- Pastor Cindy North, ANU Chaplain
Shaken By the Spirit
It is my joy to share the word of God with you for this week’s message. Thank you for joining in…
Reading of the word… (who)
Acts 4:29-33 (New Revised Standard Version)
29 And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness,30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.
32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
A few months back, I was trying to do laundry in a washing machine. I had the laundry detergent in this big plastic container that had a spout at the bottom. You take the little plastic cup and push down on the button on the spout to fill up your cup with the laundry detergent. Only problem was it wasn’t coming out very well. There was a tiny dribble. There wasn’t much force or power even though there was a lot of liquid detergent still in the container and it should have been flowing because of gravity.
What comes to your mind when you think of power? Is power something you desire to have in your life?
What can power help you with? How would power change your life?
What kind of power would you want?
Many students have come to ANU in search of power no doubt. Knowledge is considered to be power, right?
I recently was reading something by the writer, Richard Rohr, which caught my attention. He was comparing and contrasting two phrases.
“Knowledge on Ice” and “Knowledge on Fire.” Wow, what is knowledge on fire? That sounds really interesting.
He explained that “Knowledge on Ice” is only head knowledge but “Knowledge on Fire” is heart knowledge. It is the passion of the heart that enlivens and puts that knowledge to use.
To have a heart knowledge you need connection. You and I were made for relationship. Family, friends, mentors, teachers, colleagues, are at the heart of longing for us.
That is why the diﬃculties of the last 18 months have been so hard on us when our normal patterns of interactions and connections have been interrupted and broken due to shut-downs and quarantines. While this may have benefited our physical health the mental health professionals all tell us how devastating the isolation has been for many people mentally and emotionally.
What adjectives do you picture with this idea of “Knowledge on Fire”? Movement, freedom, consuming, dynamic, and dangerous are a few that come to mind for me.
As we embark on this new academic year at ANU our chaplaincy theme will center around the book of Acts and this idea,
“Knowledge on Fire.” We will be looking at whether we desire to have knowledge that is on fire and what it takes to get from a “Knowledge on Ice” to a “Knowledge on Fire” in our own lives.
The book of Acts will help guide our discussions. I hope to hear a lot from you along the way about how you are seeing this develop. Acts is a very exciting and story filled book of the bible.
If you are not familiar with the book of Acts in the New Testament, you should know it is considered the continuation of the gospel of Luke. Luke is considered to be the writer of both books. He is probably a well educated and well traveled Greek who is thought to have converted to Judaism before hearing the full good news of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The book of Acts refers to the Acts of the apostles although it is more accurately the acts of the Holy Spirit of God on His people.
“The energy of this book,” as author Dan Boone states, “is always from God, through the Spirit, in Jesus’s name.” (pg. 7, Shaped by the Word: Acts)
Luke is writing to Theophilus (who is possibly a wealthy Greek convert who is supporting Luke’s writing). The book of Acts is a narrative or storybook and it is historical but it is referred to as a “theological narrative” because it is not just about putting down facts of history. The writer has a purpose to persuade us the readers of the truth of what has happened and how it is God’s story.
Todays scripture focus starts out…
Acts 4:29-33 (New Revised Standard Version)
29 And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness,
—WAIT a minute… It looks like we came into the middle of something here. Stories are often told this way. So, let’s look back at what was happening just before this in Acts. In Chapter2 we see the first great outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the 120 who were gathered praying and waiting on God in the Upper Room. Many signs wonders and preaching is heard in all the languages represented among the people. In Chapter 3 Peter heals a lame beggar which gives him more opportunities to preach the good news of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. The Jewish leaders and Council are annoyed and end up arresting Peter and John and keeping them imprisoned overnight. The next day the leaders decide they can’t really hold Peter and John any longer because the people were praising God over the healing of the beggar. Before releasing them, the leaders warn Peter and John to not speak publicly of Jesus or there will be worse consequences. Peter and John immediately respond that they will not stop speaking.
When Peter and John are released from prison they joined other believers in prayer and now we come back to these verses…
31 When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.
This verse 31 is our key verse for this year. We will come back to it at various times but for now can you let it sink in the progression of what is happening in this verse.
“When they prayed”… the action of God in us first starts with intimacy.
We must connect with God before anything can happen. The purposes of prayer we will come back to at a latter time but primarily the purpose is to align us to what God desires in our lives first.
“The place in which they were gathered together was shaken”
Notice they were gathered together physically and there is a physical change that comes with shaking. God wants to bring change in us together. He unites us, He changes us and He does it for the sake of the whole body of Christ. We are not in this for us. He is not lifting up the individual. Yes, it benefits and has to be an individual choice but the end result is for God to receive all glory. If it is of God it will point us to God and not to an individual.
“they were all filled with the Holy Spirit”
This is the work of God. To fill us with Himself where the result is far more than we can accomplish. They were all filled! No one is left out when seeking God with all your heart. Place yourself in the position to receive. Do the preparation work so that God is invited in.
“spoke the word of God with boldness.”
the resulting action of the infilling of the Holy Spirit is what Christ Jesus prayed for. He prayed for their unity and their oneness and He commissions them to make disciples. They have to share the story with boldness and passion that comes from within not from without. Their hearts are changed. The work of the Holy Spirit in their spirits unites them to move out without fear. It is God’s perfect love that operates without fear. The love is what compels us to go forward.
Do you see it, “KNOWLEDGE ON FIRE?”
Now back to the laundry detergent story…
You see, I was trying my hardest to get the liquid soap out of the bottle but not realizing there was another cap at the top of the container that needed to be opened in order for enough air to get into the container and then allow the flow of the liquid out the other spigot opening. This is the law of physics. I was not operating according to this law and was missing the natural flow that was intended to happen.
So, is it similar in your life? Have you opened up the entrance to your life for the Holy Spirit of God to flow in and allow an outflow of His Spirit which will bathe others around you for His glory.
Benediction prayer… Ephesians 3:14-21…(NIV)
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
You will find the audio-only version HERE.