All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to 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 in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped 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 fellowship those who were being saved.Acts 2:42-47
I agree with Peter and Petra regarding what they wrote in their response to the reason for the reactions of the people in the early church. As Peter indicated, I have tried to highlight the pieces which helps you to make sense of all this. Guided study if you will. Luke made a very clear statement regarding the reasons. The people continually devoted themselves to four things: the Word of God as taught by the Apostles, Fellowship, The Breaking of the Bread and Prayer. I have gone over those aspects before in earlier Gems. But suffice to say, when you continually devote yourselves to the teaching of God’s Word and you hang on every word of those teaching you, wanting to know and understand, you prepare yourself for the blessing of God. The Word of God sets you up for the blessings of God. When you live out what you gain from the Word and the principles of God, you capture the essence of life as God intended. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit of God moves in alongside you to guide you into Deeper Truth. Why would the Spirit of God lead you into Deeper Truth if you are not practising the simpler truth you have known and understood?
These people have clearly understood what Christianity is all about. It is not just being together and sharing time and light conversation (See Gems 1379). It is learning that we grow together. It is knowing that together we are strong when we take an interest in each others’ lives and I learn to care about where my brothers and sisters are at in God. It is daring to say the hard things they need to know and it is sharing in their needs as best you can, as God leads. These people devoted themselves to fellowship continually. They care enough about their fellows (other believers) that they wanted to be together. Many of us in this modern world are only interested in going to church for what we can get out of it. “I don’t think I will go today, or to the night service tonight because I have already been this morning.” “I don’t think I will get much out of tonight because X is preaching.” Do you realise it is as much a case of going for the sake of someone else as it is going for your sake? If you are not there, then your gift given by the Holy Spirit is not present for building the body. If you are not there then there is one less person to love and care for others. If you are only going in order to be loved or cared for then you are not playing your part in loving and caring for others. I think these people learned that lesson and realised they were in this together. As I indicated by capitalising the letters in Building commUNITY, building community is all about UNITY. Being prepared to play your part as a hand or foot or mouth or some other part in the body of Christ. When you realise THAT, you capture something deep and meaningful and begin to make the church what it should be. They clearly had got it.
In this case, I think they realised that THE Breaking of Bread was something more than just breaking bread in each others’ homes and made a point of inviting the Holy Spirit into their midst and into their homes. When the Holy Spirit is present there is POWER. The Presence of the Spirit of God changes things. He changes people and circumstances. The God moments I have experienced in my life have dramatically changed me. There have been many of them over the years. Moments when the Holy Spirit is present in power. That is what the Presence is all about. Our ability to invite the presence of God, or Host the Presence of God as Bill Johnson talks about in his book Hosting the Presence is the game changer. When He is present, everything changes. It is like Petra drew our attention to. At that time it was the beginning of a new paradigm. The moment that had been promised for centuries had arrived. It was the moment when God began to pour His Spirit out on all flesh. Understanding that will revolutionise your life. We are not talking about some historical-never-to-be-repeated moment here. We are talking about a whole new approach centred around His presence with us. You can live in the reality of that my friend. It was not just for them; it is also for you. Isn’t this what Jesus said would happen? Wait for the coming of the Spirit, the release of God’s power.
Lastly, they continually devoted themselves to Prayer. They took seriously Jesus’ challenge for them to pray. The 12 disciples had failed in prayer before and had fallen asleep. They were not about to do that again. They prayed and I am sure they encouraged others to pray. They started to pray earnestly for the Holy Spirit to come. When you do that friends – life changes. As the catch cry of the Edinburgh Missions Conference (1910) said “When the church sets itself to pray with the same seriousness and strength of purpose that it has devoted to other forms of Christian effort, it will see the Kingdom of God come with power.” Oh, how true that is. All of the major world revivals or moves of God and outpourings of the Holy Spirit have been ushered in by concentrated, concerted prayer. The action of Prayer in itself encapsulates the belief that in me there is nothing, that I can’t accomplish anything but with Him all things are possible.
But as indicated in the last Gem, I think there was more to this first outpouring of the Spirit than meets the eye or what is written here. How is it this deep sense of awe settled on them? That is one of the reasons why I included the comment from Petra. When she began to think deeply on the things she knew or read, it’s like the Holy Spirit came alongside to bring conviction and take her deeper. That is how it works. That is the reason the Holy Spirit was sent to bring conviction and to witness with your spirit that you are a child of God. You know when you enter into interaction with Him it all becomes real and you are left in wonder and awe. But think about all the other things that were happening. The things that happened on the Day of Pentecost were rather impressive, as I have explained in earlier Gems. To have actually been there and seen it and then heard Peter putting what had happened into a Biblical perspective must have been mind blowing. So much so, that everyone would have been talking about it all over town. It would have been trending on Twitter for sure. Add to that the reactions of all those gathered, to the earlier explanations by the Two on the road to Emmaus and the appearance of Jesus to them. Go back further and consider how you would have reacted to all the signs in the heavens and on earth as Jesus hung on the cross. I think you would have concluded that something cosmic was happening. Put all of that together and I think you are beginning to grasp what it was that caused these people to abandon their previous perspective on life and decide to live together, sharing everything. They had found a new way to live and decided doing things Jesus way was the best option. Wouldn’t you? Haven’t you? I would and have.
That is where Regan’s question comes in. Yes, it is true we need to have discernment too and not just share our resources with those who are con men. The gift of the discernment of the Holy Spirit is desperately needed for the body of Christ to know which needs to respond to and which requests not to respond to. This sharing was primarily working among the “household of faith”. But there have been times when Tania and I have been led by the Holy Spirit to share God’s resources with those outside of the CommUNITY. The times when we find we have been tricked or deceived I have been reassured that it is fine, God will take care of those situations too. Just rest in Him and respond to His voice when you hear it. The more you do that the more your conviction grows of the rightness of all that is described here regarding what happened at Pentecost and more importantly continues to happen. It is the work of the Holy Spirit among us. Enter in to His conviction of your heart and allow yourself to respond to the conviction you feel. You will be surprised at what will happen when you do.
Next Gem we will move on to Acts Chapter 3 but don’t forget the significance of the impact of all we have talked about on the growth of the church. When you see this kind of thing happening you want to join in. This is all real and not something imagined. When that conviction grows in you, you have become a powerful witness for the Kingdom. When you have received or seen the power of God, you can’t keep your mouth shut and just have to tell others of this new life you have found. That is what Jesus said would happen.
Christmas and Pentecost are not just a date on the calendar. It is a state of mind and heart.Ian Vail
The coming of the Holy Spirit is not just an historical event, it is a daily experience available to you.Ian Vail
Don’t strive to make your presence noticed; just make your absence felt.Kris Valloton
Patience isn’t the ability to wait. It’s how you behave while waiting.Anon
Information is turned into transformation by an act of the will.Ian Vail