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 13:13–25 (NIV)
From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”
Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years.
“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
“From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’”
In the work of the kingdom, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we must not force our way. The way will be made for us. Jesus is the way maker. He does it by Word and Spirit. He is the Word made flesh and on him the Spirit dwells without measure. That’s why we say the core value of the kingdom of Jesus is the ministry of the Word and Spirit.
Jesus of Nazareth, the risen and ascended Lord, is present to us by the power of Word and Spirit. This seems to be what is happening on this journey with Paul and company. As we walk in this way we have two primary responsibilities: 1. Be responsive to what the Word of God has revealed. 2. Be responsive to what the Holy Spirit is revealing.
Let’s start with being responsive to what the Holy Spirit is revealing. In this case, it was to go to Pisidian Antioch, go to the synagogue, and sit down. They merely had to get themselves to the right place. The Holy Spirit did the rest. Note that Paul did not send word to the leaders of the synagogue that he had “a word” for them. Precisely the opposite happened. They sent word to Paul asking if he had a “word” and if he would share it. Paul and company did not open the door. The door was opened for them. They only needed to be present and responsive. Ready. Open. Willing.
As Paul rises to address the people he begins by commanding their attention. They must listen not because of Paul’s authority or stature but because of the authority of the message he is about to proclaim. He proceeds to preach the gospel, but note how he does it. He does not give them a set of principles or propositions or tell them warm and fuzzy anecdotes. He tells them the story.
Let’s turn to being responsive to what the Word has revealed. For Paul, the story is about God. The human actors play key roles but they are interchangeable. The story is not about them. Remember, if you want to know who the story is about, see who gets the verbs. For effect, I will give you the highlight reel of the action (i.e., verbs) in today’s text—ALL CAPS for emphasis.
God CHOSE our ancestors. God MADE them prosper. God LED them out of the country. God ENDURED their conduct in the wilderness for forty years. God OVERTHREW seven nations in Canaan. God GAVE the land to his people. God GAVE them judges. God GAVE them Saul. God REMOVED Saul. God MADE David their king. God TESTIFIED concerning him. God BROUGHT to Israel the Savior Jesus.
1. Be responsive to what the Word of God has revealed. If I’m honest, when I tell the biblical story I tend to make it a lot more about the people in the Bible and the people to whom I’m speaking. Sure, it’s about God, but I’m not so sure God is at the center of my storytelling. This has huge implications.
2. Be responsive to what the Spirit is revealing. I must confess my tendency to add to the task of “responsiveness” my own sense of additional responsibilities. I so often feel the need to develop strategies and objectives and plans and outcomes and metrics and on it goes. We want to build structures and systems and ask the Spirit to work within them. I think our problem is that deep down we think, “How would we ever get anything done if all we did was trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit?!”
There, I said it.
Maybe the bigger question is this one, “How will we ever know if we don’t?”
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.
Are you seeing the priority and prominence of the ministry of Word and Spirit through today’s text? Are you seeing how these are how Jesus gets his work done among us—his kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven? Do you tend toward emphasizing one or the other more, Word or Spirit? Why might that be? How might it be corrected? Note: It’s not a 50-50 split. It is 100-100.
Today we will sing, “My Hope is Built.” It is hymn 102 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt