Prayer for the Day

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.

Amen.

 

Filled with the Spirit and Speaking in Tongues

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.

Am I Joining What God is Doing?

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.

The Care of the WHOLE

I am continuing a series on Acts and the Holy Spirit this Sunday. As I reflect on Acts 4:32 to Acts 6:8 as a unit, I think to how we have made Christianity such a dichotomy in the western Church.

For Pentecostals, I’ve grown up with everything about Christianity being about “soul winning.” It’s about saving souls.

When other “liberal” churches did things, it was the “social gospel.” We don’t do the “social gospel.”

For “liberal” churches it wasn’t about saving souls at all. It was about meeting a need.

The dichotomy is serious. We have some organizations only caring for physical needs and other organizations caring only for spiritual needs. They may feed people to get a captive audience to preach a salvation message, but that’s the extent.

This is not true Spirit-filled ministry, as I look at Acts.

It is not just about the soul, but the WHOLE. 

And it’s not just about the wholeness of an individual, but the wholeness of a community. It’s an interesting reflection to this point, at least.

Catching the Wind of the Spirit

I am praying for a new dependence on the Holy Spirit in my own life. As I walk through the Acts story again in a sermon series for my church, I am disappointed in my own life. How many times I miss the wind of the Spirit! How many times I could have listened… stopped… then moved in a new direction that would have had an impact on someone’s life.

In Acts 3 and 4, where we will be in the text on Sunday, there are several opportunities.

3:4 — Peter looks at the lame man. He “fixes his gaze.” Something is about to happen…

4:5-8 — Peter is hauled before the Sanhedrin to give an answer for what was going on. As Peter gets ready to speak, he is “filled with the Holy Spirit” (v. 8). NOW he is ready!

4:31 — After being threatened, the church prayed. They didn’t pray for a good lawyer. They didn’t pray for “relief.” They didn’t pray that God would do evil things to their enemies. They asked for boldness… and were filled with the Spirit again to be able to keep on proclaiming with boldness.

We need our lives constantly fine tuned. We need these moments to hear the Spirit, then respond.

Lord, help me not to be so deaf!

Ground Shifts

As we move through our journey in the New Testament, we are reading the Book of Acts this week. Acts 10 is always a significant place for me. Several years ago the Lord exploded this text into my life as I asked about ground shaking experiences I needed to understand in our own setting.

As you move through the Book of Acts, keep looking for those “shifts” that happen in the Church. There are several. As you see those shifts where the Spirit is taking the Church in a new direction, ask the Spirit about our own situation. What are the shifts we need to be ready for in our own lives?

I know this: When Acts 10 exploded in my life the first time several years ago I was not ready, but I asked the Spirit to prepare me. The adventure at that time was incredible. It had to be the work of the Spirit, as Peter found out. There was no way he was going to go to Gentiles on his own. The Spirit empowered him.

That is the need of the hour today.