PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.
Jesus, we belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Acts 8:1–8 (NIV)
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
Did you pick up that curious line near the end of chapter 7? In case not, here it is.
“Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.”
Today, we meet the author of most of the New Testament books. He will later use a Roman name, Paul, but for today we will call him Saul. This story of Saul may be the most stunning story in all of the New Testament. At least it is the most unlikely.
Does the name, Osama bin Laden ring a bell? How about Mohammad Emwazi (alias Jihadi John)? For all practical purposes, Saul was the first-century equivalent. He lived to destroy the church. Picture him, going from house to house, dragging fathers and mothers away as their children shrieked in tears of terror, never to see them again. Saul was nothing short of a first-century religious fundamentalist terrorist. He held the coats of the executioners at the public execution of Stephen. In twenty-first-century terms, he might be carrying the suicide vests.
Now, imagine the unimaginable: Osama Bin Laden becomes not only a follower of Jesus but his number one spokesperson! I’ll save the details for when it happens, but for now, it’s important for us to get very clear on who Paul used to be. In his mind, as in the mind of any religious fundamentalist terrorist, these heinous acts were nothing less than acts of divine worship.
We need to keep this story fixed in our minds because it reveals the incomprehensible power of the gospel of Jesus Christ not only to save but to completely transform a human being. True then. True now. This is perhaps the gospel case study of all case studies. It’s truly astonishing to think Paul would one day write these words:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Rom. 1:16)
And speaking of case studies, are you waking up to your own life as a case study of the power of God?
It feels like a moment to check in with each other. Are you waking up to the power of God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit? Think about your own life for a minute. How are you being transformed? Where do you sense the most pressing need for the power of God in your life? What is your present confidence level in the power of God these days?
THE PRAYER OF TRANSFORMATION
Lord Jesus, I am your witness.
I receive your righteousness and release my sinfulness.
I receive your wholeness and release my brokenness.
I receive your fullness and release my emptiness.
I receive your peace and release my anxiety.
I receive your joy and release my despair.
I receive your healing and release my sickness.
I receive your love and release my selfishness.
Come Holy Spirit transform my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my consecration becomes your demonstration; that our lives become your sanctuary. For the glory of God our Father, amen.
Where is your level of confidence in the transformative power of Jesus Christ these days? Scale it—1 to 10 (10 is the highest). How about in your own life? Do realize those may be different numbers.
Every day we sing a hymn together on the Wake-Up Call audio edition/podcast. Get your Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise at the Seedbed Store today.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt