We should meet with grateful hearts to worship the Lord, to be enriched by His word, be encouraged by one another, the Lord’s presence and His working in our hearts and lives.
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2: 46 – 47 ESV
The beginning of the book is especially dear to us because it was through this book that the Lord granted us revival – God’s Spirit at work amongst His people. Verse 46 in Zulu says, “in whiteness of heart”. Their hearts were pure, they received their food with glad, generous, abundant, ‘white’ hearts – praising God. Do you not think that Jesus, God, the Father and His Holy Spirit would be pleased to be amongst such people? Jesus came as Immanuel – God with us and He was able to be amongst these people. Do you count yourself as one of these people? Is your heart pounding for such fellowship, such an attitude, such a heart?
What had happened just before this verse? God had showered His Holy Spirit on these people who were seeking Jesus and who were united in prayer. Peter addressed the crowds after this incident. There were mockers in this crowd who heard the good news in various languages. However, they mocked Peter and the other disciples – saying they were drunk, that is why they spoke in languages that they did not understand.
Who was this Peter? A few days prior he had disowned Jesus because of the immense powers Satan exerted to kill the Son of God. Peter could not stand under this trial and he denied the Lord thrice. He could have remained in a remorseful and complaining state, blaming the evil one or evil people who forced him to sin. He could have remained downcast. He could have remained a failure. But when he met the risen Lord and his eyes met His and He mentioned Peter by his name, Peter reacted. He was wakened to the One who had given His life for him. He experienced the forgiveness as only Jesus can forgive and he was restored. Friend, are you willing to be restored – not to stand on your own rights as a child of God, not to use the Bible to defend your evil, excuse your wrongdoing and justify the causes? Peter was restored and enabled to stand before these mockers and before all the Jews who had seen and heard about this criminal who was crucified on Golgotha. He could relate to them how this Jesus, of whom the prophet had prophesied, was now at work and that through His name every man could be saved. The crowd was struck to the heart.
What are your words like? Can Jesus and the Spirit of God control your words so that they are of eternal value and are words of life that can change a sinner into a saint and those who are far off can come near?
The disciples had experienced their Lord being torn from them. Their hope and future were gone. They had been shamed and disgraced. What did Jesus say in Matthew 5? 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11 – 12 ESV. We tend to lose all our faith when people revile and speak evil of us. Remind yourself of this verse. When you are badly treated, even unjustly, if it is for the Lord’s sake, you should rejoice and be glad. But how terrible if you lose faith when you are reviled and spoken evil of. How terrible if God’s promises are of no meaning to you anymore and it just causes complaining, doubts, mistrust and ineffectiveness on your part. That is not the Spirit of Jesus as we have read it. 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Matthew 9:15
The Lord said, I will leave you but I will send the Comforter. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:7 ESV
Do not lose track of the people whom we read about who were filled with the Holy Spirit. Day by day they received their food with grateful hearts, praising God.
Think of a father. Is he gladdened and pleased with a complaining son? What is a pleasant, peaceful family like? Isn’t it a happy child who gladly helps in the home and is glad to be in the family? That child has no reason to complain about the father. Fathers, you are admonished not to exasperate your children that they lose hope in you. If you want to be a father then be a true father. Do not be a father who is infiltrated by the spirit of this world. If you want to get married, earnestly pray that you will be an upright father. The Christian world is sick and tired of fathers who are drop outs and who do not know what uprightness is. Modern fathers are self-pleasers who run off and have their own hobbies. Are you a father? Are you a caretaker? Are you the head of the home? Do you feel the responsibility towards God? You claim God gave you this family but where is your responsibility towards God. Your prayer should be ‘God, give me the heart and the wisdom that these children will rejoice to be part of this family of ours’. Do not just get married because you are a monkey. Do not say that it is God’s will for you to marry if you are a mere monkey. Your children must feel the umbrella of your presence. They must be sheltered from the hot sun and feel the warmth when it is cold. Then they can say: I have a father. I can ask my father. I am sure he will give me the correct advice because of how he conducts his life. Who has a father like I have?
