This morning our sermon was the third in a series about God speaking. We have been exploring how God speaks to His people, with a special focus on how God spoke to His Church in the book of Acts.
Some things we have discovered so far are:
-When the Holy Spirit is present EVERYTHING changes
-The Holy Spirit is for EVERYONE who believes in Christ
-The Holy Spirit is present with everyone, empowers everyone, gives gifts to everyone, and speaks to everyone.
-The consequence of this is that the community of Spirit-filled believers is also responsible to listen together, weigh up together and act together on what God says.
What we have learnt to apply so far is:
-Each individual in the church has the privilege of coming into God's presence and hearing from Him, which we all should do on a daily basis.
- The church as a community is to be dwelling in God's presence and hearing from God together. When they do, they are to act on what God has said.
In a nutshell: God's vision is an empowered community who dwell in His presence, listening to Him and outworking His purposes.
In the book of Acts we see this empowered community not only hearing from God as individuals and as a community for the benefit of the church, but also hearing how God wants to work through them in the marketplace. There are many examples of this in Acts.
Read Acts 8:9-25
Verses 9-14.... Sent to Samaria
Luke the author is obviously linking what is going on in this passage to Jesus' promise in Acts 1:8. The point is that the gospel is for the world, not just the church. The church is the agent for the gospel, not the recipients of the gospel.
For the Jews in the church it would have been weird to think of God moving among the Samaritans. God is with the Jews not the Gentiles. Likewise we can often think that God moves in the church, not in the world around us, but God wanted to surprise the church then, as He does now, that God is working in the world as well as the church.
Do we have a bias as to where we think God is working?
Do we think God is involved in the world as He is in the church?
Verse 14..... Sent by the church... listening and obeying like Acts 13
Notice in this part the clarity that those ministering have. The Holy Spirit is revealing to them where to go, what to do and how to go about it.
Verses 15-17.... Philip, Peter and John all need each other
It takes a church to make disciples, not just an individual. We all have different gifts that we share, so that through our interdependence God does his work. We may often be called to build on what someone else has started.
Verses 18-25.... Peter has Godly insight and boldness
We might think "I could never do that!". Peter is empowered with supernatural insight and boldness. However, when we go on a mission we may be surprised how the Holy Spirit uses us! It is exciting what God can do when we are listening and obeying.
The unusual thing that happens in this account is the actions of Simon. How come he returned to his old ways after believing in Christ? True repentance hadn't taken place. The point is, we need to truly repent and totally surrender to Christ before His Holy Spirit can fill us.
How does the clarity, boldness and effectiveness of Peter's actions inspire you and your situation?
God wants His people to take His presence and power into the world around them, where He is already at work. As we do so, we will see God move and grow in confidence and partnership with Him. The Church then becomes a place of empowerment, equipping and celebration.
A good way to remember the application to our lives is by using the acronym APP. Yes, think of this as the Holy Spirit APP for your life, rather than an app for your phone.
A = AWARENESS of God's presence
Like the early church, let's get into the habit of coming into God's presence every day and inviting the Holy Spirit to be with us, guide us and speak to us throughout our day. Pray for opportunities to share what God has given you and expect God to be working around you.
P = Develop God's PERSPECTIVE
Like the book of Acts, let's see beyond the natural circumstances. Let's ask questions like "What would Jesus reigning in this situation look like?" Then be listening for an answer and be willing to act on God's leadings.
P = PRACTICE
What is impressive about the book of Acts is that they gave it a go. There comes a point where you just have to take the risk and try something. We will never know exactly what is going to happen, but what we see in Acts in our experience is that often God surprises us.