10th September 2023

A vision for our Church

Passage: Acts 9:26-31
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

The reason for choosing the passage in Acts chapter 9 has to do with the description in the final verse where in verse 37, if we just put that passage, Acts 9, 26, the following, it's because in that verse it describes the early church and some of the difficulties that they had gone through, it really sent them for six. Some of the persecution had caused people to leave Jerusalem, they caused others to be afraid, they were suspicious of each other. There were other difficulties between people with varying backgrounds who weren't getting on in the church and had a bit of a squabble about everybody getting looked after and some groups being favoured more than others. Let's read the passage through Acts 9, 26. They did not believe that he was a disciple. They thought it might be a trick to find out who they were so he could throw more in jail, etc.

But Barnabas, who is known by his name by the way, it means a son of encouragement, Barnabas was always looking on the positive side and helping people. Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how he on the road had seen the Lord who spoke to him and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out amongst them in Jerusalem preaching boldly in the name of the Lord and he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. I'll explain who they are in a moment. But they were seeking to kill him and when the brothers, the Christian brothers, learned this they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus which was his home city, so back to family to keep him safe. But here's the verse, the final verse of chapter 9 of the book of Acts. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, interesting, and was being built up even more interesting especially when we try and work out how we can cause our church to succeed and to grow and to be built up. They had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they're things I want to get onto tonight, walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

Now this has nothing to do with winning a mathematics competition, the church. When it says it multiplied, the Bible often uses picture form to explain. Did you know the Bible talks about the times when the word of God ran or the word of God increased? And when I first read that I used to think, gee, where's the Bible Society? I've gotten in early and somehow they're printing off more Bibles. I had this picture in Jerusalem of these Bibles coming out of one of their houses, the Bible Society, and people taking it everywhere. But when it talks about the word of the Lord, it's talking about the central message, which is known as the gospel. It's the central message of the Bible. It's the message that allows you to become a Christian. What Brindley was leading us in with the chorus is a verse that is popularly known as the Bible in a nutshell, or should I say the gospel in a nutshell. I think it's a good verse to give us the heart of the gospel, although there's a lot more to it than just what you'd fit in a nutshell. But the fact that God sent his son into the world to die upon a cross, that we could be forgiven because he took our sins, and we're given a free forgiveness because Jesus paid for it. And I'm hearing that news.

We can experience a call from God to come back and make peace with him. And that's what the gospel is. And anyway, so the church for Adol, Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. So we actually have here a key to success in a local church, which we would do well to follow. Now we're going to have a members meeting coming up next month. And a part of the idea of members meetings and where we have council meetings is one of them coming up this coming Monday night, where we have opportunities to see, to talk about what we're doing and to try and see how we can organise best and have the ministry happening best. All of that really is with the name of that same goal of there being a growth. But notice that whereas other places might say a great number of people were added to the church, the Book of Acts does talk in language like that.

Here it says it multiplied. Now the difference between addition and multiplication is the multiplication jumps ahead so quick you can scarcely keep up with it. Multiplication is because there's some active ingredient involved that can't be explained by just additions. Now we do actually have an after-evening service meal. And ever since we've been doing that in various forms, it's really been quite successful as far as the evening services are concerned. I can remember a time when our average attendance in the evening was six. And our numbers have gone up and down. It depends on what else is on, I suppose. But the truth is that having a meal after the evening service was a good strategy. And I think we added to the evening service quite a bit. But this is talking about multiplication where you can't really explain it by one factor adding the difference. Something just happens. And our aim for this church, I believe, should be for a work of the Holy Spirit that is God's hand just makes the place flourish.

And this is a verse that's talking about it, which is why I want to preach it tonight to bring you, the evening service people, in on what might be our best attempt at a plan or as a strategy or as a way to follow the Scriptures to see things happen that comes from the hand of God. Well, we'd better go back a bit to the Bible reading passage which began that Acts 9 earlier verse. And we'll follow through the storyline because it will highlight to us some of the issues that they faced back then. Verse 26, that's good, thank you. And when he comes to Jerusalem, and this is our friend Saul of Tarsus who's going to be named as Paul and known as the Apostle, but that's all yet to really happen. He attempted to join the disciples, but they were afraid of him. Now it's an amazing thing, but this happens in churches a fair bit when newcomers come that sometimes we, the old comers, or the old beers, attenders, don't always know exactly how to integrate in the new ones. And I remember down in Sydney we had some people come along and one young man, he was a tradie and he worked in mechanics and he looked very rough.

