Thursday, May 23, 2013
GROW IN LOVE
Praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily
those who were being saved. Acts 2:47
The early church praised God for whom all blessings flow out of their genuine love for Him. Love, praise, and adoration was what the believers had for God. They were living in obedience to God, and God was adding to the number of those being saved daily. Christ modeled His love for the Father, and Christ-followers in the early church were committed to growing in their love for God in the same way. This in turn grew their love for other people. As a community of individual believers they fell in love with God and were FULLY DEVOTED to being transformed through the love of Christ.
GROW IN FELLOWSHIP
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their
homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Acts 2:46
Without exception everyone has wounded someone or been wounded by someone else. It’s natural to self-protect when danger peeks around the corner, but as followers of Christ, we are called to face whatever comes our way without fear of rejection or failure. Instead of reverting to our natural inclination to defend ourselves or withdraw from community, our relationship with Christ draws us closer to God and other people. 1 John 4:20 teaches us that if we cannot love the visible people around us, it will be impossible for us to love the invisible God we claim to serve. Onlookers of the early church were mystified by how they expressed unity in their diversity. They overcame common personal barriers to community—gender, ethnicity, faith, politics, income levels, and social status—in pursuit of Christ-centered community. Individuals living as isolated Christians was never an option in the early church. Regularly, in large gatherings and smaller groups believers came together as a family of Christ-followers to learn from God’s Word, celebrate Communion, and to love and serve one another. Their FULLY DEVOTED commitment to relate with each other in this way is the pattern we desire to live by today.
GROW IN CHRIST
They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42
In order for something to grow it needs to be alive and nourished properly. This is just as true for trees and plants as it is for human beings. Vegetation, when deprived of proper light, soil, water, and nutrients, will wither and die. On the other hand, healthy trees and plants bear fruit without effort when they remain rooted and fed. Jesus teaches us a similar principle in John 15:5 where He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” When we attempt to bear Christ-like character on our own effort, we are guaranteed to fail. But, when we intentionally remain connected to God with a desire to grow, He promises to partner with us and produce the results He intends for us. Christ-followers in the early church were committed to growing in Christ by engaging in beliefs and practices that would lead to life transformation from the inside out. As a community of individual believers, they took full responsibility to pursue spiritual maturity—they were FULLY DEVOTED to being transformed in order to reflect the character of Christ.
Please email Candy Ogden or call her at 352-394-2412 x1204 if you would like to discuss any "Grow" opportunity or if you have any questions.