Isn't it wonderful to see how God can prophesy something
hundreds of years earlier, and then make it come to pass?
For example, the prophet Jeremiah said in 31:31:
"Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will
make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the
house of Judah."
Then, in Hebrews 8:13, written around 600 years
later, we find these words: "In that He says, 'A new
covenant,' He has made the first obsolete.
Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is
ready to vanish away!"
A new covenant promised 600 years earlier, and
God makes it all happen through His Son Jesus Christ!
Let's look at a second example.
Notice what Ezekiel says in 36:26-27: "I will give
you a new heart and put a new spirit within you ... I will
put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My
statues, and you will keep My judgments and do them."
Now look at Galatians 4:6, written again about
600 years later, "And because you are sons, God has sent
forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out,
A new heart and spirit were promised 600 years
earlier, and God makes it all happen through His Son Jesus
look at one last example in Hosea 2:23: "And I will have
mercy on her who had not obtained mercy.
Then I will say to those who were not My people, 'You
are my people!' And they shall say, 'You are my God!"
Then the apostle Paul writes 700 years later in
Romans 9:25-26 these very verses and shows how the Gentiles
becoming God's children is the fulfillment of this prophecy!
A new people was promised 700 years earlier, and God
makes it all happen through His Son Jesus Christ!
A new covenant, a new heart and spirit, and a new
people—aren't we glad that God keeps His resolutions for new
things! God has
another resolution that we'll return to at the conclusion of
our message this morning.
Speaking of New Year’s resolution, did you hear about the
son who called his parents to wish them a happy new year,
and when his Dad answered the phone, He asked his dad, "Well
Dad, what’s your new year’s resolution?" His dad replied,
"To make your mother as happy as I can all year."
When his mom got on the phone, he asked the same
mom replied, "My resolution is to see that your dad keeps
his new year’s resolution" (Litchfield).
Then there was another man who wrote to his preacher:
"Dear Brother White, You often stress attendance at worship
as being very important for a Christian, but I think a
person has a right to miss now and then.
I think every person ought to be excused for the
following reasons and the number of times indicated: all
holidays (8 times), school openings and closings (2), family
reunions (2), deaths in the family (2), sickness (5),
business trips (4), sleep late (6), vacation (6), bad
weather (2), ball games (6), unexpected company (2), time
changes (2), and specials on TV (3).
So, dear brother, that leaves two Sundays per year.
So, we resolve that we'll be in attendance on the 4th
Sunday in February and the 3rd Sunday in August unless we
are providentially hindered.
Sincerely, A Faithful Member" (Ibid.).
All humor aside, you know what the real problem with
New Year's resolutions?
They're made by humans and rarely do we ask for Divine help.
We try to do it all ourselves, and never seek the
strength which Christ could provide!
Today's reading was about the church in Jerusalem.
It was the first example of that new covenant, new
heart and new spirit, and new people that God had resolved
to make a reality!
Although Luke probably didn't have in mind in his
description of this church any New Year's resolutions, we
can still imitate their actions and make them our New Year's
But for these resolutions, let's be sure to ask for the Holy
Spirit's help; otherwise, we are bound to failure.
Now let's look at several resolutions based on verses
First of all, Acts 2:42 states: "And they continued
steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine." We see from this
verse, that the members at the church in Jerusalem were
devoted to following the teachings of the apostles.
Now remember, these were Jews who had been devoted to
keeping the Law of Moses and the regulations of the Old
Testament for thousands of years!
Now, God had brought
something new into history! Certainly, obeying the apostles'
teachings was now the righteous course for them to pursue.
Jesus was the truth, and He had promised the apostles that
the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth (John
16:13). The apostles did not make up fables, but they were
witnesses to Jesus' resurrection, they saw His life of
service, and they heard His inspired teachings!
To follow the apostles' teachings was to follow God's
new will for their lives!
So many things were now to change: the animal
sacrifices were no longer needed since Jesus was perfect
sacrifice; no Sabbath services at the synagogues were now
needed, but Christians could meet in homes throughout the
city on Sundays; no more looking at other nations as
separated and unclean for now all people could be united and
purified through Christ!
We also must stay with the apostles' teachings, so
the first resolution for us is: Read the Word!
Bro. Jim has made a new Bible reading schedule for
us. Will we
ignore this good help or will we try to utilize it?
