By John David Hicks, Evangelist / Bible Teacher • Summer 2012 • Volume 16 Number 2
Acts 17 tells the story of Paul and Silas going to Thessalonica. The preaching and demonstrating the gospel led to a great multitude of believers. There was a reaction to this and a riot broke out. The mob started looking for Paul and Silas. “When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus” (Acts 17:6–7).
How did these early believers upset the world and spread the Gospel around the known world? They explained and demonstrated the gospel. In thinking of when I became a Christian, what was it that changed my life and my world? What bonded me to the church? What was it the fired me up and caused me to forsake everything and put God and His church first in my life?
As a young teen, when I was born again and forgiven by God, the believers gave me their love, acceptance, blessing and prayers. I belonged and I knew it. My pastor, Freeman Brunson, and a few friends, Tom Wilson, Jack Patton, Gene Wisham, Ernie Johnson, and Terry Myhren imparted their love, blessing and encouragement into my life. I was a brother in Christ. They prayed for me, my needs and struggles and my family and we were bonded together as a band of brothers. That changed my life and my world as a teenage boy. In time, all my family and most of my friends came to the Lord and into the church.
It was in that fellowship of believers that I heard God’s call to preach the Gospel. At age of 14, I was given a “Local Preachers License” to preach and started the course of study. I was given opportunity to preach to the youth group, jails, downtown missions and on the street. We started Bible studies at our school and in our neighborhood. We modeled what we had been taught: Love, acceptance, forgiveness, encouragement and prayer. Our school and neighborhood were touched by God. It was not one person alone witnessing for God, but the body of believers. There was a commitment to one another and to God. That is how I believed the early church reached their world for God. And so can you. It starts with you finding a few Christians that are committed to God and each other.
God never intended for you to live the Christian life by yourself. The New Testament model of the church is a small group of encouraging Christians, ministering to one another. I am convinced that you will not grow as God would have you grow or be as effective as a Christian unless you get involved with an inner circle of Christians, sharing God’s life and love and your faith. A small group is God’s perfect place for working out love in everyday relationships. In the eighteenth century, John Wesley used these small groups, calling them “class meetings,” and brought about the great Wesleyan revival. These groups change people’s lives and the world they touched.
Out of this community with other believers and in fellowship with your indwelling Lord, the Holy Spirit flows in your life with love for God and love for your neighbor. Christians are to live for others following the example of Jesus. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all…. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15).
Colossians 3:16–17 describes how you plug into to the power of Christ and His Church. “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
It is no exaggeration to say that “the word of God is living” and powerful. And that Jesus Christ puts a song in your heart. And that the fellowship of believers is what establishes you in your faith. And that thanksgiving is what sets your soul free.
UP COMING MEETINGS
Sept. 9-12, 2012 Pastor Steve Crites, New Life Nazarene Church Wheeler, WI
Sept. 23–26, 2012 Pastor Kenneth Harper, Nazarene Church Jackson, MO
Oct. 21-24, 2012 Pastor Bill Jarrell, Richmond West End Nazarene Church Manakin-Sabot, VA
TO MY PRAYER PARTNERS
I can say with Paul, “It is Christ love that compels me” in this ministry. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Your Brother in Christ,
John David Hicks
© 2012 • Faith Encounter