Monday, February 6, 2012

Do we really want to see God move?

I would define God-sized movements as events in our world that no person or persons could ever have accomplished on their own. As a church planter (someone working to start a new church) I often pray for God to move. I ask Him to use me and others in our ministry for His glory. Today I caught myself wondering if I was really ready for Him to move in a God-sized way. Do I really want to be a part of a God-sized movement? Am I willing to follow His lead wherever it may lead? What if He moves in a way I am not prepared to go?

This led me to check out some of God’s great movements in the Bible. I wondered if studying these would help me prepare to be a part of what He is doing here in Dubuque. Check out these top 3 movements of God in the book of Acts and how they were so far outside of the box for those involved:

1) Acts 1: The disciples eagerly anticipate Jesus’ immediate restoration of Israel. Instead Jesus is taken away, the Holy Spirit came, and He would begin God’s work to gather people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. The Old Covenant was fulfilled in Jesus, the Messiah, and a New Covenant had begun in order to build God’s church, a spiritual Israel.

2) Acts 9: Saul, a zealous persecutor of the followers of Jesus, becomes a believer himself. God has plans for him to “carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (v.15). Little does anyone know that Saul, later named Paul, would share the gospel and plant churches throughout the Middle East and even in Rome, which was probably the most powerful city in the world at that time.

3) Acts 10: Peter, an apostle of Jesus, receives a command from God to go and share the good news about Jesus to a family of Gentiles (people who were not Jewish). “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (v.44). Later, Peter meets with other apostles and church leaders in Jerusalem to talk about what happened. Here is what happened: “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life’” (11:18).

What is the common thread in each of these movements of God? In each event, I see two things. First, I see man-sized expectations completely obliterated by God’s awesome work. Second, I see God doing things that no person could ever accomplish on his or her own. In Acts 1 we learn that Jesus’ kingdom would be of an incomprehensible magnitude including all of creation. That is quite larger than the disciples initially expected! In Acts 9 we learn that Saul would be used by God as a catalyst for the worldwide proclamation of the Gospel. Who would have thought that the “kings” to which God was referring would be the most powerful men in the world! In Acts 10 we learn that all people everywhere are invited to be followers of Jesus and adopted into the family of God. A movement that began in an obscure corner of the world soon became the hope for everyone in all of the world for all time.

I think we could all agree that these three events are God-sized movements. When we apply our two observations of these events to the ministry today, our initial question becomes much more critical. In lieu of the fact that God’s movements oftentimes obliterate our expectations and are of such a great magnitude that we could never accomplish them on our own.

As we continue to pray for God-sized movements, should we also pray that we are prepared to be a part of movements of God? Do we really want to be a part of a God-sized movement? Are we willing to follow His lead wherever He directs? Just a thought from Dubuque, Iowa, where we long to see God move and hope He will use us to do so.

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