While my heart is full this morning after a very, very busy week and a truly God blessed Sunday, my head feels kind of empty. So, I went back into the archives and read some thoughts I captured back in 2009 on this day in my reading plan. Was encouraged by them. True then, true now. Passing them on for your encouragement this morning . . .
While in most of our Bibles the book after the gospel of John is titled, “The Acts of the Apostles”, some have suggested that perhaps it could just as accurately be titled “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.” If I do a quick word search with my handy dandy Bible program the phrase “Holy Spirit” is found 41 times in Acts . . . in both the NKJV and the NIV (40 in the ESV). . . add in where the Third Person of the Godhead is referred to as “the Spirit” and its up around 55 times (in the ESV, too).
From Pentecost to a Roman prison the active agency of the Holy Spirit is everywhere in Acts. From powerful preaching to power-filled healings, the Spirit enables Jesus’ disciples to birth the church. In fact, it is the Holy Spirit Himself who becomes the defining evidence of souls born again . . .
“And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.’ ”
(Peter and the Judean brethren, Acts 11:15-18)
And it is the Spirit infused dynamics of Acts 13 which captures my thoughts this morning.
Although His presence and power is evident throughout the entire chapter, the Holy Spirit is specifically mentioned four times. The first time, the Holy Spirit speaks and instructs the leaders at Antioch to “separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (13:2) It is the Spirit who puts the call on the missionaries . . . it’s the Spirit who has ordained the work . . . it is the Spirit who carves these men out of the pack for a special assignment. And then I read that they were “sent out by the Holy Spirit” (13:4). The Spirit is their GPS, directing them to Seleucia, to Cyprus, and to Salamis where they preached the word.
Then, when Paul, Barnabas, and the truth of the gospel are opposed by a demon filled sorcerer, it is the Holy Spirit who takes over Paul, provoking him to “call out” this “son of the devil” and strike him blind. The Spirit is the defender of truth . . . He is driven to reveal the glory of Christ . . . and to expose those who oppose the truth (13:9-12). And finally, the last specific mention of the Holy Spirit is in 13:52 where I read that “the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Here, the Spirit is intricately linked with inner, abiding, overflowing joy.
And as I take note of the Spirit’s presence and work among these first century disciples I can’t help but be filled with awe and wonder as I consider that this same Spirit lives within me . . . right now . . . right here. As being one with the Father and the Son, He too is unchanging . . . the same yesterday, today, and forever . . . and so, why wouldn’t I expect and desire that He be just as active in my life on January 22, 2009 as he was in Paul’s life on this first missionary journey? Why would I think that He no longer speaks . . . that He no longer calls us to His purposes . . . that He no longer directs our paths . . . that He no longer empowers our ministry . . . that He no longer is the fountain of inexpressible joy?
So often, I find that I make Him the “ignored guest” . . . I forget He’s there . . . I’m not listening . . . I’m not expecting . . . I’m not cultivating His active presence in my life.
Thank you Father, that despite my lack of “hospitality” to the Resident Presence of God, He continues His work in and through my life. O’ that I might have eyes to recognize the Spirit’s power in and around me . . . that I might have ears to hear His voice as He calls me to a task and sends me out in His power. That I might have a supple heart that is primed to capacity with an inner joy that stems from knowing Jesus as Savior and Lord . . . a joy grounded not in circumstance but in the grace of God . . . a joy which transcends this world.
O’ that I might know the acts of the Holy Spirit in and around me . . . that the Spirit would continue to draw my heart to the One He seeks to magnify and glorify, Jesus . . . that I might truly walk in the Spirit . . . by the grace of God . . . for the glory of God . . . amen!