Go and grow Acts 21:36 – 22:29 – What are you waiting for! Talk aims:
Identity – children of God, holy and blameless, enabled to live by the spirit, Rom 6 Purpose – heaven to earth Equipped - Realise we are already equipped for this. No need to wait for ‘something’ else to equip or qualify us Responsibility - Act on His word. When we have faith (with action) in His word things happen Question any theology or idea that disempowers you, disqualifies you from releasing the power of God into the world around you
Most of this is Paul retracing his conversion story as recorded in Acts 9. When preparing sometimes the message flows out easily but I’m always apprehensive when I’m given a passage (what if nothing jumps out, what if I can’t find something to preach on, what if nothing comes?). As I began to read the anxiety rose as line after line I read and prayed and nothing. Then I got to verse 16 of chapter 22 and suddenly my heart jumped. I read on and nothing so I went back and asked the Lord what He wanted me to say. This message is just that. So we are going to tackle 5 points in about 25 min! All of them address the statement I read – What are you waiting for? My sincere hope is that there will be grace for us to embrace the reality that we are all called and equipped to bring heaven to earth. Saul, or Paul as he was now known by the time we read Acts 21-22, was born again yes? He had encountered Jesus, called upon His name (V16) and was baptised. Then Annanias says to him ‘What are you waiting for? The context in verse 15-16 is that Annanias gives Paul his purpose and calling and then says what are you waiting for, get right with God and then get on with it. This is what I believe God wants to do with us this morning. To understand our purpose and calling, to get right with Him – or understand that we are right with Him, and then get on with it.
Identity Are you born again? Have you put your faith in Jesus? Acknowledging Him as Lord and saviour of your life? Do you believe that Jesus was the only sinless man and as both God and man paid the penalty for all your sin in dying on the cross? Have you invited the Holy Spirit to dwell in you? If so then you’re equipped like Jesus was, like Paul was, like Peter was, like John Welsey, Smith Wigglesworth, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon and other revivalists to change this world. We need to understand that being born again (born of the Spirit see John 3:5) means that we are part of Gods family and drafted into an army whose sole purpose is to plunder hell, destroy the works of Satan and take back territory for God. Our identity is sons and daughters of the living God. 1 John 3:1 – How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called children of God for that is who we are.
Romans 8:15-17 - The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. You and I are dearly loved children of God. Do you know why we should feel completely safe and secure all the time? Because we are loved by a Father that will never fail us, never leave us and who’s love is not based upon how good we are. His love is based upon, well….. Him! And he never fails. He loves because He is love, and His love is guaranteed. Romans 8:38-39 - For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing – nothing, in all creation can stop the Father loving you. So stop trying to earn it, it can’t be earned. His love can only be received, get over your need to justify yourself and make God believe you deserve His love because you don’t, I don’t, no one deserves it. Just receive it, live in it and be changed by it - that’s all God requires of you. The other aspect I want to cover in our identity apart from us being dearly loved children of God – is that we are already holy and blameless in His sight. That we are able to live in constant communion with Holy Spirit and under His influence. I believe one of the reasons many of us struggle to walk in victory over the enemy is that we have believed lies about ourselves and our identity. It’s time we allowed the word of God to define who we are and not our own ideas which are so often influenced by lies from the enemy. God sees us as holy so shouldn’t we? Colossians 1:22-23 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is one of the most important bits of scripture along with Romans 6-8 that should define who we are, the way we see ourselves. Listen to what it says carefully: But now He has (already done) reconciled you by Christ’s (Jesus must be at the centre of your identity – when you drift away from Jesus death and resurrection as the reason for your identity you will slip into self righteousness and pride) physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, (He see’s you like this so shouldn’t we see ourselves and each other like this?) without blemish and free from accusation— if (this reality is a conditional promise – it means we have a responsibility in order for the promise to be fulfilled) you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. That’s truth right there – in the Word (Jesus) and the word (bible). The trouble is we have to believe it – which means we have to live it, we have to allow it to define our identity. It’s no good agreeing with this and then allowing thoughts about us that contradict this truth to define how you see
yourself. That’s faith without action. Faith without action is an empty philosophy or idea that has no impact because it’s not doing anything or affecting anything. It’s a bit like a car without any fuel – faith in Colossians 1 should affect how we live, how we see ourselves, how we value ourselves and each other – if we still beat ourselves up, tear ourselves apart with self criticism, consider us sinners and bad children we’ll be like that car with no fuel. We can say we are children of God but we’re not going anywhere, we’re not influencing anyone and we’re not seeing God move in power through us. Why? Because we believe God is cross with us and doesn’t’ want to use us. We disqualify ourselves from ministering in the supernatural. Ok – enough on identity for this morning – if something in there has challenged you, if you feel you have embraced lies about yourself then get that sorted – TODAY. Take the word, get together with someone and pray those lies off of you.
