I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I am learning as we go through the book of Acts. There are several themes that jump out at me each time I open one of those power packed chapters; Like, “Victory”. It is so obvious as we enter the narrative of Luke’s account of the Churches early beginning, that God’s Kingdom and Church are unstoppable. The Jewish authorities, beat, threatened and warned in order to stop it, Saul murdered and tortured and tried to stop it, King’s persecuted and even martyred in order to silence this “new thing” but nothing could keep this message contained. In fact, the more they were persecuted the further the message of Christ spread. It was like trying to put out a fire by fanning the flames! You can’t help but to see that this Kingdom Agenda of God’s is victoriously unstoppable.
Another theme closely associated with the other is “Persecution and Suffering”. We would like to think that as we do God’s will that everything would go easily because we are following and obeying Him. But we soon discover that part of doing God’s will is suffering for God’s work. The Apostles couldn’t avoid it, Stephen experienced it, James was beheaded, Peter imprisoned and later we see all the trials that the Apostle Paul would endure. It was inevitable! Suffering that is. Part of God’s plan. Listen to what Peter says:
12” Beloved do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12–14
He even goes on to say in verse 19 that suffering is even a part of God’s will… “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” WOW! We certainly see this theme throughout the story of Acts.
However, the theme that grabs me the hardest, the one which causes me to wrestle the most and is the hardest to embrace is the theme of “Prayer”. Yep, you heard that right…prayer. You would think that as a Pastor and Preacher for over 30 years this obvious and most basic matter would be elementary. But what I am discovering is that I have an even more elementary element in me called pride! An attitude which says. “I can do this on my own, God” … “Just give me the rules and the ‘to do’ list and I’ll go at it.” This mindset is dangerous and in opposition to God Himself. Prayer is a reminder that we need Him. Prayer puts things in proper perspective. It humbles before an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise God. Prayer is dependence. Prayer is “child-like” acknowledgment of need, of helplessness, of surrender. My fleshly pride does not like that. Luke, through the book of Acts demonstrates over and over how the Church realized its need for God. In fact, the Church itself was birthed during a time of waiting and prayer. Peter was miraculously delivered from prison while the church prayed. The first world-wide missions’ movement was started as a church fasted and prayed. These wonderful accounts in the book of Acts reminds us that we can do nothing of eternal and lasting significance without prayerful, humble dependence upon God!
As God writes His story through us here at the Nations Church, may we go down in history as a church that prayed…really prayed!