A New Thing (Acts 29, Part 2)

We continue our journey considering three of the most important points from the book of Acts as we try to write the next chapter in our history of serving God in the world. Last week we talked about the essential role of the Holy Spirit (to be filled, we must yield).

The reality is, you can’t talk about the book of Acts and the early church and not talk about the Holy Spirit. And I don’t think you can talk about the book of Acts and not talk about life change (transformation), either.

Now some people falsely believe that God is not a God of change. Nothing could be further from the truth. While Scripture teaches that God does not change, I believe that’s referring to God’s character. God could be trusted yesterday, God can be trusted today, and God can be trusted tomorrow. But God’s actions are anything but predictable!

You only have to look at the earth (i.e. the seasons) to know that God hard wired change into creation. And look at the human body. I understand that the human body’s skin replaces itself every month, the stomach lining every 5 days, the liver every 6 weeks, the skeleton every 3 months, cheek cells 3 times a day. Our bodies are in a constant state of change. That’s why one clinical definition of death is your body stops changing! Change is good; change is necessary!

What prevents life change, I believe, is complacency. In my own life, I fear complacency (being satisfied; unconcerned; apathetic). How about it, husbands and wives? Don’t we have a strong tendency to fall into ruts in the way we relate to each other? Isn’t that also true in our relationshipp with God, as well as our work and school?

Ruts
Sign seen in Canada (during sptringtime melting/re-freezing): “Take care which rut you choose. You will be in it for the next 25 miles.”

Complacency prevents and kills ongoing transformation. In life: There’s no place for complacency!

In Acts 10.1—11.18 we discover that Peter had a defining moment that forever changed not only his own life but also the future direction of the church and the worldwide mission of the church. It leads me to ask, "When was the last time you did something for the first time?"

In weightlifing, there’s a principle called the confusion principle that basically says every once in a while you have to shake things up in order to get your muscles out of the ruts that your routine naturally creates. In what areas of your life have you grown complacent? What do you need to do this week to shake things up?

What would it look like in your life, and in our church, if we shook things up? What if we stopped saying, "If it ain’t broke … don’t fix it!" and started saying, "If it ain’t broke … break it!" What if we stopped saying, "We’ve never done it that way before!" and started saying, "You know, we’ve never done it that way before, but let’s not let that stop us!" What if we stopped saying, "We can’t afford it!" and started saying, "I don’t know where the money is going to come from, but if God is leading us, let’s go for it; God will provide!"

O God, you are always doing a new thing! Help us not to miss out on what you are doing by being stuck in the ruts we have created. Help us to do whatever it takes to shake things up in our lives and in our church! Amen.

Dynamite (Acts 29, Part 1)

Today we begin a new series, looking at what I consider to be three of the most important points from the book of Acts. Now if you turn to the back of the book of Acts, you’ll discover there are only 28 chapters. You’re not missing a chapter! Acts 29 represents the next chapter in the church’s ongoing story.

What history will you and I write as we faithfully follow God? I believe it will be a great chapter if we will learn the most important lessons from the church in the book of Acts. And it all begins with the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit there is no book of Acts, no church, and no life. Jesus said, "And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven" (Luke 24.49). He continues, "But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere––in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1.8). Also, Read Acts 2.1-13.

Yield!
To be filled, we must yield!

I grew up hearing the phrase, "Yield to the Holy Spirit." And I believe it’s the truth. We must yield to the Spirit to be filled by the Spirit. The life of following Christ is a life of total surrender.

This week I challenge you to pray, "Lord, I yield myself to you. Come and fill me with your Spirit."

You and I cannot even imagine what amazing things God will do through our lives and our church as we yield ourselves to God and become filled with God’s Spirit!

Better Together 3: Protecting the Unity

I sometimes forget how important our connection to one another is as followers of Jesus Christ. The reality is that we are bound together by Christ’s blood — there’s no stronger bond than that! And we are bound together by a shared covenant to Christ through this congregation!

Don’t we all forget that sometimes? We’re connected in so many other places … work, school, teams, and other organizations. But I believe the church is the most important connection we have. This is important because we will only fulfill God’s dream for us when we become one with his body!

Oneness is God’s dream for us!

Read Ephesians 4.

Jesus once said to his followers, "Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me." (John 15.4-5)

And one of Jesus’ final prayers (if not the last one) with his followers, he prayed, "I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father–that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me." (John 17.20-21)

Oneness is God’s dream for us!

Are you as connected to God and to his body as you could be? I challenge you to take a step this week to strengthen your connection both to God and to the people of this church. Pray each morning, "Lord, remind me of my connection to you and to you body. Help me to honor it today!"

Imagine what kind of community/family we would be if we all protected the unity we have in Jesus Christ. Imagine what kind of place we would be as we become more and more one!

Read Philippians 2.1-8.