“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:” ~ Acts 1:1-3
Father in the name of Jesus I pray thankful that You are living and real. I pray that You speak to me vividly and directly. Let this Word convict my soul and pierce me to the depths of my heart. Lord, speak to me please. Holy Spirit please illuminate my eyes and open them to see what You are relaying to me in this very moment and season of my life please. I ask this in Jesus name! AMEN!
The Book of Acts is quite possibly one of the most powerful books of the entire Bible. All throughout the Book of Acts we see miracles, signs and wonders and most importantly the Gospel being spread all throughout the world with a purpose. We see God doing the most powerful work He can do in our lives, direct us. We see the Holy Spirit setting aside people to do the work of God and we see the Holy Spirit forbidding people to preach in certain places. We see the Holy Spirit using people in new ways, ways they have never been used and throughout all this we can begin to understand that God wants to do the same with us. The Holy Spirit wants to make the Book of Acts the book that you are in too. Whoa, that sounds weird doesn’t it?
We find that the Book of Acts is written to an individual named “Theophilus.” Not much is known about this character however, by the title “most excellent” (Luke 1:3) we can find that he is someone of significance. Possibly, he was a Roman Official of high degree, however we see him getting his hands on a copy of the Gospel of Luke. Interestingly, by the time Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles, we see that the title “Most Excellent” is dropped, we only see Luke referring to him as “O Theophilus.” Throughout our life with Christ, we will begin to see our nature/wants shifting and changing, we begin to see that things that we used to like, we don’t like. However, we also see the flipside, we do things that we don’t want to do and wish we could stop, because we know it’s not pleasing in the eyes of God. Theophilus must have gone through a period of brokenness to where he laid down the pride that was in his life. How many of us flip out if we don’t get called by our title? “Oh, they didn’t call me Bishop or Apostle” and now you’re ready to flip out on them and never speak to them again. This is the same thing that must have occurred with Theophilus.
Theophilus is actually a person, however if we dissect his name we can find ourselves either involved in it or separated from it. The name “Theophilus” means “lover of God.” The Greek word “theo” means “God” and the philus or phileo means “love.” What are you today? Are you a lover of God? If you think about your life for a moment, could you really be considered a lover of God?
When we think about loving God sometimes we can get crazy ideas and sometimes we don’t even know what to think? What does that even mean? How can I love someone I can’t see? After all, even if God loved me He doesn’t do everything I want Him to do, so why love Him back? How can I appreciate Him when He doesn’t save my family or mold my wife into what I want her to be? How can I love God? It sounds strange. We are humans, well some of us, (just joking) but we have this idea that love is only seen in physical standpoints. In other words “I have to see you in order to love you.” What a tragedy, this mindset right here is why we have teenage pregnancies, broken relationships, torn apart marriages, etc. etc. We don’t know what love is! What’s love got to do with it? We don’t know what it is, how can we, we can’t see love, we can’t always feel it and if I don’t feel good, watch out, I’ll snap on you! We can’t see God; we can’t see love, so how in the world can I even think of doing such a thing?
Loving God is something that we learn in our lifetime, not a blog. Loving God is something that takes place in the soul of a person who has laid down their life for God. When we think of love and God at the same time, it’s not always, “God gave me this car, I praise Him for it” it’s more so “I give my life to Jesus, to do His will, because He died in my spot.” Loving God generally has nothing to do with materialistic goods or opportunities; loving God is different. When it comes to loving God the truth of the matter is, loving God is seen when you don’t have what you want. Loving God is seen when you prayed for something for years and you don’t get it, but you still pray for others, you still serve in your local Church; you still bear the Cross that Jesus made and allowed. Loving God is so different from loving things. When you really love God you are compelled by Him to submit your will to His.
We often quote: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11) We love that, we shout about it, “good God Almighty, God’s gotta plan for me.” However, if you ask any Christian that’s “been around the block” they will tell you that fulfilling the plan of God isn’t always easy. Sometimes accepting the plan of God is the hardest thing that you can do. We are thrown on the altar of mercy at times, not knowing whether it’s going to turn out good. We just saw the Doctors report, it’s not good, we just heard about chemotherapy and we had our first treatment. It’s in distressing times that we often look at our circumstances and situations and say “Lord, what about Your plan?” We think and question God because we don’t understand His plan. God said in His Word that “His ways are higher than ours” (Isaiah 55:8) yet we don’t always want to hear that scripture. When things get tough we don’t appreciate much scripture, if the truth be told, sometimes the Word doesn’t bring as much comfort as we want. We can look at it and think God if “this” is your plan, I don’t want it. I want out of this marriage, I don’t want it. I want out of being single, I don’t want it. I want out of this old car, I don’t want it. I want out of this divorce, I don’t want it. We look at life and think about the plans of God and say “I don’t want this.”
So what do we do about it? How can we overcome the problems of life? The answer is to love God. It sounds so hard and so easy to say, but it’s just complex. We read in the Bible we are supposed to “submit ourselves to God.” (James 4:7) Submit doesn’t sound like a good word. If God knew it was going to be easy all the time that scripture wouldn’t even be in the Bible. God has a plan, that can bring so much comfort, but when things get rough and a bit out of control we can think “am I in the will of God?” We question His plan in pain. What are you facing right now? Is your commitment and dedication to God growing or diminishing? Love God, that’s the answer. We often quote a scripture in our problems that can bring comfort, but we so often bypass a statement that brings out the conditions of the promise. We say “all things work together for good to them that love God to them that are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Fast forwarding through that verse can hinder us so much, we have to love God! What is loving God? What are some ways that I can prove my love for God? How can I grow my love for God? How can I see if I truly do love God?
1) Studying the Word of God – In order to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ, we have to know Jesus Christ. Ask anyone in a relationship, if there is no communication there is no peace. No communication in the life of a Christian happens when we neglect the Word of God. Sure, it’s boring at first, it can even be boring to you now and you’re 50 years old. The thing about the Word of God is; when it’s boring at first, it’s just because we don’t understand it. When we begin to take time, buy a study Bible, go to Bible study and do the things that help us understand and learn it, we begin to realize “I’ve missed out!” We begin to realize “this is what life is all about! I love this!” When we begin to search the Word of God we don’t think it’s boring, we know it’s amazing. When we begin to apply the Word of God we can see its complete life changing and transforming power.
The more you know about God, the more you grow, the more you grow, the more you want to know, but the question is, have you started and where did you start? Many of us start off strong, we make New Year’s resolutions to do something, and “I’m going to read through the entire Bible in one year.” We boast about it, but once we get to Leviticus and Numbers we stop. Where have you stopped in your knowledge of the Word of God? We live in a day and age where we can learn so much about God and most importantly, understand that He is a great teacher and has been teaching us since day one. What are you up to right now? What have you been doing in your spare time? Do you have a Bible? More importantly, do you study and read it? Check out the links at the bottom of the page, they might help. In order to grow in your love for God, you must study the Word of God; the Holy Bible.
2) Prayer – Prayer, what can we say about prayer. Well, at first it’s weird, you are talking, but it doesn’t seem like it makes a difference. You’re just sitting there talking to “nobody.” It can seem strange at first. Praying is something that is vitally important to Christians, yet we so often lack a proper prayer life. We are so busy, we have children, and we have a husband that’s grouchy if we don’t do everything for him and all that. We have so much to do, but we so often really don’t ever get anything done. Have you looked at your goal sheet? God has given each of us 24 hours a day and He knew that you would have time to pray and read the Word of God otherwise He would have made 26 hours. God has a purpose behind prayer, but so often we come to God in prayer in a fake fashion.
We come to God and tell Him our problems, desires and wants. We often complain and call it praying, but we forget about the power of prayer. Prayer stopped the weather in the Bible when Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain for over three years. Prayer opened prison doors in the Book of Acts. Prayer can do so much, but we do so little of it. Why is that? It’s the devil, for one, but more importantly, how can we get back into the habit of prayer? Well, first off, let’s be realistic, we don’t do it enough, we just don’t, without admitting this to God we won’t make it. We have to come to God and be truthful, “Lord, I don’t like praying, Lord my knee’s hurt, Lord, my eyes get so dull and I get tired.” If we don’t go to God with these things, we will never have victory. Prayer is all about Christ having reign in your life, you becoming like Christ and Christ being seen in your life. Prayer however is also designed for you to be able to be truthful with God. We pray, but we don’t really pray, we sort of “beat around the bush” with God. We talk about everything but what really matters the most. We tend to hide areas of our heart with God and by doing that we shut off the power of the Holy Spirit and we live in defeat instead of victory. God has a purpose behind prayer, but have you prayed? In order to grow in your love for God, you must pray.
