Friday, December 29, 2006


Ok, everyone. All of you people out there with whom I have had conversations about the situation in Iraq. All of you folks who asked me what I thought was going to happen in Iraq. All my friends with whom I sounded so certain, so positive. All together now in a sing-songy voice, “You were wrong. You were wrong.”

Yes, I was wrong. I said it over and over again. They would never kill Saddam. The trial would go on and on and on. We would be long gone from Iraq before they finally finished all the appeals. Baathists and Sunnis would rescue Saddam and he would return to power. He would prove that everything America did was a waste of time, money, and human life.

Yes, I was wrong. About two and a half hours ago they hanged Saddam. I haven’t seen the films or pictures yet. There is still just a little bit of the conspiracy theorist in me that makes we wonder if it was really Saddam they hanged. After all, remember all the look-alikes he had?

What happens now? Good question. I’m so busy backpedaling that I haven’t really had a chance to think about it. My guess is that a message has been sent that the Iraqi courts aren’t going to mess around. The leaders of the insurgents might just decide to lay low for awhile. The Iraqi government might actually have a chance to get organized and gain some semblance of control. Certainly the withdrawal of American troops is a big step nearer this morning. In no way do I think that the problems are over but there seems to be a ray of hope that the majority in Iraq might just exert enough effort to stabilize things.

It would be awesome to see peace in Iraq. It would be awesome to see many people come to faith in Christ. After all, he shall be called Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace.

Yes. I was wrong.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Before we look at the testimony of the angel who came to the shepherds, perhaps it would be best to remind ourselves what those shepherds were probably expecting in a Messiah. The entire Jewish people was expecting a Messiah to come and rescue them militarily and politically from Rome. This Messiah would be sent by God. He would be anointed by God. The revelation to Simeon (Luke 2:26) shows this to be true, “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” This Christ, this Messiah, would not merely come on his own. He was to be the Lord’s Christ! Most of Israel was expecting a man born to the royal line of David. He would be one who could sit on Israel’s throne after delivering his people from Rome.

Surely the shepherds shared in the expectation of the majority of Israel as they lay in the fields watching their sheep that fateful night. What they certainly did not expect was to meet an angel face to face! Neither were they expecting the kind of message which the angel brought them. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10, 11). The message was that the Messiah had been born. He is a Savior. He is the Lord! He was not the Christ “of the Lord,” but Christ the Lord himself! The message which the angel brought to the shepherds was clear. The baby born in the city of David was God in human flesh! What will we do with the testimony of this angel?

So, who was Jesus? A good man? A great teacher? A wonderful example? A man used by God? A son of God? What child is this? Who is this child? Even if people reject him as the Messiah, the Son of God, they still sing the truth throughout the Advent season:

Angels from the Realms of Glory

“Shepherds, in the fields abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing,
Yonder shines the infant light”

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Christ, by highest heav’n adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel

Joy to the World, the Lord Has Come!

O Little Town of Bethlehem

We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel

O Come All Ye Faithful

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning,
Jesus, to Thee be all glory giv’n;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing!
O come, let us adore Him

Silent Night

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

People may not know who Jesus was. They may deny that he is God. Yet they sing the songs which proclaim his deity! Gabriel said he was God’s Son. Joseph’s angel said he was Jehovah who saves. The shepherd’s angel said he was the Lord. All of them agree; Jesus is God! What do you say? Will you believe the testimony of the angels of God who were sent to reveal the truth to men? And if he is God, then his word is true, his salvation is the only salvation, and only he is worthy of our lives and our worship!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Joseph’s fiancée, Mary, had gone to visit her relative, Elizabeth, in the hill country of Judea for three months. When she returned to Nazareth she was already three months along in her pregnancy. Though none of the neighbors would notice the swelling in her abdomen because of the kind of clothing she wore, they could all still add. Even if Joseph took her to be his wife immediately, eventually everyone would know she had become pregnant before they were married. He was in a difficult situation. Joseph decided to do the honorable thing. He decided to divorce her quietly and try to spare her the immense shame of her situation. But before Joseph could go through with his plan the Lord sent an angel to appear to him in a dream. The angel explained to Joseph that Mary was pregnant by a special work of the Holy Spirit of God! It might be a touchy matter with the neighbors (Jesus never did quite fit the expectations of people!) but Joseph should go ahead and marry her. The testimony of this angel is that the son whom Mary was carrying was conceived in her by the Holy Spirit.

