April 15, 2019

One Lord, One Body, Together!

As a detail person, I sometimes cannot see the big picture or form an overview. Because of this, I really appreciate those who can make clear outlines, particularly outlines of a Bible book. The outline of Acts is fascinating because it follows the words of Jesus in the first chapter as He stressed the people and their mission to their world . . .

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The book I’m using for devotional prompts is called “Exploring the New Testament” and this is the outline the author gives for Acts. The main headings are the primary locations where the Christians would go, and the secondary headings name the main people God put to work in each location.

Acts 1:1–11

Introduction: Apostles commissioned

The Gospel in Jerusalem

Peter’s ministry

Stephen’s ministry

The Gospel in Samaria and Judea

Philip’s ministry

Saul’s ministry begins

Peter’s ministry concludes

The Gospel in the uttermost parts

Barnabas’ ministry

Paul’s ministry

                First journey

                The Jerusalem Council

                Second journey

                Third journey

The Gospel in Caesarea and Rome

Paul taken prisoner in Jerusalem

Paul as a prisoner in Caesarea

Paul as a prisoner in Rome
28:30, 31

Conclusion—Apostolic commission fulfilled

This orderly outline excites me. It tells me that the God I worship is orderly. What I see in this world is often not. In fact, it can be very messy and disorganized. Maybe this is because I tend to look at the details, but whatever the reason, I am glad that my view of a mess is incomplete. The Bible does say:

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace . . .  (1 Corinthians 14:33) (and therefore)

 . . . all things should be done decently and in order. (1 Corinthians 14:40)

This has many applications. As a follower of an orderly God who is remaking me into the image of Jesus Christ, my life should be orderly too. Think desk, kitchen cupboards, book shelves, etc. So also should my schedule —  do the priorities first, then the next thing and the next thing . . . rather than being distracted and all over the place without accomplishing anything.

Chaos and disarray have no place in the life and work of the church either. God is not the author of confusion. If we are listening to Him and following Him, then our worship services, times of prayer, and all ministries will be orderly. Some might have different views of what that means, but we will agree that it does not mean confusion.

One stumbling block for some is the idea that if everyone follows the Holy Spirit, the result will be a messy and noisy group of people each doing something different. This totally misses the point. The Holy Spirit is one Person, not a diverse group. If we follow Him, we will also be in harmony and united even with our different gifts and perspectives.

It comes out in group prayer. I’m often thinking that I should pray for a certain person or a burden but before I open my mouth, another person in the group prays exactly what I was thinking! That is the work of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the burden and motivates our responses; we are together when our thoughts come from Him.

Lord Jesus, learning to hear Your voice is wonderful. Realizing that others hear the same thoughts is even more exciting. You live in Your people. You put the same burdens and ideas in our hearts. We are not robots, but able to respond in different ways even as we agree on what You are saying to us. This shows up in the outline of Acts and continues to show up in Your Body of believers two thousand years later. Thank You for giving us unity in our diversity and the ability to know and follow Your will — together!

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