Our church is going through Acts so I've been spending some time in that book this week and WOW it's been incredibly refreshing. So in light of Acts being a great book, I want to share with you a few of my favorite things that have stuck out to me as I've gone through the passage. (This post when it was originally written was forever long so I stretched it to multiple posts. So here are a few of my fav's from the 1st half of Acts.)
Stephen's speech in chapter 7
This might be one of my favorite things in the book of Acts. Why is a man's final speech before he gets stoned to death my favorite? Well this week I was moved to tears as I thought about how Stephen used his final words. Rather than saying goodbyes to family and friends or listing a well thought out defense of his innocence, he gives one of the most profound explanations of the redemption shown and foretold in the Pentateuch. He spent his last words explaining who he was dying for rather than why he should not die. Loved it.
The appearance of the Holy Spirit
I love the appearance of the Holy Spirit in Acts. It is something that intrigues me and that I don't fully understand, yet it's something that I truly adore. I think that we Baptists completely underplay the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, so I have a lot of learning to do. Two things that stuck out to me when reading was when Simon the Sorcerer was converted and longed for the Holy Spirit for selfish reasons and was rebuked (cpt. 8) and how the Holy Spirit was introduced to the different believers. Some of the believers were prayed over and then they received the Holy Spirit and some only had to hear the disciples' message. I just love how the Holy Spirit doesn't fit inside a "system" or a box. It moves however the Father wills it to.
I just REALLY like him a lot. He cracks me up! I love how he says repeatedly in one form or fashion (and in my opinion, quite heatedly) "YOU who killed him" referring to the death of Jesus. He is definitely not afraid of confrontation. He seems like quite the feisty guy and I'm amused and inspired by him all at the same time.
Who can do a write up of fav's from the first half of Acts and leave out the beloved new church. Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4: 32-37 are high points for me, but also I love how the church prayed for Peter and John and as a result their meeting place was shaken & then enters the amazing Holy Spirit (4:31). The community and devotion in these chapters is convicting and something I long for.
WHOA. Seriously, I know we are not on the Benny Hinn bandwagon, but wow. I would definitely classify myself as a skeptic when it comes to things like overly tan men in suits with really white veneers laying hands on people in wheelchairs who then start convulsing and jump out of the chairs dancing... BUT there is no denying the work of the Lord through these passages. One of the perks of working in a missions office is that I get to hear AMAZING stories of the Lord healing people in different countries. But somewhere along the way I lost my ability to believe in miracles here in the US (as if God's ability to perform miracles is hindered by the US border? seriously?). Reading through these encouraged me to pray more fervently for miracles and for faith to believe in miracles when they do happen.
The use of Psalm 16
In chapter 2, Peter quotes Psalm 16... I just really like that Psalm. So in honor, I'm going finish by sharing it with you here:
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.