Acts

The Secret to an Amazing Ministry- Revealed!! {Acts 14}

1:16 AM



By Sue Desmarais


I ended last week's post on leaving a legacy by sharing my desire to one day hear the Lord say, Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master” (Matt25:21) and since, I’ve been reading each chapter with interests, trying to discover the qualities needed to have an effectual ministry in this day and age. After all, I know times have changed, but our Lord hasn’t, and neither has His call to all of us found in Matthew 28:18-20!

Paul was hands-down the greatest missionary in all of the New Testament church and I was determined to see if I could learn his secret, and O goodness girls, I’ve found it!! It’s hidden within the chapter, but before the big reveal, I want to share a bit of how I found it!!

You see, I’m not always good at being, “intentional about my good intentions”. What I mean by that is, I may tell you I have this tremendous desire to hear the Lord say, “Well done…”, but when obstacles and opposition arise, I’ll be the first to rethink my goals, but not Paul! After he and Barnabas were run out of Antioch of Pisidia,they simply, “shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium.” - 13:51

Now I know, one could argue that they had seen and experienced great success in that city and that, “the Lord’s message spread throughout that region!” which only spurred them on. BUT, once more here in chapter 14, Paul and Barnabas see that with success comes great opposition and once more, “they fled to the region of Lycaonia—to the towns of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding area.”- Acts 14:6

There seems to be a pattern forming: Arrive -> Preach -> Witness Conversions -> Oppositions arises -> Move on to the next town…

That is until 14:19-20,

“Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. But as the believers gathered around him, he got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.”

Did you catch it? I reached this point in the chapter and had to stop reading, and admit to myself and to the Lord that I think, had this been me at this point, The Lord and I would have had to have a talk, for I’m not certain I could have taken much more of the fierce persecution Paul and Barnabas were experiencing! And this was when the Lord showed me something I’ve never noticed before! - Paul Got Up!
Paul was
  • Stoned
  • Dragged out of town
  • Believed to be dead
  • BUT he got up!
  • AND walked back into the same town!
  • AND then started on a 60 mile journey the next morning!!

How can a person stoned and believed dead, get up and go on a sixty mile journey the next day!?

That’s when Paul’s own words came flooding into my mind…

“I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13
Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”
1 Thessalonians 5:24
For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.” Phil 2:13

I can see now Paul knew exactly what he was talking about. No man can get up and keep going after being stoned and left for dead without God’s help, but Jesus has promised us that, “with God ALL things are possible”. Matthew 19:26 (emphasis mine)

I also understand now why Paul often referred to himself as the Lord’s “doulos” or bond-servant. A “doulos” is often defined as a slave, but it’s much more than that, in that the person volunteers to serve wholeheartedly, claiming to have no rights of their own. I looked up the definition once more in the Stong’s Greek dictionary and here’s some of what I found: A Doulos is
  • one who worships God and submits to him
  • the true worshippers of Christ are those whose agency God employs in executing his purposes
  • So devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests,
  • strenuously laboring for another's salvation,

I can clearly see Paul fitting this description, what I wonder most is, do I? Do you?  





Acts

New Directions {Acts 13}

10:30 PM



By Lisa Thayer

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to see someone’s sin?  You recognize things rather quickly and you want to address them and let them know an easy way to be free of those sins?  I have heard it said many times that we recognize these sins so easily because they are the same sins we have committed.

Every time I read stories about Paul, I am always changed in some way.  Paul is just like you and I.  We were radically changed when we encountered Jesus.  Following Jesus is radically different than following what the world tells us.  We are moved to share our stories with others.  Doors open and we go through them and enter a whole new world.  We see differently.  Just like Paul, once the scales fall off our eyes, we are radically changed.  Pauls’ sermon here is one we should all memorize.  And the people we have always been around with either accept us or send us out of their lives.  What is your attitude when you can’t change someone’s opinion about Christ?  Do you shake the dust off your feet AND are you filled with JOY and with the Holy Spirit? (vs. 51-52)  Or do you mope about thinking of ways to return to change the person or people who just don’t believe you?