And I had some of the parents of the youth group girls, especially the younger ones, not really want him to join in the youth group, he looked so rough, you know. And they weren't really thinking he was a good addition. The thing is that he got keen for Christ. He eventually wanted to go into the ministry. His entire appearance, although he still had longish hair, but he just didn't look rough anymore. He became one of the sweetest persons in that youth group. And God brings about a change to people. And that is something, of course, that we as Christian people sometimes don't have enough awareness of. We don't count on what God can do for someone. We're thinking about what their background is, they haven't been trained very well at home, or their background is that they've come from overseas and they're from another country which is full of politics we don't like, or they don't speak the language properly, or whatever. We're looking at the human side. And what we have to do is in the storyline of the Apostle Paul to take the precedent that God is in the business of changing people. And the church had to catch up with the fact that when newcomers come, they're projects, and God says to us, I haven't finished with them yet. See if you can break them in or let them in.

Don't hold against them the fact that they might have a politics different from yours. Or don't hold against them that they don't necessarily have the manners or perhaps the culture, or maybe the training. It's amazing how all of us are just the same, but in different ways, we can think that how we are is the norm, and we want all the others to fit in. But when people come to a church often, they come and they're not going to be the same. And here's the Apostle Paul to be, and he's finding it hard to get into the Christian church. Isn't that a bit of a surprise? It is to me. He attempted to join the disciples and they were afraid of him. Well, of course, he's been persecuting people and getting them killed or put in jail, so I'm not surprised that the storyline reads like that. They didn't believe he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles, as we read, and declared the fact of which was the evidence that he had become a Christian. Now in his particular case, he had a vision of Christ.

The first thing we need to recognize is that not everybody becomes a Christian because of such a dramatic moment of falling off a camel or horse, whichever was the case with Paul, that the Lord appeared to him and spoke to him from heaven. And not everybody can report something quite so dramatic. But nor is it the case that God doesn't bring everybody to become a Christian by intellectually going to a good Bible study or absorbing the teaching and coming to believe it and writing their decision on a decision card, as some of us might have done. No, God has different ways. And one of the things about God, I want to tell you, if you don't already know, is that he is not someone who gets stuck in a rut or has to follow a formula or does everything as he did with other people. Just what he did for you to become a Christian doesn't have to be the same way that he's going to do for others. In the case of Paul, he had seen the Lord. As a matter of fact, the vision was so great that it made him blind. Now God is still in the business, and sometimes in third world countries, there will be stories of people having a miraculous conversion where God chooses to do something very dramatic.

And some people do become a Christian because of some miraculous moment of intervention God does. In Sydney, at that church, there was another fellow who came from outside who was also a mechanic and also rather rough. His nickname was The Bear because he was a real big, broad fellow. And anyway, he was in the evening service. We had evening services there, much similar to what we do here. And some of the older people of the church, there was a string of widows, merry widows, we called them, because they made a club and had great fun playing cards. And they were in the centre of the church fellowship. And they sat behind him one night. Anyway, when the end of the service came, I gave a call for people who wanted to come to Christ to come down the front. This fellow responded and came. When I got him in the room, I took him to a room like sometimes we do here, and he began to tell me that I heard a voice behind me. And I think the wording was that young man, go forward.

And I thought, oh, that was one of those merry widows. They were trying to help God. Well, anyway, he got converted. And I went and spoke to them along the way afterwards and said, did you say anything to him, make him go forward? And they said, no, we didn't. So no one knows how was it that he heard someone telling him to go forward. I concluded it was the Lord. There are people who become Christians by some dramatic moment. That doesn't mean everybody does. God has his own ways to bring us in, and there's just as many people, probably a lot more, who come as a result of reading the scriptures and coming to a quiet conclusion that Jesus is the Christ, he's the Son of God, that he died on the cross for them. And there's many a different storyline that you can find people say, and they're all just as valid. But one of the things that we should not do is expect of people that they have an entrance to the Christian life just the same as us. And sometimes people have come via a route, and there's an awful lot they don't know.

