New Beginnings

Acts 1:1-14
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. 12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

As we embark on our journey there are three basic essentials that we as Christians must employ in order to transcend our present spiritual status. These simple qualities, possessed by the early church disciples are quite powerful when left unspoiled by present day programs and methods. According to verse 8 we first need

I’m talking “Holy Ghost” power and I’m not even Pentecostal! Let’s face it, most of what we do as Christians is done in our own power and not God’s. Our goal for the coming year should be to do more things in God’s power than we set out to accomplish in our own. Perfection may be unattainable but a winning strategy of being in God’s power a simple majority of the time is not unreasonable for most Christians. In Acts chapter two the Apostles were endued with power from on high the day that the Church was birthed. Peter preached an incredible sermon and thousands were saved. In chapter four they prayed so that the roof was shaken. The early church disciples simply lived and served with the power of the Holy Ghost upon them. What about us??? Remember this, “You NEVER get the power, the Power gets you!”

This is the second aspect of Christianity that we need to improve upon. We love to talk about the things that excite us – kids, cars, sports, shopping, food etc. How about being more excited about being a witness for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not just for the visitation ministry. Let’s truly be concerned for the lost all around us each day. Remember, giving the gospel is not a sales pitch that we rehearse and blather dutifully to those at work. It is also far more than simply attacking the unsaved for their love of sin. Most of them don’t really know any better and we were probably worse before the Lord reached low enough to save us.

Witnessing is like cooking, it helps to heat the oil first. Heating the oil will open the ears and permeate the barriers that the objects of our gospel witness use to blockade themselves from zealots like us. It only takes a little bit of love, grace and compassion to make a difference in someone’s life and earn their respect and friendship. We should never compromise truth, just present it in a proper Biblical way. Remember, it’s ALWAYS about Jesus!

John 1:14-17
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Persevering – This is the third simple truth that we must resolve ourselves towards in order to have a more spiritually prosperous future. We should arise each day with the joyous thought of his return for us in glory. Too often we think about Christ’s return with fear and dread or simply wish that he would come soon in order to rescue us from this awful life on earth. These are exciting days to be serving and worshiping the Lord. We should relish our time and be busy about our Father’s business as we watch diligently for our Savior’s return.

Philippians 3:20&21
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Ephesians 6:10-18
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

II Timothy 4:6-8
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

My friends, we ought to persevere for Jesus and not for ourselves.

Praying Together
This is an added suggestion that I have for a great beginning to a new year. Not just to spend time praying but praying TOGETHER – with our families, other Christians and with our church. Prayer meetings and family devotions should occupy first place in our desires.

It is unfortunate that we complicate these simple tenants of the faith when they are really not that difficult to put into action. Like the early church disciples exemplified, these things are needful for our success today.