The angel tells Joseph that he should name the boy “Jesus” (1:21). The name “Jesus” means “Jehovah saves.” Others had had the same name and that name was their testimony that they trusted in Jehovah alone for their salvation. However, this boy was to be given the name as more than just a testimony to the work of God. He was to be given this name because of what he would do! He would be called “Jehovah saves” because that salvation would be his own work! Joseph’s angel says, “He will save his people from their sins.” This boy would be their Savior! But only Jehovah can save people! That is precisely the angel’s point! This boy was Jehovah in the flesh! He was God incarnate.

Matthew obviously recognizes the significance of the angel’s words and he adds his own commentary in 1:22, 23. There is no question in the mind of the author that Jesus was God incarnate. Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Matthew was reminded of the prophecy found in Isaiah 7:14, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,” which means, “God with us.” Matthew believes the testimony of the unnamed angel who came to Joseph. What shall we do with his testimony?


Revelation 12:10,11. “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

They warned us not to come to their village. They wanted no preaching in their village. They warned us to stay away. If we insisted on coming into their village somebody was going to get hurt. The Indian brothers told us they were going to go anyway. We Americans didn’t have to go. It could be dangerous. There would be many other opportunities to preach in safer circumstances.

I told them I was going with them. No, I didn’t want to get hurt. No, I didn’t want to be a martyr. But I had always preached that God could just as well take care of you in a dangerous missions situation as he could in your living room. And if it was God’s plan for you to die you would die just as easily in bed as in an Indian village in Andhra Pradesh. And I didn’t want to stay behind just to be back at the compound hearing bad news the next morning.

It was dark when we got there. The spiritual atmosphere was physically oppressive. The Indian brothers played instruments and sang for about half an hour. My partner got up to preach first. He struggled. I could sense it. He was much more experienced than I. What was I going to do? If he had a hard time in this village, what would I do? I had little choice. I prayed. When it came time for me to preach my legs felt weak. I stood at the podium and prayed aloud. When I looked up I could sense the Holy Spirit filling me. I noticed that all the people in the audience were women. All the men of the village stood around the outside in the dark. I could just barely see them. The Holy Spirit told me to challenge the men, so I did. I called them out of the darkness and into the light. I asked them what they were afraid of and pointed out that their women weren’t afraid. “Come out of the shadows, so I can see you,” I called. One of my friends was standing in the back with a questioning look on his face making the throat slashing sign at me. He wanted me to stop it but I couldn’t.

I couldn’t stop. The Lord was filling my mind with thoughts and my mouth with words almost faster than I could think. My prepared message lay folded in the back of my Bible. Darkness and light became my theme. God had a message for those people in that village in South India that night. We saw God at work. But that was just the beginning…

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


What is the meaning of Christmas? You will hear all kinds of explanations during the Christmas season; especially when the Christmas specials come on television. You’ll hear them say, “Christmas is peace on earth.” “Christmas is spending quality time with family.” “Christmas is gathering together good friends and having good times together.” “Christmas is all about community.” “Christmas is children.” People talk about Christmas as if they could attach any kind of meaning to it they want to. Regardless of what the world says, the meaning of Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus!

This still leaves us with a very important question. Who is Jesus? The answer you give to that question is the most important answer you will give in your life. If you are going to celebrate Christmas you must answer that question. People can try to ignore it, sidestep it, belittle it, laugh it off, or anything else, but the question is not going to go away! Every person who ever lived will have to answer this question sometime. It is worth our consideration.

