From A Shepherd’s Heart (10 June 2020)
By Chai Chor Tiang
As we maintain a prayerful heart, let’s hear from one of our pastors today and reflect on God’s Word from her.
Opening Song: Holy Spirit Living Breath Of God
By divine orchestration, for 7 weeks during the recent Circuit Breaker period all the children in Kidsparks and Sunday School did a series on the first ten chapters of Acts, aptly entitled “Mission Unstoppable”. Each week, as events and characters were introduced, and as the narrative unfolded, an overriding message rang loud and clear: God’s mission to save the world cannot be stopped. His “agents” were marked by unwavering obedience to Jesus’ command in Acts 1:8, uncompromising conviction of their message and unflinching boldness in the face of extreme opposition and persecution.
Just look at Peter. Just weeks before, he had cowered in fear before a servant girl and denied knowing Jesus. Here he is now, boldly proclaiming everywhere he goes that that Jesus is the promised Saviour the Jews had been waiting for and that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. (Acts 2:21)
This radical transformation of the disciples (and the changed lives of Christians throughout history) has always been to me one of the most convincing proofs that the gospel is true. The apostles appear like a motley crew of characters from vastly different backgrounds – Peter, Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, Paul – all preaching the same message that Jesus saves. Skeptics would call it collusion. But what could possibly compel a group of men to conspire over something that would get them arrested, flogged, tortured, and even stoned? They were either collectively delusional or so completely convicted of the truth of what they were saying that they would rather have died than renounce it.
The question is – what does all this mean for us…the Carmelite reading about the acts of the apostles 2000 years down the road? A Kidsparks child recently remarked at the end of a zoom session after we had read about Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8: “OK, nice story; now can I go?”
I must confess that I am also often guilty of the same attitude. I listen, I am impressed; then I turn around and go on living my life just as I always have. I allow my own agenda to take precedence. I forget that, like the disciples in Acts 2, I have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit fills me with power – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph 1:19)– to live my life to fulfill the good works which God has prepared in advance for me to do (Eph 2:10). He also gives me the power to be His witness, just like He empowered the apostles we are now reading about.
How grateful I am that the Holy Spirit lovingly prompts me each time I stray. He gently reminds me to come back to feed on the Word and to sit at my Abba Father’s feet in confession and prayer. He patiently restores my perspective. Each time I make a deliberate choice to obey His gentle prompting, I know that He is strengthening and equipping me to do the good works that God has planned for me.
If there’s anything Covid-19 has shown us, it’s how quickly events can turn. Now, more so than at any time before, we know how it feels to have the carpet pulled from under our feet and be confronted by the big question of what really matters in our lives. Meeting the risen Christ overturned the lives of the disciples. How has it changed ours? How can we be more obedient to the calling God has purposed for us? How can we be a bolder witness for Jesus?
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me, mould me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Amen.