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good morning friends how are you doing today great to see you my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re visiting we’re really glad that you’re visiting we’d love to get you know to get to know you better see how we can help you settle today we start a new series but before we talk about that let’s just say that today is a special day because all across the building hidden in this little pockets there is new life springing up there is new energy excitement new possibilities there’s like literally birth springing out of the old because hidden amongst us we have some people just like these they’re a den for broncos fans and you sweet-hearted people have this moment where you believe that this could be a different type of season and it’s gonna last for maybe two or three weeks or maybe just till this afternoon and when you experience suffering and loss know that some of us are detroit lions fans and so you have no clue what

struggle and loss and adversity is and when you need help dealing with it you can come talk to us and we’ll help you through because we’ve been rebuilding since 1958 which is a long time so enjoy your moment today enjoy all of the excitement that comes with it we’re not going to talk about football anymore we’re going to talk about this book acts we start this new series and for those of you that have long-ish memories you may remember that a few weeks ago months ago we did this book luke and what we said is is luke is really two books in one there’s luke part one and then there’s luke part two which we call acts the one is what Jesus did and the other one is what his followers did there is this incredible heart to this book luke this biography of Jesus life what we see with this Jesus person is that he is special and distinct yes he is special because of the grand narrative the grand story of death and then resurrection that in itself is spectacular

but he is also special because of what he taught Jesus didn’t just come to earth to die and rise again he didn’t spend three years teaching for no reason and what we see is a teacher that is compelling compelling because of the the life he lives and how he shares it with others but compelling because he takes those that are on the margins those are on the outside and he finds space for them at the table where they don’t usually have a c when we looked at luke this book this biography what we said is Jesus is always going to at or leaving a meal and what’s surprising is not that he ate because everybody did that and they still do what’s surprising is the sorts of people that he ate with the sorts of people that he pulled into his life so as we make this transition where we move from luke to acts what we get to see is this we we get to see a group of people that Jesus biographies with different language say will be his witnesses now on

one hand when we hear witnesses what we’ll see is people that said we saw him alive we saw that he died and we saw him come back to life again they are witnesses to the incredible truth of death and resurrection the thing that separates christianity apart from every other religion the idea that the return from death is possible and is now promised to every follower of Jesus that is what they are witnesses too but they are also witnesses to his way of living his way of being and just how powerful that was so for those of you that walked in for the first time you saw a sign that said living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus that is what we long to do and what we see in these first followers of Jesus they experienced what it was to live in the way of Jesus found something about it that was compelling and said we have to start sharing that with other people so as we turn this corner as we make this transition from luke to act what we

should expect to see is this we should expect to see that the things that Jesus did the way he lived his life his followers will do as well and we should expect that the community that they build would reflect that as well so in Jesus we see this desire to live in relationship with his father regularly in in the biographer’s words they’ll say Jesus awoke early in the morning and he snuck off to be with his father he went to find space away from the crowds the importance of that relationship we should expect to see in the lives of his followers as well if Jesus lived with those on the margins and found place for them we should expect to see the same movement in his followers if he had this experience of his father in everyday life we should expect the same in his followers if he did things with a particular power and authority well incredibly what we’re going to read in this book axes is that we should expect to see the same in the life of his

followers as well we might start with this very fundamental question what kind of book are we reading here and what I would suggest to you is this this book is our book this book is our book in a particular way acts is a book that connects with you and I if you are on that journey of following Jesus perhaps in a way that no other book can yes other books tell what Jesus did those are very important those we call gospels there are letters within the new testament we’ll talk to us about give pastoral advice in specific situation give theology a way of living those are important but what we’re about to see in acts is these are people just like you and I everyday people that Jesus took and said okay now the story is about what you will do I’m always intrigued by what these earliest followers thought when they found that Jesus had come back from the dead my expectation or my reading is that they probably thought something like this

