Hi, it’s Mick here and welcome to Thursday’s podcast. I hope you’re enjoying hearing again the story of how the early church began as we begin the book of Acts – how a group of ordinary people, followers of Jesus, began a movement that changed the world.
Today’s reading is Acts1: 15-26, the story of Peter speaking to this group of uncertain and perhaps unsure disciples gathered in the upper room. It’s a story of choosing the team to go forward with this Jesus plan – it’s also the story of how right at the beginning of this great, yet somewhat daunting adventure of birthing and building the church, God is constantly with them.
Our focus verse today is v24 Lord you know everyone’s heart …
Today’s Bible reading is long and is one of those readings where you think ‘why is this in the Bible?’ It’s Peter telling the team what’s happening – a kind of early team briefing! In other words, this is what has happened, this is where we are and this is what is about to happen. You can hear these verses after the prayer but let’s reflect on our focus verse for today, V24 ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart …’
The original words in the Bible actually say ‘Lord you are a heart knower’. This phrase is only used twice in the New Testament – both times in Acts. What does it mean? The heart here signifies our inner life or our soul. That which makes you, you. Knowing how you are helps you understand who you are. These first disciples knew how important it was to be transparent with God – you know everyone’s heart – and transparent with each other. This Godly accountability was was such a key foundation of the early church – we will see this worked out in practice over these next months as we continue in our Podcasts. Godly accountability is a right foundation in our lives today.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, that great 18th Century revival movement, would often pose a questions to his followers, which they then used in their class meetings – his version of our cell groups. There were actually 22 questions in all and here are a few of them:
‘What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?’ Ouch … no holding back there – imagine starting your cell meeting with that question – actually, it might not be a bad idea! Other questions were … ‘What temptations have you met with?’ ‘Did the Bible live in me today?’ ‘Am I enjoying prayer?’ ‘Do I pray about the money I spend?’ ‘Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?’ ‘Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?’ Finally, ‘Is Christ real to me?’ Eight of twenty two challenging questions that shaped the early Methodists into a pioneering mission movement that challenged the status quo, championed the poor and outcasts and saw a Christ centred Revival in our nation.
The eight questions above are the easy ones: If you want to know the others they will appear on this term’s Grow modules as we engage with Live Life Better and work out together what it means to live as biblical disciples not cultural Christians in today’s fast moving, busy and often hectic world. ‘Lord, you know my heart’ questions – do look out for them!
Wesley followed in the footsteps of Peter in our reading today. He knew that we can never hide anything from God – v24 is a great reminder of this: ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart …’ God knows how my soul is today because he is the heart knower. Actually I have found over the years that it’s actually a great comfort to know that I can never hide anything from Jesus because he knows me inside out!
Lord Jesus, you know what is going on in my life today; my joys and my challenges. Whatever this day brings, thank you that you know my heart, you search my soul and you pour your love and grace upon me today. Hallelujah. Amen
READING: Acts 1:15-26
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, ‘Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.’
(With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
‘For,’ said Peter, ‘it is written in the Book of Psalms:
‘“May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,”
‘“May another take his place of leadership.”
Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.’
So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.’ Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.