Aren't we thankful that God keeps His resolutions for new
resolutions for a new covenant and a new people, united in
one flock under one Shepherd with new hearts and His Spirit
within them to help them be obedient, became realities
through the ministry of Jesus Christ! The apostle Paul said
it this way in 2 Corinthians 1:20: “For all the promises
of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God
The first example of this new reality was the church
in Jerusalem, the subject of our reading this morning.
Keeping resolutions can be really hard.
Perhaps the wisdom of Calvin and Hobbes, comic strip
characters, can help us out.
They are talking about the new year when Calvin says,
'I’m getting disillusioned with these new years.
They don’t seem very new at all.
In fact, each new year is just like the old year.
Here another year has gone by, and everything is
still the same: there’s still pollution and war, and
stupidity and greed.
Things haven’t changed.
I thought things were supposed to improve; I thought
the future was supposed to be better.'
Hobbes replies with his usual wisdom, 'The problem
with the future is that it keeps turning into the present'"
Breaking old habits can be pretty hard.
“A story is told that at the beginning of a new year,
a high school principal decided to post his teachers’ new
year’s resolutions on the bulletin board.
As the teachers gathered around the bulletin board, a
great commotion started. One of the teachers was complaining
loudly: 'Why weren’t my resolutions posted?'
She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the
principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked
Sure enough, he had mislaid them on his desk.
As he read her resolutions, he was astounded.
This teacher’s first resolution was not to let little
things upset her so during the next year” (Litchfield).
Let's return to our text.
The things that Luke writes about the congregation in
Jerusalem are worthy of our imitation.
Last week, five resolutions were presented based on
verses 42-43: read the Word, enjoy the saints, attend the
services, pray specially, dangerously, and collectively, and
respect the Lord.
Today, let's look at several more resolutions based
on verses 44-47.
First of all, let's read verses 44-45: “Now all who
believed were together, and had all things in common, and
sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among
all, as anyone had need.”
“The Jews had a tremendous custom of hospitality
during any major feast, like that of Pentecost; all visitors
were received into private homes” and were given room and
board without charge (Gizdik).
Now what is really amazing is that “these Jewish
Christians took this tremendous feast-time hospitality and
made it an everyday thing! ... The power of God is evident
here because Jesus [and the church] became much more
important to them than their possessions” (Ibid.).
Now, nowhere else in the New Testament do we see
other churches following this particular example nor do we
find the apostles teaching that it should be followed, but
it is “still a noble instance of Christian generosity”
apostles had given up all to follow Christ and had heard
Christ's prophecies about how Jerusalem would soon be
destroyed, and it seems their converts took all this to
heart and gave up their possessions and goods to support
those poorer brethren, who had come originally come to
Jerusalem as guests. This provides another resolution for us
in 2010: Let's support the church! An elder made this good
comment: “Too many Christians have never recognized that
their giving is a true index of their hearts.
And one effective criterion for determining the
genuineness of those claiming to be Christians is to see
their reaction to the teaching of the New Testament in
regard to proper distribution of their worldly goods.
What they must learn is that liberality in physical
means is an absolute necessity to their spiritual
development in the image of God; that gifts to Christ and
deepening spirituality are virtually and mutually dependent.
Someone once said, 'What Christians earn on weekdays goes
into their pockets, but what they spend on Sundays goes into
their characters.' Hence, if you would see what you
really are, take a serious and considerate look at how
you spend your money and how you give to Christ” (Layton).
Here’s a little poem: “It is not what we earn that
makes us rich, as riches are really known, but how honest we
are as we lay our hand on what we like to call our own.
It is not what we keep that gives us peace in an age
when peace is rare, but how truthful we are as we lay aside
our own and the Master's share” (Layton).
The feedback from our congregational survey shows
that we have a big problem in this area.
There's a tension here about how funds are being
used, and that lack of trust with regards to finances is
showing itself in a continual contribution that 90% of the
time is falling short of the amount of our weekly budget
goal. And you
know what, according to the church's own records, this has
been going on for at least 4 years!
Beloved, this is disgraceful!
Somehow, we need to find a way during this year to
get this problem solved.
We're letting economic grudges choke out our
Good brethren, let's get our cards on the table and be open
and honest with each other about this problem.
We won't solve anything if everyone just stays
Let's get some dialog and conversations going so that
everyone will eventually feel better about our finances, and
all of us will be willing to joyful and generously support
May the power of God become evident here because Jesus [and
the church] became much more important to us than our own
Let’s support the church!
Now let's read verse 46: “So continuing daily with one
accord in the temple ...”
You can recall that 3000 were added to the 120
believers after Peter preached the first gospel sermon.
Of course, some of those believers lived in Jerusalem
itself, but many of these believers had come from elsewhere.
Certainly, some of those believers had jobs in
Jerusalem, but many others did not.
So where did they go and what did they do?
