“Here’s a test to see if your mission in life is finished—if you’re still alive, it’s not.”
Over the last few months of Mondays, we’ve explored gifts, talents, and passions—the hands and hearts God has given each of us. Today addresses the big question, “Now what?” So let’s reflect on how God got us to this point, and what we’ll need to go any further.
Last Monday we closed with a picture of the early church in Acts 2—one which often seems more like a dream than a reality. So this week, let’s look at a different snapshot of a very similar scene—one that might give us a better idea of how God could actually use us to achieve to change the world around us, no matter how impossible that looks to us right now. As you read, put yourself in this scene. Don’t worry about hostile religious leaders or the fact that you’re not Peter. Let’s not forget that Peter wasn’t always the person we find in this passage either.
Whatever’s stopping you from putting yourself in this scene, block it out of your head. Again, we’ve spent an entire quarter focusing on the gifts, the passions, and the heart God’s given each of you, so let’s have a little fun envisioning this. Where would you be in this scene? How could God have changed you from an observer to a participant here?
And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among menby which we must be saved.”
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition….
When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:7-14, 23-37, ESV).
So let’s think about what God created in this scene, and about God might want to create with each of us:
• Sticking to what’s actually in God’s Word here, what gifts and passions did you see play out during this scene? Name as many things as you can.
• Now let’s shift back to our reflection time. How did you see God using the gifts and passions he’s given you in this scene?
• Read the first paragraph again. How does Peter’s reply answer your own doubts about being able to do what God might want you to do?
Take some real time to reflect on the questions that follow. As you do, don’t approach this as if you need to have it all worked out. God doesn’t expect that—and besides, even if you think you’ve got it worked out, God knows His plans better than you do. Simply capture as best as you can where you sense God’s leading right now, and what you think the next steps could look like.
• How might my gifts and passions might work together to serve God?
• What’s the most important thing God’s been showing you recently?
• Based on your last answer, what’s the next step God you believe God’s leading you to take?
• Are you willing to prayerfully wait for God to lead you into those next steps, rather than run out ahead on your own strength (even if all your answers above were “I don’t know”)? If not, what’s holding you back?
• Do you really believe this is what God wants you to do? Are you willing to see it through even if things don’t go the way you want them to? If not, again, what’s holding you back?
• What skills or gifts do you know you lack but know you’ll need for this thing God’s put on your heart to work? Who can use their gifts to help you? Who can you learn from?
• Whose gifts complement yours? How might you also be able to help them accomplish what God’s put on their hearts?
Good work! So before moving to the end, let’s take a moment to recollect ourselves. Watch this scene from the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; you can start it at the 1:47 mark, if you like. Then, move on…
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:7-11. ESV).
Where are you thinking, “I can’t do this”? Where have you gotten so wrapped up in “I have to do this” that you can’t see the people right alongside you who want to help? Where can’t see you see far enough to the end to believe God will finish the job he’s started in you? What’s the good that’s worth fighting for that you need God to renew in your own heart, so you can keep fighting for it? Take all of it to prayer now. I’ll even get you started…
Lord, we thank you for giving us your life—for breaking through the darkness in our lives with Your light. There’s nothing more important than that. And because of what You’ve done in our lives, please use our lives to bring glory to you, and to reveal Your power and goodness to a world that desperately needs to see it.
Help each of us to see how unique we are to You, and to see what You want to accomplish through each of us. Show us the gifts and passions that truly have come from You, and what You want to do with them. Show us the people we need to work with to glorify You. Give us what we lack so we can look back and see the incredible things You’ve done through us—and maybe even despite us. Open our eyes to see those who need to hear of Your love, and those who need to see it in our actions, and prepare us for that work. Give us all the hearts to allow You to work, and show us how to put our hearts together to accomplish Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.