Below is a list of four things I have learned from the Book of Acts. They are not in any particular order.
1. The Holy Spirit Is Crazy Intense!
You know how Jesus is sometimes described as the “lion and the lamb”? If the Holy Spirit were an animal, I think He might be a dragon. In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit is not some tame, gentle voice that whispers direction in people’s minds. He is an unstoppable force, sent down in bursts of fire to anoint the disciples of Jesus with the essence and power of GOd. Through the Holy Spirit, the apostles speak clearly and courageously of the gospel (even in other languages), despite the negative responses from those around them, perform miracles, and even face death with unwavering faith in GOd. Knowing we also are full of the same spirit gives me incredible joy. God can do anything he wants through me, through anyone that carries his seal! Let’s spread our wings and light the world on fire!
2. This is God’s Battle, and He is Undefeated
When the Sanhedrin propose to kill the apostles in chapter 5, one pharisee advices his fellows against it, pointing out that if the apostles are heretics and liars, the Christian following will eventually disperse on its own, and will have done little to damage the Jewish people; but, if the apostles tell the truth, and are sincere, then they will only be fighting against the will of God, which is hopeless. I have a tendency to forget that God is in control, and in the grand scheme of things, my weaknesses are inconsequential when it comes to his will. I am but one soldier in this cosmic battle of good and evil, and while my successes can have a significant impact, my failures will never be great enough to derail the General’s plans, to put it metaphorically.
3. Missions Work is About the Message
In chapter 6, the Hellenistic Jews within the followers of Jesus complain against the Hebraic Jews that they have been forgetting their widows in the daily food distribution. In trying to resolve the issue, the twelve disciples decide that it would be foolish to neglect the spreading of the Word to “wait on tables”. Rather, they assign seven individuals specifically to the task, and continue with their greater purpose. Practical pursuits like fixing church buildings, working in a soup kitchen, building fences, cleaning up neighborhoods, or providing medical care for underserved populations are an essential part of our responsibility as Christians, but ultimately, our primary duty is to spread the good news of the gospel. A person’s physical well-being means little when they are in constant threat of eternal spiritual destruction. We are the ambassadors of Christ, and our job is to lead others to become His ambassadors as well. We want them to be on the winning side of the war in the last battle.
4. Prayer is Important!
One thing I have noticed about the book of Acts is that it is full to bursting with prayer. It seems after every event, the first thing the disciples do is pray, whether it be together or on their own, though they do make a point of gathering together to do so. After Jesus departs for Heaven in the first chapter, they pray for guidance. In order to determine what individual to appoint as the 12th disciple, they pray for wisdom. To help people with diseases, demons, and disabilities, they pray for healing. When the Sanhedrin warn them to stop preaching about Jesus, they pray for boldness. As we humans have discovered year after year, situation after situation, nothing is successful without proper communication, not marriages, not governments, not business partnerships, not college courses, and certainly not mission trips. Since God is really the coordinator of this whole endeavor, I must keep in constant contact with him to ensure I am hearing his directives, and I accomplish those tasks through His strength, not my own. Maybe I should write “pray” on my hand to remind myself. Oh wait…
Off to say a little prayer and head to bed.