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[Note: This speech (given at the Xiamen International Fellowship--XICF) started with a reading from 2 Thess 1:3-5.] Click here for another XICF message.

Lessons from the Early Church

(by Michael Krigline, www.krigline.com, March 10, 2013)

            1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

            3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering… 

--2 Thess 1 :1-5. (Holy Bible: ESV--English Standard Version)


            Recently, our Pastor has been teaching us about Spiritual Gifts, so when he asked me to pray about sharing a message, I felt led to teach today about the context in which those gifts were first used—that is, the First Century Church. Where and how did they meet? What did they teach? What was expected when these Believers met together (as well as between meetings)? And how did the early church evaluate “ministry success”? These are a few of the questions that we’ll try to find answers for today. The answers are relevant because I believe that the Early Church provides a model that can help us at XICF, as we gather in those small groups that Pastor has challenged us all to become more active in.


            I would like to begin by having us open the book of Acts so that we could read together the order of worship from a genuine 1st Century, New Testament church meeting. I would like for us to read together exactly how a church service was composed--what they did, what order it was done in, how they prayed, what they sang...  Well, part of me would like to begin that way—but of course, we can’t. No such detailed, first century church “bulletin” has been preserved for us in or out of Scripture.

            But in another sense, I’m actually glad that we can’t look together at a first century church service because if we could, then we would probably feel obligated to copy that service exactly, and that is not the kind of church that Jesus came to build. One specific order of worship or set of songs could never fit ALL peoples of ALL cultures in ALL generations. Jesus is alive! His Bride is a living and growing spiritual being! Jesus did not shed His blood to give us a new religion or a specific form of worship. He died, and rose again, so that we might be reconciled to God and thus have the person of the Holy Spirit living in us, and pouring those spiritual gifts through us! Jesus wants a called-out people in every nation, tribe and tongue, in living relationships with Himself, and He did not “enscripturate” a form for His bride's rehearsal celebrations because I believe He wanted to keep the right to tailor the celebrations whenever He chooses!


            Now, having said that--having admitted that we cannot open our Bibles and find a first century church service to copy--we must also realize that there are principles given in scripture for the bride to follow. This morning we will look at some of these principles, and then endeavor to understand how we, the people of this fellowship, can apply them to OUR church, our time, and our unique inter-cultural situation.


Where they met, and why


            Open your iPads, phone and (oh yes, some still have printed) Bibles, to the Book of Acts, chapter 2. We will begin by looking at a few passages together. If you prefer, you can also just read along on the big screen. (Scriptures are shown in orange type, and are from the English Standard Version of the Bible).

            Acts 2:41 tells us about 3000 souls who were baptized on the day of Pentecost, so this first passage is talking about the earliest of the early Christians:


            42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.  --Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)


            And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. --Acts 5:42 (ESV)


            And finally, skip forward to Acts 18, which is actually about 20 years down the road from Acts 2. Up to this point in the early church, Paul has sought to preach mainly to his countrymen, the Jews. But Acts 18 marks a turning point, and his ministry shifts to people like us—to the Gentiles.

            5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. --Acts 18: 5-8 (ESV)


            According to these passages, the early church generally met together in one of three places: the Jewish Temple, Jewish synagogues, and private homes. Let’s look first at the temple.

            The Temple was a colossal structure. It was designed to be a place of prayer and a place for sacrifices. The interior court was for priests only, the surrounding porticos lent access to males, the next court was open to both men and women, and the outer courts admitted Gentile-converts as well. These outer courts were the scene of the “cleansing of the Temple”—you know, when Jesus flipped over money tables and released the sacrificial animals being sold there, crying out: “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers!” (Mark 11:17 ESV)

            But this unholy trade was big money for the religious leaders, and I am sure that it did not take long for the sellers and money-changers to set up shop again after that incident with the angry Jesus.

            Picture a large, busy courtyard, filled with bleating sheep and noisy merchants and you get a good idea of the “court of the Gentiles” where the early church likely met. This was not an auditorium (like we are in now). And since they didn’t have the authority to cordon off a section for themselves, it seem most likely that they met in small pockets, perhaps gathering around an Apostle or a Rabbi near a pillar here and there.

            What did they teach “in the Temple”? Acts 5 tells us that it was an evangelistic message, just as it was later for Paul teaching in the synagogues. Their message: “Jesus is the Messiah! Repent and believe in Him!” Please note that they did not gather in the temple to RECEIVE information about God (the “modern” notion of “church”), so much as to SHARE the message of salvation.