It doesn't mean that they're not necessarily in the door, just as equally it can mean that you can be a person who's been through Bible class and been through teaching in a good school, and actually think you're a Christian simply because you believe it. There's more to what the Bible means by believing in Christ than just the fact that you accepted the propositions. It's not just a mental thing. It involves the person of Jesus and him having business with you, which you can do by a quiet conviction, which you can do by a dramatic moment, or something happening that makes you sit up straight and know that you're not really in the door at all. There's the variety of how Christ works is something we all should take notice of. But what to not do is to expect that people will come in the door and have all the same ideas as you. You'd be surprised at how many different ideas people have because of the route that they've come.

When I went through theological college, there were too many students, so the three of us had to sleep in sleeping bags on the floor in one of the common rooms meant to be for people to lounge about in. It was like our bedroom. The fellow that I slept next to had come to Christ in one of those unusual cults or sects. It was the Christian Science Movement, which have a reading room. They believe that God can step in and heal anybody and he does miracles. If you don't believe that, you're not in their group. This fellow had gone along to find God. In being there, he read enough of the scriptures for God to speak to him and became a Christian. He didn't understand it, but when he kept on going there, he became aware that there was something wrong in their teaching and he left. He ended up going to a Baptist church. Actually, the one that wanted him to be a part of them was on the Gold Coast. He used to go along having been swimming in his still wet togs. The church there was of a nature that they didn't care what people looked like when they came, they were just glad they came.

Then he came to college and he was a fellow who was sleeping at night times just next to me and he knew the Lord. He gradually learned by being at college just more accurately about the Christian church. There's many a person that has been found by the Lord, but boy, do they have a lot of things they don't understand. We need to recognize that and let them catch up as the Holy Spirit will lead them. What happened was Barnabas, verse 27, took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road to Damascus and Jesus had spoken to him. How he had responded by starting to preach boldly in the name of Jesus so he wasn't just a chicken, he was a person that could expect all sorts of bad results of his past having persecuted people and now he's the one who's bearing the name of Christ just the same as the people he once persecuted.

So Paul gets in and out amongst the church as a result and people come to accept him as a real Christian. Now the point I want us to see as we go a bit further on down and the next part of the thing is that Paul, one of the things he was disputed with against the Hellenists. Put your hand up if you know who or what the Hellenists are. Put your hand up if you know. I'm just looking and seeing quite a few of you do, but not all. Hellenists, actually a few, Michelle's mother was named Helen and I was able to tell her that that meant Greeky. She was Irish. But the word Hellenist means a Greek person and Hellenists are people who by culture have taken on board the Greek culture the Greek culture from, that was going around the ancient world. You've heard of Alexander the Great and the influence of the Greeks. It had some other slightly different definitions but they all had to do with something to do with Greekness and some of the beliefs of the Greeks.

If we want to see one type of Hellenist, go back a few chapters to chapter 6. Now I didn't tell you in chapter 6 verse 1, I think is the verse I'm talking about where there's a dispute going on in the church. Part of the problem with the early church was them getting to handle all the variations of people's lives and what they believed and the culture that they carried. There always are problems in churches as there are in any organisation whether it be a cricket club or the church or the YMCA or something where people have got different ideas. That's happening in the church. Now verse 1, Now what's this Hellenist and Hebrews? Hellenist means Greeky and Hebrew means Jew. And what it is, is that amongst those who had a Hebrew background they spoke Hebrew rather than speaking the vernacular of the Greek as most common people did. The Hebrews had a very strong knowledge of the Old Testament law and had an insistence that we live out a very strict type of Jewish religion.

Even if you were to go to Jerusalem tonight, you'd find amongst those who are Jerusalem dwellers, there are some who are quite libertine, they're free and breezy about the laws and there are others who are really strict. And I've heard from people who've been to Hebrew and there's all sorts of events that you'll hear of how the strict type of people who dress up in special clothes don't like the ones who don't keep the Sabbath. And one story I heard was in one area of Jerusalem that those strict orthodox Jews were really annoyed because some young fellow had a motorbike he used to ride around on the Sabbath and make lots of noise. So they stretched a wire across the road that he normally came and he came around, gunned the bike and beheaded himself. And they were so strict they were not going to let him disobey the law. He got a head finish. That's a bad joke. Anyway, there were the people who were Hebrews and it means that their culture that they are immersed in is the strict Old Testament Hebrew culture that there were still people following.