Who is Jesus? How will we answer this question? Where do we turn when we want to find out the truth? We can turn to the Bible and we can look for the testimonies of eyewitnesses. Does the Bible actually claim that Jesus was God? Who can we turn to for this information? Mary and Joseph say very little in the gospels. Who else would qualify as eyewitnesses of the birth and life of Jesus? How about the angels? Weren’t they firsthand witnesses? Angels played a major part in Christ’s first coming. Have we ever really listened to their testimony about Jesus’ identity?

Gabriel, perhaps the chief of the herald angels, first came to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-20). He announced the birth of John to Zechariah but Zechariah doubted the message of the angel (v.18). Gabriel’s response is found in verse 19, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.” Because he doubted the word of Gabriel, Zechariah was struck dumb until the birth of his own son. At the very least this demonstrates to us Christians that we must be very careful to accept the testimony of the angels of God. This is the testimony we will now look at.

Luke 1:26 says that God sent Gabriel to Mary and he brought several announcements to her. The first announcement is found in 1:31. Gabriel says Mary “will be with child and give birth to a son.” This is nice to know. It is not earthshaking news. Rather, it is to be expected because Mary is engaged to be married and she is of childbearing age. But the second announcement is puzzling. In 1:32 Gabriel says, “He will be great.” What can this possibly mean? How can this be when Mary and Joseph are both simple and common people? The third announcement is in 1:33, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” All Jews were familiar with this covenant which God had made with David but it hadn’t yet come to pass. What’s more, David’s house was not even in power anymore. Rome ruled all of Palestine. And besides, how could her son rule forever? How could any man live long enough to reign forever?

Even though these were shocking announcements, I think they struck a familiar chord with young Mary. They sounded very much like the prophecies of the Promised One! Was it possible? Would her own son actually be the long-awaited Messiah?

Gabriel was not yet finished! The announcement of the coming Messiah was not the end of his mission. Verse 35 contains the announcement that the son of Mary would be the Son of God! He would not be merely a person chosen by God to fulfill some special purpose on earth. He would be no ordinary child! This child would have no earthly father! Mary was a virgin and the Holy Spirit would come upon her and God would work through his Spirit. In other words, Mary would become pregnant miraculously and the child would be holy, sinless, the Son of God. Gabriel was telling Mary that her son would be God come in the flesh! Here is the first clear testimony, brought by one of the host of heaven, as to the character of Jesus of Nazareth. What shall we do with his testimony?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The goal of what God is doing in the church, the goal at which we in the church are aiming, is to be just like Jesus Christ. Look at the second half of Ephesians 4:13, “…and become a mature man, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” The word “man” does not appear in the New International Version. But it is in the Greek. It is the goal of the church. It is God’s goal. Remember what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2 where he was talking about how Jesus tore down the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles? “His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace…” (2:15) God’s purpose? To create a new man. The church is this new man. The new man is the body of Christ. It begins in infancy and grows into mature adulthood. The new man of 2:15 is the mature man of 4:13!

This mature man is to look just like Jesus Christ! Paul says he is “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” This should bring back to mind what Paul said in 1:22, 23, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The church does works of service and grows stronger and stronger and closer and closer together and as the church grows it comes to look more and more like Jesus Christ. The church does the same kinds of things. The church shows the same characteristics. Finally, the church gains the whole measure of the fullness of Jesus.

But at the time of Paul’s writing the church was still very young; maybe not still in infancy, but very young. He tells the believers that they must gain strength and be built up. I remember seeing toddlers playing in the waves in Lake Michigan. They could hardly stand up! Every time a wave came in it almost knocked them off their feet! Their lives were actually in danger because if a wave knocked them over they could be pulled out into the lake and drown! I also remember watching beginning sailboarders on the lake. They could hardly stand on the board let alone control the direction they were going! Wherever the wind blew, that’s the direction they went. They hadn’t learned to use the wind to go where they wanted to go. The church is not to be like the toddler or the beginning sailboarder. The church is to be built up and to grow powerfully mature in faith and the knowledge of Jesus Christ!

