Acting on Acts – Acts 1-16

The fifth book of the New Testament does more than record the “Acts of the Apostles.”  Luke’s spotlight really only shines on two of the apostles, Peter and Paul, but he focuses more on the Holy Spirit and His actions in the early church.  A recent reading of the book brought several lessons to my mind which you may have missed.  I share a few of them here with a prayer they will bless you as you put them into action.

1. Although waiting is hard, it can be very rewarding.  Jesus told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem.  “In a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (1:5)  The “few days” turned out to be about a week, but what a reward awaited them!  They were changed from fearful to fearless, from doubtful to determined.  Why didn’t Jesus send the Spirit the day he ascended?  God’s timing is perfect.  Sometimes we also must wait and often it takes longer than a week, but what a reward awaits us when we depend on Christ and His Spirit to change us through the wait.

2. Our worst problems sometimes come from within the church, but that’s no reason to storm off into isolation.  We’d like to think it’s the outsiders who challenge us believers most, but, as in the early church, big problems can come from within.  The lies of Ananias and Sapphira (5:1-11) and the complaints of Grecian Jews against Hebraic Jews about food distribution were serious problems.  They had to be dealt with and when they were, the church continued to grow.  Don’t be surprised when fellow Christians cause you grief.

3. Wherever we go, even if we’re running away from suffering, we can take Christ and our faith with us and we can help others know Him.  Early Christians ran for their lives to escape persecution (8:1-4), but they shared the Good News wherever they went.  Faith is not tied to any sacred place.  It’s not even tied to a sacred day.  Every day and every place bring opportunities to tell others about Jesus graciously by word and deed, no matter what brought us there.

4. God may want to use you as His messenger to reach the person you would choose last or not at all.  Such was the case with Ananias (9:10-19) and Peter (10:9-48).  Ananias (not the Ananias in 5:1-11 above) did not want to talk with Saul (Paul) and Peter did not want to talk with the Gentile Cornelius.  Ananias had to be convinced to get over fear and Peter to get over tradition.  Is there someone to whom you could be God’s messenger, but you are resisting?

5. Even when brothers in Christ disagree strongly and go different ways, God can still work wonders.  Paul and Barnabas had strong, but different opinions about Mark traveling with them (15:36-41).  So strong, in fact, that they went different directions, Barnabas with Mark and Paul with Silas.  Their work was doubled and more people were blessed.  Later, we know Paul and Mark were reconciled (2 Tim. 4:11).  Christ prayed for unity.  Paul and others advocated it, but sometimes we must agree to disagree and not be disagreeable.  God can work through both sides when hearts are bowed to Him.

6. The best time to praise God may be when it is hardest to do.  Paul and Silas were terribly mistreated with no good reason in Philippi (16:16-40).  They were stripped, beaten, and thrown in prison with feet fastened in the stocks.  At midnight they prayed and sang hymns to God, instead of moaning and complaining. The outcome was that the jailer and his family became believers.  The earthquake helped, but Paul and Silas had credibility because of their reaction to unjust suffering.  Is it hard for you to praise God right now?  If you do it anyway, you may be amazed at the good results God can produce.

Article copyright (c) 2009 by Charles G. Mickey.  All rights reserved.

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