Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Acts of the Apostles et did they do it?

I have been going through the book of Acts lately and wanted to share some of the things I came across.

I just finished reading chapter 20 and something struck me about Paul's Paul perserved....he went through so many cities and in almost all he faced opposition. By chapter 20, he was on his way to Jerusalem despite so many prophecies that great hardship awaited him there. I couldn't help getting teary eyed when he told the Ephesian elders that he wouldn't see their faces again. I couldn't help feeling exhausted when in Acts 19 vs 29 Paul's travelling companions were seized and sad when Paul was stoned, dragged and left for dead (Acts 14 vs 19).

However as I went through his journey I saw a man relentless...pushing...perserving against all odds even death...(Acts 19 vs 21) he was in so much of a hurry to go to Jerusalem and then Rome (where he is believed to have died) that he didn't stop at Ephesus again but rather asked the elders to meet him at Miletus where he was sailing past (Acts 20 vs 16), that urgent was his walk even to death. For Paul, it was this: I must finish the race, I will complete my assignment, Christ has sent me into the world as herald to carry His gospel, to win souls - souls - souls...that was Paul's burden, that was his goal. To the Ephesians he said "Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God." Acts 20 vs 26 -27..a statement from a man confident that he had fulfilled his assignment to the Ephesians.

Peter, James, Stephen...we see in the earlier chapters of Acts being persecuted, James & Stephen killed. They kept going against opposition and the word that was opposed kept flourishing, God confirming with signs & miracles. How did they keep

That my friend is the question.....

  • The Holy Spirit was with them (Acts 1:8, Acts 2:4 & John 14:17)
  • When harassed, they gathered together & prayed earnestly to God (Acts 12)
  • When in chains, they prayed & sang hymns to God (Acts 16:25)
  • They worshipped & fasted, spending time in fellowship with God (Acts 13:2)
  • They prayed & fasted, committing their ways to God (Acts 13:3, Acts 14:23)
  • They received visions, directions & encouragement from the Lord (Acts 18:9, Acts 16:9, Acts 16:7)
These may all seem like basic things, which we know but sometimes we do need to be reminded of them and in some cases, maybe we don't to get through obstacles, harassment, develop a close relationship with the Lord, cultivate the atmosphere that allows Him to speak to us, how to not give goal is that now we do....atleast we have a starting point.

The Holy Spirit is the legal helper (advocate) and friend who walks alongside us to further our best interests. Parakletos is the Greek word used to describe the Holy Spirit, I searched to find which best translates what Parakletos means, it is translated as a friend who is called to walk along side you to act as an advocate for you to further your best interest. For me a light bulb came on, so..the issue that I have been banging my head about not knowing what to do with it, I actually have the most powerful live in lawyer who can help me pray the best way forward, who with the same power that raised Christ from the dead can help me see to it that the best solution is realised and it doesnt actually end up in a mess or failure.

Our best interests include that Christ is formed in us, that we can go out in power and tell somebody else about Jesus, that our lives tell somebody about Jesus, that we can discern truth & hear what the Lord is saying to us, that we can enjoy fellowship with God.

John 16 vs 12-13 "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."

Acts 1 vs 8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

John 4 vs 23-24 "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

The Holy Spirit is Christ living inside you, He is the best friend you can ever have. Let's welcome the Holy Spirit of God into our lives. Pls click on the link below to listen to a song I'd like to share with you, invite Him with all your heart to walk with you, to rain down on you, to help you to discern and fulfill God's purpose for your life. You are not just some random person but fearfully and wonderfully made, with a purpose in mind by your Father in heaven.

Friday, 1 October 2010

How do you listen....

Luke 8 vs 18 "Therefore consider carefully how you listen......

There are four ways one can listen:

Hearing the word but having it stolen from our hearts. When we hear but the devil comes in and steals what we have heard. He steals by telling us that God's word is a lie, tells us that it's not applicable to our life, that it won't make a difference, they are just words - they don't matter - so much so that we don't believe the word we heard anymore, sometimes we can't even remember what it is that we heard.

Hearing the word with gladness because it looks like it's all "gonna be hunky dorey" from here on. A seamless transaction....until the seams start to show and things aren't going quite well. The season changes and it looks like we are all out of season, the relationship takes the form of a seasonal one...seasonal faith. We bail out of those trials that are meant to prove us...certify us, build us up & cause us to bear fruit.

We hear the word but fail to weed out thorns in our lifes, the thorns grow along side the word so much so that they literally choke the word out of our lives. We fail to set the right priorities so the word fails to reach maturity in our lives...we fail to mature. Yes, we fail to mature when we are consumed by anxieties, riches & gratifications of the course of this life.  The literal English translation from the Greek  is "ones-hearing and under anxieties and riches and gratifications of the livelihood going are being together choked and not are finish carrying'. Notice the word under, in this situation the cares of this life sit on the top of the word that we hear and notice not are finish carrying - do not finish.

Then comes the best way to hear which consists of hearing the word, retaining the word,  persevering with a noble and good heart till we bear fruit. The Greek literally translates to 'heart ideal and good'.

 Luke 8 vs 11-15
"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

I urge you to read all of verses 4 to 19.

