Three Conversions Everyone Needs
Three Conversions Everyone Needs
At an Alpha Conference, someone handed me a scrap of paper with a note describing what had happened to her friend:
‘Sue (who was not a Christian) was attending a rehab clinic for people with severe respiratory problems. She had a chronic condition (COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) that was getting progressively worse. The clinic meets at our church building. She arrived for her clinic, but there was no one there. (She had got the wrong date!) She waited around and had a look through flyers about our next Alpha.
‘Sue turned up for our course on Wednesday evening. She soaked it all up and was full of excitement and interest. She came to church on the Sunday and was back again on the Wednesday. It suddenly clicked for Sue that Jesus is God! A huge piece of the jigsaw for her. She gave her life to the Lord – dramatic. She called her sister to tell her she had become a Christian and her sister was in the middle of a meeting with a friend to pray for Sue! She had been praying for her for twenty-five years!
‘The following Sunday – Sue came to church, came forward for prayer for healing and was remarkably healed of her COPD. [She has been] running up and down stairs at home, off her medications, etc! She met with her physio at the medical clinic who was astonished at what had happened to her – remarkable difference. She has been healed and has since prayed for and seen others healed, including one of cancer!
‘On 30 April Sue was baptised and brought over 150 friends and family to celebrate with her. She is having a huge impact on people – evangelising to anyone that will stand still long enough to listen!’
John Wimber often used to say that we all need three conversions: to be converted to Christ, converted to his church and converted to his cause. Sue was obviously not only converted to Christ, but also instantly converted to his church and to his cause! Today’s passages focus especially on this third conversion.
Passion for God’s causePsalm 74:18-23
‘Rise up, O God, and defend your cause’, writes the psalmist (v.22). He is passionate about God’s cause and sees, as we see today, people mocking (v.18a) and even reviling God (v.18b). He cries out to God, ‘Don’t forget us. Remember your promises’ (vv.19b–20a, MSG).
It can be easy to become downhearted when we see people attacking God’s cause. The best way to respond is with passionate prayer. Bring your frustrations to God: ‘Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long. Do not ignore the clamour of your adversaries, the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually’ (vv.22–23).
Lord, as we look around at our society today we see many who mock and revile your name. Rise up, O God, and defend your cause. May your name be glorified. May your kingdom come.
Pursuit of God’s causeActs 12:19b-13:12
Ultimately, nothing can stop God’s cause.
Herod had success, popularity, power and great wealth. The people flattered him and shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a mere mortal’ (12:22). However, ‘That was the last straw. God had had enough of Herod’s arrogance and sent an angel to strike him down. Herod had given God no credit for anything. Down he went. Rotten to the core, a maggoty old man if there ever was one, he died’ (v.23, MSG).
This is contrasted with the word of God, which, unlike Herod’s life, does not end: ‘But the word of God continued to increase and spread’ (v.24) – it grew in ‘leaps and bounds’ (v.24, MSG).
We see a similar situation as God’s cause flourishes despite opposition once more. Saul (‘who was also called Paul’, 13:9) and Barnabas were confronted by a charlatan called Bar-Jesus who was ‘as crooked as a corkscrew’ (v.7, MSG). He tried to stop the proconsul being converted to Christ.
Paul, ‘full of the Holy Spirit and looking him straight in the eye’ (v.9, MSG), confronted him with his ‘schemes to cheat people out of God’ (v.10, MSG). Bar-Jesus was struck blind, and the proconsul ‘became a believer, full of enthusiasm over what they were saying about the Master’ (v.12, MSG). Bar-Jesus’ attempts to thwart God actually achieve precisely the opposite to what he had hoped.
The early church was determined to find out what God was doing and join in. They gathered together to worship the Lord and fast (v.2). While they were doing this, the Holy Spirit spoke to them, ‘“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off’ (vv.2–3).
Barnabas and Paul were ‘sent on their way by the Holy Spirit’ (v.4). They were pursuing his cause. They ‘proclaimed the word of God’ (v.5). They were ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ (v.9). Even the proconsul, an intelligent man (v.7), was amazed at Paul’s teaching ‘about the Lord’ (v.12).
It is so important that you seek God’s guidance and help – in your ministry and in your life. With God on your side you can achieve so much more than you could ever dream of in your own strength.
Lord, please speak to me by your Holy Spirit. Help me to know what you are calling me to do. I want to proclaim the word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit and pursue your cause with passion.
Purpose in God’s cause1 Kings 3:16-5:18
Solomon was called to serve the cause of God in a special way.
David had served God’s purpose in his own generation (Acts 13:36). However, he was not allowed to build the temple. God gave that calling to Solomon: ‘Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name’ (1 Kings 5:5).
Solomon needed great wisdom in order to fulfil his calling. He had prayed for wisdom. God answered his prayer more than he could ever have asked or imagined. God promises to give you the same kind of wisdom if you ask for it (‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you’, James 1:5). Ask for wisdom in all these areas:
1. Wisdom in decision making
God gave him wisdom to administer ‘justice’ (1 Kings 3:28). When given the impossible task of deciding to which mother a baby belongs, he comes up with an ingenious idea.
The threat of the death of the surviving baby is enough to reveal who the true mother really is: ‘When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice’ (v.28).
- Wisdom in choosing a team
Solomon gathered around him a leadership team for his government. This included priests, managers, friends, secretaries, historians and the commander of his army. There were eleven in all, making a team of twelve. It is a similar size to Jesus’ core team (the twelve disciples). It seems to be about the right size for a leadership team.
- Wisdom in delegation
In addition to this, Solomon had another team of twelve regional managers distributed through Israel. This included two of his own sons-in-law (4:11,15). Delegation is absolutely key to avoiding burnout and carrying out a leadership role.
- Wisdom in peacemaking
Under his leadership there was so much growth that the people became ‘densely populated’ (v.20a, MSG). Nevertheless, ‘All their needs were met; they ate and drank and were happy’ (v.20b, MSG) and they ‘had peace on all sides... [they] lived in safety’ (vv.24–25).
- Wisdom in insight and discernment
‘God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore (v.29)… his fame spread (v.31)… He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five’ (v.32). Psalm 72 and 127, Proverbs 10:1–22:16; 25:1–29:27 are attributed to him. People from all nations came to listen to his wisdom (1 Kings 4:34).
Solomon had the wisdom to know when to accept help from those who were not part of the people of God (chapter 5). ‘The Lord gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him’ (5:12).
- Wisdom in pursuing God’s cause
Solomon had the vision to build the temple in order to see God’s name honoured (vv.4–5). One of the ways in which you can pursue God’s cause today is by seeking to see the church (the new temple) built up in order to bring honour to God’s name.
Lord, please give us wisdom in order to fulfil our calling. Help us bring honour to your name and advance the cause of Jesus on earth.
1 Kings 4:24–25
‘He ruled over all the kingdoms west of the River, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and had peace on all sides. During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, everyone under their own vine and fig-tree.’
This must be one of the few times in Israel and Judah’s history when there was peace and safety in the whole region. Wise governance really can change a nation. Peace and safety are desperately needed in many countries around the world. We need to keep on praying for wise leaders to arise.
Verse of the Day
‘God… don’t forget us. Remember your promises’ (Psalm 74:18–20, MSG).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.