Whereas Hellenists meant that in some way they were immersed in the Greek culture. Sometimes it was merely the language that they spoke and other times it was that they followed a lot of the customs that the Greeks had and it varied. Now this particular case, these ones who are Hellenists in Acts 6 are Christians and the ones who are Hebrews are Christians. But somehow or other the ones who are Hebrews they get favoured in the distribution of meals and all for those who are needing some over and above the ones who are Greek cultured. And so there is this split and this problem that the early church has to solve. And it's just the case in all churches that you have to be cautious about the fact that the culture that we carry or we live in and carry with us affects a lot of our ideas. My church down in Sydney was near the Macquarie University and we kept getting students coming, PhD students and people like that. And I had other folk who came to me and said, because I was preaching to the uni types, and they said, now your sermons are going over my head. And one fellow who was one of my best friends there, he said, Jim, I've got to leave because I can't keep up with the preaching.

And I was really sad about that, but it's just the matter of the culture that you're used to can make a big difference. And one of the things the church has to do is to attempt to straddle those cultural differences and to be able to set up a thing where you don't have to be just one style of person, but people of all different cultures are free to come and to join in. And that's a part of having those tables of eight and things like that, that we've been doing, have been named and helping in. So part of our attempt in church life and in organisation should be to see if we can't make it that everybody can feel included and not just ones that maybe there's a special culture around Salisbury. I wouldn't know exactly what to say that it is. I don't think there is. But if there were, not just those who are Salisburyites type, right, but people of all different distinctions. And one of the beautiful things that happens actually in that church in Sydney, I've probably told you this before, there was a bit of a reaction by the young people. We had lots of young people come. And at some event, I wanted to get them all to mix in with the older ones. And one young man said to me, I don't want to do that. I'd have to sit next to him. He named someone.

I know the older people of that church. I've told this before. The name he gave was an old lady in her 80s and 90s. She was my prayer partner. And he said I'd have to sit next to her and talk to her. And he gave her name. And he said he was a young person. He wanted just to relate to young people. And anyway, as time passed, he became, that young man, a lot more spiritual. There came a moment when he liked to choose to sit next to this lady. What's more, he got a call from God to go as a missionary to South America. And guess who he wanted on his list of prayer partners? That same lady. She happened to have a gift in prayer. And when she prayed, things happened. And it all changed. And one of the signs of a church that has got in gear with God and is following the New Testament is when you don't have to have the same culture and you can accommodate people who've not necessarily got it all right like you have. And not necessarily someone who's in the, what will I call it, the age bracket that you're used to relating to. I think if there's a presence in a church of a generation gap that changes things and so you only mix with the people of your generation, you ain't very spiritual yet. We are not very spiritual yet.

Because the work of the Spirit does to us what it did to that young man of suddenly seeing something of great value in that old lady. She actually was quite a character. And she used to pray. And I know from her being one of my prayer partners that many things she prayed for happened. And we need the spirituality of older people when we're young. We need the spirituality of young people and their vitality and willingness to step out and have a go when we're a bit older and perhaps stuck in our ways. And so there's a culture thing that's going on. And in the case of Acts 6, it isn't a terribly big spiritual one as much as it's just a cultural one. Some of them are Hebrew speaking and quote from the Old Testament Hebrew and others of them follow the Greek language and are reading the LXX as a Greek version of the Old Testament. But they have to learn not to favour their group against the other group. Well, as we go on reading through here, we'll see that we're down to the resolution of that by choosing seven men of good repute. I'm looking at verse 3. The apostles tell the people to pick out seven people to be like deacons, if you like.

