The church in Acts 2 gave their attention to a few things that changed them (read that post here). What happened as a result of their focused attention?
> Buzz. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders (Acts 2:42). This group had momentum and energy.
> Generosity. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity (Acts 2:44-46). Sharing, compassion, and generosity became a natural outflow of how they functioned. They held their “stuff” with open arms.
> Life-change. …all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved (Acts 2:47). Imagine the impact of this kind of energized group! I believe, it was contagious enough that many people wanted to be a part of something so captivating.
It’s still happening. God is still using the church. He’s using people to share the greatest message of hope ever. That message is how his love is available for all. The church isn’t perfect, but when it moves with one heartbeat…lives are changed, communities are impacted, and God’s name becomes great!
The early church as described in the book of Acts is truly astounding. This large group moved with one heartbeat and had immediate impact in their culture. Lives were changed as a result of their intentional choices. In Acts 2 you discover that this group gave their attention to some important items.
They gave their attention to teaching.
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…Acts 2:42. That apostles’ teaching was the truth of Scripture. They devoted themselves to the words of God because they’re living, breathing, powerful, and have this unique ability to speak to everything we face in life. Think about that. God has left us with a set of words that can redefine our lives. I know for me…the times when I feel like I’m really in a lane with God, and I feel strong are always the times when I have had personal moments in Scripture. Do you ever feel as a parent, a leader, or friend that everything just gets taken out of you? Your kids take, your friends take, your workers take, your boss takes, everybody takes. And sometimes you just feel empty…like there’s nothing more to give. When the well is dry, and the landscape of life is desolate; God’s Word has this amazing ability to fill.
They also gave their attention to “life-together.”
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship…Acts 2:42. The idea of this word “fellowship” refers to sharing things with others. It’s not just talking about sharing “stuff”. It most likely is referring to sharing ideas, purposes, and activities. This group was constantly ready for that kind of involvement. They moved with one heartbeat, and it made them more effective.
They gave their attention to worship.
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper)…Acts 2:42. The Lords Supper (breaking of bread…Eucharist…Communion) is simply the opportunity to remember what Jesus did for us when He died in our place. That experience is an intense moment of worship where we get the chance to respond to the greatness of God.
They gave their attention to prayer.
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. This group wasn’t afraid to pray in bold ways and ask God for big things. God has invited us to pray to him. I think that’s an incredibly humbling thought. God has invited me to talk with Him. This group “got it.” Their prayers made a difference. I believe, they spent their time praying for each other…praying for their church…praying for their community.
They chased teaching, life-together, worship, and prayer. They started to reproduce the values of Christ in their lives and in their homes. Now, I’m asking myself this question – am I willing to do the same? Am I willing to give my attention to some basic things that can profoundly change me?
Have you recently walked through the pain of failure? Often that pain leaves us shattered and broken. Whatever that failure may be, life tends to get lonely in those moments.
+ Maybe that failure is a relationship that just didn’t work, and you feel bad about it.
+ Maybe that failure is some type of habit or hang-up that won’t let go, and you just can’t seem to get on the other side.
+ Maybe that failure is something that you’ve done as a parent. You’ve blow-up or caused some type of hurt, and you can’t get that back.
+ Maybe that failure is something that you tried with good intentions and high hopes, but it didn’t work.
+ Maybe that failure is financial…and you’re trying to recover.
+ Maybe that failure is moral…and you’re still picking up the pieces.
+ Maybe that failure is just a feeling. You haven’t really done anything wrong, but you just feel like someone who fails.
Failure is all around us and when we fail, whatever that looks like, it tends to get very lonely. No celebration. No parties. It’s just you. And we don’t like that place. But that is often where God meets us, picks us up, looks in our eyes, and tells us, “don’t let the past define you. Don’t let failure keep you from taking the next step. You are not what you’ve done. You are not what’s been done to you. Don’t let the past eat your future.”
I’ve been thinking about glasses recently. I want to get a new pair because I need an updated prescription. It seems that reading has become more of a challenge for my aging eyes. I’m doing the whole “holding things far away just so I can read” thing. It’s all good. I like glasses. I’ve worn them since 5th grade. It’s a way of life for me…and it’s easy. I simply go and get a new pair. Options on lenses, frames, and even doctors are unlimited. I have so many options it’s almost annoying. Sounds like a first world problem.
I spent a few days in Guatemala recently, and I met a young man with glasses (we actually traded glasses for this picture!). He’s cool. Having a pair of glasses for him is much more complicated. His pair was actually given to him by a visiting eye doctor. He can see through the generosity of someone else. Perspective can change you…humble you…inspire you. All three of those things happened to me through simply spending time with a young boy with glasses.
Sometimes I doubt. It happens. Sometimes I find myself doubting God because he won’t answer some of my prayers. Or…at least he doesn’t answer them the way I want (he’s supposed to answer my requests the way I want when I want it, right?). I think sometimes we assume that God is this cosmic vending machine in the sky and when I punch the button – what I ask for I should get.
Have you ever experienced that feeling of loss, confusion, or even anger when you punch the button for the snickers bar in a real vending machine, and the little things spin, but it doesn’t drop the snickers bar because it gets stuck? And you get nothing! And then you want to shake the machine? I hope, I’m not the only one who does this!
I think ,we do this with God sometimes. We get upset with him because the “snickers bar” doesn’t drop. I find myself having these conversations with God where I’m like, “God I’m not asking for crazy things here. As a matter of fact, most of the things I’m asking for are things that I believe you would like and want.” But no answer. Or…at least not the answer that I want. It’s in that moment that doubt enters my mind. Does God really care about me? Does God really hear me? And doubt happens. Here’s what I’m reminding myself of today. My nagging doubts are no excuse for not completely trusting that God does see and hear.
We are all so different! Some are organized; some are scattered. Some are healthy; some are in love with junk food. Some are quiet; some are loud. Some are busy; some are slow. Some are stressed out; some are calm. Some share all they think; some don’t share at all. Some love to read; some love to do. Some love creativity; some love basic. Some are detailed; some are simple. Some are neat; some are messy. The list is endless! At times we are tempted to think that we do things the right way…and everyone else just doesn’t.
James 4:11-12 says, “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it…” God wants us to be respectful to everyone. We aren’t to judge each other. When we judge others, we speak against the law which is referring to God’s law of love. God says to love our neighbor as yourself. (Even if they don’t think the way we do.) Love accepts others even when we don’t agree.
So first remember that it’s ok if we don’t all think and live the same. Next, enjoy the differences in others…even your children. And last…love others.
My failure…OK…my failures in life can actually help others. I think sometimes we fight this. We hide our failures. We bury them. We throw them in closets hoping they never crawl out with untimely announcements. All of this work in hiding our failures leads to passivity. We blame others. We drift relationally. And we replace our passion in life with isolation. What if…
What if we made the choice to get real with ourselves and with others? What if we allowed our failures in life to be something that helps others experiencing the same kind of disappointment? What if we didn’t allow the past to eat our future? Here’s what it takes. No hiding. No running. No blaming…just a big does of humility that encourages others to begin again. What if we did that?
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill