When God moves the church.
APRIL 21, 2022
When God moves the church. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown and this is Key Life. We’re dedicated to the teaching that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them, anyway, Steve is an author, seminary professor and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible, we’re going to a new text and I don’t wanna, I don’t want to leave the twelfth chapter, cause that is so much fun. I mean, it just has all the elements of a great saga to it. And, I love those kinds of war stories, but then we move into the 13th chapter of Acts, with our continuing study in the book of Acts. I, of course, am the tour director and we’re pausing here and there to look at the sites. And there’s no hurry. Thirteenth to chapter of Acts, let’s look at just the first three or four verses of that 13th chapter.
Now in the church in Antioch
Now that’s where things were going on.
there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon, who was called Niger, lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and send them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
You know, they were having a good time in Antioch. I mean, God was doing incredible stuff, the stories of what happened to Jerusalem were exciting. They rejoiced and they fasted and prayed, but they also celebrated and had dinner. I mean, this was a good time. And then Jesus came along and messed it up. I used to say that when I was a young pastor, this was the best job I ever had. And it really was, you know, I only had to talk once a week. And I’ve always been able to talk. So, I stood in the pulpit and for 15 or 20 minutes, I talked. Gave them my best stuff. And then I played golf twice a week. And in that village on Cape Cod, where I was serving, preachers got to play golf for free. So, sometimes I even played three times a week. And it was Cape Cod, so there were days when I would go fishing and I thought, I’ve died and gone to heaven. This is the best job I ever had and then Jesus showed and messed it up. And it’s been hard ever since. I actually really did, I think I’ve told you this story about our daughter Jennifer, who’s born on Cape Cod. And she was born with some very serious issues, health issues. Her leg wasn’t growing. The blood count was all messed up. And the doctor told me to pray and I didn’t know how to pray. So, I had met some friends shortly before that who didn’t know out of pray. And I went to them and they prayed and God intervened. And the doctor said, this is miraculous. Everything is fine. And you guys can go home anytime you want to. Now, that was a wonderful event. I’m not a good person, but I really do love my family and our daughters. And she was only one day old. I loved her a lot, even then. But God intervened in an amazing way. And this guy who was fishing often, playing golf often, only having to talk 15 minutes a week. And I could do that, who had discovered the best job in the world. All of a sudden Jesus showed and things got messy. And they’ve been messy ever since. And I don’t know if I’ve ever forgiven him for that. I mean, that was really a good job. And, you get that kind of feeling here in the 13th chapter of Acts. You know, they had seen some amazing victories and we’ve looked at them. They had seen God operating in a fabulous way. And, they were sharing that with each other. I mean, they were having testimonies that would blow you away. And that would be enough for most people, but that’s when the Holy Spirit comes and messes it up. Set aside Barnabas and Saul, and later we’re going to see how that gets reversed and how human nature plays in it. It starts out with Barnabas and Saul, then it becomes Barnabas and Paul, then it becomes Paul and Barnabas, and then it become Paul. And I’m going to show you that when we get to it. I’m going to say some not so nice things about Barnabas whom I like very much. But at any rate, they were having testimony time and the Holy Spirit showed in this first part of the 13th chapter of Acts. And the Holy Spirit says time to move it, set aside Barnabas and Saul and begin to move it. In other words, the church is going to pick up her skirt and begin to run into the entire world. And this is the beginning of that. And the question before the house and one that we’re going to be dealing with, today. And then probably into most of next week, is this, how do you know when it’s time to move? What happens when the church moves? What happens when we go from testimony to action? What happens when God moves in the church? And let me show you the first thing. First, God will prepare the circumstances. God does not act in a vacuum. You know, we have this idea that God is instantaneous. And if God wants to be instantaneous, he can be instantaneous. He can kill or heal instantaneously. He can move the church instantaneously. He can organize circumstances in such that when we see it happening, it’s instant. But most of the time, that’s not the way God works. God, God prepares. God sets up circumstances. God puts things together and we see that happening here. And so, when the Holy Spirit comes and says, set aside Paul and Barnabas for me, that was not a surprise to anybody. Why? Because Barnabas had been the man that God had used in an amazing way. And he had called Paul to come and help him at Antioch. And he was the leader. And Paul was perfectly prepared for what he was called to do. He had been a leader amongst the covenant people of God, since childhood. He had been the one who persecuted the church. He knew more about Scripture than anybody in the early church. He was something else. And then God whacked him upside the head, brought him to Christ and we’ve seen that and then put him in the church, but made him sit still for years before Barnabas came and got him. And so, when we read the first verses of the 13th chapter of Acts, we see something that has been prepared for a very long time. And Barnabas, you know what the name means? It means son of encouragement. And Barnabas had been such an encouragement to the church. He’d been like a rock. He had been stable and solid. He had made sure to bring the wisdom that God had trained him for, to this particular incident. And so, God, when God said move the church didn’t say, really? They said, of course. Because God always prepares the circumstances before God moves. People are always saying to me, I’ve got a new life in Christ and nothing like this has ever happened to me before. And I often will say to Christians, who’ve just become Christians. Is it brand new or is it like coming to something that you knew before? And then almost every incident the Christian will say, you know, it is new, I’m a new creation, but I knew he was there. C.S. Lewis said.
To say that I was searching for God was like saying that a mouse was searching for a cat.
As a matter of fact, every circumstance of your life, every circumstance of the church has been building and creating and preparing and making a way. And so, when the church comes together and they are praying. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come and mess things up, the Holy Spirit comes and continues doing what he’s been preparing to do for a very, very long time. I was the pastor of a church and every leader in our church was involved in other ministries in our city. And I said, and I think it was the Holy Spirit, we’re called to help other ministries, not build our church. And the elders said, yeah, of course, because God prepares with circumstances where he leads. You think about that. Amen.
What a great week of teaching. Thank you Steve. We will resume our tour through Acts next week. Do join us for that. And remember, that you can listen to any of these episodes, anytime you want for free, at the best website on all of the internet, KeyLife.org. And be sure to meet us here tomorrow for Friday Q&A. I have it on good authority, that some interesting questions await Steve and Pete. So, don’t miss that. By the way, we have a fantastic booklet that will help you as you listen and read your way through Acts with us. It’s called Through the Eyes of Grace: Acts & Romans. It covers early church leadership, the Pentecost, the fellowship of believers, persecution, all of that. And in addition, it includes Steve’s overview of Romans. Get your copy right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org and ask for that booklet. If you’d like to mail a request, just send it to
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