I have been reading Acts since my last blog for Now is the Time. I have been dwelling on a few things and want to share them with you. I can’t say there is a theme or even three points but as an evangelist I believe that God brings forth revelation at an appointed time.“Now is the Time” to share these simple thoughts.
The testimony of Saul’s conversion on the road to Emmaus was supernatural, yet prior to this he was known for his fervent execution of the Law and persecution of people of the “Way”. The first time we hear of Saul is at the stoning of Stephen; the witnesses laying their garment at his feet (Acts 7:58) and his approval of Stephen’s death (Acts 8:1). Saul the persecutor, (Acts 8:3; 20:22) taught by Gamaliel, an eminent Pharisee and freeman of the city. His fervent persecution of followers of the Way (9:1-2), was tireless. Little did he know of the “Power” of the risen Christ. God had a plan to change this man, to supernaturally speak. God’s timing was perfect, for Saul the road to Emmaus was his time to experience the Grace of God, that unconditional forgiveness
Imagine God whispering to Ananias in Damascus, giving him all the details of where to go, who to ask for and what to do. I was thinking that Saul’s reputation could have influenced Ananias to be more like Jonah (Acts 9: 10-18). The difference was that Jesus had preached the Kingdom of God. That repentance was the way to have communion with God. Ananias was under a different covenant. Both Saul and Ananias heard the voice of God, one was rebuked the other encouraged. Later Saul would also be encouraged. God was doing a new thing in Saul’s life. His reputation could have stopped his ministry before it had started. Saul may have had a life changing experience but the disciples in Jerusalem didn’t know that (Acts 9:26)! God provided an advocate for Saul, Barnabus. For Saul, this was the turning point, his “Now is the Time” moment. Saul was encouraged by Barnabus, but it still took an attempt on his life by the Hellenists to convince the disciples (Acts 9:29). Nothing or no one will hold you back from what God is calling you to, this is your “Now is the Time”. Look around you, who has God placed close by to be your advocate?
In between the conversion/commissioning of Saul and the travels of Peter is a verse that speaks of peace, edification, fear, comfort and increase. The disciples had commissioned Saul, he spoke boldly and the Holy Spirit was free to be and to do. This is thought provoking, what can be learnt? Why was this verse in this position? Lord, what are you saying to the church today? Positive thoughts please... “Now is the time” to rise up, speak peace, edify the saints, walk in the fear of the Lord and allow the freedom of the Holy Spirit. Alleluia!
Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. (Act 9:31)
I have recently been released from an evangelistic charity. It was a time of challenge, a time of questions, a time of sadness and a time of rejoicing. I was challenged by the circumstances that surrounded my release, I found myself questioning my gifting, my friendships, what was I to do? There was sadness at the timing but rejoicing in what was to come. As I read through Acts, I was encouraged by the testimony of Barnabus and Saul. They ministered togethe(Acts12:25, 13: 5) and were commissioned together (Acts 13:3). God’s perfect timing for them.
Two things struck me,
Firstly, Barnabus and Saul had equal standing (Acts 13:2) and were united when they were commissioned. Together they invited “John whose surname was Mark” to go with them (Acts 12:25). Later, John Mark left Saul and Barnabus and returned to Jerusalem. John Mark was not indispensible, neither was his ministry finished. For Barnabas and Silas this was their “Now is the Time” to move into a new season (Acts 15:22)
Secondly, there came a point when Saul and Barnabus separated. The word says “contention became so sharp” (Acts 15:39). Barnabus knew that God was a God of second chances, and more, I suggest that this is where his support of Saul and later John Mark (Acts 12:25; 15:37) came from. Saul was opposed to this, hence the division. I was encouraged to read that both
continued to evangelise the lost and equip the church (Acts 16:5), fulfilling the great commission:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. Mat 28:18-20
“Now is the Time” to release the Holy Spirit to be your enabler, “Now is the Time” for you to find your Barnabus, “Now is the Time” for your to edify, equip and empower the saints, “Now is the Time” to take the Gospel to the Saul’s of your generation.
Tina Russell-Mott ( @AgapeTina )
'My prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling!' If you haven't said this yourself, I'm sure that you have heard someone else say it, but can this be true? Where are you when you pray? Are you on earth, in heaven, or both at the same time? And does it matter?
When we pray heaven and earth are connected, we see this from the Lord's Prayer, 'Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven' (Matthew 6:10). As Christians we want to see God's kingdom here and his will done on earth in our own lives, and in the life of his church. The problem is that many of us struggle to know what this means in a practical way, and so use 'Thy will be done' as a get out clause when we are unsure how to pray about a particular situation. When this happens I would recommend praying in tongues as the Holy Spirit guides us. If He then speaks to us about the situation then we will be able to pray with understanding, if not then we will still be praying with our spirits guided by the Holy Spirit.