You're going to look after the helping everybody get the meals that they need and the help that they get. And they're appointed to see that that happens. And a part of what this next members meeting coming up is about is to see that we have got the mechanisms whereby we can see that our fellowship doesn't get split apart because people have different backgrounds or have different things that they think is important. What is interesting is that when you get down to the final verse, I'll jump down to there. It's verse 19, was it? Down to the end of that spot. Yeah. It's in... Oh, sorry, we're in Acts 6 on the screen. But if we go back to Acts 9 and we look at that final verse, it says in Acts 9 and verse 31, so the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace. Now, this is interesting because it's enumerating three areas which often had people in them that squabbled. One is Judea, where the stricter of Jewish people were and where the temple was, where there were more on the ground people who spoke Hebrew rather than Greek.

Galilee, was that the next one I mentioned? Let me just check again. Yeah, Judea and Galilee. Galilee is where our friends Peter, James and John and those ones come from, fishermen, who didn't particularly care about the higher education circles. They weren't exactly worried about doing all the right things according to how the people of Jerusalem might want them to do. And these people very much were thought of as different. The Apostle Peter, when he was on the Day of Pentecost, people criticised him because they picked up his Galilean accent. And so this cultural thing can come and cause differences in churches. And that's one of the things that we need to grow over, so you don't have to have all your friends just the same as you.

And what we've been doing in the church in having times where people don't go home straight away, but we've had this cafe thing at the back where people are encouraged to get a hot drink and then look for someone to talk to, is in order to encourage us to find, discover the fellowship there is with other Christians who may be of a different ilk than us and to let that spread so we get rid of the generation gap if ever it were to arise. So that we get rid of a sense in which you've got to all be people who are university crowd or the people who've got proper jobs. Excuse me. But the people who are, you know, just the differences that there are because God calls different people and things that we're led into are very different. I couldn't help notice that that's the case. I had a big problem amongst young people when I was a 20-year-old. I got told that my reputation was brought about by my dad being the principal of the college. And when I got my second degree, they told me I was collecting degrees and I was too much of an academic type of person.

So there's a whole lot of people, I'll tell you the people of Salisbury I know thought this way about me, that were more down to earth. They were more interested in the Ford V8 they drove and on things that were, you know, like more average people who have a job. And that's something that causes a bit of a difference that you don't fit in. But when God's spirit works, you find yourself can have fellowship with people different. It's a phenomenon that happens. That's what we're actually aiming for in our church. That's what behind the scenes some of us are praying for. And I felt led of God to particularly be praying for the filling of the spirit. When I started that idea, I was thinking a little bit selfishly. I was thinking about that will make my preaching ten times better if God filled me with the spirit. But to my surprise, where I got led to see the first application of the filling of the spirit was going to be in the, well, the fellowship of the church. And in the worship of the church. And instead of a church like lots of churches you can go to and they have worship and, you know, if the music is good and the musicians do nice, and if they have a little skit now and then you say, oh, it's a good church, good worship.

That's not the test of the worship. Don't look at what's happening at the front for the test of the worship. Look at what's happening amongst us. And when you feel you're at church and there was somehow the presence of Christ and you felt a oneness with the other people and when they had opportunity for fellowship at the end, you didn't really want to leave. I used to be able to test that for churches when I was an itinerant that when they have the benediction, watch how quick the place empties. You know something about the church. But where God's spirit moves, they have a benediction and no one believes. They just want to be with people with whom they have this heart connection. That's the fellowship that the Holy Spirit brings. The church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria. So now it's listed the three ones that used to squabble. Samaria, Samaritans there, you know, they're from the northern tribes that betrayed Judaism by intermixing with the others and they're impure and they're blood now because they're only half Jews.

Those Samarians, they think that the proper mountain to go to for worship is one they've got up there. They don't like this idea of Jerusalem being the proper place. They had a theological squabble. And theological squabbles is one of the things that happens in a church that's needing the Holy Spirit to bring about a fellowship that will transcend it. I'm not saying that the squabbles aren't based in the fact people have got a variation of ideas. They do. But when the spirit of God works, you don't really... It's something that's been removed from even the theological differences. That's why when you have those conventions at Easter up in Mount Tamborine and they used to use the banner, All One in Christ Jesus, and people left behind in their local churches is the fact of the things that divide us. And so if you meet up with someone who believes in the second blessing, you don't rub their noses in it. You just look for what you've got in common. And what you have in common is the fact of knowing Christ. And there's something that happens in interdenominational groups that don't get taken over just by one doctrine.

