This Sunday we begin with a new series of studying through Acts of the Apostles. Today I will be kickstarting this series by exploring why it’s important to study this book and what should we expect.
Acts of the apostles were written by Luke. After writing the Gospel of Luke where he dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, in this book, he is writing about what the risen Christ is continuing to do amongst them.
After the resurrection of Jesus, there seems to be so much happening in this book that it can almost feel overwhelming to us.
From the outpouring of the Holyspirit on the 120 disciples gathered in the upper room – Peter boldly preaching the gospel to a multitude of people – People repenting of their sins and receiving Christ left right and center – People getting baptized and added to the church – Persecution of the Christian in that region by Saul and other leaders – The conversation of Saul to Paul – A spectacular church planting movement – Disciples scattering around the world to preach the Gospel, plant churches, raise and appoint new Elders – More persecution – More gospel proclamation etc.
There is so much happening, and it’s important to remind ourselves – The book of Acts is not the story about these extraordinary men and women who accomplished these great and significant things for God, but it is the story of God accomplishing great and significant things through these ordinary men and women. It is not men doing great things for God but what God is doing in the lives of these ordinary men.
And, just like the book of Joshua, the story was never about a man called Joshua or a nation called Israel, the story was and will always be about God who is and should always be at the center – on a mission to accomplish something great, something marvelous, something extraordinary – And we get to be the privileged ones to be chosen as part of that mission.
Therefore, just like any other book in the bible, when we read the Acts of the apostles, we are not merely reading the book to study some strategy or skills or methods that these men and women followed to spread the gospel all around the world.
But we are called to learn about God and what He is accomplishing through these men and women.
And the one thing that we learn about God in this book is that He is the **God of Power.**
And that is why we’ve named our series ‘God of Power’
The word ‘power’ means ‘the ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way.’
This means everything we will see happening in the book of Acts is the manifestation of God’s power in the lives of ordinary people like us.
Before diving into the book of Acts, let’s look at the subject of God’s Power from an, even more, broader perspective and acknowledge His Power (his ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way) so that we have the right context to begin studying this book.
## It is the Power of God, the reason for our survival & sustenance
**1 Chronicles 29:11
> *Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.*
Before we begin to read the Acts of the apostles, let us acknowledge that It is the Power of God because of which these men are alive in the first place to experience such a thing. It is His power that sustained the lives of all those men and women up till that generation and even today.
The very breath we have is a gift from God.
It is utter foolishness to believe that the world exists because we are great and smart. No, my friends, the world exists because God chooses to act and show mercy toward us.
You see, we failed God in the garden of Eden when we chose to disobey and rebel against him. And the wages of that sin was death, God had all the rights to kill us and destroy this world. But He chooses to keep us alive and gather us back to him.
> *“For a brief moment, I forsook you,
But with great compassion, I will gather you.*
> *“In an outburst of anger
I hid My face from you for a moment,
But with everlasting lovingkindness, I will have compassion on you,”
Says the Lord your Redeemer.*
> *For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.*
Brothers & sisters, there is nothing good in us that stands out to God because of which he chooses to keep us alive and sustain us, but, only because of his mercy we are alive and breathing today.
It is the Power of God, the reason for our survival & sustenance. And let’s acknowledge that.
## It is the Power of God, the reason for our justification & sanctification
**Matthew 19: 23-26**
> *And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”*
The story of these disciples we are going to read and study in the book of Acts is only possible because of the saving grace of God. When we sinned and rebelled against God, we became his enemies, and therefore became slaves to sin and satan. And none of our good works or extra efforts could have bridged the gap between God and us.
And therefore, God in his sovereign Power acted and sent his only begotten son Jesus Christ to this earth in human flesh, to live the righteous and obedience life we were supposed to live and took the penalty of our sins on Himself and died in our place on the cross of Calvery.
It is His act of grace shown towards us that convicts us of our sins, leads us into repentance, and enables us to trust in Jesus. And therefore, it is the power of God, the reason for our justification.