oh great now we get to go back to how everything was before Jesus used to do the stuff he was the one that was active he was the one that took the risks said the incredible things did the healings all those types of things and now we get to go back to being the supporting act we get to follow him around maybe share a little bit in his glory in the in the moments that he creates and we get to do that again and then Jesus starts to share with him that’s not how it’s going to be this is going to be about what you guys do if luke was what Jesus did acts becomes what his followers did but there’s some tension in amongst that title the full title of this book that we have today’s acts of the apostles and yet there’s a couple of tensions we’ll wrestle with there is it really about them is it really about them doing anything you might say a better title would be the acts of the holy spirit this character that we’ll see at the center right from the beginning

who empowers everything that these first followers of Jesus do you might say maybe a bigger title might be that with the work of father son and spirit as they partner with every day humans to create this movement called the church there is something that we’re going to read here that is about partnership it is about God and man working together because ultimately it’s not about them they will do incredible things but not because they are incredible luke is what Jesus did and acts what his followers did but what his followers did when they lived in partnership with the God of the universe that is where the movement comes from so we’re going to jump into chapter one and we’re gonna do the whole of chapter one today my original hope was very naive really now I look back at it I kind of looked to acts and said well we can kind of go verse by verse a little bit through acts and and we can do that in 11 weeks and then when you start to

look at it more pragmatically well there’s 28 chapters so that requires doing like one two and a half chapters a week which is bold so we’re going to start off going through it in more detail we’ll spend about half this series together looking at about the first six chapters and then we’ll dip into some different parts as you walk through the door there was a study guide that you can jump into and and one of the great adventures you can participate in is during the series series just sitting and reading this text as a whole but today chapter one here we go if you have a text in front of you feel free to read along if you don’t feel free to listen I’m reading from the new international version if that doesn’t mean anything to you that’s okay in my former book theophilus I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving instructions through the holy spirit to the apostles he had chosen after his

sufferings he presented himself to them and gave them many convincing proofs that he was alive he appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God on one occasion while he was eating with them he gave them this command do not leave jerusalem but wait for the gift my father promised which you have heard me speak about for john baptized with water but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy spirit then they gathered around him and asked him lord are you going at this time to restore the kingdom of israel he said to them it’s not for you to know the times or dates the father has set by his own authority but you will receive power when the holy spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in jerusalem in all judea and samaria and to the ends of the earth and after he said this he was taken up before their very eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight they were

looking intently up into the sky as he was going when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them men of galilee they said why do you stand here looking into the sky the same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way you have seen him go to heaven then the apostles returned to jerusalem from a hill called the mount of olives a sabbath day walk from the city when they arrived they went upstairs to the room where they’d been staying those present were peter james john andrew philip and bartholomew thomas matthew james son of alpha simon the zealot and judas the son of james they all prayed together constantly joined together constantly in prayer along with the women and mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers in those days peter stood up amongst the believers a group numbering about 120 and said brothers and sisters the scriptures had to be fulfilled in

which the holy spirit spoke long ago through david concerning judas who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus he was one of our number and shared in our ministry with the payment he had received for his wickedness judas bought a field and there he fell headlong his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out everyone in jerusalem heard about this so they called the field in their language akuldama that is the field of blood four said peter it is written in the book of psalms may his place be deserted let there be no one to dwell in it and may another take his place of leadership therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who has been with us the whole time the lord Jesus was living amongst us beginning with john’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up for us for one of these must be a witness with us of his resurrection so they nominated two men joseph called barcelos who’s known as justice and the

titus then they prayed lord you know everyone’s heart show us which of these two men you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry which judas left to go where he belonged then they cast lots and the lot fell to matthias so he was added to the 11 apostles man there is a lot there to get through so let us pray and ask that God would speak God as we take this text and we wrestle with these two very different stories there’s almost two halves to this thing and as we wrestle with what it means would you speak to us would you give us your wisdom would you be transformative in our lives if we are comfortable would you afflict us if we are afflicted would you comfort us would you be good to us your people as we follow you amen okay so here we go back to the start in my former book theophilus I wrote you about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving instructions through

