In part of my training as a Marine, they taught us to dig a foxhole big enough for two to oppose the enemy. When you fight alone, you could get scared and give up. But when you fight alongside another, you do so with great courage and renewed strength.
One of the most remarkable eras in the history of the church occurred during the first century. Shortly after Christ had left the earth, His disciples (who became apostles) led congregations into new and exciting vistas of faith. Though young and relatively inexperienced, the believers who comprised the first-century church showed evident marks of maturity…the children were now growing into adolescence! As we shall see from this particular account, they were willing to take Jesus’ teaching seriously and model those truths in the local church.
The teaching of Jesus and the apostles is unmistakable. Heaven is for those who have been saved from their sin by trusting in Jesus. Heaven is not a mythical place for all people regardless of their background. The startling fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven has practical implications for us.
Woven into the fabric of the book of Acts is the quiet yet colourful life of a man who is a stranger to most Christians. Barnabas came from the island of Cyprus, destined to an obscure role of “minister of encouragement.” In fact, the name, Barnabas, was actually his nickname, which means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). In comparison to the brighter lights of this book—Peter, Paul, Silas, James, and Apollos—Barnabas is virtually unmentioned…but, oh, how essential he was!
Before Paul put the final period on his first letter to the Thessalonians he issued a double-edged command: “encourage…and build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). In a world more sinful than saintly, such a command is necessary because the spirit of discouragement is dangerous.
In Micah 6:8, the bold prophet answered the question many people wonder about today: What does the Lord expect of us? Micah's answer is comprehensive: to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.
The first of these three expectations means to do what is right, regardless of the consequences. This kind of courageous obedience is illustrated for us in the lives of the first-century apostles.
There is a big difference between prophets and politicians. Politicians act in a way to please their constituents. Prophets act in a way to please God. In the Bible prophets often stood alone. They spoke God’s truth and risked losing their lives for it.
Every Christian has a story of when her faith changes from head knowledge to heart knowledge, when she becomes convinced Jesus is the only possible way to be saved. My story begins with a headboard and includes a Bible verse, a world religions course, and a pocket-sized Gideon New Testament.