Monday, May 26, 2008

Acts: Deciphering Life

We all seem to have a drive to know and understand what life is all about. Although we want to know we often look in the wring places or ask the wrong questions. How many of us need directions to find an address but will refuse to stop and ask someone?

We buy GPS; look at schematics, always hoping to find the elusive, “Blueprint For My Life”. While I can’t seem to find mine I have no problems seeing yours and wanting what you have despite not having a clue about my own!

Acts helps us discover God’s Positioning System- the Holy Spirit. Last week we looked at Stephen in Acts 7 and as the chapter closes, he faces death via stoning, but was “full of the Holy Spirit.” Stephen was given a vision of God and the nature of true reality that gave him immense courage. He even prayed for his attackers the way Jesus did in Luke 23!

It was as if the mist was clearing for Stephen seeing Jesus standing right there with the Father. It has overtones of Elisha in 2 Kings 6. God is here. Do we see it? Do we want to?

The Temple had been the place where heaven & earth meet but Stephen gives us another living illustration that the Temple is gone- heaven & earth meet in the person of Jesus and His followers.

Stephen was a witness, a martyr that lost his life for his faith and telling of the Jesus story. Not many of us will actually face that, but there is a greater meaning of witness, that being the witness to the kingdom realities all around us. This is where we learn to Decipher Life.

We want understanding, or we can have God. What do you want more of? (Occasionally we get both).

Acts 7:60
Lord do not hold their sin against them.

This was a remarkably similar prayer of Jesus when He faced death. The early followers had actually learned much from Jesus. It is though, a very different prayer form previous generations of Jews who had claimed allegiance to God and were being tortured. In 2 Maccabees 7, the tortured Jews threaten their captors with dire punishments and called down curses upon them. Not so with Jesus, or Stephen or the other early Christ followers. They prayer for their enemies! Whodathunkit?!

A key to Decipher Life is learning to pray for our enemies.

We then see the Holy Spirit calling the first church growth conference- Persecution Jerusalem. They fled but they kept speaking about Jesus- allowing God to speak to them and through them. How’s that for a way of Deciphering Life?

Philip heads to Samaria, beginning the fulfillment of what Jesus said would happen in
Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Jesus says we’re going on a mission from God, perhaps the only deciphering needed is how far from home we’re going!

In Samaria Simon the Sorcerer wants to pay for the power to lay hands on people and see them receive the Holy Spirit. Any time money and mixed motives enter the kingdom the Holy Spirit brings a swift word. Listen to Peter’s response:

Acts 8:20-23
Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

Any attempt to bring the Spirit under human control is nonsense and to be rejected outright.

How’s that for a way forward in Deciphering Life?

If you insist on understanding it usually doesn’t come, or at least on our timetable!

Zechariah 4:6
'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.

Are you facing a mountain or a deep valley? Our savior He can move mountains.

Zechariah 4:7
What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground.

God wants us to be happy but He knows that we cannot be truly happy until we are completely his and until He is our all. And the weaning process is very hard. John Eldredge

Which question is your favorite path to Decipher Life:

Why did God let this happen? or

Why aren’t I more fully given over to God?

Perhaps God has you on the way through Samaria right now. It was the armpit of Israel in the eyes of devout Jews. Where do you really not want to go?

The story of Jesus is moving out from where it began in Jerusalem with Philip and the other early Christ followers. It continues with all of us today from the spiritual epicenter of our lives to wherever God is scattering us. Follow the Spirit's leading and let Him Dechipher Life for you!

Shout To The North
Men of faith rise up and sing
Of the great and glorious King
You are strong when you feel weak
In your brokeness complete

Shout to the North and the South
Sing to the East and the West
Jesus is saviour to all
Lord of heaven and earth

Rise up women of the truth
Stand and sing to broken hearts
Who can know the healing power
Of our awesome King of love

We've been through fire we've been through rain
We've been refined by the power of his name
We've fallen deeper in love with you
You've burned the truth on our lips

Rise up church with broken wings
Fill this place with songs again
Of our God who reigns on high
By His grace again we'll fly


Post a Comment

<< Home