I am pleased to welcome Renee Meyer, one of the members of our Daughters of Encouragement class on Tuesday Mornings, as our guest-blogger today. I know you’ll enjoy her thoughts on living a life of Spirit-led confidence.
Barnabas is one of my favorite people in the Bible. I am fascinated by him. So when I heard that Claudine Lehman was teaching a class about Barnabas and the book of Acts on Tuesday mornings, I jumped in.
It has been a joy to learn about this man who . . . was nicknamed “son of encouragement” by the apostles (Acts 4:36) . . . led the early church in sacrificial generosity (Acts 4:36) . . . was the first believer in Jerusalem to trust Saul/Paul’s conversion . . .introduced Saul to the Apostles (Acts 9:27) . . . led the first missionary team sent out by the rapidly growing church in Antioch (Acts 13:2) . . . and faithfully served with Paul even as “Barnabas and Saul” became “Paul and Barnabas” (Acts 13:42).
But the highlight of our “Daughters of Encouragement” class has been the Holy Spirit. I feel like I have fresh eyes to see the work of God’s Spirit in the book of Acts.
The first believers and followers of Jesus were converted Jews. They were a people who would have followed King David’s lead in praying “Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11) all of their lives . . . until the events in Acts 2.
But beginning in Acts 2:4, the thing that strikes me about the life of the early church that they were now confident that God was with them.
The presence of God with them is obvious as they:
- interact with those who haven’t (yet) believed (Acts 2:14)
- lived together in community (Acts 2:42-46, 4:32-34)
- were arrested and persecuted (Acts 4:23-31)
- driven out of Jerusalem and “scattered” following Stephen’s death (Acts 8:4) [I love the Message translation, “Forced to leave home base, the followers of Jesus all became missionaries. Wherever they were scattered, they preached the Message about Jesus.”]
- welcomed their greatest enemy into their assembly (Acts 9) – one who had formerly “ravaged the church” and “breathed threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” but now claimed to have met Jesus on the road to Damascus
- accepted their Lord’s decision to spread His grace outside the nation of Israel to the unclean gentiles (Acts 10.)
Whatever happens, they just rejoice and keep on. And I wonder . . . is the Holy Spirit that evident in my life? Is it obvious that God is with me through His Holy Spirit as I interact with others, whether they believe the same thing I do or not?
If I face persecution or opposition, does my response show confidence in God’s presence? I can’t promise that I would react well if I were driven out of my home by persecution . . . or if my greatest enemy and persecutor claimed to have come to Christ . . . or if the Lord suddenly seemed to change everything that I thought was true and important. I can’t even promise that I will react well if my plan for the day gets unexpectedly changed.
I believe that I have the same Spirit as the early church. It can’t have been easier for them than it is for me to live by the Spirit. But I do think I am more prone to take God’s presence for granted, and I forget. I forget I have Him. I forget that I live in His presence, no matter what my circumstances are.
Last week Claudine gave us a list of verses to look up in order to list the works of the Spirit:
- He Convicts of sin (unbelief), righteousness and judgment (John 16:7-11)
- He can be resisted (Acts 7:51)
- We are born of the Spirit (John 3:1-8)
- We are baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:11-14)
- We are sealed by the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14)
- We have a responsibility to the Spirit who lives in us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
- We walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16,25)
- We can grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:29)
- We can quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19)
- BUT The Spirit will never leave us (John 14:16)
- We are to be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-21)
After filling in our list, we wrote a summary paragraph about the work of the Holy Spirit in our own life. Here is what I wrote:
The Holy Spirit is oneness. He is security. He is the revelation of Christ, our Teacher. He is birth. We live the life of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Walking with the Spirit is living a life of RESPONSE. The Holy Spirit is the means through which the Lord leads me in life, and through the Holy Spirit, I live in God’s presence. I LIVE IN GOD’S PRESENCE!
I really need the book of Acts in my life right now. As we continue to watch the Spirit blow through the world of the early church . . . I am thirsty. Thirsty for MORE. Thirsty to be LED by the Spirit, to live a life of response to the Lord, a life that shows evidence of His presence.