Vanessa Myers is the Children’s Director at Dahlonega United Methodist Church in Dahlonega, GA. She holds a Masters in Church Ministries from Duke Divinity School and is professionally certified in Christian Education through the United Methodist Church. Vanessa also loves to write about faith, family, and ministry on her blog www.vanessamyers.org. She is married to Andrew and they have two daughters.
The opening pages of the book of Acts show us in the early church God used to launch the movement that we call Christianity. On their opening Sunday, 3,000 people came to faith in Jesus Christ. At their second public gathering, over 5,000 were added to their number. Historians and scholars go on to tell us that within six months of Pentecost, there were over one hundred thousand new Christians in the city of Jerusalem. And here’s the reality: Every single one of us trace our faith back to this moment that began with a handful of Christians in Acts 2.
When you realize the magnitude of what happened through this group of people, it raises a question: What was it about them that enabled them to be so mightily used of God? This was a ragtag group of nobodies. Nobody knew their names, nobody knew their platform, nobody knew where they’d come from. Yet history records that they were used by God to literally turn the world upside down. And I think if we look closely at Acts 1:1–14, we can find four characteristics of the early church that we can apply to our own lives.
1. The early church had a faith that produced obedience.
They trusted God, and they did what God said.
Before he ascended, Jesus told them, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 HCSB). He said, “I want you to go back to Jerusalem, and Jerusalem is where we’re going to begin this movement.” You know what happened just 40 days earlier in Jerusalem? Jerusalem had made a pretty clear statement about what they thought about Jesus. Jerusalem was where Jesus was whipped, beaten, tried, crucified and buried. Jerusalem was the place where they could lose their lives. Logically, strategically, it made no sense to go to Jerusalem.
And yet the Bible says they went to Jerusalem. Why would they do that? Here’s why: They heard the voice of God. And when God speaks, we respond in obedience and faith. Hearing doesn’t mean God fills in all the blanks, but God clearly speaks about what the next step is. And, in faith, I respond in obedience to the next step. And that kind of faith demands intimacy with God.
“Everything Jesus desires to do through you he will do out of the overflow of what he’s doing in you.”
The single greatest thing you carry to the field is not your training. It’s not your education. It’s not your experience. It’s not even your passion. The single greatest thing you carry with you is your intimate love relationship with Jesus. Everything Jesus desires to do through you he will do out of the overflow of what he’s doing in you.
2. The early church had a passion that produced unity.
Verse 14 tells us, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer” (NASB). This phrase “one mind” in the Greek language literally means one will, one heart, one passion.
What the writer is telling us about these people is that they had all wrapped their hearts around the same thing. What is it? Look at verse three. It says, “He also presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (HCSB).
These are the last 40 days Jesus will be on earth physically. And the Bible says every time Jesus got around his disciples, he only talked about one subject: the kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God?
The kingdom of God is the ultimate eternal redemptive mission of God. Here’s the way we define the kingdom of God at Hope Church: The kingdom of God is God’s sovereign activity in the world, resulting in people being in right relationship with himself. The kingdom of God is the big picture of what God is doing in the world.
If you’re not careful when you go out and get involved in mission and ministry, the church can become the goal. But the church was never to be the goal. The church is a temporary tool established by Jesus to teach people about the King, to disciple them in kingdom living, and then to send them out for the expansion of the kingdom to the ends of the earth. These people in the book of Acts, they wrapped their hearts around that and said, “Everything else we put aside in view of the glorious kingdom being expanded to the ends of the earth.”
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Source: Church Leaders