To boldly go

… to boldly go where no man has gone before.

You’ve probably heard that phrase more than a few times. It’s the mission of the starship Enterprise.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

The Church has a similar mission—only it’s a life-long one, not just five years.

And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”

Mark 16:15 (NLT)

Did you know that this instruction from Jesus doesn’t apply only pastors? It applies to Christians. Period. But a lot of us tend to look at this as a job not an opportunity. The more we see taking the Gospel to the world as work, the less we’re apt to do it. So how did the early church manage to grow so much so quickly?

“And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give your servants great boldness in their preaching. Send your healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

After this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And they preached God’s message with boldness.

Acts 4:29-31 (NLT)

The church prayed and—amazingly enough—God answered their prayers!

They didn’t pray for their leaders to be bold, they prayed for boldness for themselves. Every member of the church received the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the Good News boldly. We don’t have to share the Gospel, we get to. And we don’t have to do it on our own power. If your desire is to see more people brought into the Kingdom of God, God is not going to withhold the power of His Spirit to help you do so.

Jesus told us to bring the Gospel to the world, but he also promised the Helper.

It’s time that the Church—the whole Church, every member of the Church—pray for boldness to preach the Good News. Now is not the time to sit back and reevaluate our message so that we don’t risk offending certain groups of people. Now is the time for us to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to fall on us all so that we boldly go forth and preach God’s message.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 12-13, Acts 4:23-37

By the hand

But Peter said, “I don’t have any money for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and anklebones were healed and strengthened.

Acts 3:6-7 (NLT)

How many times have you heard of people praying, yet receiving nothing? How many times have you prayed and received nothing? Some people will keep on praying while others just give up. If God didn’t answer them the first time, why would He answer at all?

But what if all that was missing was a helping hand? What if all your prayer needed was a little extra boost from a friend or someone who cared enough to help you out?

Notice that, in this passage, the man wasn’t healed the instant Peter told him to get up and walk. Nor did the man get up on his own. Peter lifted him up and then strength came to his limbs.

Maybe you’re the one who needs the extra hand or maybe you’re the one who can give the extra hand. Either way, we shouldn’t let a little seemingly unanswered prayer stop us from receiving the things God has promised to us. A little extra help may be required to see it through. Don’t stop praying. Look to the next step. Maybe God is waiting on you to ask for a hand. Maybe God is leading you to lend a hand. Our own pride and selfishness could very well be the things that are preventing us from seeing more miracles.

Let’s not pull each other down, let’s lift each other up so we can all begin to walk, leap and praise God.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 7-8, Acts 3

Share

We’re told all our lives that we need to share. Share your toys. Share your snacks. Share your room. Share the car. Share your office. Share, share, share. We’re told so often as we grow up that we have to share that when we’re all grown our response is often, oh good, I don’t have to share anymore. Sharing is something that we did because we had to not because we wanted to.

I believe that an attitude of generosity is something we could all use a little more of. I don’t necessarily mean in the way of finances, either. Money isn’t necessarily what someone in need actually needs.

The very first church in the Book of Acts grew by leaps and bounds in its first days. Was it because of the stellar preaching? I don’t think so. Many of those who joined up with the apostles had already seen and heard Jesus speak. I’m not sure anyone could teach better than Jesus. Was it because of the incredibly modern and up-to-date facilities? What facilities? They started with 120 people crammed in someone’s upper room. There was no church building to meet in.

Peter has just finished speaking his first message to the new church and here’s how the people responded:

Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church—about three thousand in all. They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer.

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. they worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.

Acts 2:41-47 (NLT)

Note that they didn’t start all sorts of programs. There was no men’s ministry or women’s ministry or kid’s ministry. There were no outreach programs or missions teams. The church worked and lived together as a community and God did mighty things in their midst. Notice that nothing they did specifically added to their numbers. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved. The church did their thing and God did His thing.

There have been moments in my Christian life when church looked like this description in Acts. We did all sorts of things with other church members. We did life together. We saw the miraculous and we saw our church grow. But that seems to be the exception, not the rule. I long to see my church as well as the Global Church live and grow together—without division and without selfishness.

Whether you attend a small church or a large church, this example in Acts can serve as something to strive for. They started with a modest 120 and grew by three thousand that first day! And from there their generosity grew along with their numbers.

The world is looking for community, what better way to find it than in the church?

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 4-6, Acts 2:14-47

Joy!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.

James 1:2 (ESV)

Joy? Really? I’m supposed to have joy in trials?

I will readily admit that joy is not usually my go-to response to a difficult situation.

But what is joy? Joy is not equal to happy. Let’s set that one straight.

HAPPY: lucky, fortunate, successful, prosperous, having secure possession of good.

So if joy isn’t happy, what is it?

JOY: a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of good. To rejoice; to be glad; to exult.

In Acts, Paul and Barnabas stirred up a bit of a ruckus. They had spent several weeks preaching the Good News of Jesus and people were responding. Of course, the leaders of the city would have none of this and they stirred up people against the boys. Paul and Barnabas left the city, shook the dust off their feet and moved on.

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:52 (ESV)

Were they happy that they got kicked out of a city where the population was responding to their message? I doubt it. Yet they still had joy because they still had a purpose and they still had the Holy Spirit. The leaders in the city couldn’t take that away.

The next time you face trials and difficulties, try to separate your happiness from your joy. Happiness comes and goes, by joy comes from the Lord.

Daily Bible reading: Job 33-34, Acts 13:24-52

Increase

Many may believe that, in times of persecution, those who are being persecuted should be quiet and hide until it is safe once again to come out in the open. If that’s you, that’s fine. If you want to take your faith and hide, go ahead.