            When we read that the early church met in the Temple, we think, “Oh, they met together for church services in a big building like we do.” That is not the picture! It is more like sending little bands of disciples down to a nearby park, or even to a temple to teach anyone who might listen about Jesus! That is apparently why they went to the Temple!


            Next, we consider the synagogues. Now, the synagogues WERE a place for teaching. That was their purpose, and they were run by laymen primarily—that is, the synagogue leaders were generally scribes and Pharisees, as opposed to the “professional” Levites who were in charge of everything at the Temple. Any Jewish male who was ceremonially clean could generally obtain permission to speak in the synagogues about the OT scriptures. Paul, as a Pharisee, often took advantage of this opportunity, just as Jesus had done. But again, what did he teach and who was he teaching to? Acts 18 told us that Paul testified “to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.” So again, it was an evangelistic message, directed to those who did not believe! This is very different from what happens in our public church meetings today. And that’s OK; but it is not the same.


            The third meeting place, “from house to house,” was a well-established tradition by the time Paul he was rejected in the synagogue (Act 18), for you may recall that it was also mentioned in Acts 2, in the early days after Pentecost. Refer to Acts 18:7. It says that Paul went next door to the house of Titius Justus. There, many Corinthians heard and believed, including Crispus and “his entire household”. (18:8) Now, it is important to note that the word translated household (oikos for you scholars) did not merely refer to a person’s blood relatives. It included other people with a deep personal relationship to the person spoken of. We might say that it was a man and his “sphere of influence.” Judging from the results, Paul’s message reached out to the people in this sphere, as he shared in first century homes.

            It is also important to remember that first century houses were generally much smaller than our own homes. Scripture doesn’t tell us how big these “house churches” were, but most rooms could hold only 15-20 people—although wealthy people like Lazarus could have hosted larger groups.

            What did they do at these home meetings, and how often did they do it? Did they meet once a week like we do? Did they only do “spiritual” things, like study the Bible?

            The first scripture we read from Acts 2 gives some idea: “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (good, that sounds “spiritual”) and to the fellowship (that is, building relationships--not very “spiritual,” but we’ll let them off this time…), to the breaking of bread (that is, eating together--beginning to sound like a pretty carnal bunch…) and to the prayers… (back to “spiritual” activity again)  and many wonders and miraculous signs were being done….  (Wait a minute; how could this happen with all this unspiritual “fellowship” activity going on? Or maybe building relationships and eating together is more spiritual than we think...  Back to the text:). And day by day they met together (EVERY day? wow), praising God…. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (I sure like the RESULTS!)

            If we break it down into three categories, we could say that the earliest Christians met continually (1) to learn, pray and praise, (2) to develop relationships through fellowship and shared meals, and (3) to reach out into each other’s “sphere of influence” to touch those “being saved.”

High expectations


            Next, let’s look at what was EXPECTED of these early Believers, as well as what was expected during their meetings.

            Today, the “average Christian” (at least, where I come from) thinks that he/she is expected to attend various church programs, and to give some of his/her money to the church. There seems to be a trend toward attending huge “mega-churches” where the vast majority of “attenders” (in contrast to the “members” of yesteryear) simply enjoy the work of a relative handful of “spiritual people,” who teach, sing, and administrate the church’s many quality programs. In smaller churches, there is more volunteer activity--teaching children, cleaning, fixing, and taking care of “the church.” But for many people, their “Christian life” is what happens on Sunday mornings, and their Christianity places few expectations on them in between Sundays.

            Yet when I read the New Testament, I see a very different picture.

            We could turn to a number of passages, but we only have time to consider the expectations presented in a few passages from Paul’s letters to early Christian churches.


            In Colossians 3, after telling the Christians to “put to death” earthly sins, Paul tells the church in Colossae…

            12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesusgiving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17 ESV)


            My “bold” highlights above show quite a list of expectations! But we are not finished yet!


            Turn to Ephesians 4 and 5. In Eph 4:22-24, Paul instructed the church in Ephesus to “put off your old self,…be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self…”. But let’s pick up the text in Eph 4:32:

                32 Be kind to one another, tenderheartedforgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

            As Paul continues (Eph 5:3-4), he repeats what he told the Colossians, warning them to put away sin, including “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness” and “crude joking”; his emphasis is again on “how you walk” (which he repeats in 5:2 & 5:15).