the holy spirit to the apostles he had chosen Jesus is living it seems into this tension this moment of transition he’s prepping these 11 now guys and the other people around them to say this is this is you about to take over responsibility this is the moment where the story yes it’s still Jesus story but in a particular way it will become their story to shape and to guide Jesus wants them to be in a place where they can be ready for this incredible responsibility that they are about to be given after his suffering he presented them himself to them and gave them many convincing proofs he was alive he appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God Jesus wants them to know yes he’s alive he has risen it’s not just Jesus that wants them to know that it’s luke throughout this book that wants you and I to know that as well part of the reason luke as a historian is so detailed has so many of these intricate

little moments uh in his book is that he wants you to be able to rest assured that he knows what he’s talking about that’s why he’ll throw in details like who was governor of a particular province at a particular time what had happened in this particular moment of history it seems like he believes this if if we can rely on him for those tiny details then we can trust him with the big story that Jesus really did die and rise again it’s important for both Jesus and for luke to know that this is this is a fact that happened that took place he appeared to them over a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God this is this delightful 40-day period in which those disciples start to learn no he didn’t come back he didn’t raise from the dead to stay with them for good he is prepping them for this incredible responsibility and think about that story think about the bumper video that you just watched the story of the church is going to start in

these first couple of chapters a lot of people in a serious way have said that pentecost the moment we’ll get to next week is the birth of the church everything that has happened then began in this one incredible moment so when we tap into these moments of church history that flat flashed up on the screen this really in a serious way is the continuation of this book act yes we’ll wrestle with chapters 1 through 28 but 28 is not actually the end of the book the book continues in the everyday lives of people that have followed Jesus over the years who have made incredible sacrifices for this kingdom story to continue and it continues in the life of south fellowship today so when we say that these first followers of Jesus were witnesses to his death and resurrection that they were witnesses to his way of living in the world that still stands true for you and I today we are still witnesses to that story still seeing the life that comes out of that

on one occasion when he was eating with them he gave them this command do not leave jerusalem but wait for the gift my father promised which you have heard me speak about for john baptized with water but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy spirit this is is this moment where Jesus says yes the story is about what you do now but it’s not reliant on your power your strength there is a provision for you to go and live this story in the world they are ordinary men who have no more ability than than you or I to go about changing the world and so Jesus word to them is don’t go straight out and start acting wait there’s a gift to come there’s an important thing to take place don’t move until that thing happens and as we ended luke and I would say it’s important again that we wrestled with this ridiculous on the surface claim that Jesus makes the spirit inside you is greater than Jesus beside you I wonder how easy that would

be for those first followers to believe and I wonder how easy it is for you and I to believe gee the spirit inside you is greater than Jesus beside you imagine that the joy of having Jesus live with you in everyday moments of life imagine what that would look like imagine when you go through struggle to be able to sit and have a one-on-one conversation with Jesus imagine in a moment of broken highness to be able to have Jesus present with you think about the the story of mary and martha and what Jesus presents meant in the moment of the death of their their brother lazarus imagine what it would be like to have Jesus present with you imagine in this tragic moment that your dog dies and Jesus resurrects your dog he brings him back to life and and good old rover or whatever his name is he’s now alive again imagine that your cat dies and Jesus grabs a shovel and he helps you dig a hole to bury your cat because Jesus prefers dogs to

cats I definitely stole that joke and I’ve used it before and and I know I know what’s coming because some of you are very defensive about your cats and I definitely got some emails about Jesus and his love of cats which I don’t believe to be true but you believe what you want to believe that’s a personal decision everyone has to make for themselves uh though there is this joy to the idea of what it would be to have Jesus present with us and yet the audacious claim that Jesus seems to be making is that the spirit inside you and I is greater than him being there it’s a tension that we may still struggle a belief that we may struggle to believe then they gathered around him and asked him lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of israel at which point Jesus took the palm of his hand and drove it into his forehead as was the style of the time because it seems that after three years of teaching these guys still don’t quite

