“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Has anyone ever asked you what superpower you would pick if you could have one? I’ve come up with a lot of ideas, depending on what I need help with at the moment. Yesterday I told my daughter the superpower I would want is that whenever I can’t find something, I think of it in my head, and it magically appears before me.
This morning, I think I would have wanted to use that superpower to find a little more energy. I didn’t feel any superpower from within. I felt tired, and I didn’t have any good reason why. My energy was just sort of lacking, lost.
Determined to find it, I forced on my running shoes, went for a run, and then put on one of my favorite apps, the Lectio 365 App. While the run definitely helped, the words on the app were really what I needed. Today’s devotional read through Acts 13:46-52. In this passage, Paul and Barnabas explain their call to be a light to others, and we see that when they do this, people listen and believe. We also see that when Paul and Barnabas are criticized and expelled from the region by those who don’t like their message, they leave, shake the dust off their feet, and are filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
In case you didn’t notice, those who listened and followed the leading of the Holy Spirit were joyful! That caught my attention. It didn’t even matter to Paul and Barnabas, for example, that some wanted to persecute them and didn’t welcome them. They had joy.
I know that Paul and Barnabas were called, just like all of us are, to share the message of Jesus and the love of God with others. I also know that they were ordinary people. They weren’t Jesus, but they had the power of Jesus with them when they spoke because he promises to give that to all believers.
This thought really got my attention today. It tells me that whenever I have doubts about my ability to share my faith or to tell others a message God has laid on my heart, I need to lean into the promise that the Holy Spirit will work. I don’t need to be super smart, I don’t need to have all the answers, I don’t need to be perfect. I simply need to trust that my obedience will be followed by his help.
If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Last night, I prayed quite a bit about things I’ve been leading or working on. I prayed especially that my writing and my Bible studies were sending the right message. Sometimes I question whether I’m saying the right things. Is my message clear? Am I rambling? Am I putting anyone to sleep? Who am I to be leading? You get it – doubts. But when I follow God’s leading, I’m never disappointed. As promised, he does not leave me. He comes to me. I always hear God’s reminders to keep going, keep trying, keep remembering who he is and what he can do, not what I can do. If I remembered that all the time, I’m sure I would write more, speak more, and do more with the whispers or nudges telling me to move out of my comfort zone.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
I love the reminder in this passage that turning to God takes away the veil we hide behind and gives us freedom to be who we are created to be, freedom in his strength, his help, his power. Today, the reminders that gave me freedom and strength to keep going may not have been big to anyone else, but they were huge for me. God knows how to reach us when we pay attention.
The first reminder came when I was listening to that Acts 13 reading and the woman reading it mentioned how this passage reminded her of a time she was part of the 24-7 Prayer team on the streets of Ibiza. One night a man told her he’d noticed her helping people, and didn’t understand why. She said she knew this was an opportunity to share about Jesus, so she muttered a quick prayer under her breath and told him that Jesus promises that whenever we have opportunities to witness for him, he will empower us with the Holy Spirit (Acts 18). She said that is exactly what happened to her that night when she said these words.
This reminded me of how I felt the day before in leading my Bible studies. I spoke a lot of things to both the adult group I led and the teen group that were not written in my notes. They were just things I had prayed about, read in God’s word, and had on my heart.
So I prayed again for God’s message to have come through, and here are the things that told me not to worry, that he’s got it. He will shine. He is at work.
As I was praying, I heard the wind blow my wind chimes that hang just outside my sliding glass door. This wind chime, which is a beautiful metal cross with chimes hanging below it, was given to me years ago by an 8th grade graduate. This student wrote a note with this gift saying the chimes were a thank you for helping him in his faith. I hear those words every time those chimes ring.
A dear friend and member of my Bible study texted me with some names of people she thought I should send the Bible Study I wrote that accompanies my novel.
Two of my high school Bible study members texted me with a video showing the dolphins they saw at the beach today. The fact that two teens took the time to text little old me while on their trip to the beach was huge!
I had a phone conversation with my mom in which she mentioned how the Bible passages she read that day (one of the books being the book of Acts) were such a perfect reminder of how God is always with us.
Last but absolutely not least, actually probably the biggest thing, is the fact that I truly felt joy today, not joy like I might feel if I won a million dollars or heard that the coronavirus was miraculously gone, but just this underlying feeling of peace.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
So there it is – the power of the HOLY SPIRIT AT WORK. All I had to do was listen for it and believe it, which is what these words I type are all about. I have no idea who they might reach, but either way, I will boldly share, and for anyone reading this, you might have your doubts too.
But, I pray that whatever you do today, especially if it’s God led, you feel empowered. Whatever you do with his leading is going to bring blessing, for your own heart as much as for someone else. Maybe it’s a simple word you say, maybe it’s a note you send, a smile you give, a task you take on, a brave thing you do simply because you feel it’s the right thing to do. When you do something that maybe you doubt has the ability to reach or help anyone, be confident.
I hope you hear God smile big, hold you up and say:
“I got this. Keep going. Believe that I am working.”