4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” – Acts 1:4-8
In 2014 we sought to Walk in the Footsteps of Jesus. We recognized that it is in His presence, only, that we can experience true life change – where our heart is made right with God through the forgiveness of sins and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives! We took a long look at what Jesus taught about being a disciple. We were challenged to live life much differently than the world around us. At various points in the year we were reminded that as we walk with Jesus, we are not alone! Yes, He is with us (as we are walking with Him!), but also, we are walking with others who have chosen to walk with Jesus too! These others, because of our common goal of walking with Jesus, form what we understand to be the church! We must recognize that the “community” or the “church” has an important role to play in our spiritual growth and development, (aka. discipleship). The community of faith is not just another idea that Jesus offers to us, hoping we will consider implementing into our busy lives. No! The church is about doing discipleship together.
In 2015 our theme will be “From Fear to Faith, Walking in the Power of the Holy Spirit!” In the Sunday morning messages, I plan to do a book study of Acts, tracing the birth and growth of the early church. In this study we will learn what the purpose the church is and what the basic features of the church must be. The birth of the church was set into motion by the Holy Spirit stirring the waters of discipleship and by the outpouring of His power into the lives of ordinary men and women who moved from fear to faithfulness. To often I think it’s easy for us to forget that the men and women we read about in the Scriptures were not much different than you and me. Most were going about their daily lives, seeking to survive, raise children, and seek God. What makes each story important to our walk is recognizing the way their faith was nurtured and strengthened when they relied upon God’s provision rather than their own power or reasoning. In Acts we see the very important role of receiving the power of the Holy Spirit and what difference it makes in moving us from fear to faithfulness!
The living, breathing, ever-growing quality of the church shows us that discipleship is never an experience of the past. God is on the move today, in our lives and in our world. He has not stopped engaging His church or His people. Being the church, then, is about keeping up with what God is doing in the world. What we see recorded in Acts is the first great spiritual revival, and it continues to inspire revival within the church as we share its message, even today.
The same Holy Spirit that was present in the Book of Acts, empowering, healing, giving words, and moving people from fear to faithfulness, is present even today! In his book “Making Room to Pray” Dr. Terry Teykl quotes Michael Green as he talks about our great need for the Holy Spirit in our daily walk – “He (The Holy Spirit) can give the power we need, and only He. Power for being witnesses to Jesus – is that not needed? Are not many Christians tongue-tied at the thought of speaking to anyone else about their Lord, while others find it second-nature? The difference lies in the Holy Spirit, and whether or not He has been asked to take over. Power to cast out fear – is that not needed? Are many Christians not only speechless about Jesus, but crippled by fear and inhibitions about launching out in the service of the good news? The perfect love which the Spirit gives casts out fear. Indeed, love is about the only power in the world which is stronger than fear … I have no doubt that Peter was terrified when he found himself in the earliest days of the church dragged before a full meeting of the Jewish Sanhedrin, with all the hatchet-men of the high priest’s family gathered with them, to defend his preaching and healing in the name of the Man they had all hated enough to crucify. A very threatening situation. But we read that “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them …” (Acts 4:8). The love and power of the Spirit cast out his natural fear. And if you ask the Spirit to fill you, He will do the same for you.”
Are you ready for this journey of renewal and revival? Are you ready to move from fear to faithfulness in 2015! I hope so. Lets journey together, seeking the Holy Spirits power to be witnesses of the amazing power, grace, and hope that is found in Jesus Christ!
Walking in the Power of the Holy Spirit,