…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
When we follow the Lord’s leading/direction, …
does it mean a guaranteed smooth road?
Free of challenges, trials, difficulties, delays, detours ?
Let’s look at 3 situations in the Bible, when followers of Jesus were led:
** down a lonely desert road
** caught in an unexpected fierce storm
** chained in a dark prison
When we are suddenly cast into such challenges,
a likely thought is,
“Is that really you, Lord?”
Its not easy, …. for we walk by faith, not by sight
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NASB)
Romans 8:14 (NASB)
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God,
these are sons of God.
Luke 4:1,2, 14,15 (NASB)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan
and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness
2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil.
and after 40 days,
14 And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. 15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.
Down a lonely desert road
… that never seems to end, …. hot, dusty, thirsty …
In Acts 8,
Acts 8:1, 4-8 (NASB)
And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
4 Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.
5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.
Due to great persecution, the disciples in Jerusalem were scattered,
… as a result, Philip went to the city of Samaria,
and started to share Jesus with the people there,
even though, Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans (John 4:9 MSG)
Philip crossed the culture.
Some background, …
Philip was the first batch of deacons selected by the congregation in Jerusalem,
… men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom (Acts 6:3)
As a deacon, Philip’s first ministry was to serve tables, in the daily serving of food to widows (Acts 6:1,2).
A simple, humble beginning. Serving others.
No fancy titles or degrees.
“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much …”
Luke 16:10 (NASB)
Through his faithfulness & humility, Philip was ready for more.
Continuing, … Philip’s ministry in Samaria
6 The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. 7 For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 So there was much rejoicing in that city.
the hearts of the people in Samaria were wide open to Philip’s message & ministry,
… The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip
Philip’s ministry in Samaria was highly successful, … many tangibly experienced Jesus in their lives, … with signs and miracles.
Hence, there was much rejoicing in that city
At the height of his ministry, while leading a great move of God in Samaria, … ,
26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying,
“Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
(This is a desert road.)
27 So he got up and went;
Philip was directed by the Lord through an angel,
to leave everything,
and go to a hot, dry desert road,
not even a town … a road!
not to a meeting … a journey?
From acclaimed success, … to anonymous obscurity?
From crowds and miracles, … to a lonely desert road?
Would we obey?
Philip did, … he obeyed,
not knowing why,
not knowing who he’ll meet,
or what opportunities lie ahead.
So he got up and went
Flexible, adaptable, ready for change
… in corporate-speak … agile.
It so happened that when he arrived at this desert road,
someone else also happened to be on the same road, at the same time.
Acts 8:27-40 (NASB)
27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.
An Ethiopian worshiper of God.
who had come to Jerusalem to worship.
29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”
Having obeyed and followed the first instruction from the angel,
Philip was ready to receive the next instruction from the Holy Spirit,
… go and join that particular chariot, …. the Ethiopian eunuch’s chariot.
(Its not recorded how long Philip took to walk back from Samaria to Jerusalem, and on to this desert road to Gaza, … before he chanced upon the Ethiopian’s chariot. )
The Ethiopian was a foreigner, a Gentile.
A little background, … Peter explains an attitude at those days, .., “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him … ” Acts 10:28 (NASB)
Philip obeyed the Holy Spirit,
Philip crossed the culture,
30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said,
“Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?”
And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:
“He was led as a sheep to slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He does not open His mouth.
33 “In humiliation His judgment was taken away;
Who will relate His generation?
For His life is removed from the earth.”
Philip’s timing was perfect.
Philip began with an apt polite, friendly question
“Do you understand what you are reading?”
Without any air of superiority or pride like the Pharisees or teachers of the law,
Philip approached the Ethiopian foreigner with humility and respect.
34 The eunuch answered Philip and said,
“Please tell me,
of whom does the prophet say this?
Of himself or of someone else?”
The Ethiopian was reading the right passage,
& asking all the right questions, … amazing!
His heart was wide open and ready.
In the wisdom of God, the Lord saw the Ethiopian’s thirst
while travelling down the desert road
… and so, He sent Philip.
Also, somehow … the Ethiopian had obtained a copy of the Old Testament,
and was seeking the Truth.
God could have sent an angel directly to the Ethiopian first,
instead, he sent an obedient and humble disciple with a servant heart,
a believer of good reputation,
full of the Spirit and of wisdom
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.
Philip gave him a full presentation of who is Jesus, the Lamb of God,
the One prophesised by Isaiah.
36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.
39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.
The Ethiopian man said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
Philip baptized him, they both went down into the water
… and he went on his way rejoicing.
Praise God, a precious soul led to Jesus.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17 (NASB)
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses,resulting in salvation.
Romans 10:9,10 (NASB)
On this hot, dusty desert road,
although Philip led only one person to the Lord,
(compared to the multitudes in Samaria)
this Ethiopian was no ordinary Ethiopian,
he was a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians,
who was in charge of all her treasure,
a trustworthy official,
and he had come to Jerusalem to worship
who honors God.
