Acts 13-14: Pay attention

Pay attention! Pay attention as you read the scriptures! There is always something new, always something to learn, always something to catch. Have you been paying attention as you have been reading the book of Acts? Have you noticed how the focus of the scriptures has shifted? Have you noticed who had taken more of a centre stage in this book. In a simplistic way, the Bible is a collection of writings that point us all toward God, and each part of the Bible points us to different degrees to the different roles that God takes on in his dealings with the world. The Old Testament is primarily about God the Father as Creator and mover of history. The gospels point us primarily to God incarnate in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Redeemer. The book of Acts begins a third section of the scriptures that deal more and more with the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

Let me be clear in saying that all three persons of the Godhead, the Trinity, appear all through the Bible. Let me also be clear in saying that I realize that some of you have questions about the Trinity, many of them the same questions I have. I would love to give you a full theological treatise in the Trinity, but I don’t have the space or the doctorate to do that. No matter how much time, space or knowledge I have to share with you, I could never fully explain the Trinity to you. While the Bible makes the existence of the Trinity a truth, it does not explain to us the nature of that existence or how it works. Allow me to share with you an illustration that has helped me understand the Trinity a little bit.

Imagine what goes on in your body when you speak and the components that make speech possibly. You have your throat and your mouth that form the words, you have your breath passing through those parts that make the sound, and then you have the sound itself that goes out from your body in to the world around you. Imagine that each part of the Trinity makes up those parts. God the Father is the throat and mouth, the Holy Spirit is the breath that moves through those parts and Jesus Christ is the spoken Word that goes out into the world. One complete action that takes three separate parts to function. That imagery has helped me in thinking about the Trinity. Not to mention that it ties in rather nicely to scripture. The gospel of John calls Jesus the word. The Holy Spirit is often described as breath or wind, and God is seen as speaking forth creation in Genesis.

The reason I really want you to pay attention to the Holy Spirit as we read forward through the rest of the New Testament is because so many Christians find the Holy Spirit mysterious or even frightful. As we read forward, I want you to realized just how much is written about the Spirit and the things that is said about the Spirit. The Holy Spirit figures predominantly in the life of believers and the church. In fact, I would say that the Spirit is the critical element missing from the lives of many Christians and many churches. It is the Spirit’s job to equip and direct both individual Christians and the church as a whole.

Take what we read today from Acts 13. Paul’s call to ministry: Holy Spirit directed. Paul’s movements during ministry: Holy Spirit directed. Paul’s words spoken during ministry: Holy Spirit directed. Paul’s acts of ministry: Holy Spirit directed. It is absolutely incredible how much the Holy Spirit was involved in Paul and Barnabas’ ministry just in this one chapter! The reality is, the Spirit wants that kind of influence and presence in your life.

And it is a good thing that the Spirit is with us! Can you imagine Paul taking on the mission that God had for him on his own power? “Paul, go and be my emissary to the entire Gentile world, it’s leaders and any Jews you encounter on the way.” How could Paul possibly hope to accomplish that on his own? He can’t. That’s the point.

I love this quote from Henry Blackaby in his book Experiencing the Spirit:
“Will God ever ask you to do something you are not able to do? The answer is yes–all the time! It must be that way, for God’s glory and kingdom. If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory; if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory. He wants to reveal Himself to a watching world.”

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: James 1-5

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