understand that that old story is not the point of the news story you can see or hear the frustration in his words as he says to them it is not for you to know the times or dates the father has set by his own authority but then draws them back to the point but you will receive power when the holy spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in jerusalem and in all judea and samaria and to the ends of the earth and there’s some fascinating thing going on with that language of judea and samaria because usually those would be talked about in distinct separate with distinct separation there is jerusalem over here and there is samaria over here or judea over here in samaria over here and they are distinct because they are enemies and now Jesus is starting to use language of no judea and samaria because Jesus excels and is brilliant at breaking down walls that separate and bringing together people that would not

usually be together and even the language starts to bow to that incredible ability of Jesus to do that in the world and and when we think about that we think about our world with all of those tensions and all of those barriers and all of those separations and we see that these people were not living in a world very different from ours at all that they were living in a world full of tensions of politics of religion of ethnicity of background all of those things existed then and they lived in that too and it seems that in Jesus there is this power to break down those things in an incredible way after he said this he was taken up before their eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight they were looking intently up into the sky as he was going when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them men of galilee they said why do you stand here looking into the sky this same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in

the same way you have seen him go into heaven the question there for these followers of Jesus is why is your focus still in the wrong place and to help us understand that a little bit I bought a delightful little illustration um here we go so I bought this from a store and I said do you have any beach balls they said it’s not really beach full season I assume you are going to a rock concert and I said kinda I guess but not really um aaron does have that delightfully you know powerful rock voice so so maybe but but think about this you maybe have been at a concert of some kind where there’s been one of these probably not exactly like this but it just ends up floating around and what happens with these things is they get bashed all over the place and someone can’t hit it in a direction so someone has to grab it for me and then throw it back in this direction because it takes a certain amount of coordination and ability and lack of

distraction to keep the thing who said who said that christians weren’t coordinated um we’re all athletes here um but it requires a particular focus and ultimately ah look at the volleyball skills back there and think about this process when it actually works really well and there’s people that actually are able to hit it in a specific direction there is a action to this or a focus on this that is upwards and future is this thing going to come in my direction and it’s up in the air I would suggest that somewhere as a visual this is the same focus that these first followers of Jesus have in this moment their focus is up in the air will Jesus come back what is he doing now when will that happen and I would suggest that that isn’t where Jesus wants their focus to be their focus is up and when what is going on up there now what is Jesus doing wherever he is and what will the future look like when will he come back and and stay connected with us when

will he return from the space that he has gone to and Jesus constant push for them is no your focus is the there and then the disciples focus is heavenwood and future Jesus focus in this moment is the here and the now there and then it is what is happening in this world what is happening in that community that they’re in that is where he wants them to place our focus and so as we thought about different books to study as I sort of asked what was next one of the options that came to mind in the times that we live in is this book of revelation and I don’t want to say that we shouldn’t be studying this book revelation but if we have a tendency to focus on the future to ask about specific dates then revelation is a book that may pull us there to ask questions like God when when are you coming back when are you going to come fix this thing when when is the end of this crazy sort of world that we live in and yet it seems like Jesus

planned for his first followers and I would suggest for us is to say those dates are not for you to know your focus is to be the here and now is it good to pray for Jesus return absolutely is it good for to long for a world where some of the struggles are healed absolutely and yet the truth is just like those earliest followers of Jesus we have work to do now we have a way to be involved now we have a calling that is now and Jesus says to them all of this that you have to do and yet wait for the gift that I have for you Jesus call to them is to go back to the city and wait don’t start until that gift comes that gift of the spirit and we’ll wrestle with that moment where that gift of the spirit comes next week we’ll ask some questions on a very basic level of what is the holy spirit what does this even mean this is strange religious language to some of us and yet in this moment my question for us with this text is is what they do is it waiting or do they not

wait he’s asked them to wait for this gift and yet we see the second part of chapter one where there is a story where we were given that seems to me to be action rather than waiting so let’s jump into the second part of the the chapter then the apostles returned to jerusalem from the hill called the mount of olives the sabbath day walk from the city when they arrived they went upstairs to the room where they were staying those present were peter john james and andrew philip and thomas bartholomew and matthew james the son of alphaus and simon the zealot and judas the son of james they all join together constantly in prayer it seems like this prayer is exactly what Jesus wanted them to do that’s what they do well they stop and they gather to pray in unity along with the women and mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers in those days peter stood up now if you know anything about peter’s history in the biographies of

