I just finished teaching a study of the book of Acts to a group of women at my church. I am so grateful to God for inspiring Luke to write that book, using his giftedness to write it so carefully and full of wonderful details. We approached our study of Acts not as a book of history but as the work of Jesus Christ by His Spirit through His Church. That is still continuing through today. And, we likened the work of the Holy Spirit to the firepower of a volcano. His work in the lives of individual believers is like “hot spots,” those places on earth where lava erupts to build new land. Our hope for every woman in the group was that the study of Acts would spark in them a real appreciation, longing, and expectation for the Holy Spirit’s work in their own lives—to see their own Holy Spirit Hot Spots and give God the credit for His work in their lives. The poster above is the evidence for the semester of God at work in their lives. I love it!
Like the power of a volcano pouring forth fiery lava, the power of God poured forth on the followers of Jesus gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost around 33 A.D. Born that day was a radically new creation on earth that never existed before—the Church—born not by natural power but by supernatural power. And, the power behind its existence is the Holy Spirit who is a radical blessing to every believer and to the world—having a profound and far-reaching effect.
One of the biblical symbols for the Holy Spirit is “fire.” And, just as fiery lava and ash erupt from a volcano and flow out to build new land, the Holy Spirit’s fire erupts through the lives of believers to build Jesus’ Church. Within a few years, it was well established on planet Earth because men and women got fired up for adventure with the Spirit of God. That has continued for 2000 years. And, I encouraged the women to see that for themselves in their own lives.
I heard a new praise song at a women’s retreat in the spring. The chorus praises God this way:
“Holy there is no one like you, there is none beside you. Open up my eyes in wonder. Show me who you are and fill me with your heart and lead me in your love to those around you.”
That fit so well with our study of Acts that it became our theme song. We asked God repeatedly to open up our eyes in wonder and show us who He is. I bought some stickers that looked like sparkling fire and asked the women every week to look for and share what the Holy Spirit was doing in their lives. Their Holy Spirit Hot Spots. We started every class with that.
At first, only a few put something on a sticker and placed it on the poster. Then, more joined in as they began to recognize what God was doing and giving Him credit instead of taking the credit themselves. The last couple of weeks I encouraged them to look in the past and make a sticker for what God had done for them, even years before this. By the end of the semester, the poster was filled with recognized evidence of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of the women and their families. What a time of praise we had together!
I think the last few chapters of Acts are key for every believer to carefully study. Luke records from an eyewitness perspective how a Christian (Paul) can follow Christ through the ups and downs of life and see how God is continually there helping him or her. From the moment Paul heard the words, “I am Jesus,” he had one master. He was convinced and committed. But, that didn’t protect him from the dangers and hardships of life. He still felt fear and hunger. At other times, he was prosperous, and life was going smoothly. The key for him was being obedient to his Lord and recognizing the Holy Spirit’s working in his life and turning things that looked bad for him into blessings for him and for others. Paul continually gave praise to God for the Holy Spirit Hot Spots in his life.
We saw his example and realized that we can do that just as much as he could. Obedience. Take the next step that God provides, whether it matches what you planned or not. And, then give Him the praise and thanksgiving for the results. It’s really not that hard in theory. But, it is so hard in practice! Yet, we are not ever alone to do this life by ourselves. Jesus was with Paul continually. He is with us continually. Our job is to live in daily dependence on Him and take the next step that He opens for us.
I highly recommend you start looking for the Holy Spirit Hot Spots in your life. And, record them somehow—in a journal, on stickers, in notes you write to yourself. The Lord Jesus will work through that “hot spot” in your life and get you fired up for adventure with Him every day.
Radical Acts Bible Study (read online)
Radical Acts Bible Study (download pdf)