Acts 1:1-2 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.
I’m not sure how many years ago it was when I first realized that Luke was talking about this book of Acts being the continuing work of Jesus Christ Himself by the Holy Spirit. That one word began is of extreme importance! Luke himself came to salvation through that ministry, and of course he was the one who recorded the events of Pentecost, researching it after the fact. I personally think that a major reason God allowed Paul to be imprisoned in Caesarea for two years was to give Luke the time and opportunity to do the research involved in writing the Gospel that bears his name. How soon after that he started on Acts is open to conjecture, but there’s no question the whole world has been greatly blessed by the result of his labors. The point here, though, is that it was actually a work of Christ, by His Spirit operating in and through Luke. And the wonderful news is that Jesus is still working by His Spirit through His children across the world. We get caught up in the human instruments because they are visible, but the power and the glory belong to Jesus. When we realize that, it is much easier to relax and let Him use us, too. We may well be surprised at all the things He does through us, but we should never try to take credit. That won’t change what’s been done, but it will deprive us personally of whatever benefit God intended for us. As Paul said much later, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10) We aren’t to be personally proud of things God does through us, but rather grateful. At the same time, drawing back because we don’t want to be in the spotlight can make us unavailable for Him to use. It can get complicated! I think the thing we need to remember is that Jesus is still working and teaching, and if we are submitted to His Spirit then He will use us in that process, for His glory alone.
This naturally applies to me, as it does to everyone. I have had problems with personal pride, failing to realize how little I had to do with whatever good results were produced. The longer I live the less pride I have left, because I mess up with remarkable frequency! At the same time, I have seen God use me to bless others and draw them to Him, and I am grateful even as at times I am amazed. As a pastor I desire that every believer come to the awareness that God can and will use them, too. Particularly in Japanese society people are taught not to “put themselves forward,” not to volunteer, essentially. That is a lie of the devil. I need to speak the truth in love so that the believers may be set free from that trap and flow with the Holy Spirit as God intends. He wants to do magnificent things in and through this church, and I need to be available to help people believe it.
Father, thank You for making it clear what I’m to speak on Sunday! Thank You for the good turnout for the children’s program on the 17th, and that the children and their parents all seemed to have such a good time. I think some of the believers were amazed! May we all genuinely get our eyes off of ourselves and onto Jesus Christ our Lord, (Hebrews 12:2) so that we will be fully available to You all the time, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!