ICE BREAKER: If you are in an Awake Micro Group we value conversations, icebreakers are a great way to facilitate connection. Do you have any phrases you say regularly? Is there a phrase your mom, dad, or coach, said that really stuck?
Prayer is a conversation worth overhearing. There is benefit even in just listening to the prayers of others. If you aren’t fluent in prayer sometimes just experiencing the uncomfortable prayer meeting can have a profound impact. I love hearing how others approach God. I even enjoy podcasts in conversation style. Throughout the biblical account God invites us to listen in on conversations of great impact and widespread importance.
The first ever conversation between God and Peter about the gospel going beyond the current boundaries, beyond the cultural norms, to a whole new audience is crucial in our understanding of who can approach God. Likewise the conversation between the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip when the gospel is sent to Africa is crucial in understanding the access and barriers to water baptism. Each man is similar in their core hunger to hear the good news of God. We can take a page of conduct from them. Pray, Lord I want to hear you.
Ask what is being said, ask for God to unclothe our layers of preconceived notions and cotton stuffed ears of unbelief. Fun fact listening is closely tied to empathy. So if I’m not listening well I can’t be empathetic which means my convictions remain hard. So if we hurry or stay hard we may miss it. Miss the clarity. We understand this when we rush through our time in God’s word. We speed read and wonder what we even read?
Slow down this summer. Some of the best conversations I’ve had are on long summer days, when the hiking trail is before me and the minutes pass slowly. It’s there my frustrations begin to fall away. Or the car ride where you just have time to be with one another you find a softness toward the person you have been hard towards. We must strive to be present with one another, with God. Slow long enough to dial in and understand, especially with one another, with God’s word, and definitely in prayer. Let’s lean in to overhear the Holy Spirit in the two key phrases below.
The first phrase I want to highlight is the conversation with the Holy Spirit via a trance when Peter hears the Lord say, “do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:15)
In 40 AD God sent this vision of a sheet full of unclean dietary four footed animals, reptiles, and birds with the phrase “kill and eat” to instruct Peter to go with the men requesting him to evangelize the Gentiles.
The premise phrase is ultimately to bring together those who are “gospel” hungry to eat an amazing meal at the Lord’s table. God himself is directing and commanding Peter to go with and share the gospel to this Gentile household. God is giving them an opportunity to eat the same spiritual meal. The whole gift is a surprise of God’s sovereignty. The Holy Spirit is about to drop on the formerly “unclean” in a history altering way. WOW. WOW. WOW. What an outstanding experience for them to be included in. Included in the the great Shepherding of Christ and infilling of the Spirit in the exact same way as those in the original. (1 Cor 10:3-4 They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.) This outpouring or this meal so to speak is an exodus from isolation and social abandonment, a deliverance from the barriers between cultures. Christ is available to all. Christ is the only way for this to be possible. We can not diminish the love of God. And yet if we’ve read the Law then we also know we can’t diminish the holiness of God. Jesus blood is the only solution to the impasse. (Romans 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,) The Holy Spirit is our solution today, filling us with Christ.
We who once couldn’t get clean enough now are divinely gifted a life led by the Spirit.
There is evidence when the Spirit is heard, is welcomed, and is received. Evidence we can’t manufacture by ourselves. Bottomline we need the Holy Spirit. If Cornelius needed the Spirit, and he was pretty amazing, super generous to the poor and faithful in prayer we better believe we’re gonna need the Holy Spirit. AND THE GOOD NEWS is the Spirit is available.
There is one more phrase I want to hit home from Philip in his conversation with with the Ethiopian eunuch. Read the whole thing when you have time, however what I’m narrowing in on is the Ethiopian Eunuch’s response after listening to Philip, “Look, here is water, what can stand in the way of my being baptized?” (Acts 8:36)
Choice is powerful. Nothing can stand in the way of your choice for God. God has initiated the gospel to our generation and he hasn’t changed his mind. The way is the same. Holy Spirit infilling. Water baptism. UNION with our FATHER and a water immersion to identify with Christ and all the believers who have ever claimed Christ. NOTHING IS IN THE WAY.
Peter filled with the Spirit also said this last phrase at the end of his exchange in Acts 10. “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” (Acts 10:47)
WITH NOTHING STANDING IN THE WAY WE RESPOND.
Have the conversation, with God, with a friend, with a person who needs your invite to this meal. Who do you most identify with in these two stories? Peter? Philip? Cornelius? The Ethiopian Eunuch?
The phrase I’ll close out with is ‘stop and enjoy the sweet Lord’.