Friday, February 1
What Must We Do?
36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!"
37 When they heard this, they came under deep conviction and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: "Brothers, what must we do?"
38 "Repent," Peter said to them, "and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call." 40 And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, "Be saved from this corrupt generation!"
41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them.
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. 43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.
(Act 2:36-47 CSB)
The Spirit blew in with mighty power, heralding that the Day of the Lord had in fact arrived.
Peter preached that the Messiah had in fact come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and not only did they fail to recognize him but they murdered him.
Peter’s closing words echoed in their hearts and minds: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.
Imagine how Peter’s Jewish audience felt. The single thing they had waited for, hoped for, prayed for—He had come! But they didn’t recognize him, and so they killed him. What now? What hope remained? How would God react now that His people had rejected His promised final redemption? In fear and desperation, they asked Peter: what must we do? But the deeper question, the one they were too afraid to ask, was porbably: is there any hope left for us?
Yes. Yes, there was still hope. Despite their failure God’s grace remained and Peter assures the people that the promise is still for them, their children, and anyone who would believe that Jesus was indeed both Lord and Messiah. The necessary response was simple:
Receive the Holy Spirit.
As essential as these three elements are, though, they did not define the life of the believers. After joining the body of believers, their lives were defined by various activities:
Having repented, been baptized, and filled with the Spirit, these new Jesus-followers formed a radical new community, not by leaving their old lives but by transforming the way they lived their everyday, ordinary lives. Their new faith was not defined by one-time events or a list of the correct beliefs. It was a lifestyle defined by learning, worship, celebrating Christ’s sacrifice, meeting together, and loving others more than themselves. And they were joyful and humble about it the entire time.
This is not normal human behavior, and people noticed. Criticism, hostility and outright persecution were coming, but most of that negative attention came from political and spiritual elite. With ordinary, everyday people, the Church found “favor.” It is hard to find fault with people who are joyful, humble, and self-sacrificing. And the result? The Church grew. Everyday.
Churches across the United States are decreasing in numbers, and Jesus-followers do not have the favor of the people. From your experience, what are some of the reasons people find the Church repulsive rather than attractive? What behaviors from the list of early-Church activities are often missing from churches and the lives of Christ-followers? What can we do, individually and as a local Church body, to gain the favor of the people in our communities so that daily we might see more saved?
We do not need or seek the favor of the people. We seek only Your face, Your favor, yet Your Word demonstrates that living our lives as true Jesus-followers will be attractive to others. Lord, there are people in darkness, in need of Your salvation. Make us like You. Through learning, fellowship and prayer may we become people who are humble, joyful and self-sacrificing. Make us people that other people notice, and add daily to the number of people being saved. In the name of Jesus, the only name by which we can be saved, Amen.
Pick Four More Activities
Listen and Worship.
Pray a Psalm.
Read a Book.
Retell the Gospel to Yourself.
Take Some Notes on Today's Devotional.
Pray for Yourself, Your Family, Your Church, and the Lost.
Memorize a Verse.
List Five Things You're Thankful For.