September 22, 2021
History has been forged by movements—seasons of surges that produced unstoppable and undeniable change.
The movement that began at Pentecost forever changed the world. Its early days, recorded in Acts, set the DNA of Christianity. Each generation of true believers has looked back to the account in Acts to replicate the miraculous work that rapidly advanced the gospel. But if we are not mindful, we will miss our part.
The evidence that this was a movement from God was that it could not be stopped by religious or governmental authorities. The more they tried to abort it, the faster it grew.
We must remember that persecution by religious and civil leaders marked those early days. As they saw their control evaporating, they did everything possible to stop the movement of believers filled with God's Spirit. But notice what happened in the early movement of the Church.
As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. (Acts 4:1-4)
No amount of pressure could stop the believers from the unceasing proclamation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. (Acts 4:8-10)
Everything was driven by men and women filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is mentioned 60 times in the 28 chapters of Acts. We may long for the movement of God in our generation, but unless we realize that it was propelled by humble Christians filled with the Spirit, we will miss the engine that drove this rapid advance. God had control of His people and was using them as only God could.
"But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name." And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:17-20)
So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:41-42)
Regardless of what the religious and civil leaders tried to impose on them, these Spirit-led believers went "right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." The world (led by its Prince) will always try to abort the work of God. But believers must be wise to recognize the source of this opposition and must refuse to stop doing what God commands. At this point of civil restraint, civil disobedience is required.
Growing Crowds Glorifying God
When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened. (Acts 4:21)
No national or religious entity can stop the obvious work of God and the glorification of Christ.
And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)
The movement of God was fueled by unceasing prayer. For the early movement believers, prayer was never a last resort but a first response. They understood that to experience the power of God they must be in full connection with God.
And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. (Acts 4:32)
When the church is filled with God, His generous heart expresses itself through unfettered giving that meets the needs of others and stuns the world.
And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33)
The grace of God is the dynamic gift that gives man the desire and power to do the will of God. We are nothing without grace. When God's people abundantly cooperate with God, they receive an abundant supply of grace.
At the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's portico. But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number. (Acts 5:12-14)
If we long for a movement of spiritual awakening in our day, we must not deviate from the Divine ingredients. God is anxious to awaken those who don't know Him. His means has always been to use His people, saturated with Him.
Father, send a mighty movement across our land. Give us the humble wisdom to seek Your filling and control. Let us not resist but aggressively cooperate with all You initiate. And explode Your church in our day with exponential growth that glorifies You.
October 13, 2021
October 12, 2021
It could not be worse. God is gracious in His offering of forgiveness through Jesus Christ to all who believe. Those who come to know God and obey Him will experience the best in this life and the life to come.
But what of all those who ignore God? Who will not trust Him? Who never follow and obey the one true God? The Bible leaves no ambiguity about this, and its clarity should sober us.
October 07, 2021
My son, who is planting a church in a Northern Colorado city, intentionally took me for a walk through a sculpture garden recently that is located in a prominent spot in his large city. It was beautiful, convenient, and filled with people.
To my amazement, at every 30 yards or so, there was a stone statue. The whole garden was a prayer garden, and each statue was named. The farther we walked, the more I realized it was a garden designed to help you pray to ancestral spirits. This religion is called animism and is no different from the false religions we read of in the Scripture. Paul encountered this in Athens.