Purpose – Heaven on Earth Paul had an encounter with Jesus, was given his assignment and then told– What are you waiting for? Those of us who are born again have an assignment. So- why are you alive? What’s your purpose? The other week I asked our homegroup that and got some rather blank looks – it was a bit unfair because I put them on the spot and I’d had time to think it through. But actually I believe I know why I’m alive. In fact I believe I know why every Christian is alive. Now we all have different arenas that we minister in I get that. We all have different personalities and express ourselves differently and I get that, in fact I love that – diversity is great and you can’t have unity, not true unity, without diversity. But I also believe that no matter what type of person you are we all have the same over all purpose. It’s not to live in God’s presence, worship Him and get into heaven because that could all be achieved by God taking us there today. So why are we alive now? Why are we taking up space on this planet? It’s this – to plunder hell (take people out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light). To undo the works of Satan and push back his influence and expand the kingdom of Jesus. Kingdom means Kings domain. In Matthew 6 we read the Lords prayer. We could probably recite it now off by heart. But familiarity can blind us to the obvious - line two is our God given assignment and one that should mark the rest of our lives on earth. ‘Your Kingdom come – Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ We’re called to pray for earth to become like heaven. In fact we are called to bring heaven to earth – because heaven lives in us. To make that reality this reality. So what exists in heaven should be manifest here and what doesn’t exist in heaven should be removed from here. Matthew 18:18 Jesus says “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Jesus was saying think of it this way – if it exists in heaven it should exist in earth, if it doesn’t exist in heaven it shouldn’t exist on earth. Our assignment is to make heaven a reality here on earth. Is
there peace in heaven? Then we should manifest and release peace on earth. Is there love in heaven? Then we should manifest and release love on earth. Is there wisdom in heaven? Then we should manifest and release wisdom on earth. Is there forgiveness in heaven? Then we should manifest and release forgiveness on earth. Is there sickness in heaven? Then we should release healing on earth. That is our assignment – to make heaven a reality on earth by releasing the heaven that is in us.
Equipped In Acts 9:17 we read that Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirits presence has two purposes – to make us acceptable to God and to empower us for our assignment. 1. His presence is a sign that we belong to God, that we are His children. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Romans 8:15 – spirit of sonship – The Holy Spirit makes us children of God. 2. The Holy Spirit also anoints us to do the works of the Father. Anointing literally means smearing, covered in. I believe there is a difference here, maybe I’m splitting hairs but I believe we have the Holy Spirit in us to enable us to live holy and spirit led lives (see Galatians 5:16). I also believe we have the anointing of the Spirit to equip us for service. Jesus declared in Luke 4:18-19 that the Spirit of the Lord was on him (not in Him) to do the works of the Father. Even 2 Cor 1:21-22 seems to differentiate between the anointing and indwelling spirit. We have both, we need both. The Holy Spirit is in me for my sake but on me for yours (others). Your key text, to know you are already equipped for your assignment is Col 2:9-10: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ. He is the head over every power and authority. The uncomfortable truth is this - The anointing of the Spirit is only displayed by those willing to fail. By those who step out in faith and do things that require God to show up and if he doesn’t it fails. So often I’ve asked God to be used by Him and then hoped I can be used from the safety of my lounge. The anointing of the Holy Spirit will only really be seen in those willing to be used by God – He won’t pour out a supernatural ability on you if you won’t use it for His glory. It would be like me asking my parents for the most expensive set of golf clubs available and telling them I’m going to keep them in storage – that I’ve no intention of playing golf. Why would they give them to me for them to collect dust – they wouldn’t. We have the amount of God that our lifestyle requires – if you want more of God then change the way you live so that your life requires more. If your life only requires God for getting into heaven then you’ll have the Holy spirit in you but you won’t see His power flowing out of you and affecting this world. Not in the way Jesus did anyway. It’s as simple as this – if you want to see people healed
