I was born in Hickory, N.C., 50 years ago. What about you? When and where were you born?
I have been sharing from the book of Acts recently which shares about the birth of the church. Two thousand years ago in the city of Jerusalem, the church came alive when Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to fill the disciples with His very power and presence. The church became a living vessel of Jesus’ life prepared to change the world through the love of Christ. The church was birthed a result of God’s plan and will; however, there were definite conditions prevalent in their midst that allowed the movement of God’s Spirit to grow and spread. These conditions still apply today to any group of people that desire to see a true move of the Spirit in their midst.
First of all, the early church was born in humble dependency. They were desperate for God’s presence and power. When Jesus was arrested and betrayed, they were scared and weak, and they failed. They fled like cowards, and Peter even denied Jesus. Now that Christ had risen, they were surely embarrassed at their own weakness. They knew they lacked strength and could never again trust their own power. They had been humbled before God, and deeply knew their need.
Humility attracts God’s presence and power, and opens us up to more grace from the Lord. Scripture tells us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Let our hearts be humbled before God so that he might visit us with grace and power.
The early church was also in unity. The book of Acts shares, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer…” (Acts 1:14). The disciples were together in one mind. Some versions of scripture say they were in one accord. The idea is that they were unified, together and on the same page with Jesus. The Holy Spirit thrives when people walk together in unity. When God’s people are walking in love, kindness, forgiveness, and deferring to one another, it creates an environment where the Lord can show up and move in power.
Satan loves to bring division into the church. He loves it when we hold onto bitterness and judgment against one another. He knows this will quench the Holy Spirit and limit God’s ability to work. The early disciples had all realized their own sinful weakness. As group of humbled followers, they were not acting superior to one another, but each realized their brokenness before the Lord. Unity can exist in an environment of humility. We will stop vying for admiration and notoriety, and quit blaming and judging one another. The Holy Spirit blesses and honors such unified love and grace.
The final condition I will mention in the early church is their posture of prayer. They were continually in prayer together. In Acts 1, Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the power of the Spirit, and then He ascended back to heaven. The disciples then gathered in a room in Jerusalem and continually cried out to the Lord in prayer. They prayed for 10 days and then the Lord answered from heaven with power from on high.
Luke is the author of the book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke. His writings portray a real connection between the power of prayer, and God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was praying when he came out of the waters of baptism, and the Spirit came upon him like a dove (Luke 3). We are taught to ask the Father for the gift of the Spirit (Luke 11:13). The disciples prayed for 10 days and the Spirit came in power at Pentecost (Acts 2). The disciples gathered together in prayer to ask the Lord for boldness and power when they were threatened by the religious leaders, and they were all filled with the Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:29-31).
Today, God is looking for humble, hungry people who will continually cry to him in unified prayer. In every great move of God, you will find such a people behind the scenes. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-634-2960.