Monday, May 6, 2013

Got To Be More To This Life....

           Sunday morning I woke up in the early hours of the day, and found myself speaking out loud, “There has to be more to life than what we are living.” It seems weird, but sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night having a conversation with the Lord. He and I must have been talking about something in my dreams, because when I woke up and stated that, I heard His reply, “The Book of Acts.” On our way to church that morning, I told my husband about what I had said and about what I had heard. “There has to be more to this life than what we are living.” (He too thought it was kind of weird, but these nighttime conversations are not uncommon.) I told him that I was feeling like we were “missing something”, I wasn't sure what, but that was the sense I was getting from my conversation with my Lord.  
 When you read through the book of Acts, you see the power and presence of God all over the pages. People are being saved daily, healings and miracles are taking place every time the gospel is preached. The apostles and disciples are daily living for Jesus, and the world around them is changing. As I tried to remember what the Lord had spoken to me in the midst of the night, I found myself reading through the book of Acts this morning. The first thing that stuck out at me was in the first chapter. Jesus is speaking to His disciples and telling them of the promise of the Holy Spirit who is to come upon them, and He says to them,
                “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
                Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, even to us, His disciples today. We receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, and we are to be His witnesses. The word “witness” means that our lives testify of Jesus, not our words only, but our lives as well. A Witness is someone who can testify what they have seen, what they have experienced and what they have heard. We are to be witnesses to this broken and perverse generation around us. Because, there has to be more than this life we are living. The disciples spoke the word of God with boldness, they testified of the resurrection, because they saw it, they experienced it. We too, who are followers of Jesus have experienced the resurrection of Jesus Christ in our own lives; we need to testify of it, and live it before this world.

 Now, the people around Jerusalem at the time heard the power of God in the lives of the disciples. What do you mean they “heard” the power of God? In chapter 2:11b the people say, “we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” The people heard the power of the Holy Spirit come upon the disciples, they heard Peter’s words as he stood and testified of the salvation of mankind through Jesus Christ. As I read these words I thought about how difficult we make the gospel sometimes. The gospel is not complex, it is not a mystery, but it is open, easily understood by anyone who has ears to hear. We make the gospel hard; we put our own “spin” on it, when all the people need to know is, “that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (2:21)
                Chapter 2 goes on to tell us that “those who gladly received his word” were baptized and these souls were saved through the Holy Spirit living and moving on the inside of the disciples. There was no evangelism team, there was no organized group sent out from their church. They just spoke and preached as God led them. I am not saying that these teams and groups are bad, but we should not limit ourselves and the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. If you feel God urging you to speak, speak, look at Phillip and the Ethiopian in Chapter 8, God led, He directed and He did the work, there was no “team”, there was no “outreach”, just Phillip and this Ethiopian talking about Jesus.
                Sometimes I wonder where the power of God has gone from the church settled here in our nation. Some will tell you that the book of Acts is only for a record of what the beginning of the church looked like; it doesn’t really apply to us today. But isn’t that picking and choosing what we want from the Bible to be truth and not allowing the whole Bible apply to our lives? There are churches around the world that are
experiencing these same signs and wonders that we read about in the book of Acts, so I ask, where has the power of God gone from our churches today? We have put rules, by-laws, regulations and boundaries up to “keep order” within the church. But when you read through the book of Acts, the Lord God was the one Who kept order, He sent, they went; He called, they listened; He spoke, they obeyed. There was a letter sent by the Apostles in Jerusalem to the gentiles in chapter 15. But this letter was sent to help put out the debate of whether or not the gentiles needed to be circumcised or not. These were not “rules” or “laws” but a holy leading, a gentle guiding of the Word of God to those who were not Jewish.
                One other thing that stuck out at me was in chapter 4. Peter and John have just healed a lame man and the rulers of the synagogue have them arrested. Peter and John give their testimony once again of Jesus Christ, and are warned to not preach Jesus anymore. But in verse 13 we see the power of God once again. “Now when they {the rulers} saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” The only “requirement” for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is Jesus Himself. No schooling, no seminary, Peter and John were fishermen, a lowly profession in the eyes of the rulers of that day, yet God used them mightily. Why? Because they were not afraid to live their lives as a witness to the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, they were bold in their faith, and they did not allow others to quench the fire and the passion that was in them, simply because they were “uneducated and unlearned”.  It is not about where you study, it is about Whom you study.
                I want to encourage you all to read through the book of Acts this week. Go through it and may the Lord God open your eyes to the truth that there is more to this life than what we are living. It is my prayer, my earnest prayer today that the church in America will wake up from its slumber and go back to the beginning, I pray that we get out of ourselves and back to Christ. Otherwise, we will face the judgment to come.
                “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, “These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot, I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’-and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

                Let us go back to the beginning and be the church that He has always wanted us to be. Let our lights shine brightly for Him, let us no longer be lukewarm, but let us remove the sleep from our eyes and begin to live for Him, to be witnesses to those around our world. There is more to this life than we are living. We should be impacting the world around us, each and every day. God desires to awaken His church in this nation, let us heed His call and let us sleep no more. To Him Who was, and is, and is to come, forever and ever. To Jesus Christ be all glory and power forever and ever. Amen and Amen.