3) Fellowship – One thing that we often miss in the Christian community is real genuine fellowship. We tend to talk, but we don’t really fellowship. We talk about what’s going on in the world, who’s cute, what so and so wore and who sang the songs in Church, but we don’t get down to really speaking about important matters. We tend to “beat around the bush” with people as well. We talk about certain things, but we never really open up. After all, we’ve been so hurt; who in the world can I trust? When people ask us “how are you doing today” we usually say “I’m great, terrific, blessed and highly favored,” but in all reality we are hurt, we just got abused by our boyfriend and we don’t know what to do, we are confused and isolated from the world. We tend to have hidden hurts inside of us and we never really open up and talk to one another about it. Fellowship has a purpose, that purpose is Christ and Him becoming real to other believers. Fellowship can break yokes in the lives of Christians, but how can we do it if we don’t have a prayer life and Word life? Those two elements cultivate godly communication and fellowship. Without a knowledge of God, we are bound to only talk about shoes, what so and so did and whoever else got on our nerves today at work. We talk about what we know, well some of us (not joking). Just think about it, what if God stepped into your conversation, what would it be like? Who could you encourage?
Who could you impact for Christ? If God became something you talked about around the lunch hour? What if God became the center of your conversation and the jealousy and gossip left? Think about that, what if God came into your life in such a way that all of the hurt, anger and depression left and what stayed was Him. That sounds terrific, but the truth of the matter is, it comes through these three things. There is so much more to finding how to love God and how to grow in your love for God, but these three are essential. Fellowship, where are you going to Church? Have you joined a Ministry? Have you actively pursued Christ through the study of the Gospels? Have you sought after God’s will for your marriage or boyfriend trouble in prayer? Have you ever thought about just telling God the truth about why you feel the way you feel and do what you do? In order to grow in your love for God, you must fellowship.
Well, this sounds crazy, but you are in a way “Theophilus.” Well, it sounds crazy, but you are still in the Book of Acts. The Book of Acts doesn’t have a complete ending. Why? Because Jesus Christ isn’t finished with the Church, He still has a work to do through you. Luke told Theophilus that there were things that Jesus began (didn’t finish) doing and God is still doing that work through the Church of Jesus Christ. Are you saved? Have you believed in Jesus Christ yet? If not, what are you waiting on, do you know how needed you are to me, to your family, to your household, to your Church family? God has a plan for your life, sure, it might not be what you want it to be, but you can rest assured that it is amazing, because God and you are in it and you work together. Have you done something significant for someone lately? I mean a person that you don’t like, someone you really don’t appreciate or care for? Why not buy a card and put some money in it and just bless them? Why not just ask them if they need prayer and pray for them on the spot or privately? Why not just go talk to someone, look for the one who is standing alone all the time, speak to them; stand up in someone’s life.
There are people that need you, because God is in your heart. God changes everything, He makes everything beautiful, you are who He is changing and making beautiful, but your beauty isn’t for yourself, it’s for someone else. In order to grow in your love for God, you must love others. What are you waiting on? Yeah, things might not be what you want them to be right now, the man isn’t there, the wife isn’t on the way yet, I know that, but God wants you to be active where you are. Start by checking out some of these links or reading the Word of God. God wants you to be actively pursuing Him daily. He is worthy, Jesus died for your sins and mine, He is worthy of our worship and adoration. We praise Him the most when we purposefully decide to spend time with Him. Think about it naturally, how would you feel if your spouse or significant other took off work on your day off and just sat down with you and talked? You’d love it, that would change the whole atmosphere of the day and the relationship as a whole; it would go to the next level. Try that with God and see if He won’t do the exact same thing with you. Amen!
Father in Jesus name, I thank You for being a personal and active God. I thank You for being loving and active in my personal life and speaking to me about You and what I should do to get to know You. Holy Spirit I pray that You sink this word into my heart. Help me to love others, help me to study the Bible, help me to pray and help me to fellowship. Lord, help me find a way to bless someone in these coming days, even people who have hurt me. Help me and let me start by You placing them on my heart now to pray for them. Lord, let them come to You, let those around me see You in me and believe. Lord, let me be like the woman at the well and tell others about You. Purify my heart and tongue; let my conversation be one that is godly and one that convicts others about the truth of Jesus Christ. God, become my life. God, become my passion. God, become my everything and my all-consuming desire. Lord, I ask this knowing You are able and for that I say thank You. AMEN!