I am really enjoying reading through the book of Acts. It is so encouraging and motivating. But also it is a clear reminder that as a Christian I need to be active…not just coasting along.
Chapter 15 is all about the simple truth of the message. Often God’s message is made complicated by us. This chapter reminded me to keep things simple. I like this! I am not a deep thinker and don’t question many things in the Bible. For me it is a matter of faith to believe that these things happened. I do question God ALOT, but the basis of the Bible is what I use as my truth base. I know many people that will question and study everything until they have themselves into a tailspin. In this chapter one important lesson that came through was the need NOT to but barriers in the way of people becoming (and remaining believers). This is easily done when we start to judge others or put others down….this will discourage someone and perhaps turn them away from God as they feel they may never measure up. Another barrier that I have seen is when things and practices are so complicated and full of rules that no one can do it all. God reminded me that I need to preach and teach simply so that many will understand and believe.
Go Tell & Celebrate
Chapter 16 is about go tell the world about God. Spend time preaching and teaching new and old believers as God leads us. As Paul and others travelled around they told people what was happening with other believers in other areas. They celebrated the work of God in the lives of many at that time. Do we celebrate God’s work or are we focused on what is not happening? This chapter challenged me to focus more on the positive things that are happening. Perhaps a new blog on ‘Celebrate Chatham-Kent’ should be started. As I reflected and acknowledged what God has been doing in my life and those around me, I had stop and just praise him. The Holy Spirit is moving and moving big. I often think that when we read the accounts of God’s miracles in the Bible we are looking for similar events. I need to remind myself that God is still in the miracle business and he does them every day. I just need to pause and take notice.
Seek Him First, then Teach
This next chapter is all about seeking God first before trying to do anything. While the beginning of the chapter is all about Paul teaching and trying to reason with the Jews about the teachings of Jesus Christ, it is verse 27 that really sticks out to me. This verse talks about God created us so that we would seek him and perhaps reach out to him. This is not news to me, I know that God wants me to seek him and reach out to him. I need to work on slowing down more so that I am not in motion when I remember. Another important lesson that was highlighted for me in this chapter was to keep teaching, focusing on those who are willing to listen. There are many who will not accept the truth and all I can do is preach the message. I can’t make anyone believe, that is up to the Holy Spirit working in their lives and hearts. I need to stay true to the message and to remember to celebrate the victories.
Be Bold, Speak Up
The one message for me in Chapter 18 was to be bold and speak up for God. I love verse 9, it tells us to not be afraid, keep on speaking, and do not be silent. God did not give us a message to keep to ourselves. He gave us a message and instructions to GO TELL the world. Perhaps this is just in our small community or perhaps this is in other parts of the world. I know that God will lead me, but for now my part of the world is Chatham-Kent. It is easy to type that we all need to be bold and speak up, but for me this is really hard to be bold outside of my church circle. It’s so easy to be bold in front of other believers, but how am I doing in front of non-believers. Praying that I will be more in-tuned with God’s prompting to speak up in areas that may not be comfortable to me.
Chapter 19 encourages us to stay strong in our beliefs. However this can not be done if we are not encouraging each other and learning more about Jesus as we journey along in our faith walk. We need to be growing in our faith and not remaining as new Christians. I was really encouraged as I read this chapter to continue to study God’s word and meet with others as I grow. I am challenged to minimize the other activities in my life that is taking me away from what is important. While on vacation I read a book that was all about setting my priorities. God first, family second and then my ministry. I need to examine what I am doing to ensure that I am giving the appropriate time to God. A friend recently posted a pie chart with seven slices. Each slice was coloured according to how she spent her time. I would like to do this, but am not sure I want to be that real. I love friends who challenge me in this journey (and some without even knowing it!!)
These chapters were read when I was on vacation. It is so easy to focus on God and his message for me as I am sitting in the sun, relaxing on a cruise ship. Now the real challenge will begin as I arrive home tomorrow and have all the other ‘things’ trying to get my attention. I am very thankful for this time away with family and feel rested. I was able to see more of God’s wonderful, beautiful scenery that was not covered by snow. As we drive north, I am reminded that there is beauty all around me even in that ‘white stuff’ that I am started to see in patches.