What does the church look like today? It is splintered. It is scattered. It is disconnected. In many ways, it is bruised and wounded. In many places it has been attacked. Some of the parts are very weak. Some of the parts are very fat, obese. Some parts of the body seem to really hate each other. What about God’s plan and purpose for the church? What can be done? Catch Paul’s words in 4:15, 16, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Can you see the church drawing itself together? Can you see the parts reconnecting? Can you see the ligaments popping the bones back into place? Can you see new strength coming into the growing muscles? Can you see the beaten and battered body of Christ rising to his full stature and looking into the eyes of Jesus Christ? We can’t do it all! Paul knows that. That’s why he says the body “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Friday, December 08, 2006


God has given the church gifted leaders who are supposed to prepare the people for service and their service builds up the body of Christ. Paul goes on to show us the goal of this growing up process in Ephesians 4:13; “…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” We’re getting a very good behind-the-scenes look at what God intends for the church. We are to keep serving until “we all reach unity in the faith…” God’s intent is not just that all of us in our individual churches are living in unity. God’s intent is for all believers to reach unity! It’s a much bigger picture! It’s multi-denominational! It’s multi-ethnic! It’s international!

But how are we supposed to reach unity with people from other denominations who disagree with us? Paul is not talking about reaching unity on each and every doctrinal issue. He’s not saying that all Christians everywhere have to agree to identical confessions of faith. Paul is saying that we all have to be drawn together in unity because of our common relationship with Jesus! What we have today is hundreds or thousands of denominations and the body of Christ is broken into hundreds and thousands of pieces! Maybe it is time for us to get together and really re-form! Remember the words of Jesus! “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34, 35) “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23) Isn’t it clear that Jesus intends for all of his brothers and sisters to live together in unity? How can that happen?

The more we serve one another the closer we become. And serving together will draw us closer together also. This is true within a single congregation and it is true among multiple congregations and denominations also. At my last church we went up to the inner city to help an African American church do a lot of repairs on their building. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, flooring guys, laborers, they all went up there over a long period of time to help this church. They weren’t in our denomination. They didn’t agree with us on every doctrine straight down the line. They didn’t worship the same way we did. But we became close to each other. We began to share with each other. A bond had been forged between our churches. Another time our youth group joined with a youth group from another church for a short term mission trip down to Mississippi. None of these kids had ever met each other before. They went and helped build and paint houses and they became close friends. Nothing will ever be able to break the bond of relationship these kids developed. In these situations we discovered that as we serve together God draws us closer to one another.

God’s desire is unity. One body of Christ. So what do we do? Pursue unity in our fellowship! Make an intentional effort to serve one another and thus draw closer to each other. Pursue unity with other bodies of believers. This is something we have to do on purpose. It won’t just happen all by itself! We cannot bring the entire church together but we can do what we can to bring the churches around us together!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Ephesians 4:7-12 begins with Paul telling his readers that Jesus has given gifts to each and every believer, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it” (4:7) Every single believer has received the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit has brought a housewarming gift. Every one of us has been given a “grace gift.” Jesus Christ himself dealt out the gifts and they were given through the Holy Spirit. In Romans 12 Paul lists some of these gifts: prophesying, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, showing mercy. He mentions others in 1 Corinthians 12: wisdom, knowledge, faith, miraculous power, discernment, languages, interpretation of languages. There may well be many other gifts given through the Holy Spirit. The point here is that every believer has at least one.

Not only has Jesus given gifts to individuals, he has also given gifts to the church as a whole. These gifts are in the form of gifted leaders. Paul writes in 4:11, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” These people have been given gifts of leadership. In turn, these people have been given as gifts to the church to help the church accomplish the goal God has set for them. These people have been given to the universal church for its benefit as well as to individual congregations.

