Summary: me ask you a question. How busy is God in our world today? Is God as active in the world today as he was during the reign of David? Does God work in your life and in my life as often as he did in the life of Abraham? I don’t know about you, but I wond

Series: Seven Realities for Experiencing God

Drawn from the work of Henry Blackaby “Experiencing God”

The Blue Collar God

Acts 14:8-20

Cascades Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, JX MI

Sept. 19, 2004

We have just come through the season of conventions. Both the Democratic and the Republican conventions are behind us now. And depending on who you are talking to will decide whether the convention was a success or not. Every pundit shows his stripes this time of year.

What fascinates me is how people regard the speeches. They talk about forceful deliveries, well-paced monologues, good eye-contact – the candidate was warm or a cold fish (again, depending on who you talk to). We watch the performances of our politicians and grade them on scales of sincerity, persuasiveness, coherence – all the while suspending what we know to be the reality. We know that the words coming out of the mouth of the candidates are the words of a speech writer and that his seeming engagement is produced by the magic of tele-prompters.

Now that’s not to say that the candidates have no input into their speeches – they certainly do. But the illusion of eloquence is created by the speech-writer. And the eye-contact, which leads us to believe the candidate is speaking directly to us, is created by the speech being scrolled across transparent tele-prompters. These allow the speaker to read his speech while maintaining the illusion of spontaneity and eye-contact with the audience.

Just about anyone could produce such an effect with the right equipment. Why, even I could preach like Billy Sunday if I had such resources at my beck and call. The point is we tend to focus on the appearance rather than giving the credit where it is actually due. The same is true in ministry.

We see a great work being done and we tend to think about how great the man or woman is doing the work. We marvel at the ability of a Bill Hybels or the dedication of a Billy Graham – we focus in on the person and forget all about the big picture. And as a result, we often miss the hand of God in the midst of it all, working out the Creator’s will.

Let me ask you a question. How busy is God in our world today? Is God as active in the world today as he was during the reign of David? Does God work in your life and in my life as often as he did in the life of Abraham? I don’t know about you, but I wonder sometimes. I read the conversations – literal conversations – between God and Abraham and I think to myself, “Faith must have been easier then. Abraham could really see God working.”

The reality is, faith was probably a bit more unsettling then. Always remember that the Scriptures do not necessarily record the times of silence – the times when Abraham simply walked in obedience during a lull in the conversation. Imagine the silence between the command to sacrifice Isaac on Mt. Moriah and the angel commanding Abraham to drop the knife.

Yet, there is no doubt that Abraham experienced God in a profound way. The relationship he had with the Creator redefined his life, gave him new direction and purpose. Can we say the same of our relationship with God? How do we experience God? Is God at work in us?

This morning we want to explore that question. We are starting a series called the Seven Realities for Experiencing God. Over the next 8 or 9 weeks we will be exploring what it means to experience God in our contemporary world. We begin by looking at our text for this morning, Acts 14:8-20.

There is something fascinating about this passage – something implied. If you get caught up in the appearance, the action of the scene you will miss it sure as the world. I know that until I started preparing for this message, I missed it. Of the uncounted number of times I have read this passage, it never dawned on me to ask one simple question. Look with me at vv.8-10.

In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

What is the image that overwhelms this passage? The lame guy getting healed, right? And that image gets lost in what happens next. Paul heals the man with crippled feet and so wows the crowd, they begin calling him Hermes, the messenger of Zeus. Before long, the high priest of the Zeus cult shows up with bulls and wreaths and begins setting up to start offering sacrifices at the feet of Paul and Barnabas. The crowd took them gods coming in human form.

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