Crossways Concepts

Because it is all about the cross...

Insights from the scripture as lead by the Holy Spirit

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Imagine yourself walking so well  in-tune with The Almighty God, that you could simply speak words, in concert with the Lord, and a miracle would occur!  Think of having that sort of relationship with Jesus.  Imagine how just a few people walking like that could change the world.

After the crucification and Pentecost, there were a small number of Jesus followers.  This small group had huge faith.  They were expecting the Lord to guide their walk, to perform miracles and to do great things.  They knew their God. They knew what He was like and what He wanted.  Because of who He was, they were willing to do their part, even at great personal risk.  There was nothing more important than the Kingdom of God.

Now Peter and John were going up together to the temple complex at the hour of prayer at three in the afternoon. And a man who was lame from birth was carried there and placed every day at the temple gate called Beautiful, so he could beg from those entering the temple complex. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple complex, he asked for help. Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, 'Look at us.” So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. But Peter said, “I don't have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. So he jumped up, stood, and started to walk, and he entered the temple complex with them walking, leaping, and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple complex. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:1-10)

These we just regular guys, but they had big faith inspired by spending time with Jesus.  They spoke the words, on behalf of Jesus, and the miracle was performed by the Lord God.  Just like that. Amazing!

The disturbing part, is that we are called by the same God, to the same life.  As we look around the Church today, where are the miracles?  Where is the hand of God working?  Where are the signs and wonders that God has displayed since the beginning of time?

God has not changed.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)  The God of the Bible is the God of today.  What we see out of God in the Bible, is what we should expect out of God this day, because He has not changed.

So we wonder if we should really expect God to be that way with us because we are just plain humans.  James said, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land.  Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit.” (James 5:17-18)  God uses “just plain humans” to fulfill His perfect purpose.  Elijah was a plain guy, just like us, and God was able to use him miraculously.

So, if God is unchanged so he still wants that kind of relationship with His people, and God uses ordinary people, then why aren't we seeing miraculous signs and wonders in our world today?

As I have prayed and considered the spiritual ups and downs of my own life, I believe that the answer lies in our walk with the Lord.  Although we are called to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), it is altogether too easy to walk in the world with a veneer of Spirit tacked on.  Our existence should be in the Lord from minute-to-minute, yet our inclination is to walk in the world with brief moments with the Lord.

Worse yet, we have come to confuse artifacts of the Lord with the Lord himself.  The Lord is not the church.  The Lord is not the Bible.  The Lord is not service or ministry.  The Lord is Our Holy Father, Our Savior Jesus and Our Indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.  Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)  This is embodied in activities that are not 21st century fashionable like prayer and meditation, just spending quiet time sincerely seeking the face and the will of the Lord.

Even more so, we are called to “abide” in the Lord.  We are to exist in His presence.  If we have the faith to know that He never leaves us and that He reigns over all things, then He should be an active participant in everything we do. The scripture describes this abiding as, “For in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28).

While this act of walking or abiding in Him is not visible on the outside, consider the description of the  post-Pentecost lifestyle that immediately proceeds the text of the healing of the lame beggar:

Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47)

There are several important faith-building points here.
  • They were immersed in faith-building activities.  Every day they were learning and worshiping. There wasn't any Sunday-morning-is-worship-time mentality, every day was a God day.
  • They associated with other believers.  When we are around people that do not share our faith, they gradually wear down the faith we have.  Alternately, when we spend time with people of strong faith, then everybody's faith is grown.
  • They were praying.  Prayer is an activity that is absolutely essential to our faith relationship with the Lord.  Astonishingly, many people attempt to live a life in Christ without prayer.  That will never succeed!
  • As they placed their wealth into a common pool, the defeated the huge temptation and distraction prompted by wealth and possessions.  It is not a surprise to see how much Jesus spoke about money issues because these have pulled many people from a right-relationship with the Lord.
  • They humbled themselves and praised God.  It is so easy to inflate our position and demote God, until we almost consider ourselves  to be equals.  Through humble praise, we place God firmly on His throne and ourselves at His feet, as it should be.
  • They took care of those with need.  If we aren't careful, we begin to think that the world revolves around us.  When we love our neighbor by giving what we have, it minimizes our  self-seeking love for ourselves.
  • They lived with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God.  They were not bogged down in the details of theology, instead they just simply loved the God that loved them.  Jesus spoke of approaching God as a child, this is an example of what he meant.
  • They knew they could expect anything from God.  Their prayers were not small prayers of a small faith, because they knew that their God was capable of anything.  They were living the life that said, 'God is without limitations'.

None of these things, by themselves, will produce an ounce of righteousness or faith, but these are all steps that will all prevent faith-erosion.  Our natural tendency is to lose faith, to lose focus and to lose proper priorities.  These lifestyle steps go a long way toward fighting these losses.

Our world today is so busy, so noisy, so distracting, so tempting and so involving, that it is a struggle to even manage quiet time with the Lord.  Our churches are spiritually contaminated by self-seeking individuals that boast Christianity, while having nothing to do with Christ.  Our 21st century concept of Christianity has been distorted terribly from what is in the Bible.  Finding that 'Book of Acts' sort of relationship with our Lord is not easy in today's world.

Our goal should be to chase after the life in which He is our God and we are His people.  This is a state in which we know Him to be for Everything that He is and we are totally and completely His, every minute of every day.  Like the song says, “and He walks with me and He talks with me and tells me I am His own”.  He is an amazing God, we need to act like it.

Miracles are not the goal, they are merely a symptom of a biblical relationship between man and his God.  For many people, miracles would become a distracting trap that could ensnare egos.  Yet, the goal is to have a relationship in which the Lord is able to use us in any way that He sees fit, without the limitations of our microscopic faith.

When Peter said, “get up and walk” to the beggar, he was taking a risk.  What if God didn't provide the healing?  Peter, however, had the faith to take that risk.  He had a relationship with the Lord that provided him with the assurance that he was doing the right thing making that command.  Peter was walking hand-in-hand with the Lord, working in tandem.  Peter was not pushing God to do something, Peter was responding to His God with the appropriate action.

The small number of Christ-followers that existed after His crucification walked in real faith.  The Almighty used that faith to change the world.  More than ever, our world needs changed again.  No amount of programs and plans has the capacity to change the world like a group of people with true faith allowing God to work through them.

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Lexington, Ky