A couple of years ago, after several years of researching festivals  and celebrating various ones we decided as a family to take a break and have a “normal” Spring. On the night we usually celebrate Pentecost, my husband had to go to work and my kids were playing in the basement.  I was lonesome. I missed the gatherings. By the time I realized I needed the others, desired Gods presence, really enjoyed the celebration, –it was too late. No invitations had been extended. There was not time to pull it together. Putting it first starts with getting it on the calendar, pushing aside other things. Grace says we are not under obligation, but my heart liked the process.

So, I went out on the driveway where the grill was, to try my hand at making a few hot dogs. My grill master husband (who had previously done all the grilling) had told me “it’s simple – just turn the knob to the right”. It Sounded easy enough. So, I set the essentials on the picnic table and looked around the neighborhood that was empty – and quiet. Just a few robins singing in the trees, enjoying one another. Someone was mowing a lawn. My pity party included smores, but I was too sad to think about eating them. Between tears I gathered marshmallows and grahams and chocolate knowing full well that it would not be half as sweet as having friends and neighbors over.

The grill made a popping noise which I know now was the ignition. It got hot, then hotter. Pretty soon flames were bursting up above the car and the porch. I had no water  hose in the front yard and had never seen this activity before. With loud screams, I ran to the neighbor’s house who used to be a boy scout leader. Knocking frantically on his door I explained to him and his wife that hubby was at work and the grill was out of control. The man ran and got water; I ran back just in time to explain to the now gathering people on the front lawn that it was the first time I had used this grill. Pentecost and my grill were going to celebrate with or without us.

Neighbors started showing up with snacks. “We forgot this year, thanks for doing it again”, they said to my amusement. Between laughter, memories and flames an instant party was born. Previous years there was much preparation, cleaning, stress. This was much easier. Emergencies, trauma, unexpected circumstances have a way of creating gatherings. Are we convinced this is all accidental? These moments can be providential for those watching the wind of the Spirit! The unplanned and unusual had occurred. Not to sound sacrilegious but the Old Testament, dry to some, is a huge BBQ invite from God to celebrate His character – He enjoys being with his people. When you experience these moments, you see them elsewhere too. Go back and note how many times Paul visits, eats, and engages a crowd. It is fascinating.

The Spirit does not just drive people to church. There is also a nudging to fires, food, hugs, fellowship, etc. I might even suggest there is a leaning to spiritual parties as wherever God shows up there tends to be food. We “were received, accepted” is more inviting than doctrines that never get shared. Before people will ever hear our Gospel, they need to see it in us, feel it in our warmth. What if the believers in Acts had stayed inside? What is more dangerous than Covid-19? People trying to behead you or put you on a stake. Seriously, we owe these NT folks an apology if our masks hinder our church function or praise. Caution, wisdom? Yes. Suppressing the truth and hiding out ? No.

So, what does this have to do with Acts other than flames of Fire? Everything. This book is called the book of the apostles, but if you read it carefully, the apostles  really do little of the ACTS. Jesus shows up but mainly in a collective term, “THE NAME” which may seem like a small thing until you try and say that name in a public, government, religious or hospital setting. That name is a hot potato due to history and power. 

I did not know until our driveway fire that a grill is ignited then tempered. You can control the flame amount and not burn things up by adjusting the dial. (Yes, hubby probably should have shared this or I should have read the manual). This Name which is not a magic rabbit’s foot can also be tempered. We gently introduce it – we season and salt people’s appetites for it by first introducing His character, His deeds and promises. We represent the NAME, not throw it around like it is a Billy club. The name is holy and brings to mind when friends are saved or healed. Do you remember when Jesus’ name turned everything around? When He brought peace, comfort, etc.?