Why has Jesus given these gifted leaders to the church? The answer is found in verse 12, “…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” These leaders are preachers and evangelists, pastors and teachers. They are given to the body of Christ to help prepare the people to do works of Christian service. They are supposed to help individuals learn how to use their spiritual gifts for the benefit of others. They are supposed to help congregations use their spiritual gifts for the benefit of the universal body of Christ. People and congregations learn how to serve as the preacher preaches God’s word. They learn how to serve as the teacher teaches the Bible. They learn how to do evangelism as they watch the evangelist do his work. The pastors shepherd people along the road and help them see how they can serve the body of Christ. People need encouragement. They need relationship. They need someone to help them learn how to use their spiritual gifts.

As Paul said in verse 12, as Christians begin to exercise their gifts in ministry and service the body of Christ is “built up.” Think of how a human body grows. The best picture for me is that of a boy who goes out for the high school football team. He has coaches who teach him about proper nourishment, exercise, and conditioning. He has a coach who takes him through the proper workouts in the weight room. You watch that boy start to change. He’s growing up into a man. He’s bigger and stronger. He’s able to do more on the football field. He is more likely to have a greater impact on the game and less likely to be injured.

This is just how it works with the body of Christ! The coaches prepare the people for works of service which in turn act as nourishment for the church. As people learn to serve one another they increase the skill and conditioning of the church. As they serve each other the church grows stronger and stronger. It is able to do far more ministry in the world and it is able to have a greater impact in the community.

So do you see the connection between serving one another and the building up of the body of Christ? Doing the work of serving is the thing that advances the church on the way to reaching the goal God has for it. This whole thing is so much bigger than we thought! The church is not just about us and our individual relationship with Jesus. It is not just a place for us to go on Sunday mornings. It is not just a bunch of programs designed to meet our needs. It is about building up the body of Christ! And the way we do that is by using our spiritual gifts to serve one another! If this is true, then it is important that we make serving our priority! We need to focus attention on one another and on finding ways to serve each other!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Finally, the early church was devoted to outreach. Luke simply says that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:48). There were people coming to faith in Jesus Christ every single day! Think about that for a minute! Every day people were trusting Christ! How do you think that happened? Do you think people just sort of magically appeared at peoples’ homes for the evening gatherings? “Hi! I was just saved today and I thought I’d drop in!” I don’t think so! Verse 47 says they were “enjoying the favor of all the people.” What the Christians were doing was no secret. It was a huge movement in Jerusalem and everybody knew about it. People were inviting their friends to go to the temple with them to hear the apostles teach. They were inviting their relatives and neighbors to join them in the house meetings to hear more about Christ. They were sharing their lives with the people around them as well! God blessed that and the church just exploded in numbers. This was a healthy church; a church devoted to teaching and study of God’s word, a church devoted to living together in community, a church devoted to worship. Peoples’ lives were being changed and they loved to talk about it and tell others about what God was doing for them. People are deeply moved by a healthy church and the people in a healthy church are devoted to outreach!

I want to be part of a church like that church in Jerusalem. I want to be part of a church that is devoted to reaching out to their neighbors. I want to be surrounded by people who simply can’t stop talking about the Lord. I want to be part of a healthy church that changes peoples’ lives. I want to see people coming to faith in Christ every week. I want to see God’s hand at work among us. If only God would bless us and add to our numbers every week! May he move in our hearts and make it our passion to speak to others about our relationship with God! Is God using your church to bless you? Then it should be the most natural thing in the world to share your blessing with other people whom you care about!

Sunday, December 03, 2006


The first Christians were devoted to worship. Notice what Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves… to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” The phrase “breaking of bread” refers specifically to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Down in verse 46 it says, “They broke bread together and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God…” The breaking of bread is intentionally separated from eating together. The believers would gather in a home to share a meal together and then they would take bread and wine and celebrate the Lord’s Supper. You can picture the believers gathering for an evening of discussion of the apostles’ teaching and sharing together followed by a dinner. Then the evening would be capped off with a time of prayer, praise, and communion. Worship was an integral part of life together for these new Christians.

