“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:31-33)
We have seen the close of another year … another decade.
The year 2009 was definitely a year of change. The United States saw Barack Obama sworn in as its first African-American president. We bid farewell to Michael Jackson, Ted Kennedy, David Carradine, Farrah Fawcett, Walter Cronkite, Patrick Swayze, and even the charismatic Oral Roberts. Countries braced themselves for the bird flu epidemic and the H1N1 pandemic. Soldiers fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, the world slowly began to recover from the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression.
It may have been a year of difficulty for you as well. Perhaps you were one of the thousands who lost their job or even their home due to the economic conditions of today. Maybe your doctor diagnosed you with a serious illness, or you lost a loved one to death, divorce or desertion. Perhaps you struggled with an addiction, or saw someone you love suffer from one. You may have been the victim of a crime committed against you, or perhaps you are paying the consequences for a mistake you made.
Last year was certainly a year of change and difficulty, but now we have reached a New Year … a year of new possibilities … a year of new beginnings.
I have two words for this New Year. Those two words are: “What If?”
Those two words may have made you tremble in 2009, but in 2010 let’s make them words of adventure and faith.
“What If” This Is The Year of New Beginnings?
The Bible records two new beginnings for the early Church. They are contained within Acts 2 and Acts 4.
Acts 2 records the Day of Pentecost. On this day the apostles and a great number of believers had gathered together. Suddenly the sound of a mighty wind was heard and fiery tongues appeared and rested on each of the individuals. The people were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began speaking in languages that were not their own.
The word got out about what had happened and others came to see for themselves. Some were amazed, while others believed the individuals were simply drunk. However, Peter stood boldly before them all and told them that the people were not drunk, but rather this was a fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy by the prophet Joel, which spoke of the signs and miracles that would occur before the return of Christ.
Yes, it was a new day for the Church. Prior to this day, the Holy Spirit did not live inside the believer. Rather He would come upon a chosen individual. It was a temporary, external condition subject to removal.
However, on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit began to dwell within each believer. This “baptism” of the Holy Spirit is a permanent condition and happens but once for each and every person who accepts Christ as his or her personal Savior.
Following the events of Pentecost, the Church began to grow quickly. Acts 4 records how the Apostles Peter and John taught and preached to a great number of people about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Because of their teachings at least five thousand men, and countless women and children, turned their lives over to Christ. What a great beginning for the Church.
Now think of this … “what if” this is the year of new beginnings for you?
• What if this is the year you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior (Acts 16:31)?
• What if this is the year you confess your sins and rededicate your life (1 John 1:9)?
• What if this is the year you stop looking back and begin looking up to Jesus (Heb 12:2)?
What If this is the Year Your Prayers Are Answered?
Peter and John’s work of converting the thousands was not without consequence. The leaders of the area were upset by the teachings of the apostles. They took Peter and John into custody and brought them before the Jewish leaders. They demanded to know by what power and authority the two taught.
Peter boldly stood up to the leaders and told them that they taught in “the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” The leaders, not knowing what to do, threatened the two and finally released them.
Peter and John rejoined their group and reported to them everything that had happened. They began to pray and lift up their voices to the Lord. Then according to Acts 4:31, “when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together …”
Prayer is a powerful thing. It has a way of changing things. What if this is the year that your prayers are answered?
• What if this is the year your children get right with God?
• What if this is the year your spouse comes to Christ?
• What if this is the year you conquer your negative attitude?
• What if this is the year you get your bills paid?
• What if this is the year God restores your health … your marriage?
What if this is the Year of Revival in Your Church?
Not only did the place where the apostles and their party were gathered shake, but Acts 4:31 also records that “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.”
The group of believers began working together with a singular purpose. The apostles preached about the resurrection of Jesus with all authority and boldness. Those who owned houses and land sold them and gave the money to the apostles to be distributed to everyone who was in need. Everyone was working as one for the glory of God’s kingdom.
Are the people in your church working as one? Is everyone working with one purpose? Are your leaders preaching and teaching with power and authority? Or, is your church in need of a revival?
“Revival” is a misunderstood word. Some believe that revival is merely for the unsaved. However, revival is designed for the saved.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “revival” means, “an act or instance of reviving,” “the state of being revived,” or “a renewed attention to or interest in something.”
Sometimes our spiritual walk needs to be revived. Many times we find ourselves just going through the motions of worship instead of focusing on true worship. Rather than work together for the glory of God’s kingdom we start working independently.
Does this sound familiar? Is your church in need of a revival?
• A revival would make this a year of forgiveness.
• A revival would make this a year of sharing.
• A revival would make this a year of reconciliation.
• A revival would make this the year when all barriers fall.
What if this is the Year of Evangelism?
Not only did the apostles and believers begin working together, but Acts 4:33 also tells us that, “with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”
There is a great lack in churches today. Many people walk through the doors of the church just thinking about themselves. They want to hear a good message, be entertained by the choir, and walk out feeling good about how faithful they were to go to church and give a few of their hard earned dollars.
The problem with this attitude is that the church does not exist merely to entertain us and make us feel good. It’s not all about us … it’s about the Lord! We should not just leave soul saving to the preacher. It is our responsibility as believers to help in the work of bringing people to Christ.
So, how long has it been since you made an effort to win a soul? What if this is the year that you concentrate on witnessing and winning souls for Christ. Many people have been saved by hearing the simple, honest words of a friend.
Yes, this could be your year of new beginnings. This could be the year that your prayers are answered. This could be the year your church undergoes a revival. This could be the year that you get off the pew and join your fellow believers in evangelizing to the world.
In conclusion, I want you to consider two more words. Those words are: “Why Not?”
• Why not make this a year of new beginnings.
• Why not make this a year of prayer.
• Why not assist your church in bringing souls to Christ?
How can you go wrong by turning your life around and living for the Lord? It is amazing how your life will change when you allow yourself to stop concentrating on yourself for once and start working for God’s kingdom.
If you say it’s impossible, then I will say that you are wrong. All these good things can happen in your life. Luke 1:37 reads that “With God nothing shall be impossible.”
Yes, last year was a year of change and difficulty, but now it is time to move on to new possibilities … new beginnings.
Let faith remove the limits you have placed on your life and begin to claim all that God wants to give you.
May God bless you!