Monday, May 05, 2008

Acts: the Kingdom of God is becoming a reality in our lives!

Acts truly is an account of the Kingdom of God becoming a reality in the lives of the early Christ followers. It was clear then and applicable to us today that:

God is the guide. Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd & I shall not be in want. He is responsible to guide. You are responsible to be sensitive to Him and follow what He shows.

What is the life you want me to live?
Repeat the question quietly in your heart.
What is your counsel Lord?
Notice your heart’s posture on the matter.
Are we willing to hear whatever it is God wants to say to us?

There is no more decisive issue when it comes to hearing the voice of God than the issue of surrender. We are drawn to God in search of guidance, but we come away with a deeper holiness because we are learning surrender.

Lord—I will accept whatever it is you want to say to me.

Do you feel like, “He leadeth me to utter exhaustion; he runneth me ragged.”?

We are invited to become followers of Jesus. Not just believers. Followers. There is a difference.

Psalm 32:8
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.

If we don’t know, Don’t. Wait till God does show you something clearly. Don't move ahead because you are impatient. If you don't know what to do next, keep waiting.

Oh how many times my impatience has prompted me to move out on my own! Have you ever experienced painful consequences from your own impatience?

God’s guidance is clear, often only in hindsight.

God’s guidance is Next Step for some; for others God’s guidance is more long term.
Trust GOD more than TRUST god.
Major decisions require several of these factors to line up.

From the exact same life circumstances we can construct a whole world of things to be thankful for or a whole world of things to be grumpy about. The challenge of our adult lives will be to reconstruct all the best parts of what we were at 5 years of age: wide open to wonder, physically present, ready to learn, able to trust. For some of us this will be a process of ehaling for our painful childhood memories if we’ll allow it.

If you are not careful, you will acquire so much knowledge that you will need another lifetime to put it into practice. Francois Fenelon

It’s not about information, its more about our posture to God.

Can you be led, can I be led?

I love the song, Dwell: Dwell in the midst of us Lord, You can have your way!

The early Christ followers were told to 'wait' by Jesus- Acts 1:4.

Look at what happens in Acts 2:1-2: God shows up on His own timeline!

Acts 3:1- 'at the time of prayer', Peter & John took praying very seriously.

Acts 4:24- 'They raised their voices in prayer."

Acts 4:31- 'after praying the room was shaken'!

Acts 5:19-20- 'the angel frees them from jail and says, GO back & teach in the Temple!'

We can start out following Jesus that way, or perhaps desire it when we wake up each morning, but then a subtle parting occurs. I don’t feel as though I am following Jesus going ahead of me. I just sort of take it for granted that I am blazing the trail.

It’s easy to make no conscious effort to follow God in all the “in-between” times, where life is really being lived. The question is, will I follow God, as opposed to just going on my way into each day? That is the transition to a better life. To be asking him where he is headed and what he is doing throughout the day.

Can you be challenged, (are you secure- where is your identity coming from?)

What is your posture to authority? (Want to get honest with God and others- invite some feedback on this area of you life)

Philippians 2:9-11: the name of Jesus is above all names, perhaps this is the earliest hymn of the church.

Look at Acts 4:8-12- 'it is by the name of Jesus Christ that healing has come. Salvation is found in no one else!'

Who is the one person in all the earth who is able to challenge us? Only the name of Jesus!!

This is a key step in learning to listen to the voice of God. We can ask questions to help us discern if we are being disciplined:

Is this pain I'm experiencing about getting my attention?

Lord, I want the freedom you have. To be completely free of what others think of me.

John 7:12-18

Can you be taught, (are you teacheable or are you a knower)

What would you have me read today Lord?

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance — it’s the illusion of knowledge. Daniel Boorstin

Can you be cared for, (can you receive God’s love)

2 Corinthians 9:10
He (God) gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives.

The Gospel Cycle: God gives- I receive- I give away.

Radical individualism: refusing to belong to anyone or anything is not conducive to following Jesus. Autonomy.

Can you be continually re-engaged in Grace for someone else. (can you see with compassion & emapathy- the eyes of Jesus)

Jesus ‘particularized’ people who were normally invisible. Last week we looked at Peter & John who did it with a beggar in John 3. A new way of seeing.

We want to be a movement of people who are being led, challenged and changed by Jesus Christ. We are business owners, we are kids who like soccer, we are families, and college students. We are into schools, private school, public school, grad school and no school. We are wealthy and we are poor. We are addicted and we are free. We are mothers and fathers. We are friends. We are broken and needy but we have hope. We are committed to each other and to Jesus who brought us together. We do life together in Edmonton, and wherever else God leads us throughout the world. This community is about Jesus, not Bible Studies, gatherings, churches or organizations. We value the tradition of the story of God as told through the Hebrew Scriptures, and the last 2000 years of people who have lived in the way of Jesus. We seek to engage the issues and passions of our day, and be the people of God bringing the kingdom of God into our world. We dream about becoming the Church God has in mind and shaping the future in alignment with the heart of God.

God is leading us. There is a hearing element to how He leads us. Prayer continually calls us back to that.

Prayer for our city and our neighborhoods and for each other:

Father, Thank you for my spiritual family. Please bless them with Your favor. Provide for all of their needs. I ask You to protect them from harm and evil. Surround them in the shadow of Your wing. Go before them and prepare the way for them. If any path is crooked, I ask you to make it straight. Protect them from the schemes of the enemy and keep them from deception. Bring Your perfect peace to their hearts. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Father, I thank you for blessing me with my spiritual family. I ask you to bring us into unity through Your Spirit. I ask that anything that is hidden in darkness - to cause disunity - will be brought to light. Please lead us into Your perfect truth and help us to be the family You intend us to be. Lord, help us to be a blessing to one another and to others. Reveal Yourself to us and let us come into agreement with You. Lead us in Your ways. Give us compassionate hearts, fill us with Your love that does not keep records of wrong, and bring joy to our hearts when we think of one another. Bring Your perfect peace and unity into our family. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


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