Join with this grateful throng who praise God with white hearts. Can you praise God for your children or your wife? Can you praise God for those who attend the temple together with you and break bread in their homes? Jesus was broken for us – we eat of His body. It is Him at work in us. Can your children praise God with you? Are they eating the food that you are eating? Are they drinking of that fountain that flowed from Immanuel’s side? Do you ask the Lord to cleanse you daily?
…glad and generous hearts… Are you gladdened to go to the temple with the Lord’s children? They longed for those daily times together to meet with the ones that the Lord had added to their numbers. God’s word is wonderful. Can you taste and see how good the Lord is? Wouldn’t Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit be pleased to work amongst this bunch? This is the life for you and me. It needs to overflow. Soon afterwards the devil brought in complaints amongst these people. They saw that they were being treated differently. Satan used his own evil device that he uses so skillfully: there is a difference. He opens your eyes to the differences amongst God’s people. It is the same tactic that he used with Eve when he said, ‘You are being robbed of an opportunity to be like God.’ We need the Spirit of the Lord reigning and governing in our hearts so that if a different thought creeps in which stems from the heart, it can be rebuked before you ponder over it and have the courage to utter it.
God was at rest amongst these people like a father who sits down with his children and grandchildren and enjoys the sweetness of fellowship with them. (Jesus said of the children that unless we have faith like these little ones we will not enter.) Not that the Lord should complain in the way that He spoke to Jeremiah: “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Jeremiah 2:2 ESV How often must Jesus look at us and remember our first love, our devotion when nothing was too difficult or too tiresome for us?
I am reminded of a Caleb and a Joshua.
24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. Numbers 14:24 ESV
The people of Israel were about to enter Canaan, the land of promise. They had been saved through miracles and the mighty arm of God, out of the land of slavery. Caleb was selected to spy out the Promised Land. The 12 spies returned with reports and only 2 of the reports were positive. They all agreed that it was a good land but there were giants and those who were stronger than them who lived in the mountains. They were like grasshoppers in the eyes of these people. Only 2 of the spies said that they should go forward because the God who had helped them thus far would help them to conquer and possess the land. Why? Caleb had a different spirit. He allowed himself to be injected with a heavenly infusion, and he realised that God was in this – that this was God. He said he was going even if others stayed behind. The other 10 said no, we are in the majority and we will not go.
God had to give this verdict: 22 none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, 23 shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. Numbers 14:22 – 23. ESV
Can we disappoint our Heavenly Father to such an extent? Have we partaken of a different spirit? Have you seen the wonders and the miracles that God did to save you?
The 10 spies saw no future. They were at the crossroads and there was no future for them because they looked at, perceived and judged the situation according to their interpretation. But Caleb was different.
10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. 12 So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.” Joshua 14
Was such a spirit in Caleb not pleasing to his Heavenly Father? Weren’t the angels jumping for joy in heaven because of this Caleb? Can only Caleb have a different spirit in him? Why can you not choose to have a different spirit in you, whether you are 40 or 4 years old? We so easily forget. You will remember when God spoke to us out of Jeremiah 29:11 – 14. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ESV Do you see the future? Can your eyes be opened to the future? A future that He gives to us not one that we have fought for.
Remember Job. He said, 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25 ESV. How did he know of a Redeemer? Few prophets speak of a Redeemer but Job, in his misery uttered: I know that my Redeemer lives and that he will stand on the last day. Though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. Even though this flesh is wasting away, I will see God in this flesh.
The words that come out of these men’s mouths are inspired by the One who had a plan for them, the One who had a future for them. I cannot tell you what that plan or that future is for you, it is His secret for you and yours is maybe far greater than mine. Job did not say he will stand in the world. No, this world is evil and corrupt. You cannot conform to the pattern of this world, but you should conform yourself to please Jesus so that He can pour His Spirit into your life in fullness to the redemption and salvation of your soul, and the many whom the Lord adds. Do you want to have this joy and praise daily because Jesus has filled your life? This joy will keep you from complaining – your joys will be more than your complaints. If either of your parents is a drop-out, pray and ask Jesus to fill you so that you can ignite the fire in their lives. You do not serve your father or mother, you serve Christ the Redeemer. You serve Him who has got plans for you. You serve Him who can forgive you even if you have done the gravest sin. Don’t you want to praise Him for what He has done for you? Do you taste the sweetness of these words?