Jesus life peter has a tendency to to run his mouth quicker maybe than he should maybe to act in ways that he shouldn’t have acted in this character constantly throws us these curveballs and Jesus at times specifically pulls him aside for rebuke so when we see peter stood up we maybe have some questions uh peter what are you going to do did you think it through was it the right course of action and the truth is that’s a wrestling for anybody that does any kind of leadership when we think about the tension between hearing from God and acting based on what he says versus acting because something needs to be done I would probably say most of us that have that have walked the line of leadership have said that is attention where does peter go here what might we draw from it in those days peter stood up amongst the believers a group numbering about 120 and said brothers and sisters the scripture had to be fulfilled in which the

holy spirit spoke long ago through david concerning judas who served as guide to those who arrested Jesus he was one of our number and shared in our ministry and then luke gives us an aside another one of his historical details to make sure that we know that he knows what he’s talking about with the payment he received for his wickedness judas bought a field and there he fell headlong his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out it’s maybe tmi at this moment but thank you luke we know that you know the history everyone in jerusalem heard about this so they called that field in their language akhodama which is the field of blood for said peter it is written in the book of psalms may his place be deserted let there be no one to dwell in it and may another take his place of leadership therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who has been with us the whole time the lord Jesus was living amongst us

beginning from john’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up for us for one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection peter pauls these couple of passages from the psalms and says because these psalms say this we must do that and yet we as as people looking back might look at it and question whether his interpretation is right may his place be deserted let there be no one to dwell in it could that not just easily say that he should never be replaced there’s definitely some interpretation there that peter is giving and one of the things that will wrestle with in acts one of the things that commentators have wrestled with in acts for thousands of years is is this book for us prescription or is this book description is this a book where we see everyday people like you and I doing their best to live out the story of Jesus or are we supposed to copy everything that they do because peter’s about to take this idea here

he’s about to take these passages and he’s about to figure out a solution in a way that I would suggest we would never do in church today should we go back to do it should we do it in the future I’ll leave you to decide so they nominated two men joseph koba sabas and mathias then they prayed lord you know everyone’s heart show us which of these two you have chosen that is something we would definitely do God would you speak to us but then look at the next passage to take over this apostolic ministry which judas left to go where he belongs then they cast lots and the lot fell to matthias so he was added to the 11 apostles they basically roll dice to figure out who is chosen if you think back to being a kid when you have that moment in the playground where you have to decide who is it and everyone puts their foot in the middle and you have some kind of rhyme I don’t know what the american version of the rhyme is but in

england it was eenie meenie miney mo or something like that they basically do that to decide who is going to replace judas and the truth is after this next moment in the next chapter where the holy spirit is given they never do anything like that again from that moment on there is always the prayer and there is listening for the voice of the spirit but casting of lots ends in this moment this practice that was common in the old testament dies in this moment where these first followers of Jesus I would suggest at least potentially act when they’ve been told to wait and every commentary has discussion on this moment is this them just acting or is this the movement of God because matthias we never hear from again he never goes on to do anything particularly significant in a few chapters this character paul will enter the scene and become this incredibly significant apostle so there’s this discussion over the years of was that who they

were supposed to wait for when Jesus said wait is this what waiting looks like or is this like is this just acting anyway and it gives us this great insight to so much of what we’ll wrestle with in this book the acts of the apostles when is it human and when is it God at work and every one of us as I said just a few minutes ago who have done any leadership wrestle with some of that question a few weeks ago I was on vacation and my laura’s grandfather has this beautiful piece of property up in minnesota here’s a picture of jude probably running headlong towards a lake or something like that and no self-preservation in this kid I’m probably about to run after him heroically or something like that and save the day but there were these moments where I got to wander in this beautiful property and just ask God just questions about just where south is going where I’m going just ask him for his wisdom and there was this one moment where