And through him, the gospel was brought to Ethiopia
through the corridors of power.
Psalm 68:31 (NASB)
Envoys will come out of Egypt;
Ethiopia will quickly stretch out her hands to God.
There’s unexpected multiplying treasures,
when we are suddenly are led down a hot, dusty, desert road
… that seems endlessly long and tiring.
Also, Philip experienced a personal miracle,
the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away
… Philip found himself at Azotus,
he was physically translated by the Lord to Azotus.
And for the Ethiopian, … when they came up out of the water, the eunuch no longer saw Philip, … he personally experienced a miraculous sign from heaven.
Hence, whether its to … a large crowd in a great city,
… or just one person, … in the middle of nowhere,
let’s be like Philip,
… faithful in ministry.
God sees our heart.
(here’s a map of New Testament Israel, click here)
And no matter where Philip was,
he kept sharing the gospel.
and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel
— a lifestyle,
Philip was full of the Spirit.
Also in this chapter, Acts 8, we see Philip effectively crossed each culture with respect, humility and compassion,
laying aside ethnocentric prejudices.
He reached out to cultures unfamiliar to him.
In both instances, by the power of the Holy Spirit,
his message and ministry was well received by those who heard.
Philip fulfilled Jesus’ words,
“… but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria,
and even to the remotest part of the earth. (Ethiopia)”
Acts 1:8 (NASB)
Imagine how would you feel if you were Philip,
making His-story right before your very eyes.
Let’s dig a little deeper,
Leviticus 21:21-23 (NASB)
21 No man among the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a defect is to come near to offer the Lord’s offerings by fire; since he has a defect, he shall not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may eat the food of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy, 23 only he shall not go in to the veil or come near the altar because he has a defect, so that he will not profane My sanctuaries. For I am the Lord who sanctifies them.’”
According to the Old Testament law, only the descendants of Aaron can go in to the veil and offer offerings on the altar, however they should be physically without defect.
Praise God, through Jesus and the New Covenant,
by the precious blood of Jesus,
this Gentile Ethiopian Eunuch boldly entered into the presence of God,
and became a child of God.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah prophesised,
Isaiah 56:4-8 (NASB)
4 For thus says the Lord,
“To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
5 To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial,
And a name better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.
6 “Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
To minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord,
To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath
And holds fast My covenant;
7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar;
For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
8 The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares,
“Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.”
Aptly, describing this story,
the eunuch, the foreigner,
who went to the temple to worship,
God’s house of prayer for all peoples,
he met Jesus, the Word of God,
while reading the word of God,
and went his way rejoicing,
holding fast to God’s covenant through Jesus.
The marvels of God’s marvellous word. 🙂
Caught in a sudden fierce storm
…. without a Plan B.
The story of Jesus stilling the sudden storm is well-known and appears in 3 of the Gospels.
Mark 4:35-40 (NASB)
35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.”
36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
Let’s zoom out … before zooming in.
Why were they out in the boat that evening?
Jesus said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.”
They were following Jesus’ direction,
after a day of Jesus teaching a multitude of people beside the sea (Mark 4:1,2)
For the disciples, … after the teaching of the Word,
… comes the practical walking … (or sailing 🙂 )
In following the Lord’s direction,
sometimes, … sudden, unexpected challenges may happen.
Thankfully, He’s not left us to face the storms alone.
In this account, Jesus hushed the storm instantly
by commanding the wind and the sea to obey Him.
What was on the other side of the sea ?
For the answer,
we have to read the next chapter of Mark,
Mark 5:1-5 (NIV)
They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.
2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, …
A man with a legion of demons.
(a Roman legion could contain up to 6000 fighting men, and later reduced to 1040 for greater mobility. [wikipedia])
Outcast, abandoned, and forgotten by family, friends, … everyone,
gave up for dead,
living among the tombs of the dead
But not Jesus … the good shepherd who goes and look for the one lost sheep.
and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him.
Empowered by the demons, he was extremely physically strong, … a strong man.
5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
By the impact of the demons, he was self-mutilating himself,
… gory and bloodied all over.
In God’s mercy and compassion,
Jesus heard his agonising cries,
when everyone avoided him, abandoned him,
Jesus reached out,
& came to set him free.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:10,11 ESV)
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”
9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
Jesus set the man free by commanding the legion of demons to obey Him, and they left the man. The demons obeyed, acknowledged Jesus, Son of the Most High God.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened.
15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.
The man was restored mentally, emotionally and physically,
in full control of his mind, actions and speech,
by the Spirit of God;
no longer violent, and no longer mutilating himself.
28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God,
then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Matthew 12:28 (NASB)
Finally, instantly, … he was totally free from the demons who had tormented him all these years. Praise God!