When I go to Burger King, I think croissants –that are the same in every part of the country. Its consistent. I love meatball subs at Subway – the name makes my mouth water. Always a good choice. Names represent things. When I say cake, I think of my hospitable friend Stella who makes an insanely good blueberry dump cake. When I think company is coming, I smile and think of my friend Kitty who makes the best cheesy casserole known to man. I have tried countless times and just can’t match it. Her name is more than just a name – it recalls the night she showed up when times were tough, the prayer when a family member was dying, it reminds me of her laugh that is unlike any other. Names represent deeds, character, life.

That name I love to hear – Jesus, can change a man’s heart, a woman’s soul, a child’s mind and transform a nation, a people. I am careful to not use it in a common way because I know in short order, I will need to call on it to mend what is broken in my life. It is powerful not because I say it but because God puts HIS power behind it and Jesus signed His name in blood to authorize it. There is NO NAME under Heaven other than that name by which we can be saved. Potent, powerful, present. “Jesus, bring Your name to bear in this situation, please.”

What does it mean to use that name? Gods’ name means His character, His promises, and His deeds. When you call on that name that is what you are referring to. Its not a mantra or escape hatch.  It is the full flame, person, majesty, power, and word of the God of the Universe. No wonder there were so many miracles in the book of Acts! At the bottom of this page, I have put the  occurrences in Acts where they called on the name of Jesus. IF you want to do the ACTS of the apostles then this list will be important to you. If you just want to watch Netflix and eat Doritos, attending church one hour on Sunday, do not ignite this. It is dangerous, it is amazing and at times will draw a crowd.

I have seen this name deliver people from assault, gunshots, and death. Last summer someone I had mentored got in the middle of a gang fight, then as a last-ditch effort, called on this powerful name JESUS!  The person was delivered from the fight – and has video to substantiate it. That person later said they had not believed that was possible. He thought it was just an evangelastic fable.  God gave opportunity to experience it. God can deliver and will answer prayer when we call on His name. Those who have experienced this grace know that God watches over His own. If you have not experienced this– be grateful you have not been in a life/death situation to need that type of deliverance, but do not mock those who have and lived to tell about it! 

Why is this important to share? Because the days are growing dark, many  souls stand in the balance and many are hurting. Here are some themes we found in Acts:

  1. Prayer in the NAME. The people regularly, daily called on the name of Jesus, whether they were threatened to be silent, or not. It was a request for all that name could afford. It is as true today as it was back then. We can shout, say, or whisper this name anytime but it is not in just the saying of the name but in the trusting in His power, name, character, and deeds. (J e s u s, JESUS Jesus!) No other name offends so many, no other name delights so many. 

 

  1. Communion – they broke bread and gave thanks. This was not for show or ritual. It was not to be legalistic but to remind them that the righteous shall live by faith and the blood of Jesus is the ONLY salvific thing we can rely on. We are not saved by taking communion but take it to remind ourselves that Christs blood alone saves us from our sin and brings us into relationship with God. Being grateful, thankful for the cross makes one confident, trusting in nothing other than Christs work on the cross. (Rom.2:29) In spite of teaching on grace and being  redeemed  and justified, Paul continued the practice of communion. He dismantled most of the Jewish practices but upheld that one because Jesus told us to “Do this in remembrance of me”. It is a vital part of Acts and mentioned in the NT, more often than speaking in tongues. Perhaps this is what is missing in some Christian circles? Real power comes from a real person with a real name- so we remember our Source. The Holy Spirits job is to honor and glorify Christ so anything that veers from that might take us further from truth.

 

  1. Fellowship – Women, Jews, Gentiles, disabled, sinners, and the saints all get included in this book. There is a strong call for unity and valuing those who are unlike us. Anti-semitism, racism, sexism, elitism, favoritism = are  unlike Jesus. He is an includer, not an excluder. We are called not to call others unclean but to present the Gospel. Daily fellowship was part of their success. They did not have Covid-19 but they did have leaders and enemies wanting to kill them, – yet they did not forsake assembling in spite of threats. Tenacity, resilience and persistence? Nope, it did  not happen by human agenda but by more Holy Spirit activation.