Well, there was one place in Jerusalem that could
hold all those visitors, and it was an area behind the
temple itself known as Solomon's Porch.
So it looks like those believers from abroad would
meet daily with the apostles to learn more about Jesus and
more about how their new lives under the new covenant that
now differed from their Jewish lives under the old covenant.
Someone has imagined these meetings with these words:
“No two meetings were alike, and all of them were glorious!
Sometimes one apostle spoke; sometimes several, and
sometimes all of them shared the riches of Christ. … They
probably broke up into 12 groups, and one apostle met with
each group [because of the languages]. All day long, the
scene at Solomon's Porch was that of saints coming and
who had jobs would join the meeting briefly and return to
work; others stayed for the whole day!
Possibly there were breaks for meals, rest periods,
and times of prayer. ... It goes without saying that those
meetings in the Porch looked like nothing you attend during
the 21st century” (Edwards).
This leads us to a second resolution: Let's keep the
see, the text tells us that these Christians, whatever they
might have done, had daily contact with each other!
Let's strive to do the same!
With our phones, and computers, and cars, why can't
we work harder to maintain daily contact with each other?
Some of you are doing a great job at this, but others
of us may need a little help.
Here’s an impractical suggestion.
“Did you know that there's a website that charges an
annual fee of about $20, and their service is that they will
send e-mail messages to pre-selected recipients after your
creator of website said: ‘I don't think there's any honor in
being silent after death. ... You can send anything from
computer passwords or a love note to the last word in an
argument’” (Eagleman in Larson-Elshof). Here's a more
practical suggestion to try while you're still alive.
While you eat your supper in the evening, think back
through your day to see if you made any contact with any
other member here.
If you didn't, then why not pick some member randomly
and then give them a call, or write an e-mail or a short
note, or maybe even make a brief visit?
Jesus made the statement that He had sat daily with
the people to teach them (Mt. 26:55).
Let's follow His example and that of the members in
Jerusalem and work to keep the contact with one another.
As we have seen, daily contact is the
Let's keep the contact!
Now let's read the ending of verse 46: “and breaking
bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness
and simplicity of heart.”
The breaking of bread here is not the Lord's Supper
but seems to be a modified practice of a special meal that
the Jews had.
They would often gather together in groups to have a
devotional, and a meal with leavened bread was the central
event (Went, Hurt).
Before and after the meal, there were prayers of
thanksgiving said by the host, and then this devotional
meeting closed with the singing of a psalm (Wikipedia on “chaburah).
“With gladness” means “with rejoicing.
This is one of the [wonderful] effects of
[discipleship that Jesus taught]. [This lifestyle] is far
from gloom, [but] it diffuses [not only] joy over the mind
[but also] additional joy in the participation of even our
ordinary pleasures” (Barnes).
“Simplicity of heart” means that “they were satisfied
They were not perplexed or anxious nor were they [pursuing]
luxurious living or aspiring after [wealth]” (Barnes).
And this brings us to a third resolution—Share the
meals. This is
something your Italian brethren do especially well.
We were blessed to share meals in many Italian
It's not only the food, but the way and atmosphere in which
it was served.
They served food in courses, and this made the meal last
longer, usually 45 minutes to 90 minutes.
They were not in a hurry because they believed that
fellowship around a meal was not to be a fast-food
all during the times they were exchanging plates and setting
out new food, there were conversations, maybe even some
debates, some humorous stories, and questions about
everything from A to Z.
You could tell that they just enjoyed being with you,
and wanted you to enjoy being with them.
I'm not asking you to become Italians, but I am
suggesting that we try to make more of an effort to share
some meals together, beyond just our potlucks. It’s good to
see that many sisters are doing this on their cooking day!
Someone made this good observation: “In a society in
which even family members eat alone and on the run, we are
often not aware of the significance of share meals.
But, in most cultures, eating together expresses
mutuality, recognition, acceptance, and equal regard. ...
'Sitting down at the same table means becoming friends with
[others], creating a family. It [is] a way of life
absolutely opposed to the values of a competitive,
hierarchical society in which the weak are pushed aside'”
(Pohl and Vanier).
Now I know that everyone can't do this, but if you
haven't shared meals with others lately and if it could be a
possibility, why not let 2010 be the year in which you start
making this become more of a regular practice?
They ate their food with gladness and simplicity
of heart—why can't this be applied to our congregation
Now let's read the first part of verse 47: “Praising God
...” The word
for “praise” means “to extol” or “to honor”.
One commentator noted that “praise of God in Luke's
writings is associated [very closely] with God's grace”
believers undoubtedly greatly admired the apostles, but they
were even more grateful for God's forgiveness, for Christ's
lordship, and for the Holy Spirit's indwelling!
Someone else puts it this way: “As the fountain
[from] where they had derived all their spiritual and
temporal blessings; [they were] seeing [God] in all things,
and [they were] magnifying the work of His mercy” (Clarke)!