you have to lay hands on sick people and pray (Mark 16:17-18), if you want to prophesy then you’re going to have to open your mouth and speak, if you want to see God move in great power and miracles you have to be in a position whereby without His input you’ll fail. That’s scary but exciting and you can’t experience this kind of lifestyle and influence within the confines of the safety of your home, praying in a room by yourself. That may well be where God prepares you but the outpouring of power through you, that changes the lives of people, will only happen as we move out into the world and step out in faith. The bible says we are already equipped for our assignment – so what are you waiting for? If like me in the past you’ve been duped into thinking that you need something extra other than the Holy Spirit you will spend your life pursuing God for something He has already given you. This is why I’ve titled this talk – What are you waiting for? Because for years I would spend time praying for something which I believe we all have already. The word of God mixed with faith and the Holy Spirit is all you need to see people healed, delivered, set free and encounter Jesus. I remember one day I was praying for more (which is not a bad prayer) but this time God answered me and said ‘when are you going to believe in the work I’ve already done in you’. You see pursuing God for more of Him (which I believe is actually asking God to have more of you) is a good prayer but not when it’s an excuse for unbelief and safe Christianity. That’s what it was for me – an excuse to back away from my assignment and hang up a sign on my door that says ‘unavailable’ whenever God knocked. I’d be waiting for an experience or encounter which would somehow qualify me and equip me to release the power of God. This morning I want you to know that is a lie. If you are a born again believer then you already have all you need for your assignment. Any theology or idea that disempowers you, disqualifies you from releasing the power of God into the world around you must be rejected. If you can’t see it in Jesus then you have every reason to reject it. So pursue God for more, it’s a sign of spiritual hunger and humility - just don’t let that birth the lie that you need something before you can carry out your assignment. I believe the battle for becoming mighty warriors for Jesus is not actually won through pleading God for more of Him but dealing with unbelief and errors in our thinking. In Acts 22 Paul has an encounter with Jesus, believes and is baptised is filled with the spirit and then is told ‘What are you waiting for’. So what are you waiting for? You are children of God. You have the Holy Spirit – the same spirit the raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 8:11). You have everything you need to carry out your assignment – so what are you waiting for!
Responsibility - Act on His word I’ve already covered this so I won’t go over this ground in any detail. This point is simple. We must be familiar with the word of God so that we can come against any lie with truth. I’ve given you plenty of examples to speak out over yourself. It’s no good just quoting scripture – though that is a good place to start – we need to believe it with action. In other words start thinking that way, start acting that way. I wrote myself my own declaration years ago which, I speak out loud regularly to
remind myself who I am and what I’m called to do and how I’m equipped to do it. I highly recommend you put one together for yourself and you speak it out in prayer as regularly as necessary. I used mine daily and I tend to revisit it when I’m struggling with doubt or discouragement or when I feel I’ve lost focus on who I am and what I’m called to do. Here’s mine – use it if you wish but I recommend you fill it with scriptures that have spoken to you: I am a child of God (1 John 3:1), living for heavens agenda (Matthew 6:10), equipped (Luke 10:19), positioned (Eph 2:6) and obligated (1 John 2:6 & John 14:12) to bring heaven to earth. My final point which requires no expansion but is a truth I believe we should all embrace: Question any theology or idea that disempowers you or disqualifies you from releasing the power of God into the world around you today. If you can’t see it in Jesus then you have good reason to question it. So – What are you waiting for? You are a child of God – holy and blameless. You are loved unconditionally – no strings attached, not based upon your performance (Jesus baptised hadn’t done a thing and was told he was loved already). You are commissioned to make heaven a reality on earth and given the power and authority to do so. So what are you waiting for? Ifyou can think of an answer to that pray with someone about it. Let’s leave here knowing who we are, knowing what we have in Christ and reveal His kingdom to a lost and broken world.