When reading the book of the Acts of the Apostles, if you were to take a picture of how it was then and compare it to how it is today, and if you put the two side by side, I wonder if there is any man or woman who would dare say that it has never changed.
I would like to meet that person. I think if we are honest, as honest as we should be, I would say that we are not in the same category as it was then and it surely is not now.
May the Lord help us to get back again to where it was. You cannot read your Bible, these Acts of the Holy Spirit, through the Apostles, you cannot read of these wonderful days of the early Church without feeling, “if that is God’s ideal of the Church, where are we at today?” And we really can’t blame anyone, because we are part of society.
I am convinced that when we substitute our way for God’s way that He still withdraws His glory and withholds His Presence. It is sad when a place designated for worship becomes a haven for wickedness. Don’t forget the Lord cleansed the temple not once, but twice in His ministry. As the Church, we must be careful how we behave in the House of the Lord.
Do you know that many a person has left the Church after being poisoned by controversy, confusions and chaos and once those precious souls leave, it is very hard to win them back — in fact, sometimes it is impossible. A wounded spirit is hard to heal. And what about the Church which does not preach the truth? She confuses the mind…corrupts the heart…and condemns precious souls, in so leaving people without a spiritual compass to discern truth from error and right from wrong.
The Church is supposed to be a place where people are helped, not hurt. The Church is a place where people find spiritual stability, not a place where their faith is undermined and their commitment to the Lord discouraged. It was in Peter and John’s day that 3,000 conversions came in one day. And many will say today, “You must not count converts.” Well, they counted them this time, and Jesus says there is joy in heaven over one; if He counts one, He counts 3,000.
There was Peter and John with the cross in their view, with the resurrection shining like a star in their sky, with the ascension fresh in their memory, with this mighty power of the Holy Spirit upon their lives, and the cry of 3,000 souls in their ears; and with all of these things they were experiencing they could not stay away from their time to pray. And therein lies the power of their victory. The prayer meeting is the spiritual thermometer of any church and the weak spot in the Church is its prayer meetings.
We crowd churches today with so many things, worldly things; but try to get the people to commit to a time of prayer, they have asthma, they have a cold, they cannot come out at night. But let some leader in society invite them to dinner or to get something for free and you hear nothing about asthma or them having a cold.
Listen — we are playing at our faith and may the Lord help us to love spiritual things. Peter and John not only went to prayer, they lived their prayer. And that is exactly where we all need to be, not just ministers, but every one of us — man, woman, boy and girl, we need to live in the atmosphere of prayer. If you want the Lord to hear you when you say, “Our Father” on your knees, you need to live “Our Father” on your feet.
Charles Smith is a captain with Muskogee's Salvation Army.