In Acts 19, Paul finds a handful of people following Jesus and much as they know how to follow at that point in time. He then completes the story for them, baptizes them, and then they are filled with the Spirit. Verse 7 is notable: There were about twelve men in all. Read more
I am working my way through Acts in a new notebook. As I journey through Acts, I am putting down what I have learned in study and in ministry life over 30 years. At least three major turns in my life and ministry have come in Acts 10, 16, and 20. They are vivid in my mind and I am grateful to the Lord for making the written word come alive in my heart and life.
It is the story of Paul in Acts 16 that has me in Alabama now. The Lord used that passage to direct me and show his hand in my life over the previous year as he moved me from one type of ministry to another.
The written word, with the power of the Spirit, brings us to the living Word. We hear him. And I am grateful.
A few weeks ago in church I had a serious challenge drop into my heart from the Spirit. I was just entering the Book of Acts and the Gospel of John as part of my daily reading. I am using the daily reading from the Book of Common Prayer through this season. When I get to Advent, I hope to switch to a new daily reading schedule that the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) puts out. Read more
As I keep moving prayerfully through Acts 5, I am struck by how I like to emphasize things in my preaching and teaching.
I love Acts 5:12-16. Peter’s shadow falling on people heals them and delivers them from demons! Who wouldn’t like that? Who couldn’t preach on that? Read more
I am writing/praying my way through Acts right now and come to Acts 5 where Ananias and Sapphira lie about the amount they are giving in the offering and God strikes them dead.
We have so many questions about why God struck them dead. This thought occurs to me this time around in my reading: Too often we’re bothered by God’s actions and not nearly as bothered by the actions of Ananias and Sapphira. God’s dealing with us bothers us much more than what we did in getting that response from God.
I have done more work in digital Bibles over the past several years in my study because I can put notes directly into the text and do a LOT more than in any wide margin Bible. I didn’t realize just how far back that went until this morning. Read more
My current reading has me in Exodus and Acts. A quick observation on power and control in my early reading: Read more
Yet they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. — Acts 6:10 (NET Bible)
Lord, we live in a polarizing day. We live in a day when the American Church is tempted to live in fear and anxiety. It is not necessary. Baptize us with a fresh anointing of the Spirit. Baptize me with a fresh anointing. There is wisdom you give each of us. The nature of the Kingdom is to ask.
Lord, I ask. For your glory.
I speak in tongues, but I know when I’m not full of the Spirit. We have to keep those two things separated.
The realization hits me as I read through Acts again, preparing for my fall class. The Church knew the fullness of the Spirit. What I realized is this: I know I’m not filled with the Spirit when the miraculous is a BIG deal. If I were full of the Spirit, the miraculous would be no big deal.
God, fill me with your Spirit.
The growth and expansion of the Church is never tied to our comfort. The first expansion of the church in Acts came in a time of persecution. Philip found himself in Samaria (Acts 8) as a result of the persecution in Jerusalem. But persecution wasn’t a reason to quit. They kept proclaiming.
Philip was one of the “minor” characters of the Acts story that show those who make the way. He preaches to Samaritans, which were despised by “real” Jews. Revival breaks out. Then, he finds himself on an empty road while a coach makes its way toward him. There he encounters a true Gentile and preaches the gospel.
Two things out of Acts 8 stand out to me:
1. We have no idea about persecution in the Western Church. None. Zero.
We have people who don’t like us. We have people who disagree with us and might call us bigots. We have some rules and laws that make sharing faith difficult at times… maybe. But persecuted? No. And we have no idea.
Ideologies are shifting rapidly. Christian beliefs are being marginalized quickly, at a faster rate than I anticipated (although I did sense this shift about 11-12 years ago). But persecuted? We don’t know it. Will we? Maybe. But right now? Let’s not kid ourselves.
2. Philip is a great example of simply joining what God is doing.
Philip DID know persecution, and he kept right on proclaiming the gospel. Wherever he landed, he found God already at work. We sometimes have an erroneous belief that “God comes with us” in a way that really says, “I’m here, so NOW God is here, and aren’t you glad I showed up so good things can NOW happen?”
Let’s understand that we carry the presence of God, but God doesn’t “show up” when WE show up. What we need to see is that when we arrive at a place we will find God already at work. Us being in a particular spot is already an indication that God was at work before we got there.
Check the egos at the door, folks.
We are NOT persecuted… and we are not the great hope of the world…
Let’s join what God is already doing. Even if that road is tough and possibly lonely.