Monday, August 27, 2012

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

What does it mean to be shaken?  More importantly, what does it mean to be shaken by the Holy Spirit?  Have you ever been shaken by him?  What did that feel like?  How did you respond?  We tend to think of the work of the Holy Spirit as being more subtle—a whisper, a breeze, a nudge—but there are times where he is not so subtle.

What is important to know about this?  Disciples prayed for boldness, filling, and got it—dramatically—and responded by going out and preaching.  Do we ask for this?  Do we receive it?  Do we respond boldly?  What would that look like?  Feel like?  Sound like?

We tend to focus on our response to God—the fruits of the Spirit—but I think we miss something if we go straight there.  Calvin suggests that we ought to “stand on” the second half of this verse, the disciples’ response, but I’m stuck on that first part.  I don’t think we should skip over that part.  What happens if we don’t pray and ask for the Holy Spirit?

We need to be willing to ask and receive, so that our response is one powered by God and not just by our own volition.  Being shaken is not fun, not something we go looking for, but being used by God is tremendous.

The people in Acts 4 were in the midst of the beginnings of persecution by the Sanhedrin/Jewish leaders.  Soon Stephen would be stoned and everyone scattered.  Peter and John have already been in jail and warned not to talk about Jesus anymore.  The situation is intense.

Do we understand what it’s like to be in intense situations?  Their response to the tension was to seek God.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.   When the situation is intense, our prayers tend to be more intense as well, more urgent, more . . . heartfelt? 

God’s response to them is equally intense—an earthquake.  God’s saying, “I gotcha.  Asked and answered.”  Today we might rationalize that answer away as coincidental.  God doesn’t really answer prayers with earthquakes anymore.  Or does he?

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