            Picking it up again in Eph 5:17, remember that we are looking at what was EXPECTED of these early Believers:

            17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always    and for everything    to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph 5:17-21 ESV)


Here’s a summary list of the “expectations” I’ve highlighted in Col 3:12-17 and Eph 4:22 to 5:21:

♦ put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, the new self

♦ put off your old self/sin

♦ be kind, tenderhearted, thankful and filled with the Spirit

♦ bear with, forgive and submit to each other

♦ let Christ’s peace rule your heart and His word dwell in you

♦ love; teach; sing; renew your mind; understand God’s will; imitate God


            If we examine these passages, we don’t see instructions for how to “do church” as much as a compelling vision of “how to live.” The early Christians were not expected to “attend a church,” they were expected to live a life of love, purity and thankfulness; they were expected to imitate Jesus. There are a number of other passages which indicate the same expectations. These early Believers were not evaluated by what they KNEW so much as by how they LIVED. Their Christianity was not a compartment in their lives, it was a lifestyle lived out in fellowship and shared meals as well as so-called “spiritual activities.”


Peeking at a church meeting


            Now that we know what was expected of early Christians, what did they expect when they met together? I believe that a passage in 1 Corinthians 14 brings us about the closest we come in scripture to a peek into a first century church service. Once again we see that the meetings had two dimensions: Paul addresses the unbeliever in their midst who falls on his face at the revelation of God’s presence--that's evangelism--and he also says that Believers should use spiritual gifts to build one another up--that's edification.

            We’ll pick it up in 1 Cor 14:24, and remember that the context is a teaching about the use of spiritual gifts:

                24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

            [So clearly, they expected unbelievers to be present. Now listen as Paul describes the meeting!] 26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. [In other words, ‘a spiritual gift’ put into action.] Let all things be done for building up. [or as a different version puts it: “All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.”] --1 Cor 14:24-26.


(continued in the other column)

(continued from other column)


            Here is where we get practical, putting those spiritual gifts (that our Pastor is teaching about) to use. Did you hear what Paul said? “When (not if) you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson…or a word for others.” Each one. Each one had a spiritual gift, and they were expected to use them.

            I looked it up. The Greek word used there means “each and every without exception.” He can’t be talking about a meeting with 100 or more people [the modern “church”]. But in a home, with 10 believers and 3 unbelievers present, THEN the scripture comes alive!

            I want you to say this with me:

            When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.


            If you are a Christian, then you are included when it says “each one.” So, should you be involved in some sort of small gathering with others in your church? Yes. How can we “bring a hymn, a lesson, or an inspired word for others” if we never “come together”? It is God’s intention for EVERYONE of us   who are saved   to be His ministers when we come together; receiving from Him, and passing it on through these gifts of mercy, leadership, giving, exhortation, teaching, serving, prophesying, healing, counseling, consoling, discerning, special language, working miracles, administrating, singing, special faith, and the rest. (See Rom 12:6-8, 1 Cor 12)

            You see, whether you are meeting together to share the joy of photography, the quest for truth, the challenges of homeschooling, or just the fellowship of like-minded teens/students/men/women, if you bring God to the meeting     then miraculous things can happen.

            When you are bold enough to say, “Hey, I read this great passage in the Psalms this week—let me share it with you”, then perhaps that is just the “inspired word” that someone else needs, too. If one of you ladies slips a little gift to a sister, just something you picked up because you thought of her while in the store, that too can be a manifestation of God’s Spirit, the gift of giving, working through you. But these things generally don’t happen unless we are in a relationship of some sort. “When you come together…”

            God certainly works through what most of us consider to be “the spiritual biggies” like healing, music ministry and preaching, but God is also in every “act of random kindness” (or service) motivated by His Spirit. You don’t need a seminary degree to be used of God; you just need to give Him your life and maybe be willing to step out a little further in faith. Keep these things in mind as our Pastor continues his series, for somewhere in these messages God will be talking about the gifts He wants to give through you.


            We’ve looked at where and why the early Christians met, seeing that their evangelical message often spread through each other’s sphere of influence. Then we looked at expectations, noting that these first Believers were expected to imitate Christ, meeting together to allow God’s spiritual gifts to build the church and convict unbelievers.          