As a non-Christian we can only pray from an earthly perspective, all we see is the physical realm and we are spiritually dead, Paul says that we 'were dead in trespasses and sins' (Eph 2:1).
All this changes when we become Christians. God has 'made us alive together with Christ' (Eph 2:5 NKJV), our spirits are now alive instead of being dead. This means we can communicate with God as our spirit is touched by his Holy Spirit. Prayer is now no longer a seemingly one way communication, we can actively listen to God as well as pray to him. After all I cannot hold a real conversation with a dead person, but I can with someone who is alive.
It does not stop there. God has 'raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus' (Eph 2:6). We are no longer earth bound creatures, we are restored to be creatures of God's presence. God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of day, but when we are restored in Jesus we have a far greater inheritance. We are now seated in heavenly places. We are seated, we are at rest in God's presence. In one sense we do not need to strive when it comes to prayer, although in other ways we do. We do not need to strive as Jesus victory over sin and death is complete, we can do nothing to make it more complete. It is done, it is finished! We can rest in that victory.
We are in heavenly places. We are no longer just bound to earthly things, to an earthly view or to hear earthly things. We now have a place in heaven itself. We can now say that we can see and hear God's word like the OT prophets. This means that like Jesus we can know what the Father is doing and pray and act accordingly. We can all know what God is saying and can pray
It is amazing that we now live both on earth and in heaven, but how does this impact on our prayer lives.
If you have ever doubted that God is hearing your prayer then you need to ask for his forgiveness, and ask him to change how you think! Don't worry he hears all our prayers all of the time, even if we don't realise it at the time.
We are in heaven, in the throne-room of the King. We are talking to the King. Ask him to show you how to pray, if you came into the presence of an earthly monarch you would want to learn about what they are doing, it should be the same with God. A good place to start is from your Bible reading as praying Scripture is powerful. We also find that as we seek to pray and do the King's will in our lives, then our prayers and requests will come more in-line with His and we will see ourprayers answered to a greater extent.
Heavenly Father, help us to know the reality of all we have in our new life in you, that we now live both on earth and in heaven. Thank you that Jesus work on the cross is complete, and that we pray from a place of victory not defeat. Lord, help us to learn to listen to you more and more, and know the reality and glory of heaven in our lives and the lives of those around us. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Theresa Grant ( @theresagrant3 )
God is a God of the 'NOW'.
If you are like me, most days there just does not seem to be enough 'time'. So many things to accomplish in the 14 hours or so that we're awake: Work to do, shopping to do, places to visit, family to look after - the list is endless. Would it be any different if we had a 36 hour day? or a 40 hour day? Would life become 'less' busy because we had more 'time'? Somehow I think not. We would still find things to do with our time, we would still be 'too busy'.
Although God is eternal, and is not restricted by time as we are, He has not left us alone in this world to just 'get on with it'. God has a purpose for this world, God has a purpose for you and God has a purpose for me. The psalmist wrote ' My times are in thy hand;' (Ps.31;16) This is a comfort for the Christian. To know our times are in his hands, that our heavenly Father looks after us, protects us, provides for us and much,much more.
We need to dwell on that phrase 'My times are in thy hand' - our time is in God's hands! That means God is in control. Our lives belong to God and therefore we should be concious of how we use our time, what we do what we say, where we go etc.
Ecclesiasties (3:1-11) has a long list of how time is appropriated in life: a time to be born, to die, to heal, to break down, to build up, to weep, to laugh - the list goes on. The writer in Ecclesiaties concludes in verse 11 ' he has made everything beautiful in its time'. Just think - God has made 'EVERYTHING beautiful'!
That seems so far from the world we see on our TV screens though, or the world we read about in the papers or on the internet. The world we see is a world that is broken, hurting, at war, in turmoil and distress, a world that looks far from beautiful. Could it be the case that the reason for this destruction in the world is due to the fact that so many people are living for 'Now' in a world as they see it, without a God who cares? A world of self centeredness and selfishness where they give no real thought as to where they will spend eternity?
The heart beat of anyone involved with evangelism is a heart beat for the lost, a heart beat of urgency.It is a heart that beats because God does care! The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6 '...Behold now is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation' (v2). The greek word used in this verse for 'time' is 'KAIROS' meaning a 'season' rather than a defined length of time. God has not left this world to it's own devices, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross so that all who put their trust in Him could be forgiven and restored to a new life which has meaning and purpose.
This is the season we are in. This is God's 'NOW' moment. This is our 'NOW' moment. We only have the days we are alive to make a difference, to be 'redeeming the time' (Eph 5:16). We only have 'NOW', this 'SEASON', to share the gospel, to tell people about Jesus. So often we say we are waiting for God, but the truth is He is waiting for us - waiting for us to go - NOW - for 'NOW IS THE TIME!
Steve Mullins ( @drybonestrust )