walking along I just had this sense God I feel like I’m half a step ahead of you I feel like I have made a step and I am driving the cadence of our walk you know that when you walk with someone somebody sets the pace right you may know what it is to walk with someone who likes to walk just a little bit faster than you would like to walk aaron bjorkland is one of those human beings he has these incredibly long legs and so when he wants to walk quick you have to sort of scurry to keep up with him and I’m not even that sure but still he strides ahead of you and so you may know what it is to walk in a cadence that isn’t comfortable for the whole group and I just had this sense in this moment God I feel like I’m walking with a cadence that that isn’t it feels like it’s mine and it feels like I’m driving and my prayer and question for him in that moment is God I want to walk in a step that you set the cadence up I want to walk with you and

I have so many questions about this text because it might be that peter is exactly in step with the spirit in this moment and it might be that he’s not and commentators have asked questions over the years which is it and the truth is that we can’t know but what we can say is that as we read acts as a whole when they are in step with this spirit when they are listening for this voice things flourish and things go well and there is life that comes up and when they don’t it doesn’t the whole of this book is predicated on a group of people that are able to listen to this voice of the spirit and able to obey what they hear and I would suggest that as we looked at this 2000 years of church history the same is still true for you and I success and joy in this following of Jesus is dependent on your and I ability to hear that voice of the spirit and to obey what we hear and yet when you look at the western church and you hear people do polls and research

so many of us as western followers of Jesus in our honest moments would say I struggle to hear what God has for me I struggle as an individual follower of Jesus to listen to his voice I struggle to know what obedience is to a specific word that he might give me now the the beautiful truth is that we have this book the bible that gives us so much of God’s wisdom it gives us a pattern for living tells us how to live in the way of Jesus and yet there seems to be this idea rooted in acts that you and I as individual followers of Jesus are able to hear his voice and receive his guidance in every day life and when we see these first followers of Jesus do that that’s when the thing flourishes and it seems like that is what we’re invited into so to help us wrestle with that just a little bit I want us to look at an older story and just see what we can glean from it we’re going to go back into the old testament this is first kings chapter 19. so to give you some

context for this story this prophet elijah has had an incredible victory he’s stood up to 450 prophets of a different God of the time and they have prayed they have prayed God show us who is the real God and and the statement they make is let the God who answers by fire let him be the true God and 450 prophets of baal have prayed and nothing has happened and then in this moment elijah by himself has prayed and were told that fire falls from heaven and there is this moment where this people of israel return to worship of yahweh to their historic God it’s this incredible moment for him a victory and yet it’s followed by this moment of depression this moment of fear this moment of lust we read that ahab who is the king at the time has gone to his queen jezebel and told her everything elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with a sword so jezebel sent a messenger to elijah to say may the gods deal with me

be it ever so severely if by this time tomorrow I did not make your life like that of one of them elijah were told was afraid and ran for his life he gets out of town there is so much fear so much confusion he says I’ve just got to leave and and then at the end of this journey this is what we read takes place the word of the lord came to him what are you doing here elijah that language word of the lord is an old testament speak for God spoke to him he replied I’ve been very zealous for the lord God almighty the God of israel the israelites have rejected your covenant torn down your altars and put your prophets to death with the sword I am the only one left and now they’re trying to kill me too elijah from his moment of victories and now in a moment of defeat a moment of uncertainty and let us see what God’s response is to all of that the lord said go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the lord for the lord is about to pass by

interesting language right he’s in the middle of a conversation with God and we’re told something like go and stand in the mountain the God who is speaking to you is going to pass by in a in a different way in a new way elijah is about to experience something that maybe he hasn’t experienced before then a great and powerful wind tore the mountain apart and shattered the rocks before the lord but the lord was not in the wind after the wind there was an earthquake but the lord was not in the earthquake after the earthquake came a fire but the lord was not in the fire and after the fire came a gentle whisper when elijah heard it he pulled his cloak over his face and he went out and stood at the mouth of the cave elijah has this moment where he experiences these incredible natural events full of noise if you were in highlands ranch last week when it suddenly hailed like it was the apocalypse it’s something like

