Tag Archives: Christianity ministry

Using Evil for Good ~ Acts 8:1-8

And Saul was there, giving approval to his (Stephen’s) death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:1

Saul first appears on the scene in this passage, giving his approval to Stephen’s stoning and initiating a wholesale persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem. As a result, “all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” (8:1) I am always amazed and encouraged when God turns something negative into something positive in support of His will. In this situation, the persecution of the church scattered the disciples of Christ, effectively launching a worldwide ministry of the Word as Jesus said in Acts 1:8 “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

As the Sanhedrin questioned Peter and John in chapter 5 and contemplated putting them to death, one of the high priests admonished his brethren to leave them alone; if their work is of man it will fail, but if it is of God the Sanhedrin cannot defeat it. Here that admonishment plays itself out: Saul launches his persecution of the church, those sharing the Word scatter and the church grows as a result. How cool is that!! God will later convert Saul, who will become one of His most powerful witnesses.

Looking at our world today I sometimes get discouraged. I see many churches embracing worldly ideas that are inconsistent with God’s Word. I see morals and values inconsistent with God’s Word presented as normal and good on so-called family TV. I see a country in which civil discourse is often abandoned in exchange for non-productive personal attacks. I see all these things and my human nature begins to worry. Then I think about Saul – the great persecutor turned great preacher of the Gospel – and I remember that God can use all circumstances, good and bad, for the furtherance of His kingdom.

Ponder this: With God, nothing is impossible no matter how dark or dreary circumstances may appear. What worries me? Why not turn that over to God today?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, no matter what I may face today, help me to never lose sight of You; of Your good and perfect will. Use me, Lord, to be a beacon in the darkness in service to You. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

Look Past Pride ~ Acts 5:12-42

“Therefore in this present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose 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

On more than one occasion, the council of high priests had Peter and John imprisoned for teaching in Jesus’ name. In this passage, the high priests were “filled with jealousy” (5:17) at the large numbers of people drawn to the apostles; thus they persecuted the apostles and put them in prison. Of course, the high priests perceived this following as admiration for the apostles themselves; hence their jealousy. Would throwing them into prison stop their momentum?

Overnight, an angel of the Lord releases the apostles from prison, unbeknownst to the guards outside the door. When the apostles are seen the next day preaching in the synagogue, the Sanhedrin launches an investigation only to learn that the doors to their cells remained securely locked. Peter and John are called before the Sanhedrin, which orders them to stop preaching in Jesus’ name. Their reply? “We must obey God rather than men.” (5:29) Oh, that I would have that brand of courage!

At least one of the high priests recognized that there was something different about the apostles’ ministry and was moved to reprimand his brethren on the Council. As their pride clouded their judgment, he reminded them that human effort cannot defeat God’s will – but human effort, based not on God’s will but on selfish intent, will ultimately fail. If the apostles’ ministry truly originated from God, even the powerful high priests would not be able to stop it. With that, the high priests had the apostles flogged and sent them on their way.

Pride is an ugly thing. It causes us to look inward, to exalt ourselves when we really should be exalting God and trusting only in Him. Pride clouds our judgment; it distracts us from God’s purpose for our lives. Pride can infect all of us – even those in high positions within the church. The psalmist wrote, “How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.” (Psalm 40:4) As I seek to build my ministry I must constantly be mindful of pride – this isn’t about me; it’s about Him.

Ponder this: God’s purpose will prevail over the purposes of men. How often do I react to situations and circumstances without prayer or thought, only to wonder why things go wrong? When does human pride shift my focus from my Heavenly Father to myself?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, If you are willing, I want to be an apostle. I want to witness for Christ. More than anything, I want to do Your will. Open my eyes to see and my ears to hear. Rid me of human pride and give me a sincere spirit and a willing heart, O God. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

My Gifts for His Glory

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” Acts 2:4

What is it like to be so full of the Holy Spirit that you suddenly begin to praise God in foreign tongues and witness to the world through performing miracles in His name? The miracle of Pentecost was the gift that Jesus promised in verses 4 and 5 of Chapter 1, and with this, the disciples were launched into ministry.

God has given me the Holy Spirit. God has gifted me when preaching in my pastor’s place when needed; He has gifted me when teaching Bible Study or Sunday School. It is a glorious feeling to know that God is using me to reach His people. I have never spoken in tongues. But, interestingly, when the disciples spoke in tongues in this passage, people from various countries recognized the tongues as their own; they could understand what the disciples were saying and through those words many were saved. Remembering that their mission from Jesus was to be His witness to “the ends of the earth” (1:18) it makes sense that the Holy Spirit would enable them to communicate in the languages of those He wanted to reach.

The Holy Spirit provides what we need in order to serve Him as He has uniquely called each of us. The disciples needed to witness to foreigners so He gave them the gift of tongues. God has given me the gifts of the written and spoken words. It’s up to me to use those gifts to His glory and trust that He will reach people through them.

Ponder this: What gifts has God given me? Am I using my gifts to His glory for His purpose?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, As unworthy as I am, you have chosen me to share your Gospel. Help me to use the gifts and talents you have given me to your glory. Let my witness be vibrant, enthusiastic, and true to your Word so that those who read my words or interact with me see only You. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

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