Getting Back To The Cross
Ac.5:12-16 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
This year has seen change on many levels, and the world will continue to change in the coming year as it remains in the grip of the evil one. The church also will continue in the wrong direction as it moves further away from the Cross. In these few verses we are given a glimpse into the early church. There were signs, wonders, physical healings, demonic deliverance, and many were saved. We can also read Ac.4:32-33: 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.
What has happened? Why don’t we see this anymore? The early apostolic church relied on a power greater than themselves. For them it was Jesus plus nothing. Today, the church has strayed from its original mandate of ‘Go ye.’ We are now the ‘feel good’ church, the ‘we had church’ church, the ‘entertaining and performing’ church, the ‘make everybody feel comfortable in their sin because we don’t want to offend anybody’ church. Much of the church has degenerated into a worldly shell of what it once was. This is where the church has fallen to.
The church has, in many ways abandoned the Cross. In so doing, we have become the powerless church driven by doctrines of demons. Hear this well: the Cross offends. The Cross separates. The Cross will have enemies. But the Cross also saves. It liberates. It brings men and women to Christ. How do we get back to where we need to be? There has been much talk of ‘shifts’ in recent years. Let me first define the word. A shift is defined as a move from one place to another or a slight change in position, direction or tendency. I don’t pretend to know a whole lot about it, but what I do know is this: God does not shift for anyone–He doesn’t need to; He is the Standard. He does not need to move or change to align Himself with our programs. We are the ones who need to get in line to shift and align ourselves with His program. That program is the gospel, the preaching of the Cross. Some of the things that the Lord has been showing me that need shifting in our lives and in our churches as we enter the new year are:
• how we PRAY…Ac.4:31 … 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.
If we want to see a shaking in our churches, and in our lives, we need to pray: -in faith -in expectation -in one accord
Lord, help us to pray until you shake our churches and shake our lives.
• how we LISTEN…Ac.4:19-21… But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. We need to be disobedient to the voices around us that tell us not to speak in His name…we need to be careful to hear the voice of the Spirit. We hear His voice as we sit at His feet. (Lu.10.39)
Lord, help us to turn a deaf ear to voices that encourage us to be disloyal to you, and not neglect the value of sitting at your feet.
• how we SEE…Heb.2:9… But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
We must not be blinded by sight…being blinded by sight is being led to believe that what we see going on around us, merits our involvement…things like civil action, politics, etc…as we pray, He will speak…as we minister, He will and direct (Ac.13:2)
Lord, help us to see you, and turn our backs on the many other things vying for our attention.
• how we FOLLOW… Psa.63:8… My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. We cannot be content with simply being associated with, closely related to, or just involved in the church–that is religion–and religion will catapult you into hell faster than a speeding bullet…we need relationship; which can only be brought about by a soul changing, life changing experience with Jesus Christ…we ought to follow hard-which means to follow closely.
Lord, it is relation we need, not religion; help us to follow you ever so close.
• how we FELLOWSHIP…Ac.4:23… And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. It is so important that we have our own company; a place and a people that we can retreat to in times of stress and difficulty…we need to surround ourselves with like-minded people who will encourage us and build us up.
Lord, help us to surround ourselves with like-minded people who share our vision.
• how we PREACH… Over and over again Acts, we read what the center of their message was Christ: -Ac.8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. -Ac.8:25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans. -Ac.8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. -Ac.9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. -Ac.13:5…they preached the Word of God… -Ac.14:7 And there they preached the gospel… -Ac.14:21…And when they had preached the gospel to that city… -Ac.14:25…And when they had preached the word in Perga… -Ac.15:36…in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord… -Ac.17:18…because he preached unto them Jesus…
Lord, help us to remember that our message is to be about you.
God has built His church to be a holy and powerful church, and we are meant to be vessels of that power–but that power is not of ourselves. It comes by and through His Spirit as we yield to Him and come to the knowledge of the Cross.
What kind of God would it be who is constantly changing with the times, or changing as men’s attitudes and mores change? A God who cannot make up His mind as to where He stands on issues, or has no firmness to stand on what He has spoken, and allows men to do as they please? That’s not the kind of God that I serve! Look at James 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
• variableness=changing; fickleness • turning=mutation
1 Ki.18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
• halt=skip, pass over, hop, limp, leap, hesitate
We, the church, cannot continue to do this when it comes to that which He has given us to do. How long will we hop and hesitate between that which the popular voices of the church preach, and that which the Lord has spoken. I will tell you this: if the world embraces you and your message–there’s something wrong with your message.
1 Cor.1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Lord, we need to come back to the place where we first believed. We need to come back to deliverance. Back to the power. Back to the Cross.
At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!
That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.