And I know about this because I was one of the offenders when I was first young and keen and got preaching. If I went to somewhere, I got invited to all sorts of places, but they turned out not to be Baptists, well, I used to try and teach them how to be Baptists. And I used to take a Bible study where they weren't, they were Presbyterians, and I had to pull my head in, suddenly realising that what we had in common was not our Baptist doctrine. I don't mind us prosecuting our Baptist doctrine in our church. You're a bit silly if you don't stand up for what you base the church on, but it doesn't mean that you have to demand everybody has the same ideas. We do have a thing that demands a standard for belief to be a member of our church, but it doesn't stop others coming who aren't able to quite fit in with that. And we actually have some people I have had come along and speak here who I wouldn't let become a member because I couldn't let the church get turned away from our own doctrines by letting them. I don't make a barney with them, and as long as they preach on the gospel, then we don't, you know, they know that's what I'm doing.

It's, whenever you get into an interdenominational group, that's actually what you're promising to do, to stick to what is the central theme of the gospel, and not to introduce, no, I actually believe that there's this, this, this, and you are all wrong, or here's my opportunity to spread my beliefs. That's what we have to do to the degree that our church is defined. We define it with some things that are important. You have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. If you try and become a member and not believe that, we won't let you. But that's because it's central, and we have cut out a central lot of doctrines that we insist on, and we'll train people until they do believe it, but we don't demand that everybody have the same set of beliefs together. We're going to all have different ones, and it's the movement of the Spirit that creates a fellowship that lets you do that. And in Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, these three areas where people normally scrapped, they had peace as a result of what is being talked about. The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace, because I know about those three areas and just how squabbly they were. This verse really hit me between the eyes. And then look what it says, and was being built up. The entire church across those three areas was being built up.

And one of the things that makes a church built up is that you get over your squabbles, because while you still have your squabbles, it's pulling out the spirituality of the place. It goes on, I'm walking in the fear of the Lord, but in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied, and the effect of that is not just addition, because you're doing some things right, but multiplication where you can't explain the explosion of Christianity and of new Christians, it's the Holy Spirit. And I notice also it says, in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and this is where I'm going to stop tonight. What do you know about the comfort of the Holy Spirit? It's when you know He's present leading you. When you know He's on you. When there's evidence of things happening, it's because the Spirit has done it. There's something, well I reckon there's nothing more exciting when you go home and something's happened that you didn't make happen, and something just occurred and you had the signature of the Lord written on it.

And one of the things that God does is He brings that sense of comfort that He's got you, and He fills you, He controls you, and you rest in what He lets happen, the comfort of the Holy Spirit. And that's our aim for our church, that if we, by calling on God to fill us with the Spirit that will be in the things that we have, and some of those will be the things that our group, hospitality group, are going to arrange for us to do. It is us getting over us pushing our own barrows and recognizing that we want to have like Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, where people that you wouldn't naturally think would get on. I saw that in Sydney at that church, and the biggest one was the generation gap, and how it used to be something where the young people wanted their own show, and the old people wanted their own show, and some old ideas of doing church were looked down the nose at by the young people, but when God's Spirit moved, all that disappeared.

That's our aim for our church, in the fellowship that the filling of the Holy Spirit will make the difference, We are now getting to understand the things that are important, and not getting lost in the little details, or in different groups because we have different doctrinal backgrounds, or have something that we've brought to the church that is only going to make us all squabble. A group of squabbling people in the church do not experience what that text says. Walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplies. We'll be denied that aim if we can't let the filling of the Spirit help us to be similar to how these verses read. Let's have a word of prayer.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for this passage, and for how it speaks about the healing of some of the rifts and some of the fears, I guess with the soul of Tarsus getting around and having people thrown in prison, or like the stoning of Stephen that he was a part of, I guess there are a lot of fears. There's nothing worse than fear when people are so pessimistic because of things. Also, Lord, sometimes we have those cultural differences that make us looking for our way and don't want to join in because they do it differently here or something. Save us from those littlenesses, I pray. May our church be able to become like these verses depict the early church we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

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