I have found discernment to be rather difficult lately.  How do you know the Holy Spirit is leading you to something, someplace else?   I have sought the Lord lately to be ‘obvious’ to me – you know, like pluck me out of my current space and place me someplace else.  Okay!  That hasn’t happened.  So I have desires for something else and I try to make them happen.  No, that’s not it.  I share and share my story and I am met with some stubbornness.  Hold on here!  You’re telling me I’m stubborn and lack obedience?  Ok, Lord, now where? 

Let’s go back to the beginning of the chapter.  What were Saul and Barnabas doing BEFORE they left for their mission?  “So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off” (v. 3)  I am pretty sure the Holy Spirit is letting me know that I have not been totally committed to the desires of my heart.  How long have I prayed and fasted for the one thing, not many things, the one thing I want more than anything else?  

There is something here I never saw before.  There is variety in the Church!  We must never exclude anyone whom Christ has called to follow Him.  What does your church look like?  Do the people attending your church look just like you?  Are they from the same neighborhood?  Do you welcome people from the different sides of town?  Our churches should be compromised of people from different racial and cultural backgrounds.  When we have a propensity to label and categorize and gravitate towards the people we are most comfortable with, we see the ugly sin of prejudice.  The more we understand the gospel and embrace God’s version of the body of Christ, the more we will begin to transcend these differences.  More than merely getting along, we will be able to honestly and authentically say from our hearts that we love each other.


I believe we need to start in familiar territory, just like Barnabas and Paul (v. 4).  Who better to share your Good News with, but when those familiar people begin to persecute you, we need to shake the dust off our feet and be joyful and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in a different direction.

Acts

Power and Joy in Prayer {Acts 12}

10:30 PM



By Lisa Moore

In Acts Chapter 11 we see the church growing, with many people coming to the Lord.  But in the very next chapter we are back in Jerusalem with King Herod Agrippa beheading James, the brother of John, and imprisoning Peter.  "Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them.  And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.  When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also." (vs. 1-3)  Herod had big plans and schemes to further win the adoration of the Jewish people at the expense of Peter.  But as Herod learned the hard way, no scheme of man's can thwart the purpose of God. (Job 42:2)

While Peter was kept in prison, "prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God." (v. 5)  A group of believers had gathered at the house of Mary, the mother of John, to intercede to God on Peter's behalf.  As they were intently praying, a young servant girl named Rhoda heard a knock on the door.  While answering she heard a familiar voice, the voice of Peter.  In her excitement and joy she ran to tell the others leaving Peter standing at the gate.  But Rhoda was not believed.  She was told she was crazy, that it was an angel she heard.  Rhoda didn't relinquish, and through her insistence
and the continued knocking of Peter, Mary and the others soon learned how an angel of the Lord delivered Peter from the bonds of Herod and how God had answered their prayers.

So what can we learn from Rhoda?  First, she was determined.  Even though her story was doubted, she never gave up.  She knew Peter was at the door, and nothing was going to shake her from her truth.  Like Rhoda when sharing our testimony, our stories may be doubted.  Others may try to convince us that our faith in Jesus is crazy, and refuse to believe.  But no matter what they say, we know that God's Word is truth and as Jesus tells us in John 8:32, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  

Second, Rhoda was eager to share the good news about Peter's deliverance.  We too should be just as eager to share the Good News of Jesus.  The Good News that " God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)  Out of our joy in the gift of the redeeming love of Jesus, we should be obedient to the command of our Lord to, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15)  And we are to do so with gentleness and respect.  (1 Tim. 3:15)

And finally, Rhoda had unshakable faith in the power of prayer.  Even though the believers gathered at Mary's were praying with intensity for Peter's release, when Rhoda came to tell them their prayers had been answered they didn't believe.  But Rhoda never doubted for a moment.  Merely hearing the voice of Peter was all she needed to know that God had heeded their pleas.  When we seek God and pray to Him, we must do so in complete faith that what we are asking Him, He has the power and ability to do.  "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."  (1 John 5:14) 

We should all be like the servant-girl Rhoda.  Exited, and full of faith.  Praying expectantly to our Heavenly Father, and being filled with joy when those prayers are answered.  There is power in prayer.  When we are bound by chains and all gates are shut, the gate to God through prayer is always open and through Him, all things are possible.