The parable is not simply a list of the 4 different reactions that an individual can have to the message of salvation. First, Jesus tells the parable to a large crowd of people; the interpretation of the parable however He gives to His disciples and leaves them with an admonishment - asking them to apply careful consideration to the way they receive the word; teaching us that we have control over how the word of God is received in our lives. By turning to His disciples with the interpretation and an admonishment, He confirms that the word is meant for believers and not just a list of four different reactions, rather an ongoing lesson of life applicable to every day living.

Regarding Method 1

When the devil comes to steal the word from us, we can resist his robbery. He goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom to devour, we must not be ignorant of his devices, being vigilant to resist doubting the strength and validity of the power of God's words to us, recognising that unbelief is a method of thievery employed by the devil. We can resist Him by subjecting ourselves to God's authority & His word....Lord I believe you, Lord I believe in Your process. James 4 vs 7 "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Obedience works hand in hand with faith. The literal translation from the Greek of James 4:7 is "Ye-may- be-being-under-set then to-the God with-stand-ye to the thru-caster (the adversary) and he-shall-be-fleeing from you" ...being under-set to God i.e. subject to God (obedient to God) withstand the adversary. Think about how make shift dams are created, you set up the sand bags & properly position them so that they can resist the floods; without that, there is no resistance from the flood....first thing is to position yourself under God's authority and remaining in that form, you can resist your enemy.

How do we address Method 2

In this world you will have trouble....John 16 vs 33

Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me....Luke 7 vs 23 (NIV)

And blessed (happy--with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, apart from outward conditions--and to be envied) is he who takes no offense in Me and who is not hurt or resentful or annoyed or repelled or made to stumble [whatever may occur]....Luke 7 vs 23 (Amplified)

The translation in the amplified bible encaptulates the essence of how we should react to testing, trials and tribulations. Happy with life...relishing in the joy and satisfaction of knowing God and having a special place in His heart. There is a season of testing, there are times when things are not always easy, don't let anyone tell you any different, you will have to go out of this world to avoid difficulties. However one thing we are promised through these periods is peace (not as the world defines peace)....inner peace, more so we can take courage and comfort in the fact that our life is Christ, if we have Him and nothing else - it is enough.

Philippians 1 vs 20b-21 " now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain"  Note the word magnified.

Now Method 3

Life's worries....riches....pleasures....and by this we don't mature. When the quest for these become life, when our life's happiness consists in these things, maturity is still far away. When the Lord opened my eyes to the meaning of this verse, my eyes popped, I realised that when I define my life by these measures I will never reach maturity. When the worries and the race for these things fill our hearts they will literally choke the life of Christ out of us, that living water will be cut off, the seed in us will not be watered, we will stop growing and never yield fruit. The Lord counsels us (in Matthew 6 vs 25 -34) to be anxious for nothing, anxiety about zero. He made it clear that life is more than these things, to live is not what you will wear, where you will live, what career you will have or who you will marry, to live is one and only one thing Christ. He also comforted us further to say look I know you need these things, I know but seek first My kingdom and My righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. The literal translation to English from the Greek for the word translated first is before-most. On the fore front...before-most of your heart, your mind, your actions, let Christ be. Spiritual maturity is defined when your life consists of Christ, not when the goals of this life are at the top of your heart, heading your priority list and Christ is somewhere underneath. One day if you let them they will so blossom, explode and choke Christ out of you, and you will find that you have lost your way. So we have to prune our hearts, prune our lives and remove the thorns..any care that wants to over take your life - lay it aside, every anxiety that is consuming you weed it out, you already have life and that life is Christ...not this or that....not a land mark or status careful how you listen.

Method 4 is beautiful, it defines the ideal heart that bears fruit & this is how we are to live

An ideal and good heart is one that mirrors Christ...He said learn from Me, learn My ways and these are My ways...I am meek, I am lowly in heart, I live life humble to the will of My Father, what He tells me to do I do, I do not expend My own will for the Son can do nothing of Himself except what He sees the Father doing, I don't have airs about Me, I know that of Me I can do nothing so I humble Myself accordingly, before God I am humble, before men I am humble...though I was rich yet I became poor.

When we hear the word, we retain it...RETAIN...keep it...hide it in our hearts... believe it...meditate on it... we obey it...we PERSEVERE - let us run with endurance the race that is set before us - we endure - it is by this perseverance that we can bear fruit, it means there is something to persevere against....whatever it takes Lord I am getting there - no matter what I face Lord, I still believe You - where next are we going, I am up for it Lord...we submit....we LIVE it - No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. When the world sees you, let them see Me...Me the light in mother and brothers are those who hear My words and put them into practise..."it is not a personal thing" that those who come in can see the light.

Acts 4 vs 13 "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus"

Christ is to be lived in you not hidden...Christian - Christ in you...He lives in you...He works through you... He walks the streets through you - walks the earth through you.

"Hmm, she reminds me of someone...who?? know that man....yes, the one from Galilee!"

How to listen is something the Lord has been teaching me about recently, I hope you find it equally enlightening, God Bless.

I have used for the Greek - English Interlinear Bible Translations.