What a transformation after meeting Jesus!
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.
19 Jesus did not let him, but said,
“Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
Jesus came all the way to the other side of the sea,
just for this one man,
… O, how much He loves you and me.
The man met Jesus personally,
and was miraculously set free by Him instantly.
His life was changed forever.
Armed with his powerful testimony of instant complete deliverance from a legion of demons,
and the power of Jesus name.
Jesus sent him out to proclaim the kingdom of God in the Decapolis,
i.e. a region of 10 cities, mainly inhabited by Gentiles.
This unknown disciple became the first evangelist to the Gentiles.
(He was sent out by Jesus, even before the twelve and seventy-two were sent to the regions of Israel (Luke 9 & 10, Matthew 10). Praise God!
And all the people (in Decapolis) were amazed
There’s unexpected multiplying treasures,
when we’re faced with a sudden fierce storm.
On another note …
Evangelism, pure and simple —
“… tell them how much the Lord has done for you,
and how he has had mercy on you.”
So the man went away and began to
tell how much Jesus had done for him.
Share His-story in our lives to others.
One more thing about going through the storm.
In the boat that night, were some disciples who were veteran fishermen. They were well-versed with the weather and currents of the Sea of Galilee, and been through many storms.
That night they met such a sudden violent storm that they thought their fate was sealed.
In spite of their best efforts, the boat was already filling up with water in the middle of the sea.
After Jesus miraculously and instantly silenced the storm by His command,
Mark 4:41 They became very much afraid and said to one another,
“Who then is this,
that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
The disciples gained a first-hand experience
a fresh revelation of who Jesus really is,
through the unexpected, sudden storm.
After miraculously surviving such a harrowing fierce storm, and seeing the wind and sea obey Jesus, … they were pumped up and ready to encounter the man with a terrifying legion of demons, confident that
… greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:4 (NASB)
“Who then is this,
that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
Who is Jesus?
Who is He really?
When Jesus stilled the wind and the sea,
perhaps the disciples were reminded of a Psalm they sing in the Synagogue.
Psalm 107:28-31 (NASB)
28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brought them out of their distresses.
29 He caused the storm to be still,
So that the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad because they were quiet,
So He guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!
Only the Lord God had power over the wind and the sea.
He brought them from trouble & distress,
… to peace & thanksgiving.
Chained in a dark prison in a foreign land
… with no exits or exit strategy.
Paul and Silas were unjustly beaten and thrown in to prison in Philippi by the authorities for their faith in Jesus,
after setting a slave girl free from a spirit of divination.
23 When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; 24 and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you“ will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.
Bruised, battered, bleeding,
& in a lot of physical pain,
unjustly mistreated, abused,
… in Paul and Silas spirit
still praising and worshiping the Lord.
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Hebrews 13:15 (ESV)
“I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”
2 Samuel 24:24 (ESV)
Paul and Silas offered sacrifices of praise to God,
in spite of the pain, and injustice they had gone through,
being locked up in a dark, cold prison.
In prison, …
… worship is not about a place …
its about His ever-present presence.
There is a Christ-like quality & enduring faith attitude in persecuted believers
that’s inspiring … and supernatural,
In an earlier reference in Acts,
Acts 5:40,41 (NIV)
40 … They (the Sanhedrin) called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin,
rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
they had been counted worthy
of suffering disgrace for the Name
They considered it an honor to suffer disgrace for His name.
Like Philip in the earlier sharing,
no matter where they were,
they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
In another similar situation in Acts,
the early disciples prayer was,
29 “Now, Lord, consider their threats and
enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
30 Stretch out your hand to heal and
perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and
spoke the word of God boldly
Acts 4: 29-31 (NKJV)
Instead of avoiding and retreating from challenges, opposition, persecution, tribulation,
they arose and faced it.
they prayed for boldness with the Lord’s help to proclaim His name with boldness, and for signs and miracles,
knowing full well the consequences.
And God answered their prayer,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and
began to speak the word of God with boldness
the place was shaken
And as Paul and Silas prayed an worship that night,
their place was also shaken … by an earthquake.
10 that I may know Him
and the power of His resurrection
and the fellowship of His sufferings,
being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10,11 (NASB)
There’s much we can learn from the early disciples of Jesus, and persecuted believers
about enduring faith and sharing the fellowship of His sufferings.
What’s the treasure in the jail?
The Philippi jailer and his family,
and all the prisoners who heard Paul and Silas
praying and singing hymns of praise to God
and the sudden earthquake (sign),
which flung the prison doors open and unfastened the prisoners’ chains.
The jailer heard Jesus for the very first time in his life
through their worship and prayers,
and his immediate question was
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17 (NASB)
Paul & Silas said,
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,
you and your household.”
… immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.
and they rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.
