April 20, 2017

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

I have had this verse memorized for over 40 years, in both languages, but I must not let familiarity breed contempt. This verse was greatly celebrated in the early days of the Charismatic Movement, which is how I happened to latch onto it, but it seems to me that popularity and awareness have faded. It should be a powerful motivator both for local evangelism and world missions, but many churches seem to have forgotten both of those things, focusing instead on their own status and comfort. Such churches are dead. We have a strong tendency to increasingly be self-centered. Centripedal force seems to be stronger than centrifugal, but when we allow that to happen, we implode and die. Jesus calls us to abide in Him (John 15:5) and to go and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:18-20) If we do those two things, everything else will fall into place. However, we tend to focus on all sorts of other things and forget both our center (abiding in Christ) and our purpose (making disciples). There are many things that are good, and God has indeed prepared many good things for us to do, (Ephesians 2:10) but if we forget what is most important, we go astray. In many churches and for many Christians, the power of the Holy Spirit and the gifts He gives are seen as merit badges or signs of favor, rather than as tools to be used in our core purpose of making disciples. Most Christians are familiar with Jesus’ parable of the talents, (Matthew 25:14-30) but too often we fail to apply it to ourselves. Everything we are given is given to us for a purpose, and we are responsible to seek God for what He wants us to do with it. Seeking Him means abiding in Christ, (our center) and He will show us how to use what He has provided in making disciples, which is our ultimate purpose.

I am preaching to myself here. I do seek God, holding intimacy with Him as my highest priority, but I still allow other things to interfere with that. I do seek to make disciples, but I burn out, which is proof that I’m trying to do it on my own rather than by the power of the Holy Spirit in and through me. I get discouraged at the low rate of return, and so stop investing my time and my energy. That’s a trap of the devil! I need to return to the fervor I once had, knowing that God has not changed and He is more than able to use me even now. After all, Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born, and Moses was 80 when he encountered the burning bush. I am to remember that it is God’s power and not mine, His wisdom and not mine, and eagerly look forward to what He is going to do through me each day.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I didn’t know I needed it as badly as I evidently did. Keep me focused on You so that these things won’t creep up on me. When I allow the stresses of life to take my focus I fall into the traps of the devil. Deliver me from evil! Help me be the steward You want me to be of all that You have provided, spiritually and materially and however, so that all of Your purposes for me may be fulfilled in Your way on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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