Apostolic Men of Integrity
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1997 Christmas Banquet Devotional
"Continue stedfastly"

"And they continued stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

[Acts 2:42 KJV]

We must become true men of God. When we are the best that we can be for the Lord, I just have to believe that we will be the best we can be for everything else that we do: the best husband to our wives, the best father for our children, the best brother for our brethren, the best friend for our friends, the best employee for our employers, the best coworker for our coworkers.

How do we become this true man of God? I believe that the scriptures teach us that it comes through prayer and bible study and fellowship and breaking of bread. Without an understanding of the scriptures we have no roots to enable us to grow and without prayer we have no power. It is through His Word that we learn of God and His majesty, but it is through prayer that we reach God. It is our prayer that touches the throne of grace. Without fellowship and breaking of bread, where is our encouragement and friendship. Remember that the Lord moves through people, so when you cut yourself off from people, you cut yourself off from much of the ministering of the Lord.

In this day we are constantly in danger of becoming too sophisticated. Why do we need God when we have computers and cell phones and instant this and instant that. God hasn't kept up with the times, some may say! Perhaps the times have not kept up with God, would be more accurate. Is the world a better place today now that we have record numbers of abortions, murders, divorces, sex crimes, abuse and corruption in high places?

If I have learnt anything in my life, then one principle that stands out is that you can never go back to the basics too often. The tale is told of Vince Lombardi, that he stood in the middle of the Green Bay Packers locker room and said "Gentlemen, this is a football.". In the same spirit, I suggest that we also return to the basics: "Gentlemen, this is a bible!"

I believe that the early Church, recounted to us in the book of Acts, knew this principle of basics. We read in many places that they were in the temple praying or teaching and when they weren't in the temple, then they were in someone's home praying or breaking bread together in fellowship. Consider the first miracle performed by the Apostles, recorded in Acts 3. Peter and John were headed to the temple to pray. The bible does not tell us that they were looking for opportunities to perform a miracle, the scriptures tell us they were looking to pray. When we focus on the Lord, He blesses us, when we focus on ourselves, He turns off the flow of blessings.

I suggest that we need not a "new" attitude, but rather that we return to the "old" attitude of the early Church. We need to personalise Acts 2:42. We must "continue stedfastly" in all that we have been taught, for that is what the bible teaches us.

E.M. Bounds writes:

"We are constantly on a stretch if not a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, new organisations to advance the Church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel ... Men are God's method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. ... The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but men. He does not anoint plans, but men - men of prayer." [E.M. Bounds - Power Through Prayer]

How true! We have tried, with pure motives I suspect, to improve on God's ways. We have felt that we are intelligent and reasoning and in touch with our times, so surely we can bring the techniques of those simple Galileans up to date. We forget, in our pride, that God's plans are timeless, that He was able to look ahead to our time and to know what we would need in our walk with Him. He knew that no matter how sophisticated the world would feel it has become, that man does not change and still has the same needs: the Apostle's doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer.

We have made a good start this year and the Lord has certainly blessed our times of unified prayer. We must strive to keep the momentum that we have achieved. We can maintain and even increase the momentum in exactly the same way that we gained it in the first place, by sticking with the basics and doing them well. I encourage each of our men to reach out to their families, friends and coworkers. Invite them to a men's event, be your own "outreach committee", but while reaching out, let us not forget to reach up and to reach in. We need to reach up so that the Lord is always before us and we must reach in to our brethren, because we are indeed our brother's keeper.

Let me challenge you to be better men in Nineteen Ninety Eight. Reach out, reach in, reach up and go back to basics. The Lord does not change, so if Acts 2:42 was how He choose to build a church in the first century, then it is how He will build churches in these last years of the twentieth century.


Bro. Simon Chappell

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