Let's read a passage from the Psalms in just a
moment, and as we read it, look at the author's attitude
towards God's Word.
In fact, if you ever get discouraged as you read
through the Bible this year, reread this passage.
It is Psalm 119:9-16: "How can a young man cleanse
his way? By
taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You, Oh let me not
wander from Your commandments!
Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not
sin against You!"
Isn't that beautiful—"Your word is a safeguard
against my living a sinful life"? "Blessed are You, O
Lord! Teach me Your statutes.
With my lips I have declared all the judgments of
Your mouth. I
have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in
Now how's that for an attitude—The joys I have known
from a paycheck have now been felt just as strongly when I
come to know Your precepts! "I will meditate on Your
precepts, and contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statues, I will not
forget Your word." "My
delight, my pleasure is in watching the Razorbacks play;
therefore, I will not forget to buy season tickets.
My delight, my pleasure is in deer hunting,
therefore, I will not forget to purchase a license, to set
up a stand, and to avail myself of the opportunity when the
My delight, my pleasure is in cooking, therefore, I will not
forget to watch the food channel."
You see, our attitude is so important, and our
attitude will help to sustain our action!
Remember Psalm 119:9-16; maybe it can keep you
put it this way: "If you abide in My word, you are My
disciples indeed" (John 8:31).
Read the Word; it can strengthen, encourage, comfort,
warn, prick, and transform us!
Secondly, Acts 2:42 states that they also continued
steadfastly in fellowship.
These early Jewish Christians in Jerusalem weren't
isolated from other religions.
Every nation around them had their own gods and
Those religions often focused on rituals, and especially
sexually-oriented rituals and human sacrifices.
That's why God warned the Israelites so strongly
against idolatry because it usually led to perverted sexual
addictions as well as the slaying of innocent children!
Judaism was to be focused on God and the Law, but by the
apostles' day, the traditions of the fathers, the temple and
its upkeep, and the focus of majoring in minors had created
a legalistic way of life very different from that which God
That new people under a new covenant with a new heart and
new spirit were offering something very different to their
world! All of
this came about because there is a new Lord, described in
Phil. 2:5ff: “Let this mind be in you which was also in
Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not
consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself
of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and
coming in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled
Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even
death of the cross.” You see, in most religions, mankind
in reaching up to the gods or to God, but in Christianity,
it is God reaching down to mankind.
There's the incarnation and the redemption; the King
of the Jews from Nazareth is our sacrificial substitute Who
paid the price with His blood on that old rugged cross to
free us from Satan and sin's slavery! “Therefore, God has
highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above
every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of those in heaven, and those on the earth, and of those
under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
For Jesus' obedience, we now see His exaltation and
glorification; His name is above all so called gods and all
earthly rulers and religious leaders! Everyone knee should
bow before Him to acknowledge His kingship, and every tongue
should confess before Him to acknowledge His lordship!
We see that Jesus is unique and reigns supreme!
He is not to be incorporated with other gods; He is
you bowed your knee to Him and confessed Him as your Lord?
Notice, through His incarnation, He was God with us,
but now at His exaltation, He longs to be God over us.
Now for all those who exalt Him as Lord, there is a
deep and profound bond of holy love that unites us.
His mindset of becoming a bondservant who was
obedient to God's will unto death also becomes our mindset.
And He taught us to wash one another's feet, to bear
one another's burdens, to forgive one another's trespasses,
and to provide for one another's needs! It's just like Jesus
Himself had prophesied in John 10:16: "And other sheep I
have which are not of this fold [a reference to the
Gentiles], them also I must bring, and they will hear My
voice; and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd."
The one Shepherd is Jesus, and the one flock is
His church! How
does one become a member of this one church?
Well, let's look back out the verse prior to our
text—Acts 2:41: "Then those who gladly received his word
were baptized; and that day 3000 souls were added to them."
Those who heard the Gospel and were baptized in
Jesus' name were added to others who made up the one flock!
Have you been immersed into Christ's name in order to
be added to His church?
And this brings us to another resolution.
Just as these members in Jerusalem enjoyed their
fellowship, united around the One Shepherd in His one flock,
let's enjoy the saints!
How can we enjoy the saints more in 2010? Here are
First of all, participate in our small group program.
