Summary: Learning to solve problems based on Acts
A 4.6 earthquake tore through the ocean town and shook the residents awake. A sharp crack like a giant rifle sounded in the night, followed by ominous rumblings that flowed in waves across the metropolitan area. When he felt the shaking, police officer Dennis Johnson rolled out of bed and instinctively grabbed his service revolver. “Dennis,” his wife said calmly, “not even you can stop an earthquake with a gun.”
Humanity expresses an insufferable arrogance. We are convinced we can solve human problems if enough intelligent people work at it for long enough. All the solutions, however, reduce themselves to the same few: government spending, stiffer laws, more prisons, harsher sentences, and more police on the streets.
The church today faces and will always face problems! To us as Christians here is a fact of life: whenever God’s people are doing something good for God, Satan the enemy of God and goodness is there trying to destroy. Early in her life, the church had to face with problems. The church faced the problems of needy (2:44-45; 4:32-37), worldliness (5:1-11, 8:1-25), persecution (4:1-31; 5:17-8:4; 12; 16), Grecian Jew widows (6:1-7), and the problem of the Gentiles (10:1-11:18; 15; 21). All these problems provided opportunities for the church to grow.
Together we will see in the book of Acts some of the things the early church did to face the problems in order to draw principles from them to apply today to our problem solving needs.
When faced with problems the church took one or more of the following actions:
a. They turned to God.
b. They exercised an attitude of love and generosity.
c. They became organized.
d. They looked into the past, present and future of the church.
[The first action they took was to turn to God]
I. THEY TURNED TO GOD.
When we have problems where do we turn to? To whom do we turn to, reveals a lot about our character and make up. I believe that all of us want someone who is dear to us, one whom we can trust; one whom we know will not reveal our secrets; one who will take genuine care for us. Having a friend like this is a rare commodity. Only God can fulfill all these requirements for us.
The early church understood this truth very well, for they kept turning to God for their needs. The apostles were beaten and thrown in prison for preaching Christ. When they were released they went home and prayed. "When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:”‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”" (Acts 4:24-30, NIV).
When Peter was imprisoned by Herod in Acts 12, the church was praying for him at the house of John Mark. They did not grab guns, rallied armies and got ready to fight. They prayed to God and their prayer to God opened prison bars.
The apostle Paul together with Silas was thrown in prison in Philippi. That is not a pleasant place to be in. But what do they do? Acts 16:25 tells us "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them." (Acts 16:25, NIV).
This is a remarkable attitude that they showed in the face of persecution. They did not focus on themselves, complaining and worrying. They turned boldly to God in prayer. We need to learn that it is not about us, it is about God. God only has all the answers. We need to understand this and make use of the access we have to God through prayers. God has provided an avenue to walk to Him in prayer. We need not to walk in narrow neighborhood roads! When faced with problems, let us turn to God in Prayer!
[Because they turned to God, they were also able to exercise an attitude of love and generosity.]
II. THEY EXERCISED AND ATTITUDE OF LOVE AND GENEROSITY.
One of the early problems the church faced was the problem of the needy. Many people had come from different areas of the world at Pentecost. They came to be present at one of the three major days in the life of the Israel (Deut. 16:16). They did not come, nor planned to become Christians. They did not have enough resources to stay in Jerusalem for longer period. Since they needed to hear more of the apostles’ teachings, it was necessary for them to stay longer in Jerusalem. The answer to this problem came from the believers themselves. There is no indication that this came from the apostles. Out of love and generosity "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." (Acts 2:44-45, NIV).