Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. – Psalm 66:16 ESV
I enjoy reading on my Kindle. Whenever I come to the end of a novel, just as I tap the screen to turn the last page, a new screen will pop up. It’s heading reads, “Before you go… Rate this book.” This is my opportunity to let other readers know just how great, or how disappointing, my latest read was. Recently, Northstar Church finished up our study of the Book of Acts. So, before we go, I’d like to share how the Book of Acts has impacted me.
Like a great novel, Luke’s account of the early church is epic. From the opening chapter, where we read of Jesus’ promise to his disciples of the coming of the Holy Spirit just before His ascent into Heaven, to Peter’s sermons that changed the hearts and minds of thousands, to its conclusion with Paul, whose amazing conversion and missionary journeys account for much of the book of Acts, and his arrival at Rome. But thank God it is not just an epic novel that we can be a fan of, post our reviews of, or follow its author on Twitter. The events of the Book of Acts were real. The people were real and real hearts were changed forever.
In his message, Jeff reminded us that the only reason we have a record of Acts is because a group of men and women 2000 years ago believed in Jesus as the Christ and committed their lives to making Him known. He went on to share that we are beneficiaries. You and I are continuing to write the next chapters of the Acts by our commitment and obedience to share and extend the gospel of Jesus Christ to all peoples. Jeff challenged us to commit our lives fully to Jesus. He reminded us our commitment starts by receiving the boundless, extravagant, reckless, steadfast, and saving love of Jesus.
In my own life, I have experienced the beautiful embrace of Jesus’ love for me many times. But two times stick out most in my mind. The first was during college. The other, more recently, during the Northstar Women’s Retreat. I’ve already shared much about that beautiful embrace. You can read about my experience at the Women’s Retreat here. So, allow me to share of that embrace from college.
During my freshman and sophomore years at Radford University I was in relationship. I was head over heels for the boy. When I thought about my future, he was there. A feeling he reciprocated… for a while. Then, one day his feelings for me abruptly changed. He didn’t love me anymore. I wish I could tell you that he came to this conclusion and swiftly told me of his changing feelings. He did not. Consequently, his actions caused me a tremendous amount of pain. My heart was shattered. Suddenly, my future looked different, uncertain. And that scared me.
It was during this heartbreak season, that I started taking long drives. These drives became a kind of therapy for my aching heart. My favorite drive to take was Pilot Road out through Floyd Co. Those curvy country roads provided the best view of wide open fields, and sloping blue mountains. While gazing out on these amazing views I would listen to music. Third Day Offerings became the album I listened to the most. One particular song, “Love Song,” was my favorite. Here is the first verse from that song:
I’ve heard it said that a man would climb a mountain
Just to be with the one he loves
How many times has he broken that promise
It has never been done
I’ve never climbed the highest mountain
But I walked the hill of Calvary
Just to be with you, I’d do anything
There’s no price I would not pay
Just to be with you, I’d give anything
I would give my life away
While driving my little, red Ford Aspire over the bends and curves of those country roads, I heard Jesus through this song. Jesus professing, “Jenny, I want to be with you. I gave me life to be with you. I love you.”
See, I had been fully committed to a boy and a future I had dreamed up with him. But God has always been fully committed to me. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:3-5).”
In the last chapter of Acts, Paul arrives in Rome. In Acts 28:15, Luke tells of the Christians that came to greet them upon their arrival. Jeff pointed out the significance of this. There were already Christians in Rome! Why? Because they were convinced Jesus loved them! And in an act of faith, they accepted this love.
In an act of faith, I was convinced of Jesus’ love for me that day. He chose me long ago to be His. To this day, I still get goosebumps when I think of this incredible truth! Looking back, I know that it was during that heartbreaking season that I recommitted my life to Jesus, fully.
Acts concludes with Paul’s speech to the Jews. During that speech, Paul quotes Isaiah 6:9-10: “Go to this people, and say, ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.’ For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them (Acts 28:26-27).”
Dull hearts cannot be fully committed hearts. Falling in love is anything but dull. Falling in love is life changing. Falling in love with Jesus is heart changing. He changed my heart. He continues to change my heart as I commit my to living for Him fully.
Friends, falling in love with Jesus will never be a mistake. He already loves you and His feelings for you will never change. His love is unfailing. He has already chosen you. He has already died for you. Will you commit to loving Him in return?
I am overwhelmed by the knowledge that You chose us before it all began. My prayer is that our hearts will not be dull to this truth. Soften hearts, open ears, open eyes, God. Father, deepen our affection for You. Help us commit our lives fully to You.
Love Song by Third Day