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Is It Time To Return To Being An Acts 2 Church?

Return to Acts 2

Is God calling us to return to Acts 2?

Acts 2:42-47 – 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I felt the word of the Lord sin my heart as I prayed this morning. He seemed to be saying, “Return to Acts 2.” Specifically I felt drawn to verses 42-47. These verses break down in this way:

  1. (v42) – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.
  2. And to fellowship,
  3. The breaking of bread
  4. And to prayer.
  5. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts
  6. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
  7. Praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.
  8. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The early church gathering was around solid teaching, koinonia (fellowship), prayer and having meals together. Another factor is that they met together on a regular basis.

They did go to the temple courts to congregate. Many of the believers went to the temple daily to pray and discuss the Scripture. When we think of going to the temple the image which usually comes to our mind is “going to church,” but going to the temple to pray, worship, and discuss Scripture was much different than our “going to church” today.

First, the only ones allowed into the temple itself were the priests who ministered there: All others were relegated to the “temple courts.” There was the “court of Israel” which was the closest to the entrance of the temple and was as near to the temple any “clean” Jewish man could go. Then there was the “court of women” which was as far as women could go. Men and women could go to the court for prayer, worship, and fellowship. Outside of these courts was the “court of the Gentiles.”

When the believers went to the temple to pray they would go to the appropriate court.

But they also went, “house to house.” It didn’t take long until they were not allowed to worship at the temple but were forced to find alternative ways to gather and worship and their primary place of worshipping the Christ became homes.

Sounds a little bit like today. For this time at least, the church is not allowed to meet in the building called “the church.” Some fear this is only the beginning of restricting Christians from large gatherings. I don’t know, we will leave that up to the government and God. But I do believe that the message God has for the church today is to return to Acts 2.

There are certain components to the Acts 2 church that we can duplicate. We can have teachers who know the message of Christ and the Christ Life well. We can gather in homes (as long as there is no more than 10 present) for fellowship, meals and prayer.

There is another aspect to these meetings that we cannot duplicate on our own. That is the signs and wonders performed by the apostles. We can’t be sure what those signs and wonders were, but surely they were something beyond the norm. One pastor was asked, “What are signs and wonders?” He responded, “Signs that make you wonder.” That’s God’s business. He does the signs and wonders through willing participants.

There is another factor we should look at carefully. It appears that the community saw what good things were happening among the Christ Followers and they began to respond to what they saw and heard. Acts records, “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

 I am convicted by this passage in Acts. First, it seems the church has become building centric rather than Christ centric. We measure success in ministry by the numbers we have who join the “church” and sit in the pews week after week. Don’t get me wrong; I am not advocating for discarding the buildings and just meet in homes, but I am saying that we cannot allow the building to take the place of small groups gathering for prayer, studying the Scripture, fellowship and breaking bread.

The early church grew exceedingly fast, and I know that was a special time and is probably not what we should expect today. However, we should expect people in our community to respond to the Holy Spirit’s call to embrace Christ as Lord and Savior. Maybe that will happen as we embrace the same process followed by that early church.

Factors in a growing Acts 2 Church:

  1. Spiritual leadership
  2. The true gospel of Christ.
  3. Koinonia – fellowship
  4. Gathering regularly
  5. Prayer together
  6. A discernable move of Holy Spirit

When we look at the spread of the gospel in the first century there seems to be a pattern established. First, the apostles would go to the synagogue in a city. They would be ejected from the synagogue and have to go to homes to hold meetings. In fact, the first churches established throughout that region and into what was then called “Asia Minor,” was in homes.

What will it take to be that kind of church? The first necessary step is to be awakened to the need. It is only when we feel the need for change that we will make a change; if we are not awakened to the need to be committed to the call and purpose of the church then we will not whole heartedly pursue finding God’s purposes.

How do we become awakened to the need? Prayer, studying what God has said about renewal and commitment, and fellowship with other seekers.

What about the signs and wonders? Where do they come from and what part do they play in reaching our communities for Christ?

Where do these signs and wonders come from? Well, obviously, they come from God, but why doesn’t God just arbitrarily begin to do those things? Because he only manifests himself to those who are committed to following him wherever he leads.

When Jesus was preparing to ascend to heaven he told his disciples, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Then in Acts 1, which is a continuation of what Luke wrote earlier, it is recorded that Jesus said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus was giving the formula for preparing to do the works he had told them they would do. In John 14:11-13 Jesus says, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. 12) Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13) And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

The formula seems to be the same today. We can’t go to Jerusalem to wait upon the Lord, but we can wait upon him in our personal Jerusalem. How long has it been since you “tarried” (waited) before the Lord until you were endued with His power? Is there “power” in your witness?

Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.” The Gospel came to unbelievers in great power and because of that they became believers.

Notice that Paul said the gospel did not come in word only. I’m afraid that many of us have depended more upon our ability to speak the words of the gospel rather than to have the power which demonstrates the gospel. Don’t misunderstand me; we must speak the words of the gospel, but those words must be enthused with Holy Spirit power in order to be effective in changing the hearts of people.

