Acts 16.5 “And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.”
When we measure the growth of our Churches we do at certain increments. Most of our measurements are based on weeks, months, quarters, and years. However this Church was growing daily. There are two key principles that can be addressed from this verse:
- Churches must be established “in the faith”: I am reminded of the saying “just because there is a sign that says “church” does not necessarily mean that is what is taking place on the inside.” Churches should be faith based. In the American Christian Culture of today we are seeing Churches be more demographic based, or data based. The leaders of today’s Church seem to look at the numbers surrounding them rather than turning to the God above them. Anything other than faith will be establishing something on unstable ground.
- Churches must increase “daily”: WOW…This is convicting. We look at our numbers on a service date basis. We measure our Sunday Services, our Small Group Meetings, and our other Ministry Meeting that meet throughout the week. This Church increased daily rather than during a time when they met. The Lord presents His Church with a great principle. We are to increase daily. Each day, each member, must push themselves to multiply themselves. The Church will increase daily when the people of the Church start to multiply themselves daily.
Today’s Challenge: Try to duplicate yourself on a daily basis. It is not a matter of filling a building. It is a matter of filling a Kingdom.
Acts 15:26 “Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
The word “hazarded” means to “surrender”, “yield up”, or “entrust”. These men placed themselves at God’s disposal. This is such a tremendous example of Christianity. True Christianity is not a part time thing. It is being completely yielded to the will and workings of God. Society in America has created a Christian that is no longer available for God at all times. People today have put tried to place the Lord at their disposal rather than placing themselves at God’s disposal. Complete surrender is necessary for God to bless. It will do us some good to get an idea of what it means to be at God’s disposal.
- We must be available to Serve: God wants us to be available to serve Him…whenever He desires us to serve.
- We must be available to Suffer: These men suffered much for God. We must be yielded to the principle that those that live Godly will suffer persecution.
- We must be available to Sacrifice: We have to come to the place everything we are and everything we have belongs to the Lord.
Today’s Challenge: Check and see if you are a person that can be described like these men were described. Does your life carry such a tremendous testimony?
Acts 14:22 “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
Some teach that the Christian life is this “bed of roses”. They teach that when you give your life to Christ then all the problems, suffering, and hardships go away. While living “in Christ” is a much better life, I cannot say that all our problems are going to vanish when we accept Christ. The Bible teaches us that those that live godly will suffer persecution. In this verse we are exhorted that we must continue and that the journey to the kingdom of God will include much tribulation. We must understand that through all that we face in life that we “continue in the faith.” There is going to be a lot of obstacles, a lot of difficulty situations, and a lot of tribulation. We will be tried by fire, tempted of Satan, and tested by God. We are given the charge to continue. Don’t stop, don’t quit, and don’t give up on the Lord. Real Christianity will be the one that last through the duration. This world is filled with fair weather Christians. We need faithful Christians that are stuck on finishing the course and fighting the fight of faith. Through it all we must continue!
Today’s Challenge: Don’t quit when life gets tough…continue in the faith!
Acts 13:49 “And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.”
This verse really intrigues me, because before the Word was printed, it was already being published. I looked up the word “published” and come to realize that it meant to “bear through” or to “transport”. The Word of God was being transported, even though they were not carrying around leather bond Bibles underneath their arms. Which brings to question how the Word was being “published”? While they did not carry God’s Word in their arms, they carried it in their hearts. They were living, breathing, and walking examples of “thy word have I hid in my heart”. These men and women became living Bibles. They were so consumed with God’s Work in their life that it was published everywhere they went. This brings us to a very convicting question: Is God’s Word being published where you go? Do we only carry our Bible to Church, without carrying it within our hearts? Most of us would have to be honest and say we lack greatly in this area of Christianity. Today we hope in a machine to publish God’s Word. While I appreciate the technology and it sure makes God’s Word easier to access, it also makes it less precious to us. The Lord wants us to be living, breathing, and walking Bibles. He wants our lives to be the Bible that many will read first. We need to come to the place where the outside world does not know where our lives start and God’s Word stops. We must become walking Bibles.
Today’s Challenge: Take an inventory of your life, your actions, and your language. Then determine whether the Bible is carried under your arm or whether it is carried in your heart.
Acts 12:5 “Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.”
There is power in prayer. The Bible is clear that we are to pray without ceasing. However; I am going to go out on a limb and say that this group of Christian took this principle to an entire new level. These Christians literally prayed constantly. They shook Heaven and Heaven responded. If you continue to read this chapter you will discover that God responded to their prayer by freeing Peter. Imagine the picture of Peter standing at the door and seeing the look on this group of believers when they saw God’s answer to their prayer standing in the doorway. Here are so principles from this verse:
- Never underestimate the power of prayer.
- P.U.S.H. – Pray Until Something Happens
- Pray for something bigger than yourself.
Today’s Challenge: Learn to pray until something happens.
Acts 11:26 “And when he had found him he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
Here we see the origin of the word “Christian”. This is the first time it is used in the Bible. It was used to identify a group of people based on the lifestyle they lead. I wonder if the same people would call us by the same name today. It would do us some good as to why these people were granted the description of “Christian”.
- They were Christ-Like: These men and women that assembled together were definitely people that resembled Christ with their lifestyle. The Bible describes them as being full of the Holy Ghost. They looked and acted “like” Christ and therefore carried the name “Christian”.
- They were Disciples: These folks were true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. It says that “the disciples were called Christians”. That tells me that Christians are identified as being disciples of Jesus Christ. This means the followed the ways, words, and wisdom of Christ.
- They were the Church: Christians and Church should be very closely related. The Church is not what made the Christian. Being Christian made them the Church. Being a Christian will place you in the Church. Be careful around those that call themselves Christian, but want nothing to do with the Church.
Today’s Challenge: Look at your life under the microscope of God’s Word. Examine both the private and public aspects of your life and then determine whether these people would have called you “Christian”.
Acts 10:1-4 “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him,, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”
In order to get an understanding of the thought this morning we must look at the entire picture. It is very obvious that Cornelius had a tremendous testimony. We can see that he had a high standard of holiness and honor before the Lord. His prayer life and giving was something that we must highlight because of the fact that God highlighted. The Bible says that the prayers and alms were a memorial before God. It is possible to be recognized before the Lord. It is possible rattle the attention of Heaven. This man prayed so fervently and gave so willingly that God created a memorial before him. This tells me that there are two things that will gain the attention of God:
1. A Passionate Prayer-life: God likes to hear from us. We need to understand that we may get to hear from God if He gets to hear from us.
2. A Life of Giving: Cornelius understood that the blessings in life were not obtained by what we gain, but by what we are able to give.
Today’s Challenge: Realize that if we are going to gain that attention of God then we must Pray like never before and then Give like never before.