Category Archives: Acts

Allowing God to work through you

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts.5:29-32) NIV

Ignoring an eye-opener

Peter and John were locked up in prison for doing the ministry as God directed them. God was with them and He commands His angel to unlock and free them, not for a comfortable ministry, but to be booked again. God directed them to the Temple and they start teaching there. Meanwhile the authorities summon the prisoners for investigations and probably with the idea of silencing them. But God has His purposes fulfilled in all these unpleasant situations. The Apostles let God have His way through their lives and the authorities were confused about the missing prisoners. To their surprise they discover that the Apostles are still free and doing what they had prohibited. This was more than an eye opener for any open minded truth seeking individual regarding what the Apostles were proclaiming. However, they chose to ignore it and secure their seats of power.

Opposing God

The authorities obviously recognized the supernatural element in the message of the Apostles. They also realized the influence these men had up on the lives of the people. So the police behaved gently with the Apostles (Acts:5:26). The Council blamed the Apostles for teaching in the name of Jesus while the Apostles blamed the Council for the killing of Jesus. Peter in his explanation asserted that Jesus was the Messiah who rose from the grave and is alive and willing to forgive the nation for their sins when they turn back to Him. However, the Council was not ready to accept the Apostles’ explanation. They wanted to get rid of them because of their stand to “obey God rather than men”. One among the Council was a wise and mature man named Gamaliel. His advise was more of common sense. He said,

“…Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)

Gamaliel probably had the inkling that the Apostles were on a supernatural mission as their message and the attesting miracles revealed. This message had the power to transform lives and opposing it will be opposing God Himself.

The Church has been commanded to proclaim this message of salvation to the entire world. As opposition and threat mounts we must remember that we should be obeying God rather than men. The fear of men will cause us to water down the message or conveniently alter it to suit the situation. Let God’s message be proclaimed as God intended it to be. Allow God to do His work. If you fear men, don’t meddle with God’s business, better keep away. The Apostles were warned and whipped but they never stopped proclaiming the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. They allowed God to work through them. They were happy that God found them worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ.

The Ministry of the Gospel

The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them, “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!” (Acts 5:17-20) NLT

The work of God must be done as directed by God, not as deemed intelligent to us. This is what distinguishes a genuine servant of God from a fake one. Today God’s workers are adopting worldly ways to do God’s work. Every serious employer has a specific job description, a standard of performance and service rules for his employee. An employee can not operate on his own whims and fancies. We see this in the lives of the Apostles.

God’s work should be done God’s way

The Apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit in every detail of their ministry. They went where the Spirit led them and preached the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. God allowed persecution to scatter them all over the world so that the message will reach far and wide. Sometimes they were asked to leave their thriving congregations to go to deserts and other new places, sometimes to give the message to individuals. They were allowed to be imprisoned so that the rulers and people in authority could receive the message of the Gospel. The Apostles did not chose comfortable mission stations, because they did not have their choice, but went wherever they were sent. That is why they were called “Apostles”. Today, some christian ministers have the audacity to prefix their names with the title ‘Apostle’ without being obedient to the Spirit of God in conducting themselves and doing the ministry.  

God comes with you wherever He sends you

The Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and were speaking the message of God as the Spirit of God directed them. Hence there were visible results. It was God who was adding people to His Church as the Apostles proclaimed His message. There was definite and visible transformation in the lives of those who came to Christ. The influence of these unschooled men up on the lives of the thousands of new believers whipped up jealousy in the minds of the Religious leadership who felt threatened by the popularity of the new Way. They arrested the Apostles and threw them in jail. But God goes with His servants wherever He sends them. He opens closed doors when you do just what He tells you to do.
     
Today, servants of God do not want God to go with them, because they are preoccupied with their own agenda. They do not want God to disturb them in their business. They justify their programs and activities in the name of their ministry strategy instead of following God’s strategy. So we have less and less of God’s ministry and more and more of individuals’ ministries. Wonder who is serving whom? It is to these, who ‘perform miracles and wonders in the name of Jesus’, that the Lord would say, “Depart from me… , I do not know you.”