I have become convinced that God wants to use this present distress to awaken His church to the incomparably great power that he has given all believers (Ephesians 1:19). Let us begin to seek Him that He may give us a Spirit of wisdom and revelation that we may know his will and purposes for His church today (Ephesians 1:17), and let us come together in small groups to seek his face.

Pastor Paul Smith

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Daily God Walk – Do Good for Others

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Jesus teaches us to think of others first considering how we would want others to treat us. That is what is commonly called The Golden Rule. This devotion gives helpful ideas on how to do that.

Check out this episode!

Daily God Walk: Christ Life Series, “Thoughts Count”

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Most of us do OK with our actions, it is our thought life which gives us trouble. This devotion challenges us to keep our thoughts pure. If you like this You can get the whole month of devotions just for the asking. To get your devotional simply CLICK HERE  Then follow the instructions.

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Righteous 3Rs

I have been teaching a series titled “Changing Your Paradigm” or “Changing Your Lifestyle Patterns”

We have explored 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 where Apostle Paul gives the process of changing our patterns of undesirable behavior. That process includes:

  • Tearin g down strongholds – patterns of undesirable behavior
  • Destroying arguments – components in our belief system that are not consistent with what God has revealed.
  • Taking Captive every thought – taking control of your patterns of thought.
  • Making your thoughts obedient to what God has revealed as truth.

Today we are exploring how Righteous Rejoicing is connected to Righteous thinking and how Righteous Thinking leads to a Righteous Attitude. We will conclude by showing how the Righteous 3R’s produce Righteous Contentment and Righteous Provision.

This smessage today is the first in a sub-series titled “The Righteous 3Rs”

  1. Righteous Rejoicing

Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5)Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6)Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7)And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  •  Rejoice in the Lord Always
  • Do not be anxious about anything
  • Present requests as prayers and petition
  • With thanksgiving
  • And the peace of God…

Here is the message – Part One in the series The Righteous 3Rs: Righteous Rejoicing

Joy Is A Fruit of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is joy… Against such there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:22-23

An apple tree produces apples; an orange tree produces oranges; The Holy Spirit tree produces Joy – What fruit do you have?

You can get the entire book of devotions on the subject of Joy. Go to dailygodwalk.org/daily-devotional  to get your complimentary copy.

Jesus Is Your Shepherd – Protector

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep… My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. – John 10:14-15, 27-28

There are times when we just need a protector. It seems that on every turn there are enemies waiting to devour us. At times it even seems that our friends have forsaken us. At those times we must realize that Jesus is our shepherd protector.

Most of this tenth chapter of John is about Jesus as our shepherd. He starts off by talking about the sheep pen and that those who come into the sheep pen must come through the shepherd. All who come by any other way are thieves and have come to rob, kill and destroy (verse 10), but he contrasts himself with the thief by declaring, “I have come that they may have life; and have it to the full.”

Do not forget there is a destroyer who seeks to prevent you and I from the abundant life God offers through faith in Christ. Our Shepherd realizes the danger and will protect us as long as we stay in the sheep pen.

He fights our battles, destroys the destroyer and keeps us secure in his protectorate. He is the shepherd who protects the sheep, even to the giving of his own life.

He speaks and His sheep hear him – do you hear him?

Prayer: Lord, call me I’ll listen. I desire to be in your sheep pen under your protection. Thank you for the security of your loving guidance. Amen

 

Message:  There is a destroyer who seeks to prevent you and I from the abundant life God offers through faith in Christ. Our Shepherd realizes the danger and will protect us as long as we stay in the sheep pen.

Affirmation:  I have heard the voice of the Good Shepherd and have chosen to follow Him. He will protect me and give me life that is abundant.

Reflection:  This devotion speaks of staying in the sheep pen. Give some thought to how a person stays in the pen. Is staying in the sheep pen a passive maneuver or is it an aggressive action?

If you like this devotion you will be interested in the entire devotional titled, “Promises”. To get your free copy go to www.dailygodwalk.org

Kingdom Secrets Release Abundance

The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.

– Matthew 13:11-12

Secrets. We all have them. The purpose of a secret is to keep those who should not know something from knowing it. Jesus was telling his disciples that he had chosen them to know the secrets of the kingdom.

Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables so that only those who were spiritually alert would hear the message. Then he explained the parables to those who were to understand the secrets.

Understanding the secrets of the kingdom will release God’s favor. If we can hear the message of the kingdom, and understand the purposes of the “secrets” that he is revealing, then we will be able to walk in the fullness of his intended abundance.

Knowing and understanding the principles of the kingdom unlocks the door to God’s favor; diligence and obedience open the door to abundance. God is not only calling us to understand and believe but he is calling us to diligent obedience to the principles so that he can release his best to us.

Over the next few days we are going to explore some of the kingdom principles that Jesus called, “Secrets of the kingdom.”

Prayer: Lord, I tend to use the understanding of men to accomplish the work of the kingdom. Grant me the ability to understand the message of the kingdom and the wisdom to live by those principles. In Jesus name, amen.

Check us out at www.dailygodwalk.org and get access to a whole month of devotions.