October 12, 2014
Acts 21:15-19 (in context)
After this, we started on our way up to Jerusalem. Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.
When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers and sisters received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
Did I mention yesterday that Paul went on to Jerusalem?
Remember those famous words Jesus spoke of this city? Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, . . .” Luke 13:34a
Yes– that’s the Jerusalem we are talking about.
Everyone along the way knew there would be trouble in Jerusalem. They also knew it in Jerusalem. It was as though Public Enemy #1 walked right up the steps of City Hall. The Elders had likely worked for weeks to devise a plan to save Paul’s life. We will get to that tomorrow. There are far more important things to talk about today.
I might expect Paul to come into the council, put his cards on the table, ask for the damage report and get down to the business of risk management. Paul brought one agenda item to the meeting, but it wasn’t this one. Note the first thing Paul did with the Elders.
He reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
Paul witnessed to the work of the Holy Spirit in the world. Despite all the challenges and problems and life threatening situations he faced– this was agenda item #1A.
Whenever we do this, it acts as a force multiplier to grow the Body of Christ. In other words, the Holy Spirit grew the Church “wider” back when he did the work in the various places. Here’s the kicker: When the story gets told, the Holy Spirit grows the Church “deeper” in the midst of the listening.
Remember the last time someone told you a story about some incredible work they witnessed God do? Maybe it was a miraculous healing or a revival or a lost son or daughter finally coming to Jesus. It turned something on in your soul when you heard it. Your faith deepened. Your confidence in the present day activity of the Holy Spirit grew.
If we look back, I think we will find this agenda item at the top of the page everywhere Paul went.
What if anywhere Christians gather, be it in a home for a Bible Study or for a Finance Committee meeting at the church, item #1A on the agenda- every time- for all church meetings– was this one:
Reporting in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through this ministry.
Now, don’t be discouraged. Just putting it on the agenda won’t get it done. And for all the good it does, I’m not talking about the standard “praises and prayers” sharing time during the last ten minutes of Sunday School. What I’m talking about takes some intentional culture change in most churches.
My friends, Craig Robertson and Bryan Simms are helping churches all over the country get to a place where this happens all the time. I’ve heard them use the nomenclature of reporting “Glory Sightings.” (try googling that term)
Wherever I hear of this happening, the faith of people grows deeper and the Church grows stronger.
When is the last time you heard a report like this in a church meeting? When is the last time you gave such a report?
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
P.S. I’ve recently released my new book, NOT YET CHRISTMAS. It’s Time for Advent– A Daily Reader. I want you to help me sow this book extravagantly among the people of God. If you’re willing, give me your email address here and I’ll include you in the Daily Text Deal on this book starting next week.
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