What’s changing?

Acts 10:44-48

I have vivid memories of standing in the parking lot of a Texas state prison. We had finished the day there in ministry with our  incarcerated brothers. There were quite a few of us. So, our circle was big. And our voices carried as we affirmed in song, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.” 

We knew God was there. It was evident in the changed minds. People had decided they were through with their old life. The abundant, everlasting life of Jesus was a much greater gift. 

Transformation is a signpost of Spirit’s presence. When a soul turns to Christ you can be sure the Spirit has been nudging them, unstiffening the neck a bit. The Spirit inspires us to new understandings, new perspectives, new love and new life. And let’s also mention new attitudes, new joy, new purpose. Even those who have already sensed the Holy Spirit’s presence celebrate renewal. Do we presume God has finished the holy reworking of our hearts? 

Of course not!

So, we anticipate and even pray for change in our lives, change in our churches and change in our communities. Lord knows we need it. The apostle Paul said, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Isn’t freedom a change from bondage to empowerment?

As Peter testified to his change of heart, he shared what God had shown him. Luke tells us that as he spoke “the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44). For obvious reasons, we look at what the gentiles in that story did as a result. The main idea is that God’s Spirit was pouring out on them. God’s family was expanding in that home. 

But the people with Peter also experienced a change. Astonishment filled their hearts as they saw what God was doing. Before, they had been like Peter. They were sure God’s grace had limits. Now, they were seeing how far God wanted to go into all the world. 

Notice something as we gather to worship or in other parts of your walk with God. Are you becoming more like Jesus? Do you see others becoming more like him? If you want to see how God’s Spirit is moving, pay attention to what is changing. 

Stay blessed…john

Through us

Acts 5:12-16

Can you imagine the excitement of the young church in Acts?

It’s a movement of God that everyone sees. No, not everyone believed what was happening. Not everyone joined the fellowship. But there was no denying something was happening. People flocked to the apostles and many experienced signs and wonders.

There was no dragging required.

People were hoping for a chance just to get in Peter’s shadow. There’d be healing there, they thought. It’s unclear where they got that idea. Was it something they came up with themselves? Did they hear it from others? Was it anything people actually experienced?

Whatever the case, miracles abound. Luke says this was all done “through the apostles.” What a great reminder. Whatever power people saw, it was not that of the apostles. It was through them such experiences manifested. Whatever gift they could offer was because of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power.

The question always comes up in studying Acts. Should we expect signs and wonders like what we read from Luke? Or was that only for a certain period of the church’s life? Wherever your inclinations lead you, one important detail remains. You and I don’t perform God’s work. God works through us.

That leads to another faithful insight. The church God builds is Acts in God’s. The church God has built since is God’s. The church God is building today is God’s.

Not yours.

Not mine.

Not even our tradition’s.

We, too often, oppress God’s church with schisms and heresies. But God is always faithful to make us a new creation by “water and the Word” (The Church’s One Foundation).

Luke says, “Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord” (Acts 5:14). Yes, people became a part of the ecclesia. Thousands of people joined the fellowship of believers. They were the church.

But let’s never forget they were joined to God. We are joined to God. We are God’s people, a part of God’s church. When we remember we are Gods and don’t lose sight that we are God’s church, ministry takes on new life. Excitement builds. People come to know the grace of God through us again.

Stay blessed…john