Most of us know far more about our national heritage or our family roots than we do about our spiritual birthright. Dates like 1492 or 1776 or December 7, 1941, mean far more to us than October 31, 1517. We are even more familiar with the Battle at Gettysburg or the Normandy Invasion than the Council of Constance or the Diet of Worms. Strangely, we can name the little ships that carried men across the Atlantic—the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria—but if our lives depended on it, we’d be hard pressed to declare the contributions of men like John Wycliffe, John Calvin, or John Huss.
In Israel's northern city of Caesarea Philippi, among the ruins of a worship centre dedicated to the Greek god Pan, a cave exists that was long believed by those who worshipped there to be the doorway into the netherworld. It was in the vicinity of this grotto, the alleged gateway to hell, that Jesus promised: "Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it" (Matthew 16:18).
From Pentecost in the first century to the present day, Satan has attempted to destroy Christ's Church—yet it endures. From a small group of Jewish outsiders in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, Christ built His Church to reach even the remotest parts of the world. Despite controversies, wars, and denominational splits, the Church continues to be the means through which God announces to a dark and dying world that light and life have come in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
For these reasons, and many more, we learn about and appreciate the body of Christ, the Church.
Obedience to God requires openness to change. Webster’s defines the verb change as “to make different in some particular.” Change is one of life’s rare certainties! Our habits change. Our living situations change. Our careers change. Our families change. Our goals change. Our lifestyles change. And when any of these circumstances change, we change! We aren’t exactly the same people we were last week, and we won’t be exactly the same next week, either. With each day and each experience, we grow to become different people.
God specializes in the impossible. There is nothing He cannot do! Yet, we’re often slow to trust Him, even though we know He unleashes His power through our prayers, working miracles and performing serendipities that we never dreamed of. The Lord proves Himself faithful when we seek Him—even in the toughest circumstances and the most impossible situations. God’s miraculous power might seem distant or theoretical at times, but it’s not. It is real! The Acts of the Apostles proves it, teeming with true stories of supernatural encounters and glorious surprises.
Alan Redpath wrote, “The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment, the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime.”
There is nothing as miraculous as the turning of a soul from death to life in Jesus. And the more notorious the person who turns, the more skepticism we tend to have. “Are they really saved?” “They’re gonna have to prove to us that they are really living for Jesus now!”
The apostles certainly had their share of adventure! After receiving the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost, they embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Empowered and emboldened by the Spirit, they preached the Gospel and performed extraordinary miracles, touching others’ lives as they went. Let’s take a look at how they effectively ministered to others so we can discover some positive principles to use in our own lives.
Acts 2 marks the successful delivery of more than three thousand “baby” Christians! It was the miraculous, Spirit-fuelled birth of the church. What an adventure! A large gathering of people witnessed the incredible, supernatural power of the Holy Spirit and heard the life-changing Gospel message preached by Peter and the other apostles. Birthday: Pentecost.
By the end of this message, we want you to discover why it’s important to have a personal mission, decide what types of things need to be part of your personal mission, and then take some time to prayerfully write a first draft of your own mission statement.
Studies in anatomy occupy the attention of every medical student in the world. If they hope to understand how to help people with physical needs, they must know how the body is put together, how it functions, and what causes it to malfunction. Christians would do well to emulate students of medicine. Since we are members of His body, over which Christ serves as Head, understanding the body would give us a better understanding of the church—how it’s put together, how it functions, and how to respond when it malfunctions.
In this lesson, we will learn that encouragement is not the responsibility of a gifted few but the responsibility of the entire family of God. That means you.
Itʼs a bit dismaying to realize that you’re going to be spending eternity with people in the family of God you don’t even speak with on earth! Quite frankly, when someone has wounded us with his or her sharp quills, it’s natural to want to keep our distance. But we do need each other, needles and all!