Acts 4:32-37 (NASB)
32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. 36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Heavenly Father, we can do all things through You who strengthens us. Please help us to be Christ-like, Christ-minded in all that we do. Give us unity of purpose so that we can collectively produce fruit that is pleasing to You and provides a powerful witness of Your love and righteousness. Thank You for Your Son, our Lord ands Savior, Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.
When man fell from grace, we inherited a tendency to
- Hide from God
- Hide from one another as well
We struggle with conflicting desires
- On the one hand, we desire to be close to one another
- On the other, we want to keep one another at arm’s length
We have learned to be suspicious of other people’s motives
- At times we’ve been burned and so we fear being burned again and erect barriers
- These barriers effectively insulate us from one another, and block Church unity
When united in heart and soul, the church is richly blessed, wanting for nothing, and able to accomplish anything.
How do you recognize unity?
Unity can be recognized by…
1. Lack of Division
Acts 4:32a (NASB)
32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; …
“United we stand, divided we fall”
Paul stressed the importance of unity throughout his ministry
Romans 12:5 (NASB)
5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
1 Corinthians 12:24b-27 (NASB)
24 … But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NASB)
12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 1:10 (NASB)
10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
2. Lack of Selfishness
Acts 4:32b (NASB)
32 … and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
Burger King: an elderly couple came in and ordered one burger, one order of fries and one coke with two glasses. When they got to their booth, the man placed a napkin in front of himself and one in front of his wife, then proceeded to divide the fries, cut the burger in half and divided the coke equally.A gentleman nearby noticed and offered to buy them another burger, fries and Coke.
The woman then said, “No you don’t understand. We’ve been married over 50 years and all our life we agreed to split everything right down the middle.”
Her husband then began eating, as she sat with her hands in her lap. The gentleman nearby noticed and asked the lady why she wasn’t eating.
She replied, “As I said before, we split everything right down the middle, and it’s his day to use the teeth first.”
Selfishness is never satisfied and always desires more as if it could be owned
True disciples recognize that all belongs to God and we’re at most stewards
1 Chronicles 29:10-16 (NASB)
10 So David blessed the LORD in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 12 “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. 13 “Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. 14 “But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You. 15 “For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. 16 “O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours.
3. Lack of Shyness
Acts 4:33a (NASB)
33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, …
Remember, the disciples had just prayed for and received boldness
Acts 4:31 (NASB)
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
Jesus had promised them they would receive power and be witnesses
Acts 1:8 (NASB)
8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
1 Thessalonians 1:5 (NASB)
5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
These same promises exist for us
4. Lack of Need
Acts 4:33b (NASB)
33 … and abundant grace was upon them all.
There were none among them that wanted for anything
Acts 4:34-35 (NASB)
34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
We are given an immediate example in Barnabas, who would later become Paul’s traveling companion on his missionary journey
Acts 4:36-37 (NASB)
36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Bruce Larson, in his book, Wind and Fire, points out some interesting facts about sand-hill cranes:
“These large birds, who fly great distances across continents in a ‘V’ formation like geese, have three remarkable qualities.
- First, they rotate leadership. No one bird stays out in front all the time.
- Second, they choose leaders who can handle turbulence
- And third, all during the time one bird is leading, the rest are honking their affirmation.”
This is not a bad model for the church: we all should be honking encouragement to each other.
Unity can be recognized by
- Lack of Division
- Lack of Selfishness
- Lack of Shyness
- Lack of Need
When united in heart and soul, the church is richly blessed, wanting for nothing, and able to accomplish anything.
Jesus prayed, in John 17, that we might be one, even as He and the Father are one
- For that to happen, many barriers have to fall
- Suspicion has to be replaced with openness
- Uncertainty has to be replaced with willingness
- Fear has to be replaced with love
- On the day of Pentecost, that is precisely what happened
- The barriers came falling down
- The Holy Spirit moved in, producing unity in that first group of believers
John 17:11 (NASB)
11 “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.
John 17:20-23 (NASB)
20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
The first believers shared a
- Unity of Spirit
- Unity of Resources
- Unity of Purpose
The Lord expects no less from His believers today.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus Christ Who unites all Christians in love and service. may we never be found wanting or divided in these areas. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Is the Holy Spirit stirring within your heart? Is He convicting you of the need to make changes in your life and/or calling you to take action? The Bible says:
James 4:17 (NASB)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
1 John 5:3 (NASB)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
If the Holy Spirit is urging you to take action, it is important to respond with immediate obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Please read the following sections that apply to your current situation and prayerfully consider the suggested course of actions.
John 3:16-18 (NASB)
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
- To learn more about Jesus and His gift of redemption, read God's Plan of Salvation. If you are already familiar with the Plan of Savation, skip forward to section How to Become a Christian.
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1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19 "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
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Praise the Lord.
- In your own words, pray a prayer similar to the following:
Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of Your glory and have failed to live up to Your expecttions for me. Please forgive me. Lord, I rededicate my life to You. Not my will; but, Your will be done. Thank You for being a God of second chances. Use me Lord. Shape me and mold me into the person You would have me to be. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.
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James 5:16 (NASB)
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
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