How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?

November 10th, 2007 • Category: Book of Acts
by Mark Shoup

Today’s scripture: Acts 13:13-43 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Mark Shoup):

If I were to sum up the book of Acts in a sentence or two, I would probably come up with “spreading the words of Jesus to other people” as part of it. We just read a prime example of this. For many who were listening to Paul’s message, this would have been brand new information, at least the parts about the fulfillment of prophecies for the Messiah and the forgiveness of sins through Jesus instead of the Law of Moses. Paul goes on to caution that many will reject what is being told to them.

This gets me thinking. Do I believe things I hear for the first time? I have to confess that I usually reject new information until I verify it myself, or hear it from several unrelated sources. In all likelihood, I would have not made a very good first century Christian for this reason.

On the other hand, there have been times when I have heard something, or realized something, that I knew was true right from the very instant it occurred. Those are times I know something was resonating with the Holy Spirit in me. I think that is why so many people were able to hear this new information from Paul and accept it right away.

As members of an Emerging Church, we are often delivering a message that is different from what people have heard before. As you probably know, there are still people for whom finding out that women can be pastors and that God doesn’t hate GLBT people would be new information. These people are also not very likely to believe these things the first time they hear it, as years and years of hearing otherwise has build up a shell around their hearts and their understanding. But for those who truly have the Holy Spirit inside them, it will start a journey of questioning and seeking that will eventually lead them to the truth. All we can do is deliver the message that will start the process.

Now, the question remains, how do we become more able to discern truth with the help of the Holy Spirit?

I think it’s a three-part process: “pray, listen, and act”. First, you pray that God will lead you to truth, and then you listen for the answer. Sometimes the answer will come in a different way than you are expecting, but you have to be open to that. Then, when you sense God telling you something, you must act on it — and the sooner, the better. Waiting a few days to work up your courage or to “be sure” can defeat the purpose. If you make an effort to do this regularly, you will be amazed how much more “in tune” you will be with the Holy Spirit.

Thought for the day: God, help me to hear your voice more clearly, so that I can be used by You in ambitious ways, just like the first century Christians.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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