Fully Engaged 2017

This time last year I invited you to participate in a “church-wide spiritual exercise” whereby each of us would ask God for a word and scripture verse for 2016.  It was my privilege to receive these words and verses from many of you and then pray and track with you on this small faith journey.  Now at the beginning of 2017, we are endeavoring to build upon this initiative.

You might be wondering: Why ask God for words and verses? It becomes clear from reading the Bible, particularly Luke-Acts, that hearing the voice of the Spirit is a definitive marker of the early church.  Together, genuine “Christ followers,” were not only capable, but longed to hear the voice of God and that longing was matched by their willingness to obey what they had Discovered Together.

Consider the time Peter and John had to give a defense before the “Rulers and elders of the people” for “teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 4:2-NIV).  Just prior to their “hearing” before the Sanhedrin, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter had boldly healed a “crippled beggar” at the temple gate called beautiful (3:5-7); then, that once-disabled-now-able-bodied-worshipper boldly “walked and jumped and praised God in the temple courts” (8-10); then, as the crowds rushed Peter and John, Peter boldly testified to the curious masses the Good News of the Kingdom (11-26) and despite Peter and John’s arrest and overnight imprisonment by the captain of the temple guard and Sadducees, the “believing men grew to about five thousand” (4:1-4).  When Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John Alexander and others questioned them, Peter “filled with the Holy Spirit” boldly witnessed Jesus (8-12).

Notice three important things: First, Luke records that this bold defense left the impression “that these men had been with Jesus” (13). What a compliment! Second, when the Rulers and elders of the people “commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (18), Peter and John boldly replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (19-20). Third, this was the moment those who should have been hearing/obeying the voice of the Spirit could have but didn’t.

I am convinced that the Spirit-inspired-boldness Peter and John demonstrated, later compounded with prayer. “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through your holy servant Jesus” (29-30). Luke then records that “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (31).

[TOGETHER] Are you open to hear God’s voice?  [TOGETHER] Are you willing to obey God’s direction?  [TOGETHER] Are you willing to be bold about both?  Folks, God never tires of proving His goodness and faithfulness through our willingness to be FULLY ENGAGED.
Last year my word was INTENTIONAL (Ephesians 5:15-17). This year it is BOLD (Acts 4:31)!
What word is God giving to you? Ask HIM!
Definition: “Boldness describes the courageous manner of those who preach the gospel (Acts 2:29; 4:13, 31; 9:27–29; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 26:26; 28:31; 1 Thess. 2:2; Phil. 1:20).”


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