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What is the Normal Church?

In the Bible and the book of Acts, chapter 2 and verses 42 through 47, we see a description of the early church. In verse 42 we are told that the church members continued in the apostle’s doctrine, teaching, or the word of God.

The word fellowship in verse 42 means unity, a close relationship, communion, empowered by the Holy Spirit. That fellowship was with Jesus and church members. Prayer was central to early church life as was communion at the Lords table.

Notice the word “steadfast” in verse 42. Steadfast, means to be earnest, constant and diligent in making a firm effort to achieve the activities of verse 42.

Thankfulness and giving to meet the needs of everyone were important attributes of the early church (v44-45). Unity and praising God were also listed as central characteristics of the believers (v46-47), as was a reverential fear of God (v43).

When you think about the verses of scripture above (Acts 2:42-47), you realize we are still living out the book of Acts or living in the age of God’s grace to His Church. Our churches should mirror Acts 2:42-47; with great signs, wonders (v43), and favor with the world; we should experience the same miracle church growth (v47). Acts 2:42-47 describe the “Normal Church”!

In His Presence.

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Ps 27:4; KJV). King David’s primary desire was an intimate relationship with God; this he sought. In Psalm 42, verse 1, David says his soul panted and thirsted for God (Ps 42:1). It’s no wonder God could call David a man after his own heart (Acts 13:22). Do we have the same priority as David? Do we have the same relationship with God?

I love the verse in the New Testament where Mary sat at Jesus feet, mesmerized by and focused on the Lord and his every word (Luke 10:39). Think what relationship we can have with God now, David had the Spirit on him (1 Sam 16:13), we are children of God (1 John 3:2) and we have his Spirit on the inside of us (Acts 2:4).

Do we have the same heart cry for relationship with God that David showed in the Psalms (Ps 84:2)? Do we sit at Jesus feet as Mary did? Paul said that he counted everything of the world as rubbish (that word can be translated dung) the he might gain Christ (Phil 3:8).

For me, the Apostle John captured the relationship God yearns for with us when he (John) quoted Jesus' prayer for us as believers: "that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou sent me" (John 17:21-22; KJV).

How heartbroken Jesus was when He prayed over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37; the people rejected his desire for intimacy. My desire is captured in Psalm 91:1: "he that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty"; what about you?      

Let the Holy Spirit Transform You

God wants to mature us as Christians and bring good fruit into our lives by the power of His Holy Spirit: “but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23; NKJV).

 Love in Galatians 5:22 is the God kind of unconditional love, a love that loves the unlovable. Joy here is a joy of substance, such as the disciples showed in face of persecution (Acts 5:41). God said He would give us a peace that was different from that of the world, a peace that would overcome fear and keep our hearts steady and untroubled (John 14:27) despite our circumstances.

 The patience the Holy Spirit gives us is a quality of love, vulnerability and constraint in face of those who would do us harm. Kindness is the practical out working of goodness, particularly toward those who vex us. Goodness is god likeness, the desire to be and act like Him! The Holy Spirit will purge us of criticality and abrasiveness.

 The faithful person is trustworthy and reliable at all times, no matter what the opposition or circumstances; convenient or not. Gentleness or meekness does not describe a mouse but a strong and mighty Christian who’s will and emotions are under the control of the Holy Spirit; this person is self-controlled.

 As we rest and trust in God and immerse ourselves in His word, the word through the power of the Holy Spirit, will transform us if we allow Him to.


Godly Character

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (KJV; Mic 6:8) When I see phrases like “He has shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee”, in the Bible, I figure God is trying to get something significant across to me!

So, what does the Lord require from us in this verse from the prophet Micah? To do justly is to act according to Gods divine laws. Mercy is often translated as loving kindness and also includes the sense of faithfulness, tenderness and unfailing love. Kindness is really goodness in action; practical goodness.

God said to Israel that: “I will have mercy and not sacrifice” (Matt 12:7) and a cardinal command is to love (John 13:34). God’s word says to: “humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt us in due time” (1Peter 5:6). “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). To make ourselves low or humble seems very alien to the world’s behavior but someone once told me to look at what the world does and do the opposite!

Give it all to Jesus

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt 11:28-30; KJV).

How often when trials, tribulations, challenges and difficulties come our way our first reaction is to try to work it all out on our own. In the Greek, to labor means to toil, to be weary, fatigued, to work hard. To be heavy ladened, in the present context, means to be loaded up and overburdened spiritually. God says he will give us rest if we ask; this means a cessation from toil, a refreshing.

When I studied out these verses recently, what went off in my spirit like a rocket was the full meaning of the Greek for “yoke”. Jesus told us to take his yoke upon us for it is easy. Taking His yoke is to submit to his authority, to do things his way, not ours. It is not so much Jesus putting his yoke or a burden “on us”, but Jesus coming along side and we being coupled to him. Jesus imparts his power and answers to us and shares our burdens with us to help and assist.

If only our first reaction to challenges would be to pray and activate Christ’s yoke. What a Savior, what a God we have, what love. Have a burden free day.