Making disciples


            Next we want to look at the way the New Testament Church developed believers and leaders. How did disciples get discipled? Did they use notebooks and classes like we do? How were leaders developed? What were the tasks of the leaders? How did they evaluate their ministry?

            If we looked at this is depth we could be here all morning, so let's just look at a few examples. I think the best example of the process is Paul’s relationship to Timothy.

            Paul met Timothy in Lystra, and since the brothers spoke well of him, Paul decided to take Timothy along on the next part of his missionary journey. (Acts 16:1ff) They went from town to town, preaching the gospel and strengthening the churches. By Acts 19:22, Paul trusts Timothy enough to send him on a mission to Macedonia. Later, Paul sent him to strengthen the church in Thessalonica, and he returned with an encouraging report to Paul. Timothy was Paul’s co-worker as he wrote Romans and 1 Corinthians, and Paul mentions Timothy as a co-author (of sorts) in 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. My point is that Timothy was not Paul’s student; he was his son, his brother and co-worker. Timothy was developed as a leader through a relationship, not a notebook. That is why Paul can write to Timothy in 2 Tim 3:10ff:

            10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (Now listen!) 14 But as for you, [Timothy], continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (This is the context of that famous passage about the usefulness of Scripture.) 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. --2 Tim 3:10-17

            It was also this relationship that made it possible for Paul to commend Timothy to the Corinthians: (1 Cor 4:17.)

            That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. --1 Cor 4:17


            Do you hear the warmth of their relationship? And did you notice that in both of those Scriptures Paul is emphasizing his way of life, not just his teachings?


            Furthermore, concerning Timothy, Paul wrote to the Philippians (Phil 2:22):

            But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. --Phil 2:22


            How does this concept apply to the XICF small groups that are starting to take shape? Well, I don’t think we will see a lot of “leadership classes.” Groups are being started by people in a relationship with the pastor and other church leaders. As the groups grow, they may “multiply”—meeting, for example, in different parts of town, or with a different focus. “Leadership” will often be shared between “Pauls and Timothys”, those with more experience in such things and those whose partnership shows a growing capacity to lead.


How to be a leader


            Let’s now look at what was expected of church leaders in the first century? In our day, it seems that the primary responsibility of a church leader is to preach a good sermon (or maybe to look good on stageand our pastor does both well!). Is this all there is to it, or does the New Testament paint a broader picture? Turn to Ephesians 4:11-13:

            11 And he [that is, Christ] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…   (Eph 4: 11-13 ESV)


            Notice that the English Standard Version says “…evangelists, shepherds and teachers…”; although many translations say “pastors and teachers.” If you don’t speak Greek, you might not know that the word often translated “pastor” in this verse is translated “shepherd” everywhere else in the New Testament. But the main point is that the job of the shepherd (as well as the evangelist, prophet, and apostle) is to PREPARE (or equip) Gods people for works of service. (That’s you and me.) Sermons are great for teaching people things, but shaping values is far more effective when you talk/listen/pray/serve side by side, as we should be in small groups. Is it fair to expect Pastor Gabe to “shepherd” 150 of us, when the Lord Jesus himself had his hands full with only 12 disciples? I think not. Through small groups, a lot more people can be nurtured to become like Christ, and (to quote Paul) “equipped for the work of ministry.”




            Finally, how did the early church EVALUATE the success of its ministry? Today's leaders would likely be given a form to fill in with the question: "Is your church growing?"—with lots of sub-questions.

            Let’s take a look again at 2 Thess 1:3-5 (where we started today). Indeed, the leaders in Thessalonica are commended for growth, but it is not the kind of “church growth” that we might expect:


            3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God    for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions    and in the afflictions that you are enduring. (Wow; growth in such harsh conditions!) 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—  (2 Thess 1 :3-5. ESV)


            With phrases like "considered worthy of the kingdom of God" and "we boast about you," it sounds like a positive evaluation to me! But note that Paul didn't say that your CHURCH is growing, but that your FAITH is growing and your LOVE is increasing! Those are the marks of a good church, or a good small group for that matter! Our task is to concentrate on increasing each person’s faith and love, equipping the saints at XICF for works of service, and teaching them to faithfully exercise their spiritual gifts. We can leave questions of size and "church growth" in the Father’s more-capable hands.


            We’ve had quite a tour of the Early Church this morning, so let me summarize.


