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One Sunday I preached on a biblical passage about the success of the early church. I wanted to look deeper into the qualities that shaped them as a community of faith. I am always curious about people or groups who are successful, because they serve as potential role models for others. I wanted to convey these qualities to the congregation with the intent that they would get excited about what we could become.
Jesus told them to stay together and wait in the upper room for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to empower them for ministry. To my amazement, they waited for 10 days. On the tenth day things happened just as Jesus told them. They did not know what to expect, but they were willing to yield to the Holy Spirit.
They were willing to give up control of their own lives and trust the plan that God had for them. That is not an easy thing to do. We are taught all of our lives to take charge, to control our own destiny and not be dependent on anyone else. We are counseled to get an education as means of steering our own course. But I have learned that there are courses of action not found in textbooks.
Most of the 120 who waited in the upper room were Galileans, whose native language was Aramaic. After the waiting was over, they were heard speaking in languages that they did not know. They were giving praise and glory to God. People from 17 other nations were shocked and amazed at their speech. Those in and around them thought they were drunk at first, but realized that it was an act of God. What I have learned from all of this is that we can be successful when we follow God’s plan. The success of the early church was indeed attributable to them following instruction and yielding themselves wholeheartedly to God. There were no outward signs other than their speech.
James chapter 3 provides some insight as to why it may be that God initiated his first work of the Spirit with the tongue. The author of James tells us that human beings are able to tame all kinds of animals but are unable to tame the tongue. God showed us that he is able to do something that humans cannot. The tongue has the ability to speak words that bring great delight as well as wound deeply. The challenge is to use our words wisely, and allow God to have control of what we say. I have worked with people who remember negative words spoken to them during their childhood that have had long-lasting effects. How would our words be different if we could remember to see each other as a child of God?
My prayer point is for each of us to allow God to teach us how to be effective in our speech and to always remember that God is more than able to guide us. Prayer and praise are always appropriate and a good use of our tongues. We are often judged by what we say, so it is a good idea to yield to God in this area. It will pay great dividends.
God bless you!
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Rev. Dr. Peola C. Hicks manages all prayer, volunteer and partner programs for OurPrayer. OurPrayer is a Christ centered ministry that receives and prays for over 750,000 requests on an annual basis through the web, phone and Facebook. Peola is an ordained minister and has a profile on Facebook as Peola’s Prayer Points.