Paul in his prayer in **1 Thessalonians 5:23** writes … ****
> *May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.*
Here Paul is convinced that only God has the power to sanctify us through and through and present us blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Brothers & sisters, in our efforts we are utterly incapable to keep ourselves blameless and holy at any given point in our lives. It is only the power of God that keeps us from stumbling and falling, the very reason for our sanctification.
The book of Acts happened because God chose to show up and not because of any human interventions, plans, or strategies.
## It is the Power of God, the reason for their effectiveness and growth
> *When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.*
I believe the outpouring of the Holyspirit upon these men for the first time in history was and will remain the most significant event and factor that gave birth to the church of Christ. Especially because when we look at the past lives of some of these men we remember the moments when they acted in fear and doubt.
How did they suddenly become so bold and fearless to stand in front of a multitude of people to proclaim the gospel with boldness and clarity? How did their faith rise up to the next level where miraculous things started happening around them? What made them go to the level of sacrificing everything for the sake of the gospel, even their lives?
It was only the work of the Holyspirt where God himself was acting through them to accomplish all these great things. Friends, all the effectiveness and success in ministry we see happening in the book of Acts is the result of God’s power working in and through them. Let’s call it Power enabled ministry.
Therefore, friends, as we study the book of Acts, the focus shouldn’t be on ourselves or on a particular man or woman, but our focus should be on Christ, the author, and finisher of Life. Our focus should be on God and on his Power that enables us to do great things for Him.
And what we see happening in the lives of these men and women can also happen to us, you know why? Because we serve the same God who is willing to act in and through us.
We often read a book like Acts of the Apostles and think we have to now get into an activity mode and start doing something, but let me suggest to you two application points that are not ‘activities to do’ but a state of heart we need to cultivate.
Therefore, If what we see in the Acts of the apostles is what you desire to see and happen in your life and in this city/region or nation – My first application point for you is …
## 1. Stop resisting God when he is moving you out of your comfort zone
> *And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.*
When we start reading the book of Acts, the first thing you will notice about these men is that none of them are in their comfort zone.
They could have been in the field taking care of their crops, they could have been in the sea fishing, they could have been busy getting ready to make their next big presentation for a job interview, they could have been busy binge-watching on their couch, they could have been busy partying with their friends, etc
While none of these things are bad in themselves, but at the appointed time, when God called them out of their comfort zone they did not resist him because they found a greater purpose in life.
Some of them threw their nets and followed Jesus wherever He led them, some of them decided to leave their hometown and move to another city to start a tent-making business to spread the gospel, and some even sold all their properties and possessions and brought the money to the disciples for the extension of God’s kingdom.
As a first application, I want us to go back home and search our hearts and ask what is the comfort zone that we’ve built in our minds that we are not willing to give up for the sake of the gospel?
I’m not going to name them for you because it’s going to be unique for each individual. It’s between you and God. What’s important is to identify those barriers in our minds and be willing to give up, no matter what the cost.
The second application point I want to suggest is …
## 2. Eliminate busyness & distractions and find your Upper room
> *But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.*
I recently read this amazing book called “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” written by a pastor called John Mark and he argues that the number one weapon the enemy is using against us today from becoming what God wants us to become and doing what God wants us to do is busyness and distraction.
He says “Attention is the beginning of devotion.” And therefore, my friends, as an application to your life I want to urge you to start beginning to think of how to eliminate busyness and distractions and find your upper room where you can have a single-minded focus.
By upper room, I mean a place where you are alone with Jesus, pouring out your heart and talking to him daily.
Because it is in the upper room where God will meet with you, it is the upper room where God will speak to you, it is the upper room where the Holyspirit will empower you, it is the upper room where you will be enlightened with a sense of direction for your life and ministry, it is the upper room where you will know your calling and purpose in life. It is in the upper room from where you will be sent out. It is the upper room where you will experience and sense the peace of God affirming the decisions you and I need to take in life.
And like I said before, what we see happening in the book of Acts can happen to us because we serve the same powerful God who is able to do greater things through us if only we are willing to surrender to Him by walking in obedience to his calling and resting in Him at all times.