Sunday, 28 July 2013

Acts 29

Yes, I know there isn't one and it finishes with chapter 28, but reading through Acts you can't help but notice the abruptness with which it end - you are left high and dry, you want to know what happens next.

And there's the point, it's not supposed to end, the story continues right down to today, and right around the globe!

The Acts of the Holy Spirit through God's people are still being done and told. God is still using ordinary people, filled with his Spirit to accomplish extraordinary things.

People are being saved and added to the church, delivered from the power of the evil one and set free to be who God wants them to be, healed from all kinds of sickness whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. Baptised in water; baptised in the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues, prophesying, seeing God's miraculous provision.

Yes, God is still on the move, moving by his Spirit, fulfilling his purposes, bringing his Kingdom in.

Do you know it?
Are you part of it?
What part are you playing in Acts 29?

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Continuing the Ministry of Jesus

Reading the Acts of the Apostles one is gripped by its unfolding drama.
The way Luke starts it off is enough to make you sit up and take notice – “in the first book (Luke’s Gospel) Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit….”
Implication, it’s not finished, I going to tell you some more! And my, does he!
But hang on, where is Jesus? In heaven – hallelujah!
So how can it be about his continuing ministry? Jesus said he would not leave us on our own but send One just like himself, who would be poured out on all flesh, and enable that flesh, those people, to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth and do greater works than he – not just words, as important as they are, but demonstrations.
Yes, Jesus was certainly physically present in heaven, but he had received from the Father the Gift of the Spirit, and he had come to the church in  order to release that ministry on a worldwide scale through the church – a people saved and incorporated into Christ, and known as His Body, of which Paul says, he, Christ, is the Head.
Acts vibrates with such a people and church that knew the presence of God, and where God is things happen! As the story unfolds we encounter the continuing ministry of Jesus in the proclamation of His word and works, his saving, healing and delivering power, his guiding and providing influence.
From the outset Luke for the benefit of Theophilus and those who would hear and read down through the centuries writes an ordered and verified account.
This is not sterile religion.
This is not about being comfortable.
This is not about stained glass windows – however nice they may be.
This is not about orders of service – however useful they may be, and even the charismatic has them.
This is not about holy buildings – the people are now the Temple.
This is not about having everything packaged so that we know what’s happening next.
This is not about programs, though they may be useful.
This is about knowing God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not words on a page about God, but God himself. It’s about the life of God in the soul of man, and in the ‘soul’ of the church without which there can be no continuing ministry of Jesus.
Over the intervening centuries, that life has ebbed and flowed as different generations come and go. There are those who’ve grown up in churches or renewal/restoration movements but not had the same encounter with God their parents or grandparents had, and doctrine and practice is modified to account for it, and very soon structure and order become the norm. Then some desperate souls realise something is missing and get back to seeking and finding God again and encounter him afresh and so the tide comes in.
Where God is there is life, and ministry flows as the heart of God is revealed – it’s not tidy, nor is it static, but it pulsates with life, a life that challenges and changes, trumps and transforms our small lives and ministries.
O God grant us more of it!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Hearing the Prophetic

Last time I wrote about being open to the prophetic and it’s importance. In this blog I want to raise the challenge as to how we can hear the prophetic.
Having grown up in a cessationist church with no expectation of hearing God except through a Scripture and the preached word, then getting saved in a Pentecostal Church and experiencing the baptism in the Spirit, followed by involvement in a charismatic denominational church, then independent charismatic, followed by new church charismatic churches/streams I’ve been on a journey of what it means to hear God.
Two or three years ago while leading a church open to and committed to the things of the Spirit, I found myself provoked as to whether I was really as open to the prophetic voice of God as I thought I was. It wasn’t that anyone said it, in fact it had more to do with someone who struggled with the whole idea of prophecy, and it set me on a journey. A journey that was to have a dramatic twist.
I’ve heard and responded to God over the years, I thought I was doing it, but there are situations and circumstances that can make us blind.
I began to read, study and reflect afresh on what it means to hear God.
Then I went to a conference and while there attended a seminar on the gifts of the Spirit in a worship service – something I’ve always been keenly interested in. Little did I know God was setting up an ambush! Following the teaching we were encouraged to get into groups, preferably with people we didn’t know, then wait on God and see what he might say. When people began to share, a lady shared a simple picture about a father and son walking on a beach, the boy had a balloon in his hand, but he had lost it, and was now upset.
Simple, but loaded!
We had been encouraged to discuss what any word might mean and pray for any who it might apply to. Strangely we focussed on what wasn’t in the picture, then prayed. As I left that room I found myself thinking about what had just taken place and in a  matter of moments, God spoke to me saying I was the boy on the beach, the balloon I had been holding was gone and it wasn’t coming back. Then the thought, what would you do if you were that father, and this was your son? I found myself responding that I would get him another balloon, and with that God I felt God say that’s what I’m going to do for you!
The balloon represented who we were connected with and a change in relationship.
Over the next few weeks as I shared with fellow elders we felt that God was clearly leading us to merge our church with another in another ‘stream’ – in fact it turned out that God had already dropped the idea into the mind of one of the elders. Over the next few weeks we began to explore it with the church. Again we found God had been preparing people. Time and again we found God speaking and confirming. In just over six months we had processed the detail and merged the church, and it has been proven over and over that it was of God – PTL!
Had I not felt challenged as to how willing I was to hear God through the prophetic, we would not be where we are today. If I/we hadn’t, would God be blessing? I think he would. Would it be God’s best? I don’t think so. God had something else in mind and he was working to get us there, and I’m so glad he did.
Over the last few weeks my wife and I have been reading through the Acts of the Apostles and we have been reminded again and again of the dynamic of the early church, and dynamic that needs to be recovered and maintained.
Through the journey I learnt again the need to hear the prophetic voice; to not dictate how God should speak, and to be willing to respond to it.
Was there risk? Yes, but if you want to serve God’s purpose and keep engaging with his will that will always be the case.
How willing are you to hear God? How open to the prophetic? Are you as willing as you think you are?