my family, enjoy the good things that our country offers. I think Jesus wants us to enjoy. But I’m well aware today that I’m not ready to live the kind of life seen in the early church. My starting point is to simply be with Jesus and allow His word to tweak my life in any way He desires.
Jesus, we both know that I don’t spend the kind of quality time I need with you. As a result I struggle with the kind of life I lead presently. I’m thankful for your grace. Show me how to live a life set apart for you like these early believers.
Scripture: Acts 4:32
All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.
Several years ago my family and I served as missionaries in former communist yugoslavia. What I realized very quickly was that, in my American upbringing, what was mine was mine. In Croatia, they say, “what is mine is yours”. Huge difference. It was quite a struggle to learn that my possessions that I worked hard for were not actually mine at all.
We live in a very materialistic oriented society. The economic downturn has curbed this somewhat but it is still prevalent. The challenge for me today is to be reminded that what I own is a gift from God and should be shared with those in need, especially with those in my circle of relationships (family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors).
I’m not a proponent of everyone giving to a large pot and then some mechanistic structure distributing based on their definition of who is in need, but I am a proponent of sharing everything I have with those around me and in my city. If everyone began to do life this way i dont ink we would need as much government assistance as we have today. People taking care of people – that was always God’s idea.
Lord, I want to see my possessions in a new way. To give without thought of return. Help me to show my family the way towards unselfish living and in doing so you be glorified in our actions.
Scripture: Acts 3:2
As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple.
I’ve always loved this story. Today I noticed that it was “on the way to the Temple” that this miracle happened. So often we wait and expect the miracles to happen in gatherings of the church. But more often in the book of Acts we see the “stuff” happening “along the way.”
Am I open to being used by God today “along the way”? Not just in the places I arrive, but in the journey to get there? Maybe it will be at the gas station I have to stop on my way to work, or on my way into the coffeeshop where I will meet a brother, or maybe as I walk into my house after work.
Dear Jesus, keep my eyes open today to see the people you may ask me to stop and give your love. Give me courage in that moment.
Scripture: Acts 2:46
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,
Based on this chapter we know what the early church was doing (sharing, preaching, fellowshipping, etc). But here in verse 46 we get a glimpse of the atmosphere that was present as they did these things. Atmosphere is often so critical.
When I have dinner with my family I can create a certain atmosphere. It can either be a fun and enjoyable time or it can be a depressing and discouraging time. We can do the same activity and walk away feeling two different things. The early church created, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a certain atmosphere: gladness and simplicity.
There was so much joy that marked the early church. They would sit around the dinner tables and laugh and thoroughly enjoy the moment. They would also stay away from complexity. They understood that the Kingdom of God expanding in their lifetime was not dependent on their efforts but on their simple responses to the working of the Holy Spirit.
Am I enjoying the journey like I should? The answer depends on the day, but if we develop a culture of joy then my off days will be counteracted by another’s on day.
Am I trying to do too much and in doing so miss the God moments? Slow down. Do less better.
Jesus, your Church is amazing. That it has overcome so much and lasted the test of time is a work of your Spirit. May my life be an encouragement in the lasting impact of your kingdom on this earth.
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Scripture: Acts 1:26
And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Have you ever noticed the difference between the apostolic selection of Matthias and Paul? Here we see the disciples using the divine method of casting lots. Paul, on the other hand, was selected by Christ himself on the road to Damascus. Sometimes I’ve wondered if the disciples were in a hurry to replace Judas or didn’t know what else to do so they turned to self-selection and dependency on themselves.
It reminds me how easy it is for me to take the reigns when uncertainty is in my life. I don’t like waiting or wondering so an easy cure is to act but often that action is outside God’s intended plan.
Waiting on Gods timing isn’t always easy. What should I do in the meantime? A friend of mine once told me, “Keep doing the last thing He told you to do.” Not bad advice.
God, you know the struggles I have in waiting. Help me to be patient and to be faithful with what you’ve given me. Your plan is always the best plan if only I can wait for it.
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I’m a busy guy. As a pastor I have several appointments with people in the church almost every day, meetings with other church leaders and preparation for upcoming messages. And this morning I read about the disciples casting lots to pick the replacement disciple for Judas. Casting lots? Does that sound strange to anybody else? Jesus could tell the future and here his guys are casting lots.
But in my busy life, I had to admit, I probably would find a quick answer like they did. It’s a lot harder and more time consuming to wait on God. Not only that but what if he wants you to wait and people (like your spouse or your boss) are expecting a decision? It’s not like you can just say, “I haven’t heard from God yet.” Or can you?
Here’s a question I’m not supposed to ask. It’s a dangerous question: what do pastors get paid to do? I’m not trying to justify my employment, but prioritize the time God’s given me. So what do you think?
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Been thinking about why people go to church? I recently read that one of the main reasons is that services are inspiring and fun, meaning people are moved towards something that helps their lives and there is a lot of laughter. These two things create a buzz where people talk about their church wherever they go.
So, why do you go to church?