November 13th – “The Promise is for You”



When the word ‘Church’ is used these days it means so many different things to so many different people. To some the word ‘church’ means buildings with steeples, organs and stained glass windows. Ask children to draw the church and they will draw a square with a tall triangle on top to indicate a building with a steeple.So when you explain that the church is made of people, the brighter children draw a box and a steeple, but made of lots of little faces: the shape remains the same.For others the church means that monstrous dichotomy of clergy and laity, as if the calling of men and women into professional ministry altered the very juice flowing in their arteries. For others the word church means a triangular shaped hierarchy, the peak of which is the Pope, or an Archbishop, or whatever. That shape is not biblical, but it was what emerged after the living Christian church had been pressed into the Roman Empire’s hierarchical structure for years, and then that political mould removed, leaving the church in that precise hierarchical shape.
So just what is the essential church? What are its specific characteristics? Take away all the cultural clutter and ask what’s left that is recognisable and truly church? Well, let’s pursue one simple formula these next few days and follow the earliest moments and days of the original church.
At the start of the Acts of the Apostles a group of believers, about 120 of them, were told by Jesus to wait until they had received supernatural power, and then, and only then, would they be the living eye-witnesses of Jesus and his wondrous good news for the world, and become his agents of God’s kingdom on earth and also to be his personal channels. Meanwhile, while they were waiting, the first church meeting in that powerless state took place and was not particularly edifying. They elected by voting and by drawing lots, a successor to Judas, the Traitor among the original 12, but no one ever hears another word about Matthias, the new selected 12th Apostle, from that day to this. Then at Pentecost it all happened. The Holy Spirit came upon the church of Jesus, and the church became a living being. In response to the sermon which Peter preached that day, 3000 people were converted to Christ, and baptised into the living, growing church, which had no buildings and no fixed structures. We will examine the distinguishing marks of that first living church in the next four days. For today, hear the climax of Peter’s sermon, which was all about Jesus, his cross and resurrection:
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2: 37-39
A Prayer:
Without your Spirit, O Lord, what we call the church is but an empty shrine. Come upon me and our church and fill us.
Now read Isaiah Chapter 61.

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Thought 4 The Day

Our salvation depends not on our love for God but His love for us, not our commitment to him but his pledge to us,
not our hold on him but his grasp of us. (Anon)

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