But who will stand? Who will stay and fight? How will the Church grow if we’re all in hiding?

In the Book of Acts, the Church was under persecution. In the first verse of chapter 12, it says that the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. James was killed by the sword and Peter was put in chains.

You don’t have to search very long in the news to see that similar things are happening today – even in the West. We are not at all immune to persecution and, perhaps, it’s even worse here because the changes are subtle and churches are believing the little lies until they no longer believe the Truth.

So what did the church of Acts do? Did they hide? No! They prayed. They went out and brought the Gospel to those who could not or would not come to them.

But the word of God increased and multiplied.

Acts 12:24 (ESV)

It is easy to speak the Word when no one is against you, but the words have more weight when you speak them even though the world may be against you.

Daily Bible reading: Job 29-30, Acts 12

We can work it out

Did you know that every Christian is called to full-time ministry?

But wait! I don’t want to be a pastor!

Full-time ministry isn’t just what we refer to as the five-fold ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers according to Ephesians 4:11). Full-time ministry is the Great Commission.

And he [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

Mark 16:15 (ESV)

Some – a lot of – people really aren’t called to preach. We make a mistake when we believe that ministry is limited to those five specific roles. But there are other roles in ministry that are just as, if not more, important than preaching and teaching.

In Acts, we see that there were certain people whose physical needs were being neglected. Now, if all the Church had to offer were pastors, those people would never have their daily needs met. Instead, the disciples held a meeting and said, “Hey, you guys, we feel we need to keep on preaching, but we need some help in other areas. Who’s in?” (Paraphrase.)

So a group of people who were full of faith and the Holy Spirit were appointed and anointed to do a different work. These weren’t lesser men by any means. They were called to a different type of ministry.

And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit… These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Acts 6:5-7 (ESV)

Did you know that the Gospel can be proclaimed just loudly with a helping hand as it can from a stage with a microphone in your hand?

There is a place for everyone in the ministry. If you know it’s not your job to be doing the preaching and teaching and prophesying, look for another area where you can use your gifts to help spread the Word. If you’re still not sure, ask your pastor or church leaders. I know I can speak for my own church when I say that we will never turn down willing hands.

Daily Bible reading: Esther 7-10; Acts 6

Every Day

I’m not good at talking to people. Socialising is about the last thing on my list of things I enjoy doing. When it comes to sharing the Gospel, I’m usually at a complete loss as where to start.

And I’m quite sure I’m not alone in this struggle.

But I wonder what would happen if we all worked on it? How many people could we reach if we just started talking about Jesus. Not as some far off being we sort of believe in, but as a real person whom we have a real relationship with.

In the book of Acts, the apostles were imprisoned because they spoke of Jesus. When an angel came to let them out, he said:

Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.

Acts 5:20 (ESV)

Of course, we know that this Life is Jesus. They weren’t commissioned to speak some of Jesus’ words or just the ones that they liked, but all of his words.

By the end of the chapter, the apostles had been called before the council, beaten and let go, and told not to talk about Jesus. So what did they do?

And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Acts 5:42 (ESV)

Do you think that maybe we could work on talking about Jesus? And not just about him, but speaking his words. His words of Truth and Life. It’s going to be a challenge for most of us.

But if we don’t speak all the words of this Life, who will?

All

ALL, adjective

The whole quantity, extent, duration, amount, quality, or degree; as, all the wheat; all the land; all the year; all the strength. This word signifies then, the whole or entire thing, or all the parts or particulars which compose it. It always precedes the definitive adjectives, the, my, thy, his, our, your, their; as ,all the cattle; all my labor; all thy goods; all his wealth; all our families; all your citizens; all their property.

This word, not only in popular language, but in the scriptures, often signifies, indefinitely, a large portion or number, or a great part. Thus, all the cattle in Egypt died; all Judea and all the region round about Jordan; all men held John as a prophet; are not to be understood in a literal sense, but as including a large part or very great numbers.

I don’t know about you, but when the Bible says all, I want to see all.

Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles… And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

Acts 5:12-16 (ESV)

I want to see people from all over filling our churches and, not only expecting, but actually seeing miracles. I want to see all who come in added to our numbers. I want to see all who are sick healed.

In this case, I don’t think that wanting it all is wanting too much. It’s wanting what Jesus wants for his Church.

Daily Bible reading: Esther 1-3; Acts 5:1-16

One heart and soul

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him were his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Acts 4:32-33 (ESV)

Do you think it was coincidence that, once all of the believers were in unity, great power was on the apostles?

I don’t.

I believe that the Church is at its strongest when we are unified. When we are of one heart, one soul, one mind, one Spirit.

When we allow division to distract us from our purpose, we end up watering down the Truth we’ve been commissioned to proclaim. One of my Bible school teachers said this:

We get in trouble when we shout what God whispers and whisper what God shouts.

God shouts love. God shouts unity. God shouts that we need to abide in Him.

We, as the Church, need to remember to simplify the Truth and put out the lies.

Jesus said it. I believe it. That settles it.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 12-13; Acts 4:23-37

Father

Whether you are with or without a father today, let us consider The Father. The One who created us in His image for His pleasure. The One who gave us free will and, even though we turned from Him, He still made a Way for us to have fellowship with Him. Though man has continued to turn from Him, He is still faithful and true, and always, always keeps His promises.

Let us celebrate the One who sent His Son, His only Son so that we could be saved from our own sinful nature.

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by given among men by which we may be saved.

Acts 4:11-12 (ESV)

There is  and will every be only one Saviour. And he was given to us by a Father who loves us so much, that He was willing to be separated from himself in order to make a way for us to come to him.

Daily Bible reading: Nehemiah 9-11; Acts 4:1-22