It's been way too long since my last post and so much has been going on. But today I want to talk about what has been hammering on my heart lately. I've mentioned before the reading plan I have been on. It's intense and I won't lie I stink at it. lol. It is so much to take in everyday, but it fantastically keeps the entire counsel of God's word at the forefront of my mind when I am reading. I have a horrible tendency to get tunnel vision and only see the one thing right in front of me instead of the enormity of who God is and how every part plays into his righteous and good character.
Anyway, I have been reading Acts through once a month (or thereabouts since I am an inconsistent human being...so I would say I've read it through about three times this year and am working on my fourth.) If you have never taken time to read through this book do it right now. The first half of this book is more focused on the beginning and wildfire-like spreading of the church and the Gospel. If you are discouraged where you are as a Christian, or you have doubts about all of this...start here. The second chapter in particular you see the power of the Holy Spirit through these men.
I guess that is what has really been picking away at me. We privileged Americans don't really know what it means to live on the power of the Holy Spirit. We are so used to being able to take care of ourselves, provide for us and our families, pay for our next meal...etc. We don't experience his power in everyday life and so when it comes to the big things or even just slightly bigger things...like sharing about our faith with others we freak out. We climb back inside our protective shells and kick the Holy Spirit out.
I just want to take a minute and share with you or remind you the power that we have INSTANT access to. In Acts chapter 2 Peter gives a sermon. (Peter who followed Christ, denied him three times and his origins are of fisherman quality). These men have just received the Holy Spirit and are doing incredible things. But just imagine...Peter stands in front of this multitude and tells them this:
"But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
"'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'"
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know-- this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,
"'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.'"
Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefor a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about he ressurection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
"'The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'"
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucifed."
After this sermon it says there were about 3 thousand souls who were baptized and received his word.
Some days I just feel so inadequate. I look at myself and I only see the mess. I look at the work and I see the insurmountable. I ask myself who am I to think that ANYTHING I do will help. My problem here is, first I'm looking at myself. In and of me...there is nothing that can do anything good. I am a failure. I will always be a failure. My second problem is that I'm not looking at Christ. In this entire speech that Peter gives, his whole point revolves around and adores Christ. Jesus was the focus. He should always be the focus. The power of the Holy Spirit is in the message. Peter was obedient and opened his mouth and the Holy Spirit came out. I may not be making much sense...did I mention I'm not a writer? haha. We have this power that is seen throughout the entire old testament...i.e.: Moses parting the Red Sea, Joshua marching around a fort for a few days and screaming and it falling over, Daniel camping out with hungry lions for a night and walking out unscathed the next morning, the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit and being able to speak and others hear their own language. THIS is the power that we have at our fingertips and we never use it, we forget it's there. We want the spectacular displays not the ability to get from one day to another, from one breath to the next.
I heard a speaker at a missions conference I went to several years ago...he was a ventriloquist. I know, I know, it's weird...but there are some ventriloquist's that have so much talent that for just a moment you really do forget that, that stupid puppet is not real. You believe it for a moment. This guy was good. He did his little gag with the puppet and then he started to talk about abiding in Christ. You know "I am the vine you are the branches." We have heard it before. What struck me was at one point the puppet was telling him that he wanted to talk by himself. He wanted the speaker to walk away and leave him on a chair and let him talk for a few minutes without him. The speaker informed him that if he did this the puppet wouldn't be able to do anything. The puppet argued that he wanted to try. So the speaker put the puppet in a chair sitting upright...as soon as he took his hand away the puppet kind of sank in on itself...all the life was completely gone. He made his point. "apart from me you can do nothing." But more than that we are supposed to be possessed by the Holy Spirit. I had never given this phrasing any thought at all before...but I started to think about demon possessed people. They are completely crazy. It's clear someone else is steering the vessel. What about when we are Holy Spirit Possessed? Is it clear someone else is steering? Do we look different? Apart from the Spirit all we can do is sink in on ourselves...all of our life completely gone...but would it actually look like that for us? IF we didn't have the Spirit would our lives look different?
I'll leave you with this scripture. I hope that some of this has made some sense. I am still trying to wrap my brain completely around it...But I think the last question I want to ask is, is your life different because you now have the Spirit in your life and if not Why not?
Romans 8:26-30 says "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."