Six Signs Of People And Churches That Make A Difference

Feb 6, 2016

For those who heard the message this weekend and want to supplement your Bible study- this is for you! I hope and pray this will both encourage and challenge you.  

#1 - Devotion - "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  Acts 2:42

In verse 42, we see Scripture is very clear that the church was devoted to four things...

A - The Apostles' Teaching - from what we know in the Scriptures, the Apostles' teachings would have been a combination of the Old Testament and what they had learned from Jesus (parables, Sermon on the Mount, etc.). It isn't just a great idea for us as believers to read the Bible - it is ESSENTIAL for our souls. (See Psalm 19:7-11, II Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12)

B - Fellowship - in other words, they "hung out!"  One of the most essential things for a follower of Jesus is to have strong relationships with other followers of Jesus- people who will both challenge and encourage when necessary. (See Hebrews 10:24-25, Romans 12:10, I Thessalonians 5:11).

C - The Breaking of Bread - because of the Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-19) and the teaching of Jesus, the bread being broken is to be done in remembrance of Him. This shows us that there was an intentional focus on Jesus. As followers of Jesus, it is our tendency to drift. However, if we can focus on the teachings of God's Word with other people who are focused on God's Word, and with an intentional focus on Jesus, our likelihood of "slipping back" into things we used to do significantly decreases.  

D - Prayer - in today's church we pray for safety. In the early church they prayed for boldness! (See Acts 4:27-31, Acts 12:1-18, Colossians 4:2)

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all, 10 being completely devoted), where would you place yourself? What would you need to start or stop doing to go up a number?  

#2 - A Sense of Awe - "Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles” Acts 2:43

The early church did not take for granted what was happening.  The entire movement began NOT because of an unbelievable new set of teachings or because a new program was launched - it began because a guy named Jesus had been executed in public, was placed in a tomb and three days later walked out ALIVE! Over and over again, they talked about the resurrection and about the One who came back to life to be the SOURCE of life for those who would surrender their lives to Him.  

(See Acts 4:8-12, Acts 5:29-32 in regards to how they could not stay quiet about the resurrection!)  

Pause for a second and imagine how awesome it would have been to have experienced seeing Jesus AFTER He rose from the dead!  

#3 - Unity - "All the believers were together and had everything in common.” Acts 2:44

Jesus specifically prayed for unity among those who would follow Him (John 17:20-21). There have always been people in the church who did not get along, whether it be over theological or personal differences. However, Jesus said the PRIMARY indicator of whether or not we are followers of Him, is the way we love one another (John 13:34-35).

(See Philippians 4:1-3 for an example of two people who could not get along and Paul was pleading for them to do so. Also see Ephesians 4:25-32 in regards to how we can get along.)  

Is there anyone you are having a difficult time getting along with? What if you paused right now & asked God to let you see them the way He sees them?    

#4 - Generosity - "They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” Acts 2:45

Jesus said our money is the primary indicator of where our heart is (Matthew 6:21) and also that it is impossible to serve God and money at the same time (Matthew 6:24).  

Generosity in the early church was a common occurrence. Luke (the author of Acts) included examples such as the one we see in Acts 4:32-37.

People who follow Jesus will walk away from greed and towards generosity. Jesus was a giver (John 3:16), God loves a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:7) and it impossible to out give God (II Corinthians 9:15).

What or who would your bank statement say, is the most important thing in your life?  

#5 - Sincerity - "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

Following Jesus was not an issue of convenience for the early church, but rather a conviction that there was no other way to do life. They did not slam their schedules and try to fit Jesus in somewhere, but rather made Jesus the priority in their lives and then allowed everything else to revolve around their commitment.  

Check out Colossians 3:1-4, especially verse four where Paul says, “when Christ who IS YOUR LIFE…”  

How serious do you personally take your commitment to Christ?  

#6 - Salvation - "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

Salvation was not an abnormal occurrence but rather a daily reality. They did not have an insider-focused, holy huddle type mindset. They carried a conviction that the Gospel was the greatest message in the world and that as they boldly declared it, along with the moving of the Holy Spirit, lives would continue to be impacted, entire communities would be changed and God would get the glory for it all. 

The Church continually saw people give their lives to Christ and grew because more and more people were being impacted.  

See Acts 2:41, Acts 2:47, Acts 4:4, Acts 5:14, Acts 6:1, Acts 6:7, Acts 9:31 and Acts 11:26, Acts 16:5.

Who do you know that needs to know Christ? Would you be willing to pause and ask Jesus for their salvation right now — and then ask for an opportunity to either share the Gospel with them or invite them to church?