The reading of the book of Acts is coming at a time when I can really see and feel the working of the Holy Spirit.
As I read through chapters 5-9 of Acts there are two things that come through very clearly — Focus and Strength.
I need to be focused on God if I want to hear his voice, follow his plan and see his miracles. Through every opposition and conflict, I need to be focused on him.
We are reminded in Chapter 5 of the story of Ananias & Sapphira who tried to lie to God. We can put up a front to others, but God knows our heart. He knows the truth. When we try to hide things from him, we are just fooling ourselves. He is aware of everything. The easiest thing is just to be completely open and honest with him. This will allow our focus to be on him and from this we will be strengthen for anything that comes our way.
In chapter 6, the disciples know what they need to focus on and delegated everything else to others. They kept their focus firm on the mission God had set before them. I found this funny in a way that the disciples were called to preach and teach God’s message and did not have time or energy to worry about food distribution. This hit home for me as I am often torn between the social services side of my calling and the actual preaching & teaching. It makes me question whether I am really following God’s calling or if my focus is a little off. But on the other had, I can do a lot through the ‘food distribution’ programs that will tell others and show others his message. It is a balance and I am daily seeking God’s guidance as to what I should do.
Chapter 7 sees Stephen being stoned to death. This chapter is a reminder to stand firm in our belief no matter what. It also reminds me that I need to know the story, I need to know God’s message. It is hard to stand firm if you don’t know all the facts. The importance of study and continual learning will only assist me as I continue to fight the battle that God has place before me. Conflict and fear are part of my journey and I need to be strong in my faith and be bold in telling his story to the nations.
I found it interesting that in Chapter 8 when the church faced persecution, they scattered. But they did not go into hiding. They scattered so that they could tell more about God’s message. That they would spread the Good News even further. I realize that sometimes during persecution we need to stand and fight, but other times we need to move on. It is during these times we need to listen to the Holy Spirit for direction.
Chapter 9 reminds us that no matter how bad someone is, there is always hope that God can work in their lives. This story tells the story of Saul’s conversion. It is a powerful conversion. Sometimes when our conversion are not as bold as Saul’s we may wonderful if we have really been changed. At least I have always thought this when I read Saul’s story. But God has a different way of working with each of us. Sometimes we have a powerful testimony and other times our testimony is one of constant obedience.
While my conversion was not bold and powerful like Saul to those watching. But the work of the Holy Spirit in my life has been bold and powerful to my life. It is as I continue to break down the walls and barriers and allow God full access that I am truly noticing the work of the Holy Spirit. Saul’s conversion was quick and over a short period, mine is just taking a little longer!
Looking forward to more lessons and reminders in the book of Acts. For now I will focus on God and gather my strength and direction from him and him alone.