Those directing this program are constantly working
to improve it.
They have already ordered some interesting and practical
materials for our edification.
But beyond the studying that we do together, the
small group is a wonderful time to get real—to confess sins,
to ask for prayers, to share heavy burdens, to seek
collective wisdom, to edify one another on a very personal
participate in a small group! Secondly, get involved in our
S.O.S. (Spirit of Service) program!
Some information and sign up sheets are on the table
by the map in the foyer! You'll get to work with a team of a
few other members to make a difference in someone's world
You're going to find that being a blessing is going to be
useful, beneficial, and maybe even enjoyable!
So, participate in our S.O.S. Program!
Lastly, one of the best ways that you can enjoy other
saints is to visit them.
Our ladies have a visitation program and so do our
Harris and Diana Avery can give you more details, and the
elders meet each Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. Both groups
would love to see others involved in these great ministries!
You know, there may be a few exceptions, but most members
really enjoy having you drop by for brief visit.
They are usually very hospitable! And I know for a
fact that our members out in the nursing homes, really
appreciate such visits!
They get so lonely at times!
So, participate in one of our visitation programs!
Enjoy the saints—participate in a small group,
participate in our service program, participate in one of
our visitation programs!
You'll be strengthened in 2010 if you do!
Thirdly, Acts 2:42 states that they continued steadfastly in
the breaking of bread. "'Breaking of bread is Luke's term
for what Paul calls the Lord's Supper" (Marshall).
Acts 20:7 informs us that disciples gathered together
on the first day of the week to break bread.
In contrast to the Jews usual assemblies in the
synagogues on each Sabbath, we now see that these Christians
in Jerusalem gathered together each Sunday to partake of the
Lord's Supper, so that they could remember Jesus' death,
burial, resurrection, ascension, and promise to one day come
again to bring about final judgment and eternal rewards.
We need to follow these disciples' good precedent,
and put into practice a third resolution for 2010: attend
Back in the days of the Greeks, a town's citizens would
often gather together to determine what course of action
should be taken.
Luke describes an unlawful mob that gathered together
at the city's huge amphitheater (Acts 19:29).
The Jews had times when they came together for
festivals and times of worship.
In all these cases, these gatherings were called
the word for "assembly" is the Greek word from which we get
our word “church”! So by its very definition, the church is
an assembly of Christ people.
One good brother had made this good observation: "To
be a church, it must meet. ... The church may survive where
there is a poor program of religious education, little
evangelism, virtually no benevolence; but it will not
survive where it does not meet. ... The assembly allows the
church to emerge in its true nature: a redeemed community.
... As redeemed, it is separated from the world, and the
assembly in God's presence makes the church aware of its
[break] from the world.
In the experience of reconciliation with God, the
people know reconciliation also with one another and express
this be being together in unity.
As a community, the church has a life of its own. It
is a people called together by God (and not by human
assembly is the community's celebration of its life, its
faith, and its fellowship.
The church is a people, and a people must manifest
itself as such by assembling" (Ferguson).
You see, when we fail to attend the services, we fail
to show our true nature as a redeemed community called
together by God.
A church will not survive when we fail to meet
you think Satan is aware of this truth?
He is most aware and will use every tactic he can
employ to discourage you from attending the services.
Every time that he can persuade members NOT to
attend, he knows that he is getting closer to total victory
because the church by its very nature is to be an assembly
of the redeemed.
No assembly by no members will then equal no church
Look a moment at Acts 15:30-32: "So when they were sent
off, they came to Antioch, and when they had gathered the
multitude together [when they had assembled the church],
they delivered the letter [this letter contained an
important decision made by the apostles in Jerusalem].
When they had read it, they [the brethren in Antioch]
rejoiced over its encouragement. Now Judas and Silas,
themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened
the brethren with many words."
The brethren, who assembled to hear the letter,
rejoiced, were encouraged, and were strengthen! Question:
What would have happened to those Christians in Antioch if
they had failed to assemble?
That's exactly right; they would have missed out on
the joy, the encouragement, and the strengthening!
You see, when you fail to attend the services, you
miss our on the wonderful blessings that take place only
when the whole church assembles together as God's redeemed
Fourthly, Acts 2:42 shows that the saints in Jerusalem
continued steadfastly in prayers. "Christian prayer is
rooted in the example and teaching of Christ" (Ferguson).
