Really good times and contentment. Acts #12 in the series.
Don’t look now, but you’ve been robbed -- in small ways and in big ways. The end result is that we can’t even guess at how to find and enjoy any sort of contentment in our lives.
Ahhhh, there are certain passages in the Bible that I wish I could just fall backward into--you know, sort of like standing on a dock on a very hot day and then just falling back into cool lake waters, making a big splash all around. Fact is, some days there seems to be so much bad news, so many personal troubles pressing in, so much ‘lostness’ in the world that I would love me some cool lake water. (yeah, okay, I’m a southern girl now and I hear people saying that... ‘I love me some’ whatever... Ha! It makes me laugh)
When I read the description of what happened after Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, when people just wanted to be together in community, I sure wish I could transport myself back and join them!
Check out Luke’s description from Acts chapter two: "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[b]— 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
The passage describes a good time. . . a sweet time. . . a time unequalled in the life of the church. It was a time these new believers would need to ready themselves for what would come after, a time that spelled contentment ~ the sense that comes from a deep-seated sense of well being ~> joy!
Luke says they DEVOTED themselves to several things. What a great word - 'devoted'. Not one that we use too much today, because it implies commitment, doesn't it? And well, commitment is fleeting today.
To what exactly did the 3,120 believers devote themselves? [ever think of it like that? In the early morning, they totaled 120, but then that which took place on the Day of Pentecost, adding 3000 to the number of those who believed, launched a megachurch! Now within short order, all the pilgrims who had traveled from as far away as North Africa and Iraq, headed home. But once there, they would tell what they had first heard (the great works of God in their own native tongue), then felt and experienced. They would describe how they were no longer bound to uphold 613 points of law to be righteous, but because of Jesus, they could confess, repent (turn around and go the other way from their sins), and be free!
They devoted themselves to:
>the apostles' TEACHING which was the Word of God, specifically the Gospel message about Jesus
>PRAYER. Remember, this was the first time they had prayed to God with the indwelling Holy Spirit and full realization of Father and Son as well. They prayed together, lifting praises to God, as well as requests. Friends, while prayer is the greatest asset of the church and of individual believers as well, it is often our weakest link. Our connection to the Power Source grows dim and we wonder why God doesn't seem to be moving. Hmmm. . .
>FELLOWSHIP. This was spending time with other believers, sharing meals and the Lord's Supper, meeting the needs of those within their community. . . meeting together regularly, consistently.
GOD'S WORD. . . PRAYER. . . FELLOWSHIP and it birthed within those first believers, contentment~ which spawned a holy awe and signs and wonders. . .God did miracles! People were attracted to what they had and the LORD blessed them by adding to their numbers daily. They knew contentment. . . they knew joy.
Do you know anyone who typifies contentment? My dear late mother was the most contented person I have ever known~ The reason? She knew her priorities and she lived by them--those that Jesus called the greatest commandments, 'Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love thy neighbor as thyself.' She loved the Lord by establishing these building blocks in her life, and she loved others by serving them. Huh, Mom would have fit right into the Acts Two church.
Don’t know if you have noticed, but Christianity is under attack in America and around the world. The Church needs to stand up and be the church just as this passage describes: meeting together, learning the Word of God, growing in faith communities and speaking up within our local communities for truth. The number of godless bills, [i.e., the Equality Act], put forth under this Administration does not portend well for the future of our religious freedom. I think we need to devote ourselves to what this Acts Two church did, then stand up and be counted.
As individuals, we often try to figure out how to grow our faith or get peace in our lives, when these early folks really seemed to 'have it wired', didn't they? Let's take a page out of their book. . . let's get back to basics, devote ourselves to God's Word, prayer and participating in authentic community--meeting together, loving each other, serving each other. After all, that is what will last, and there is no greater vehicle to contentment. Amen.
Good times and contentment . . . It is Well.