This year at the Vineyard we are continuing to study through the book of Acts together on the weekends, looking at how God invites and empowers each of us, his church, to join him. We want to cultivate an awareness in each of our lives, something we call “looking for what the Father is doing.”
This phrase, “looking for what the Father is doing,” comes from a confrontation Jesus had with the Pharisees after healing a man on one particular Sabbath. As the man was being miraculously healed, Jesus told him to pick up the mat he’d been laying on and go. It was the “picking up the mat” part that irked the religious leaders because that little bit of effort was considered to be too much work on the holy day of rest. Thus the confrontation.
It’s from Jesus’ response to the Pharisees that we get our phrase, but more than that, our whole approach to engaging in what God is doing in the world today comes right from this passage. I want to highlight this as an invitation for each of us this year; an invitation to continually engage with whatever God is doing in the various neighborhoods of our community.
Here’s the first thing Christ says in this situation… “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17) In essence, Jesus says that he’s just working alongside his Father, that God is always at work, even on this particular Sabbath, and that’s his excuse for this fellow carrying his mat!
He goes on to say, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed” (John 5:19–20).
Jesus is saying that even he, the Son of God incarnate, didn’t do any of the amazing stuff he did by himself. He only did what he saw God doing. He was participating in what God was doing all around him. Even more encouraging, God loves to show him what he’s up to.
Skipping ahead, what we see in the beginning of the book of Acts is exactly the same thing. The disciples of Jesus, as battered and uneven as their faith was, waited for what Jesus had promised—the presence and power of the Holy Spirit—before they could do what Jesus had told them they would be doing. They had learned to wait and to look for what God was doing. When they saw God at work and joined with him, they were participating with God throughout the Roman empire in chapter after chapter of the Book of Acts.
We believe that God is at work today in our communities. He is moving in individual people’s lives, in our families, and relationships. God is moving in our businesses and corporations, as well as in government and the legal system. You can find him doing things in the person who is right in front of or behind you in the checkout line. You find him doing remarkable things in your own life as you take time to pause and ask. Our job and our joy is to continue to join with whatever we see God doing.
At the Vineyard, we want to continue to equip you to listen to the voice of God through the presence of the Holy Spirit—to help you to “see” what God is doing around you. It’s not nearly as difficult as you might first think. In fact, as you just begin to ask God each morning to show you what he’s up to, you’ll begin to be surprised at what you notice. Why don’t you try it?
There is a very helpful little booklet the Vineyard has produced called, “Come, Holy Spirit,” which you can find online or at our Vineyard bookstore. In it, you’ll read some very helpful stories and ideas as you continue to invite the presence of God into your life.
Very warmly in Christ,