Just as Jesus prayed at crucial times in His life, so
the early Christians prayed at crucial times in the church's
also encouraged His followers to pray in His name (John
see how the Christians in Jerusalem once prayed for boldness
to speak God's Word, and God answered their prayer
immediately (Acts 4:29-31)!
Here are three suggestions for 2010 concerning
prayer: pray specifically, pray dangerously, and pray
There is a specific prayer in Colossians 4:3 that we need to
be praying: "Praying also for us, that God would open to
us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ."
Please pray specifically that God will open doors
into people's lives so that the Gospel might be shared with
open doors so that the Gospel might advance in this city."
Will you prayer that specific prayer?
"Lord, open doors so that the Gospel might advance in
If God can do more than what we ask or think (and
according to Eph. 3:20, He can), then let's not settle for
the tame prayers for security and comfort.
No, indeed, let's pray dangerous prayers that will
take us out of comfort zones, and who knows where that He
might lead us!
If you think watching a ballgame can be exciting, just see
how exciting it might be to watch God answer one of your
Let's keep the “push” on—remember push means to pray
until something happens!
Lastly, let's pray collectively.
We already do this to some extent.
Lynn's class does this on Wednesdays.
Sometimes before we go out as a group on a workday,
Let's just be aware that whenever we are together, that may
be a wonderful opportunity to just pause a few minutes and
pray—for this city, for our neighbors, for this
congregation, for our elders and one another. Just like the
church in Jerusalem, a powerful church is a praying church!
Let's pray specifically, dangerously, and
Next, verse 43 states: "Then fear came upon every soul,
and many wonders were done through the apostles."
Commentators point out how verses 43-47 serve as a summary
from Luke about the situation.
Some also point out that certain manuscripts also add
the words "Then fear came upon every soul in Jerusalem,"
and they note how the apostles and believers are contrasted
with the townspeople.
Whoever was fearful, the townspeople or the
Christians, they were in awe of what God had achieved with
the preaching of Gospel and the establishment of the church!
Remember 3000 Jews had become Christians, and their
lives had been changed for the better!
And this suggests another resolution for us—respect
the Lord! In
modern America, respect for authorities continues to
our culture, the mass media often presents authority figures
as klutzes who are worthy of our ridicule—policemen,
military leaders, politicians, preachers, administrators,
and managers. They are all put down, so that everybody is
put on an equal level, and nobody is made to appear worthy
of our respect.
One person has even written a book entitled The
Trivialization of God where they argue that something
similar has happened to God.
We no longer focus on God's transcendence, power,
majesty, awesomeness, and otherness, but He again is
depicted as an old man who acts very much like human beings.
Reading the Bible helps us to see very clearly that God is
worthy of our respect.
He is above His creation, He is the Almighty God
without limits, He is the Supreme Rulers who holds the power
of life and death in His hands, He is the Eternal One who is
not limited by time and space, He is the Righteous One who
is preparing hell for the devil and his angels and who is
preparing heaven for Christ and the redeemed!
"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is
and is to come" is continually said of this Being (Rev.
Himself told us: "And do not fear those who kill the body
but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to
destroy both soul and body in hell."
As we are on the threshold of a new year, where is
God in our lives?
Was He a part of our New Year's celebration?
Are we trusting Him to guide us and to make us a
stronger body of His people during this next year?
Are we adopting as our motto: "Expect great things
from God! Do
great things for God!
Overcome evil things with God!"
Our Almighty God specializes in impossibilities and
is longing for us to put our faith in Him to make things
happen to His glory! "As for God, His way is perfect; the
word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust
in Him" (Psalm 18:30)! Let's respect the Lord!
A new covenant, a new heart and spirit, and a new
people—aren't we glad that God keeps His resolutions for new
things! And the
apostle Peter tells us that God has another resolution that
He is presently working on: "Nevertheless we, according
to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in
which righteousness dwells."
As surely as God fulfilled His previous resolutions,
He will fulfill this one too!
We long for the new eternal dimension called heaven,
where there will be no evil and corruption.
Meanwhile, as we wait for this promise, let's resolve
that during 2010, we will read the Word, enjoy the saints,
attend the services, detail the prayers together, and
respect the Lord!
May the Holy Spirit help us to keep these