It tells us earlier in Acts that, “All the Believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2:44-45) This is how the early Church functioned…their inward focus was on unity and mutual care for one another. For they took the Lord’s charge to “Love one another” very seriously. And because of everyone’s personal commitment to “see a need, fill a need” …the early Church exploded. So I ask you, what would happen if all Believers committed to the “see a need, fill a need” directive…not waiting for someone else to do it, or thinking it’s only the Pastor’s responsibility? The early Church’s focus was on perfect unity and mutual care for one another…the Church today could only benefit from this same focus.
God’s people need to be in circles…not rows. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t obtain a tremendous amount of spiritual knowledge and wisdom from the Church Service you attend every Sunday. But there’s something very special about small groups that meet in homes. In Acts 2:42, these small groups of Believers met for the purpose of teaching God’s Word, breaking bread, and prayer…and the modern-day small group hasn’t changed that much. But unless you’ve been part of a small group, you don’t realize all the benefits there are. When you’re part of a small group, you make connections, and fellowship with like-minded people who become close friends. In small group, there’s the chance for openness and transparency to share each others burdens, while at the same time there’s accountability and follow-up. If you aren’t already part of a small Bible group, I strongly encourage you to take the step to join one. For we all need to encourage and be encouraged by each other as we grow in our faith.
Peter and the other Believers with him couldn’t dispute what they witnessed in the house of Cornelius. The Holy Spirit was super-naturally poured out on the Gentiles while Peter was still mid-sentence, telling them about Jesus. Now Peter could have questioned this…”But Lord, these people are very different from us! We don’t have anything in common with them. They’re a different race and culture from us! Are You sure You know what You’re doing?” Sometimes, as fellow-Believers, we can find ourselves asking the same questions of those we find different from us. Yes, we may not share a lot…but we do have a common denominator…faith in Jesus Christ. Together we are one Body…one Church…united in our trust of our Savior…joined together eternally by our faith.
The Believers in Damascus had heard about Saul and his murderous threats against them. Ananias also knew Saul had traveled there with the authority from the Chief Priests to arrest them all. So you can imagine that Ananias had many excuses as to why he shouldn’t go and lay hands on this man…but God said, “Go!” And Ananias went. But somewhere between his house and the house where Saul was staying Ananias had a major heart adjustment. For when he greeted Saul, he called him Brother Saul. Brother meaning Saul had been accepted into the community of brothers and sisters in the Lord.
To me, doubt is the most debilitating and controlling weapon Satan uses against us. We can be the strongest of Christians with absolute trust and confidence in our Savior…but when the tiniest bit of doubt creeps into our minds, suddenly we’re filled with questioning, uncertainty, and apprehension. And a lot of these times it’s not that we’re doubting God …we’re doubting what God can to do through us. Self-doubt will stop God’s plans and purposes for our life…self-doubt is like telling the Lord, “You don’t know what you’re doing, I know better.” As Jesus told Thomas, “Stop doubting and believe.”
It was Roman custom to have the condemned person carry the cross on which he was to suffer through the streets as a means of spectacle, humiliation, and as a deterrent for others. But Jesus is calling us to follow Him…to purposely take up and bear that figure of shame. For on that cross our sins were brutally nailed…on that cross our redemption was sealed in blood. To the Romans, the cross was a symbol of shame…but to Believers, it’s a symbol of salvation.
When we’ve been betrayed by someone we love and trust…it takes a long time to let down our guard and trust again. We want to trust, but we draw back in apprehension that we’ll just get hurt again. It’s kind of like two porcupines dancing…desiring the companionship but afraid of the quills! But when we put our faith in Jesus…when we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. And in that coming near God, by prayer and cherished fellowship with Him, we are assured that God will never leave us or forsake us…for we learn He loves us with a never-ending love.