Not just the jailer, … his entire household believed in the Lord Jesus and were baptized, … and they rejoiced greatly, having believed in God
Just moments earlier,
the jailer drew his sword and was about to kill himself,
truly he was saved from
death to life,
in the nick of time.
Why was Paul and Silas in Philippi?
Let’s look at the beginning of the chapter.
6 They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7 and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; 8 and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.
(here’s a map of the Roman Empire, click here)
It began when Paul and his team were discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit in ministry. They passed through a few regions, but the Holy Spirit was not leading them there. They patiently obeyed and perservered.
Its worth noting, that the Holy Spirit stopped them from entering certain regions, … and not the devil. (don’t give the devil too much credit for everything).
Sometimes, doors are shut,
to lead us to discover His fresh new path for us,
or a path we overlooked.
Like the disciples, patience & perserverance is the key.
Sometimes, God’s direction is as clear as a bell,
while other times, we just need to step out of the boat,
and trust Him to direct us
one step at a time
(like Philip at the desert road).
And as we seek His will,
and trust Him,
He is faithful to lead us and guide us,
9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying,
“Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
10 When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
11 So putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis; 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were staying in this city for some days.
Through a night vision given to Paul, they immediately set off for Macedonia, and to a leading city, Philippi … where they’ll meet the first disciple in Macedonia, Lydia.
Also … a family with an open heart was ready to experience Jesus personally,
… but first, … a prison experience for Paul & Silas.
In the dark, cold prison cell,
the vision of the Macedonian man
helped keep their hopes alive,
… there’s a purpose why we are sent here,
God will get us out of this one,
God is in control,
He is with us here.
In unexpected challenges,
… Philip obeyed,
… the disciples prayed to Jesus,
… Paul and Silas worshiped and prayed to God
(instead of grumbling and complaining like the children of Israel in the wilderness)
Prisons, storms, deserts, whatever
… the early disciples were … unstoppable!
those who had been scattered went about preaching the word
They followed the Holy Spirit wherever He led them,
filled with the Holy Spirit.
In each tough, and sometimes life threatening situation,
even in their weakness,
the Lord’s glory was revealed,
and along the way,
someone came to know Jesus personally,
and received the joy of the Lord.
Its like a father escaping out of a fierce fire,
and … suddenly bolts straight back towards the fire,
… because … his child is still inside.
Love is the adrenaline that energises us to go the extra mile,
to stretch beyond ourselves
to reach out
to serve others.
No longer a sacrifice,
a privilege, an honor,
to serve the least of a brethren of Jesus,
… the eunuch, … the demoniac, … the prisoner,
the jailer & his family.
The Lord listens to poor, helpless people.
He does not turn away from those who are in prison
Psalm 69:33 (ERV).
In sudden challenges, trials, etc
the early disciples looked beyond themselves,
their comfort, their goals/plans, their prosperity.
They looked up … to the Lord.
They looked around … to those around them, ….
Rather just to seek to be blessed,
… they seeked to be a blessing.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:34 (NASB)
Hence, … what’s our starting point in discerning God’s will and direction?
Is it a simple cost-benefit analysis of
where we can receive the greatest blessing or benefit ?
Or … where we will be of greatest blessing?
40 When Jesus arrived at the place, He said to them,
“Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray,
42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me;
yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.
Luke 22:40-43 (NASB)
There’s an inspiring verse in Job, when Job was sharing about his everyday life in the marketplace.
Job 29:13 (NKJV, NIV)
The blessing of a perishing man came upon me,
And I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
The one who was dying blessed me;
I made the widow’s heart sing
By His Spirit and by His grace,
to have the privilege to
cause the widow’s heart sing for joy,
and bless the perishing man,
Jesus paid the priceless price for each one.
Galatians 3:6-9 (NIV)
5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you
by the works of the law,
or by your believing what you heard?
6 So also
Abraham “believed God,
and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
7 Understand, then, that
those who have faith are children of Abraham.
8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith,
and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham:
“All nations will be blessed through you.”
9 So those who rely on faith
are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Hence, as children of Abraham, we inherit the promise made to Abraham,
“All the nations will be blessed through you”
In all 3 stories, the disicples obeyed and went to where people in need were.
And wherever they went, they kept on preaching the good news of Jesus … a lifestyle.
In conclusion, Paul sums it up so well, as he reflects on his own life and ministry,
as he went & blessed the nations.
2 Corinthians 4:5-18, 5:7 (NASB)
5 For what we preach is not ourselves,
but Jesus Christ as Lord,
and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay
to show that
this all-surpassing power is from God
and not from us.
8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
9 persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed.
10 We always carry around in our body
the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake,
so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
12 So then, death is at work in us,
but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us
an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
5:7 for we walk by faith,
not by sight
God’s peace and grace be upon you.
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
Mar 1, 2016
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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