The church was God’s doing, not their own!
And that suggests a fourth resolution for us—Praise
or extol the Lord!
Someone closed an editorial with these words: “There
is a time to ponder the sobering reality of evil, to write
the occasional dirge. But [a British apologist] knew
well the greater truth – which is why the Bible harped on it
so. A person is fully human, he says, 'when joy is the
fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial.
Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and
fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent
pulsation of the soul. … Earnest purpose [as Christians], to
be sure. But let it pulsate with praise” (Christianity
Today Dec. 2009 editorial)! Just as those Jews in Jerusalem,
not only can we enjoy all the spiritual blessings which
Christ Jesus offers but also we can continue to praise and
to extol and to laud God for being the generous Giver of all
such good things!
The last five Psalms all begin and end with a simple
affirmation: “Praise the Lord!” Let's be joyful and extol
Now let's read the next part of verse 47: “and having
favor with all the people.”
This sure sounds like their Master doesn't it?
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in
favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
Someone has rightly
noted that this passage “does not mean that all the [Jewish]
people had become reconciled to Christianity; but [the
members'] humble, serious, and devoted lives won the favor
of the great mass of the community, and silenced [the]
opposition [temporarily]” (Barnes).
Jew would naturally esteem these [Christians] for the
simplicity, purity, [generosity], and charity of their
Yes, our world is watching us too, aren't they?
And this suggests another resolution: Serve the
researchers questioned hundreds of churches of various
denominations, and then they proposed that churches are
usually seen in communities in five ways. Some churches are
called pillar churches; they have been in their communities
for centuries, have good resources, and offer many programs,
but they can develop a fortress mentality where sinners
don't feel too welcome.
Some churches are called survivor churches; these
churches have suffered many setbacks just to keep the doors
open, and the members are usually very close knit, but they
can sometimes become so absorbed in their problems that they
fail to help others.
Some churches are called prophetic churches; they are
churches often started by focusing on one particular cause
that they felt needed to be addressed, like helping abused
children, they go from one cause to another depending on
their situation, and they are very vocal, but sometimes
people are afraid of their combative spirit.
Some churches are called pilgrim churches because
they often have several multi-ethnic groups, with various
programs to reach different ethnic groups and with many
innovations, but are seen sometimes by townspeople as being
churches are called servant churches because they do many
community projects, focus on caring, and thrive on
benevolence, but sometimes outsiders see these people at
workaholics who operate out of duty rather than joy.
So there are five descriptions that were developed:
the pillar church, the survivor church, the prophetic
church, the pilgrim church, and the servant church (Dudley
How would the townspeople of Prescott describe us?
What kind of a church are we?
Would they even give us another label?
Some of the feedback on the congregational survey
seemed to indicate that we might have a rather negative
image in our community.
Let's pray and work so that this year's new S.O.S.
program might go far in changing such an image!
There are other members here who are really trying to
reach out to our community and interact with them to improve
our rapport with the townspeople through participation in
community activities and through a literacy program.
Thanks to all of you for keeping your eyes open to
opportunities and taking advantage of them in order to bring
glory to God and favor to the church.
In 2010, let's work harder to serve the community!
Now let's read the last part of verse 47: “And the Lord
added to the church daily those who were being saved!”
The actions and words of the brethren in
Jerusalem had a positive effect on their fellow Jews, and
many others became Christians, even on a daily basis!
Someone had noted that “their presence and witness
were infectious” (Withingington III).
If we will resolve to read the Word, enjoy the
saints, attend the services, detail our prayers, respect the
Lord, support the church, keep the contact, share the meals,
praise the Lord, and serve the community, then others in our
fair city will also be saved and added to our congregation!
In other words, if we take care of following the
example here in Acts 2:42-47, then God will take care of
growing the church Himself” (Guzdik)!“And
they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and
fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.
Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and
signs were done through the apostles.
Now all who believed were together, and had all
things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and
divided them among all, as anyone had need.
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple,
and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food
with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and
having favor with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily those who were
As we close listen to this poem entitled “The New Year”: “I
am the new year.
I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.
I am your next chance at the art of living.
I am your [possibility] to practice what you have
learned about life during the last twelve months. ... All
that you dreamed but didn’t [pray] to do, all that you hoped
but did not [try for fear], all the faith that you claimed
but did not demonstrate by stepping out, [these are] waiting
to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose [and by a
deep faith in our Master's power and grace].
I am your opportunity to renew your allegiance to Him
who said, "Behold, I make all things new”
May Christ and His Holy Spirit help us to make these
resolutions realities in 2010 to God's great glory!
Become part of God's new people by following the new
covenant and being immersed into the name of Jesus in order
to become a new creation.
Christ wants to strengthen you! Let Jesus have His
way with you!