When we look at the single-eyed devotion to worship in the earliest church we cannot help but look at our own attitude toward worship. When we gather on Sundays most of us really enjoy the worship. We enjoy singing to God together. We enjoy the prayer. We enjoy the praise. Some of us even enjoy the preaching! We focus our attention on God for an hour and a half and usually go away having been blessed to be in the presence of God. We know that God created us for worship. So what about worship the rest of the week? Not just private worship during our quiet times; what about gathering for worship during the week? What if we meet together in small groups and spend time in worship? Do you think that would be pleasing to God? Is there any reason why we should be less devoted to worship than the earliest church was? This is worthy of serious prayer and consideration. I think we would find our lives dramatically changed if we began getting together in small groups in homes for a time of worship.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


The first Christians were devoted to Christian community. (Acts 2:42) They were committed to the fellowship. The Greek word for “fellowship” is “koinonia.” It means “intimate sharing and participating in one another’s lives.” Not only were these people committed to the teaching of the apostles, they were committed to one another! They loved each other! They enjoyed meeting and investing in one another’s lives. They served each other, ministering to one another and taking care of each other.

We can see several ways in which they did this. They met each other’s physical needs. If a need arose in the community they would find a way to meet that need even if they had to sell some of their own possessions to do it! They shared their lives and they shared their possessions! They demonstrated their fellowship by opening their homes to one another. They ate meals with each other. It says they gathered each night with glad hearts! Put simply, they just liked being together and sharing their lives together. And in these gatherings they demonstrated their fellowship by ministering to one another. They exercised their spiritual gifts as they participated in one another’s lives. Isn’t it interesting? They had no books on spiritual gifts. They had taken no surveys on spiritual gifts. Ministry to each other just came naturally as they shared life together!

Community is another thing we have lost. As our personal lives become more and more privatized so also have our lives in the church become privatized. We have made an effort to develop a greater sense of community through small groups. We have discussed the sermons together, shared our thoughts together, and tried to begin sharing life together. This is something we really need to do more if we are going to be the kind of church God wants us to be. It is too easy for us to gather for worship on Sunday mornings and then return home and be out of touch for an entire week. We need to learn to share our lives with one another, to enjoy each other, to minister to each other. Christianity was never meant to be lived privately. How can we exercise our spiritual gifts to the benefit of others if we don’t get to know them well enough to recognize their needs? How can we minister to each other if we are not spending time together? We were created to reflect the character of God. God the Father lives in intimate community with the Son and the Holy Spirit. When we live in intimate community we glorify God by reflecting his character!

Friday, December 01, 2006


The first thing Luke says in Acts 2:42 is the church was devoted to the apostles’ teaching. Consider the meaning of this word, “devoted.” It means “single-eyed.” It carries the idea that there was nothing that could distract them from giving their attention to the teaching of the apostles. They were focused on it. They were committed to it. It filled their minds and their thoughts. These new Christians were so committed to the teaching of the apostles that they had to get to the temple courts as often as possible in order to hear more of it! But that’s not all! They gathered in the evenings in various homes all around the city of Jerusalem and devoted themselves to the understanding and application of that teaching. You can picture these people sitting around and discussing what Peter or James or John had said that day. They asked questions and explained things to one another and helped one another apply it to their lives.

Our lives and our schedules are so different from theirs! We are just so busy with our work and our children and our other activities that we feel good if we can just get a few minutes each day to read some of the Bible. We need to notice something here that I think is rather important. Their devotion to the teaching of the apostles was a corporate or body devotion! It was a group commitment! Reading the Bible was not something they could do because they did not have Bibles. So they listened to the teaching of the apostles together and then discussed it together. Maybe we should be more devoted to reading the Bible together and discussing it together! God has graciously seen to it that the teaching of the apostles would be preserved so we can still have it today! We can receive the same teaching those first Christians received! The church needs to be together in our devotion to God’s word. We need to meet together and learn it, discuss it, explain it to one another, and apply it to our lives together.