that right there’s just this massive noise and that’s what he experiences fire earthquake wind and then we’re told in the midst of those super those incredible natural events God was not present and then in this moment after that everything becomes quiet and he was present he speaks in a particular way in that moment of silence and stillness the language there in hebrew is called the mama d’aqua the voice of stillness would be a good translation of it I wish we could stretch it to say the sound of silence which would be very simon and garfunkel but it’s not quite that language but it’s close it is the gentle whisper a quiet subdued voice and I love this last one a sound thin and quiet in the midst of noise in the midst of chaos God does not speak to elijah in the moment where he stops and everything becomes silent God does speak to elijah when we look for him we might say that wind earthquake and fire they might equal distraction in the

midst of those God cannot be heard and when they are gone it becomes still and it can be heard now the truth is you and I don’t experience regularly wind earthquake and fire but I would suggest that you do experience and I do experience distraction that makes it almost impossible to hear God it’s different distraction but it’s still distraction and now you and I know that the way our senses work we can’t work every sense together at least if you’re an adult you know this somehow if you’re a kid you seem to be able to operate every sense at the same time but think about an experience you may have had you may have been driving down a highway you may have been rocking out to some particularly bad music I don’t know what it is for you if you’re a christian it’s probably switch foot but there’s probably other options for other people and so you’re driving along and you may have the music really loud when you’re on the

highway you’re comfortable with where you’re going and then you’re trying to get to a specific location so you turn off the highway and you drive into maybe a suburb you’re looking for a particular house number what do you do with incredible regularity in that moment in that moment you’re looking for an address so you reach out towards the stereo and you turn the music down maybe as a kid your first experience is a parent saying that music is too loud I can’t think and as a kid you say why what’s wrong with you are you broken because as a kid you can think with the music turn up really loud but there is a change that takes place where we realize we cannot operate every sense at the same time to be able to find where we’re going to be able to locate ourselves requires the music to come down to maybe even turn off every sense can’t operate at the same time it would seem that in this moment the same is true for elijah

there are things that grab the senses and in that moment with all of those distractions he is not able to hear God and in the moment the distractions disappear in that moment he can and I would suggest the same is probably true for you and I so the question becomes well what is my distraction what is my thing personally that stops me listening in that moment of stillness because it’s probably not an earthquake and it’s probably not wind and it’s probably not fire but it’s probably something it may simply be that there is a 24 7 news cycle that you listen to all the time and in the midst of that how do you listen for the voice of God it may be that life is simply so busy and every moment of waking requires you to jump out of bed and feel like you’re starting like a thunderbolt into the day and it may be that the distraction doesn’t have to be bad but it does have to be recognized the distraction doesn’t have to be bad but it does have to

be recognized that distraction could be almost anything I could go through list after list after list but really the best practice may be for you to in your moment say God what is my distraction what is the thing that pulls me away from that moment of stillness and the potential to hear you speak in a given moment the other day I was up early with jude my three-year-old and in that moment I was reading and praying through the psalms and just asking God to speak in a couple of specific situations and yet in this moment my distraction appeared and I grabbed a couple of pictures of him just picking me as his particular climbing frame at the moment and to make matters worse he’s he started to use more language so his new language is I could really use a hug right now or something like that and so you see him like just in every way just trying to to get to me to distract me and he became my distraction I’m not sure what’s going on in

that photo my bible fell apart which means it must be well read at least but but in that moment I still was able to learn something there was a way that God spoke to me in that moment because I would suggest in my in that moment for me one of the things I was was finding to be a distraction was me I was asking God why are you not speaking as clearly as I want you to do you not want to speak to me in this situation is there something that I’m doing to get in the way I was actually far more concerned with me and who I was than the God who I was hoping would speak to me and in that moment of my son just grasping for my attention I was reminded how quickly I give him that attention when he looks for it that it actually didn’t take much at all for him to grab my heartstrings and it wasn’t long before I pulled him up onto my lap and we talked with each other we conversed we cuddled and all of those wonder for joys and it reminded me

