This post is about Acts chapter 11. As you may know, I am doing a series on the book of Acts, so take a look back at the other posts relating to this. This chapter is one that I have read before, but it didn’t really speak to me then, today it did. Read Acts chapter 11 and then take a look at what I got out of it.
The first part is Peter explaining what happened when he was accused of eating with unclean people. Peter explains what had happened, and the people listened. They then accepted what Peter had said, and embraced it. This is the first lesson today, when you hear Biblical teaching, embrace it. Note what I said there, Biblical teaching, not necessarily just teaching that you agree with. This is so important, I had a religious upbringing, all about church and God, rules and regulations, how to live life. Very little about the Holy Spirit. Now I am not saying that everything that I learned was wrong, but I am saying that when I started to listen to other teaching and weigh it up against scripture, I changed my mind. I often get people telling me that what I post on this blog is wrong, so I ask them for Bible verses to back up their statement. I either get given a verse out of context, or I have actually had people say, “I don’t have scripture but I believe that you’re wrong”. How is that going to help you? I listen to many people, both people in my church, TV evangelists and I read other blogs. Once I have listened, I go to scripture. Does what they say line up with the Word? Does it fit with scripture? Have they misinterpreted anything? I allow what people say to influence what I believe IF it lines up with scripture (after I have prayed about it and asked God to guide me). You see there is a danger in believing everything that you’re told that has a Bible verse attached, but there is also a danger in not accepting anything that doesn’t fall within what you already believe. You need to find the middle ground, and allow God to teach you through others, without falling victim to heresy.
Take a look at Acts 11 v 22 – 24. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. What can we get from this? Firstly, have an attitude of being sent. I once saw a book entitled, ‘If God hasn’t called you to stay, then go”. Maybe a bit harsh, but we really need to have the attitude of being sent. You have been sent to your workplace, you have been sent to the grocery store or the coffee shop. To your church. You are not just a bystander, God has called you to these places specifically, do something about it. Be the kingdom of God wherever you go. You are not where to you are by accident, and even if you are, God still wants to use you while you’re there. Purpose of heart. That means to do things intelligently, sincerely, deliberately, and persistently. Is that how you continue with the Lord, or are you just drifting? Ask God what He wants you to do and then do it purposefully. Get excited for what God is doing and get active!
You also need to be full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. Trust me, I have tried to do this Christian life without the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t work. I think that the Holy Spirit and faith are two of the most important elements in the Christian faith, yet they are probably two of the most neglected in the ‘church’ today. If you have not been baptised in the Spirit, do it. If you lack faith, ask God for more (but then be aware that he will call you into a place to grow that faith). Remove unbelief from your life, this will increase the ‘effectiveness’ of the faith that you do have, after all, you only need as much as a mustard seed. Another thing that I like about this chapter is that just after it gets you thinking about all of these ‘spiritual’ issues, it says that the disciples (now referred to as Christians for the first time) gave money where it was needed. God is a practical God too, and we also need to be.
Learning how to be purposeful in your Holy Spirit filled journey with God in faith.