“…for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” Acts 5:38-39 KJV. As Gamaliel spoke in behalf of the apostles, he reminded the Jewish leaders of this truth. In essence he was saying, that whatever men try to do on their own, apart from God, is doomed to failure. But when men are working with God, and God has ordained their work, when it is God’s purpose, nothing in all this world can stop what God has set in motion! And we know, that their work for God did go forward! The early church grew because God was giving them great power and great grace to accomplish this great work. But for us today, in the work of the church and in our individual lives, we should recognize the reality of this truth. Whatever we are trying to do on our own, without the leading of the Lord, without His wisdom directing us, will ultimately fail. It may seem to prosper on a human level, but in God’s eyes it will be a failure. But everything we do under the leadership of His Spirit, everything that He purposes to do in us and through us, it will be done! Because nothing men or devils can do against us will be able to overcome what God purposes! Thank God, greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world.
“And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God…” Acts 4:24 KJV. When Peter and John were released from prison, after being persecuted and threatened, they shared with the other believers their experience. And what a powerful example is given to us here! They didn’t murmur and complain about how mistreated they were. They didn’t write to the newspaper or get on social media and tell everyone how they had suffered unjustly. And they didn’t lay down in discouragement because things were rough. No! They joined with other believers in prayer to God! They sought the Only One Who is truly able to do what is needed. They had the faith to know that whatever evil men may try to do against them, God is still God! And He alone can do what His people need done. May God help us today, to know that lifting up our voice to God and seeking God in prayer with other believers is always the thing to do! May we follow the example of the early church and experience the power there is in unified prayer. And may we be confident, that God is still God, and He is still on His throne.
“For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20 KJV. As Peter and John answered the religious authorities, they made this truth very clear. They would not talk about a lot of other issues that most religious people become obsessed with. They were not politicians or lawyers or even religious scholars. But they were followers and disciples of Jesus Christ! And they had been with Him for the past 3 years. They had heard His wonderful words of life. They had seen the great miracles and the holy example that He set. They had witnessed the atoning sacrifice that Jesus had made. And praise God, they had seen Him as the Risen Saviour, triumphant over death, hell and the grave. And as a result of of their experience with Jesus, HE was all that they could talk about, because HE was the supreme focus of their lives. For each of us, the things we speak about reflect what we are looking at, listening to and putting into our minds. Everyday we are speaking about the things we have seen and heard. May God help us, that it is more about Jesus and less of this fallen world.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me: Thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and Thy right hand shall save me.” Psalm 138:7 KJV. What a wonderful thing it is to know that even in our darkest hours, our faithful God will be right there with us, ready to revive and restore our weary spirits. Often we feel the wrath of our spiritual enemies raging against our souls. The world, the flesh and the devil daily oppose all that would live Godly in Christ. We feel the attacks of people who despise our beliefs and the Saviour we love. We face principalities and powers of darkness that try to threaten and intimidate our witness for Christ. We read in the news of how the governments of men are bringing more and more pressure upon God’s church. But thank God, in the midst of all of this trouble, our God is with us and He will restore our souls! It is not our fight to try to take vengeance against our enemies. Praise God the battle is the Lord’s! We can be confident that the strong arm of the Lord will be against every enemy of His people! And because He is with us, we will be delivered, we will saved and we will be revived.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 KJV. What a wonderful thing it is when this world notices that we have been with Jesus! Those Jewish religious leaders were amazed that these ‘unlearned’ fishermen could have such boldness in their speech. When they listened to them talk about the things of God it was with a fervency and a passion that other men did not have. When they talked about Jesus it was with the love and devotion that only a true follower of Christ possesses. And what a difference it would make in our world if others could recognize that we have been with Jesus! If they could sense His loving Spirit in us. If they could see light of Christ reflected in our lives. If they could know that we are different from this ungodly world, because we have been with Jesus! But for this to happen, we must actually spend time with Jesus. It must be more than a couple hours a week at church. It must be daily, spending personal time in the presence of Jesus, talking with Him, hearing His voice and yielding ourselves completely to Him. May we live so this can be true of us.
“forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13 KJV. In this chapter Paul is describing the ‘new person’ we are to become when we experience the new spiritual birth. And he reminds us here that there might be disagreements (quarrels) as we interact with others. Because each person sees things differently, we don’t always agree on what to do. But then, as believers, we are not to allow these disagreements to separate us. We are not to allow them to bring division and cause wrong attitudes. So we must forbear. But then, we must not only forbear, or tolerate, but we must freely forgive! But we should also understand that we are not to forgive as the world does. We cannot forgive and still carry a grudge. We cannot forgive and continue to hold it over someone. That is not true Christian forgiveness. In fact, the standard we are called to, is to freely and fully forgive, even as Christ forgives us! So in those times we feel hurt because of some disagreement, or insulted because of some injustice, let us forgive as we want Christ to forgive us.
“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” Acts 2:32 KJV. These words were a part of Peters’s extraordinary message on the day of Pentecost. He preached Christ crucified and risen, as the only Hope for fallen man. But he also said that we are His witnesses. In that immediate context He was referring to the apostles and close followers of Jesus, those who had been eye witnesses of the Risen Christ. But what he said then, is also true for every genuine child of God today, spiritually. We are called to be His witnesses! We are witnesses to the resurrection power of God! Thank God the very same power that raised Jesus from the grave over 2000 years ago is the power that works in us today! Everyday our lives should witness to this life changing truth! In all that we go through in this fallen world, our lives should witness the reality that the Risen Saviour Who lives in us, is greater than all of the forces that be against us. And thank God, because He conquered death, we also can overcome the powers of spiritual death and darkness that war against our souls! Let us be witnesses to our Risen and Triumphant Lord.
“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.” Joshua 24:14 KJV. Joshua was reminding Israel of how they must serve God. They must separate themselves from the false gods and idols that had brought them into bondage. He wanted them to know again, that God will not accept any halfway commitment, or insincere, dishonest attempts to serve Him. Today, it is still the same. When we make a choice to follow Jesus, it must be a wholehearted choice! We must separate ourselves from the old life we used to live. The sins of the past along with all of those idols we once bowed to, must be gone. Too many religious people today imagine that they can enjoy this great salvation and still have the things of this world filling their lives. They see no need for Jesus Christ to be first place in their heart, just as long as they give Him a little room somewhere in their crowded lives. But this idea is completely contrary to the true Gospel message! To think that we can have some other god before Jesus is the height of religious deception! It is a dishonest and insincere way to try to ease their own sinful conscience. By God’s grace let us serve Him with our whole heart. That is the only way to serve in sincerity and truth.
“Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief…” Matthew 17:19-20 KJV. This was the question the disciples asked Jesus after they had failed to cast the devil out of the boy. We know that they believed in Jesus in some ways. They had faith that He could do mighty miracles. But like it is with us today, it is one thing to have faith in what Jesus did, and another thing to have faith to believe in what He can do in us and through us. Too often people imagine that because they believe in Jesus as Saviour, they have overcome unbelief. But the reality is, believing for salvation is just the beginning! We have very little idea of the depths of unbelief that we still struggle with. Most today battle unbelief in regards to what Christ can do in their own character and how dramatically He wants to change them. Others struggle with unbelief in regards to what Jesus can do for the lost, hardened souls that seem so unreachable. But let us get our eyes of faith on Jesus and fully believe that NOTHING is impossible to Him! All that He promises to do in us and through us, He will do, if we believe.
“And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” Matthew 17:8 KJV. This was describing the 3 disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus. God had spoken and they fell on their faces in fear, until Jesus told them to “Arise and fear not”. But the thing to notice is, ‘when they lifted up their eyes, they saw only Jesus!’ So many times in our lives we become too focused on the things and people around us. We look around at the big problems and how wicked people are becoming. We look at religion and see what a mess it is in our day. And even in the church, when we get our eyes too much on people we will most always be disappointed. But when we look up, everything changes! When we get our eyes above people, above problems, above the sin and failure of this world, and we truly get our eyes on Jesus, then everything else begins to seem much smaller and less significant in comparison to Him. We all know that our problems are real, but what are they in comparison to the Greatness of Jesus? We all know that wicked people are expanding their influence, but who are they compared to the Awesome Saviour we have? And yes, there is a real devil who works against us. But who is he compared to Jesus, the King of Glory? Let us lift up our eyes and truly see Jesus!