of this incredible truth that my father my heavenly father is just as eager to speak with me just as eager to engage with me that it’s my perception that is off that it is my understanding of that relationship it is off that is off it is my own sense of failure and brokenness sometimes that stops me listening perhaps the biggest distraction from that moment of God speaking is you and I I can’t tell you whether that’s true for you but you get to have that moment of saying God is that true for me do I believe that you longed to speak to me that the contemplative writer brennan manning said in one famous address he said I believe that God will ask only one question of us in the resurrection did you believe that I loved you did I believe did you believe that I desired you that I longed for you and I wonder if for some of us a big distraction from hearing this voice of God is that at our core we don’t really believe that we find ourselves to be

irritating and difficult and believe maybe that God feels the same and yet the constant message of the new testament is this God who longs to engage and speak with you a a God that has given us this incredible responsibility that he gave to his first followers in acts that says you are part of this story and I long for you to do that story with and alongside and in relationship with me the writer frederica matthews green talks about an event that she was running in which a man who was clearly mentally disturbed walked into the service and started acting in a way that started to concern many people maybe thought that he was dangerous and in that moment she said a group of us just began to pray and asked that the spirit would be present in a particular way and she talks about this incredible sense of peace that fell over the place even in the midst of this struggle and this was her sort of evaluation of it at last I knew what the holy

spirit was for he was able to give peace and direction in a moment of fear and confusion it seems what characterizes the voice of this spirit is this voice that brings peace and direction that doesn’t bring fear and confusion this book acts will show that the church is successful and healthy when a group of people know what it is to listen for this voice and it doesn’t work when they don’t do that and so my encouragement for us as a community for you and I as individuals is that to me is essential for us to be able to hear the voice of that spirit to go out into the world knowing what it is to be guided and directed knowing what it is to experience peace and direction in the moment of fear and confusion is transformative for this church and when you as followers of Jesus get to share with people in the world around you this is what happened in me this is how God has spoken than that too is transformative for people that too brings life

that too changes the world around you there is something about experiencing something for yourself that means you tell it compellingly just a few weeks ago I had my gallbladder out and I told many of you the story but but what I maybe didn’t share was this I I was lying in the hospital bed and I suddenly realized that I hadn’t rested for months I had not taken rest now that wasn’t anybody’s fault but my own but I was truth was I knew instantly I was working too hard and felt too much pressure in too many directions and in that moment I suddenly realized nobody expected anything of me and so I stopped and I rested but what did that moment lead me to do it made me a compelling evangelism for rest suddenly I would go to everyone and say hey are you resting properly are you taking time to to get a break are you doing that you know it’s so important that you someone who had not experienced rest for months was now

suddenly the biggest evangelist for rest and there’s something about that experience that brought it to life for me and allowed me to bring it to life for others I would suggest that the same is true for you and I when it comes to that leading and guiding of this voice of the spirit in that moment where you do that and experience that for you I believe it will be compelling in the world around you and all over the world there are places that people call they use the language thin spaces spaces where it seems like the the veil between heaven and earth earth disappears just a little bit this is holy island which is a place where people have gone for years for retreat I was on a retreat myself a couple of years ago and I found this lake that I wandered around and there was something about that place that it felt like God spoke in a particular way maybe you have a place like that it doesn’t have to be special it just may be special to you but

somewhere there are places in some ways there are experiences that you are invited into and the truth is that beginning by knowing that the God of the universe longs to speak to you is perhaps the most important starting point in acts when they can hear it works the thing works and when they can’t the thing doesn’t work and it’s true for you and I too if we say that this is something we take seriously the spirit inside you is greater than Jesus beside you in Jesus mind that relationship with the spirit was one of listening and one of acting and that is world changing so I’m going to invite aaron and the team to come back and we’re going to create some space for you to listen after they’ve led us in one song of worship yvonne our worship pastor is going to our formation pastor is going to come and lead us through a couple of questions that we’re going to ask together but my prayer for you for me for us as a community

is that we might be people that are able to listen because that is what life in the spirit looks like in Jesus mind let’s pray