Some ministers feel threatened by the work done by their co-workers and other ministers. If you feel threatened, it may be  because you are expecting human praise rather than God’s approval. You desire that glory and praise should come to you. It may also mean that you are trying to establish your authority, or your kingdom and not God’s. Then you lose your focus on God and begin to focus on yourself, your ministry, your church and your influence. Serving God as per His directions does not necessarily mean that yours should be the largest congregation in town, or the largest team of missionaries working around the world. There are many unknown servants of God who obediently serve Him in the most unassuming manner undergoing untold sufferings and pain. There is no substitute to obedience in the kingdom of God. 

Cheating God and Serving themselves

But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest. (Acts 5:1-2) NLT

We are coming across a lot of Christians and even Christian ministers, who cheat on God and people. They put on a show of godliness and undermine the kingdom of God as it says in 2Tim.3:1-5. They are like Ananias and Sapphira. Ultimately, they will bring disaster up on themselves as well as their followers.

Wrong Motives

The motive behind selling their property and bringing the money to the Apostles was to gain social recognition. It was not from the love of God or His people. They want to appear Godly but did not want to make any sacrifice. They were concerned about themselves more than the mission. They accumulate for themselves before they distribute to others. They will see their interests before others’ and will not hesitate to channelize God-given resources for their own benefit and according to their own interests. They build up their own kingdom rather than God’s kingdom and will not allow others to cross their ways. They are demonstrating the characteristics of the anti Christ and are aiding the devil.

Lack of Faith

These Christians are demonstrating their lack of faith in God. They pray “Our Father in heaven…” but they don’t trust God to provide for their daily needs and meet their emergencies. They think unless they take care of themselves things won’t work out. They feel capable of handling the future better than God. They don’t want to take risks with their lives while they play with other people’s lives.   They forget the assuring words of the Lord when He said we are better than the birds in the sky and the flowers in the field.

God attested His Word through the Apostles with accompanying miracles. Even the sick on whom their shadow fell were healed. God’s judgment on the cheating Christians also came immediately. But, through it all, God was glorified and people were brought into His kingdom.

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Servant of God

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. (Acts 16:13-15)

The title “servant of God” means different things to different people. It’s meaning varies from religion to religion. In the first century Church it assumed great significance and it was used to refer to those who were specifically appointed by God for His mission on earth. Unlike today’s servants, they went where God wanted them to go and did what God wanted them to do, instead of going wherever they want and doing whatever they feel like and claiming that they did it under the Spirit’s guidance. Today, servants of God are after power, position and wealth. They don’t behave like servants anymore. They take up titles like “Apostle”, “Patriarch”, “Arch Bishop” and so on, to show that they have a superior role in the service of God. They impress up on people that success in the service of God is measured by the size of the crowd he can pull.

Fruitfulness is better spelled “faithfulness”

The fruitfulness of a servant’s ministry is not measured in quantitative terms. Rather, it is a direct reflection of his faithfulness to God. On his second tour Paul wanted to go and preach in Asia. But it is recorded that God stopped him from going ahead with that plan. Instead, they were directed to the region of Macedonia. Only a servant who is aligned to the will of his Master can discern the promptings and signals of the Master. It looks like Lydia and family were the only people who responded to the Gospel in Philippi. But the reaction from the people of the city was about to open greater avenues for the furtherance of the Gospel in God’s sovereign plan. A servant need not worry about the results as long as he is following the Master’s instructions faithfully.

Effectiveness is evidenced by God’s intervention

Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. (Acts 16:16-18)

Paul and Silas were greeted by someone who was the least expected to do so, a demon possessed slave girl who was a professional fortune-teller for her masters. A servant of God discerns the powers of wickedness waging war against the kingdom of his Master. His victory over such forces was established and endorsed by his Master’s death on the cross.  Here, Paul did not entertain free publicity from the enemy, rather, he puts an end to it in the name of Jesus.

The Gospel is the Good News not because it is endorced by the most powerful people in the world. It is the Good News not because it has the backing of celebrities. It is the Good News because it is God’s eternal Word that has the power to save. God does intervene in the ministry of His servant who is faithfully going about the task assigned to him. This heavenly intervention cuts through the barriers and establishes victory, bringing transformation in the lives of people.