            The Biblical record shows that the location of the early church was (first) the Temple and synagogues, which were used primarily for evangelism, and (second) individual homes, which were used for evangelism, teaching and fellowship. As for the size of the meetings, they probably met in small, intimate groups. The people were highly active in evangelism, boldly going into the "hostile" territory of the Temple and synagogues to teach about Jesus, and they were intensely personal, meeting together constantly in each other’s homes for common meals, prayer, praise, teaching, and service. The first Christians supported one another as brothers and sisters, sacrificing time and even personal property for the good of the body. And finally, they were ALL expected to live a life of love ("without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation" –Phil 2:15), imitating Jesus and building one another up with the power of God and through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

            The tasks of a New Testament church leader were (1) to shepherd God's people, and (2) to prepare/equip us for the work of ministry, (3) building unity until we attain to the fullness of the stature of Christ.

            Lastly, the evaluation of a successful church was not the growth of the church so much as the growth of the believers in the church. Paul said that the faith and love of the Christians in Thessalonica were growing, even in the midst of persecution--and that was something for him to boast about!


            While we have been considering Bible verses about the church of the first century, I hope it has also cast a new light on the idea of a "small group" at XICF. We have a few groups that have a theological focus—mostly meeting in the education wing on Sunday mornings. But Pastor has said he would like to see more interest groups started "out there" in the community. Because we are a fellowship of expatriates, the small groups should also focus on "foreigners," but there are plenty of expatriates in Xiamen who don’t even know XICF exists; and of course, those of us who already enjoy XICF also need closer relationships with each other. Some people don’t want to attend church meetings (like this one), feeling that they are too large and intimidating, but at a "movie club", "men’s lunch" or "ladies fellowship", unbelievers can mingle with Christians, as we meet together around common interests or needs. [And if you can’t find a group you are interested in, why not talk to the Pastor about starting one?] The underlying goal is to promote healthy relationships with one another, while giving the Holy Spirit permission to use us to strengthen and serve one another. You’ll probably find food, prayer, and an opportunity to talk and listen to each other. They may grow in size, but more importantly we hope that through these relationships YOU will grow in faith and love. We pray that the Holy Spirit will honor us with His "presence" (that's "p-r-e-s-e-n-c-e"). And we trust that where His "presence" is welcome, His "presents" (that is, His "gifts") will also be present!

            I think it sounds like a pretty good way to spend an hour or two every week, and it’s Biblical too! And who knows, like the early church, God just might choose to use people like us to turn some little part of the world upside down.1


            I’ll close with one of my songs, called "God’s Chosen Instruments". Our heavenly Father could have glorified Himself with a universe of perfect beings, singing beautifully in unison. But instead He chose to add fragile instruments made of the dust of the earth. It’s hard to say why, but maybe God enjoys the challenge as well as the lovely harmony we can bring to the choirs of heaven. If you haven’t sought greater involvement at XICF because you didn’t think you had anything valuable to add, just remember that it isn’t about who we are; it is about what God can do through us.



God’s Chosen Instruments

(by Michael Krigline, 4/89 Columbia, S.C)


The choir of Heaven had gathered in glory to sing for the King

A legion of angels, with practiced precision,

     in unison started to sing

And the song of praise brought joy to His heart

     through these voices, so pure, He had made

But where was the harmony—the variety?


So treasures of silver and gold were collected

     and brought to His seat

The angels said, “Take these and fashion an orchestra

     worthy to play at Your feet”

“No, take My love,” God said, “to the wood and the clay

     and fashion an orchestra there”

“Yes I know the cost to redeem what seems lost…”



God’s chosen instruments are made out of wood and clay

With reeds that are fragile and thin

And strings that are hard to play

But oh what a sweet harmony they bring

When the Son starts to play and sing

The music of Heaven through God’s chosen instruments.


So often I feel out of tune, unworthy to join in His song

In public I often sing flat, and in practice

     my mind just wanders along

At times I screech when He tightens my strings

     and complain when He changes my part

But oh what a joy to see what He does through me


(repeat chorus)


This song was recorded in 2002. Write to me if you want a free mp3 copy, or you can buy it from iTunes or your favorite music service. (Contact info is on our home page.)


The whole Bible is available on line at www.biblegateway.com


Note 1: cf Acts 17:6, though I hope it comes without the violent reprisals!

All scripture from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (2 Co 1:8–9). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

© 2014 Michael Krigline, all rights reserved. Permission granted to print/copy for personal use.  (see Website Standards and Use Policy)


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