If ever we needed healing, it is now. If ever we need a clear presentation of the Gospel, it is now. If ever we needed to call on the name of Jesus, it is now. If ever we needed to come together and let the Spirit work through us, it is now. Look at the many cultural conflicts, the crisis, the circumstances in Acts – and then watch how the Spirit circumvents them. As you read Acts, you will see the Holy Spirit redirect peoples hearing and vision, redirect leaders, change the wind and the charted course of ships and men. The “Acts of the Spirit” are evident in every chapter when the people call on the name of the Lord. Desire, invitation, Holy Spirits arrival, then ACTS, that amaze the saints and sinners. We follow Jesus, we call on the Holy Spirit to help us obey.

I love the tension in this book between triumphalism – (when we think victory is right now, for only us and guaranteed) which is in error, and Suffering (martyrdom, persecution, trials). We err if we believe ALL is victory. If we control every prayer than God is nothing more than a candy machine dispenser answering our requests. He decides when and what happens because He is sovereign. Crisis, rejection, and persecution are NORMAL for the Christian journey, as well as deep suffering. We err if we believe ALL  is defeat — hardship or darkness. God is unlimited and able to pour out His Spirit when and how He wants to. He is Sovereign. In the end God is still going to clean house, still sit on the throne and still hand out rewards. There is no situation where He does not win or bring justice – in HIS time. That holy tension happened then and is in full force now. God knew we would need the Holy Spirit to walk out the directives of Jesus. God is still pouring out gifts, fruit, and sweet fellowship for those willing to receive. The religious in Acts were busy gossiping, and the enemies were busy mocking and blocking – like today. But those following Jesus were assisted by the Spirit as God released blessings.

When the NAME is mentioned, God responds. When smoke arises, the people start looking and revival comes. I see smoke when different races share perspectives and platforms, I see smoke when women and men lead together, I see smoke when the marginalized are honored, I see smoke when people pray, I see smoke when the saints gather to break bread. Where there is smoke – there is ……. FIRE. It will come, it will ignite, and it will gather. The Same Spirit that fell on Pentecost, is the same Spirit that wants to ignite and UNITE the church and believers today. In Acts we get to see what that looks like. The Holy Spirit desires to be active in YOU and me. How can we step into this? We turn up the flame in our hearts. We fellowship, call on His name, break bread and long for His return. The result? The lost get found and join in because it’s a beautiful sight, a warm encounter. Eternal change.

Where is your desire leading you? What are you wanting to take place in your world at this time? Call on the name of the Lord first, then let the Holy Spirit help you obey. Gifts, tongues, power = all great but very lonely without the others God has called. He is ready, willing, and able. TURN UP THE FLAME in your heart. God will do the rest.

Lord, be the fire on the altar of our hearts! We need you; our families need you; our nation needs you! We long to not only read this book but walk it out, and share it.

Desiring with you,

Renae Roche 2021

 

Acts:

2:21 And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

2:38 In this name, be baptized

3:6 In this name, rise up and walk

Acts 3:16  in the nam,  made strong – perfect soundness

4:12 Only name under Heaven where we can be saved

4:17 To prevent its spread – they were  threatened not to speak it (the name)

4:18 commanded not to speak or teach in the name

4:30 signs, wonders done in thy name

5:28 commanded not to teach in this name

5:40 beaten and commanded not to speak in that name

7:58 counted worthy to suffer shame for His name

8:12 believed and baptized in the name

9:14 all who called on that name–  were bound

9:15 chosen vessel to bear the Name before the Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel

9:21 destroyed, those who called on this name… bound unto the chief priests

9:29 speak boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, they went about to slay him.

10:43 through His name whosoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins

10:48 and he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord

15:14 to take out a people for His name

15:26 men that have hazarded their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

16:18 I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.

19:5 baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus

19:13 cast out evil spirits in the name of the Lord Jesus

19:17 name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

21:13 ready to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus

22:16 arise, be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of Jesus of Nazareth