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One Heart & One Soul: Will You Pray?

“And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).

Two things strike me as I read this sentence. One is great power, and the other is great grace. It seems to be possible to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus without great power, and it seems to be possible, too, to have a body of believers who do not have great grace resting upon them.

There was something special that preceded this statement: “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and one soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4:32).

People were not attached to their possessions, and they were of one heart. Maybe this is why there was great power and great grace? No, this was another evidence of that power and grace.

Here is the reason in verse 31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and…
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Learning to Be a Mature Christian

The most effective teaching is by example and imitation. That is how we learned our native language. It is how we learned to do good things and bad things. Example and imitation are also God’s means of conforming us to the image of his Son:

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:21).

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children" (Ephesians 5:1).

"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).

"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith" (Hebrews 13:7).

Find a person who follows the example of Christ and then follow his example. You have considered the outcome of his way of life, and now you can imitate his faith.

There are not that many good examples, and you may not be near enough to imitate the ones there are. This was Paul’s solut…

Using Christian Resources Like a Christian

"Of making many books there is no end" (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

The Christian publishing industry is booming. We should rejoice that Christian teaching is being so widely circulated, yet at the same time we ought to pray that biblical standards be maintained.

A serious temptation accompanies the widespread availability of Christian books, blogs, and podcasts. Because so much has been written and spoken about a multitude of subjects, it is far too easy to turn to one of these sources before opening the Bible. Books and other resources produced by Christians are profitable only when they are approached as a supplementary source of guidance. True godliness is cultivated in those who labor in the Scriptures, for there we find the Lord’s counsel (2 Timothy 2:15, 3:15-17).

Luke commended the saints in Berea who measured the teaching of Paul and Silas against the Word of God: "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with…

Broken Cisterns & Works-Righteousness

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water" (Jeremiah 2:13).

Do you see the difference between these two sins? The first is forsaking an artesian well, a flowing spring of life-giving water. There is no end to the supply. God is this life-giving spring. To forsake Him is both evil and foolish.

The second sin has to do with recognizing the need for water, but trying to get it from a cistern. The sin is digging the cistern. It is salvation by effort. Digging a cistern does not provide water to fill it. Even if water came, it would be stagnant. There is another problem, too: it is a leaky cistern. Soon there will be no water, not even stagnant water. Digging this cistern is a foolish attempt at creating your own salvation. It does not provide life.

"Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I giv…

The Way to Continuous Revival

The Christian Church has been blessed with several revivals in recent history:

• The East African Revival of the 1930s -‘50s. See Roy Hession’s The Calvary Road, Norman Grubb’s Continuous Revival, and Festo Kivengere’s Revolutionary Love.
• The Welsh Revival very early in the 20th century, where tens of thousands were converted in a few weeks. See Jessie Penn-Lewis’ The Awakening in Wales.
• The Korean Revival and the North China Revival, also early in the 20th century. See When the Spirit’s Fire Swept Korea by Jonathan Goforth.
• The Great Awakening in the middle of the 18th century and the Second Great Awakening in the middle of the 19th century. These two hit England, Scotland, Wales, the Colonies, and the United States.

The United States did not experience anything in the 20th century that could remotely be called revival. We had two World Wars and the ascendancy of liberalism in the Church, but Europe took most of the damage in both.

The nations that did have revivals also exper…

Being Kind to Ungrateful People

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).

Notice that God is kind to the ungrateful and to the wicked. We are to be like and act like our Father in Heaven. Remember this as you think and pray for those you know who are ungrateful or wicked.

This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us!
Written July 1989.

Two Words to Remember in 2020

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… (Galatians 5:22a)

Love and peace are words which indicate things of indescribable value and quality. Today these words are used as synonyms for temporal, physical events such as sexual relationships and the absence of war.

I can think of two other words which are not as unlimited in meaning but where there has been no attempt to change the meaning. In fact, they are largely ignored. This is a time of violent expression and polarization of peoples, nations, and opinions. Even Christians find themselves choosing up sides and thereby refusing to use these words and to practice what they stand for.

The words are gentle and kind. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger, and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you."

Wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking are motivated b…