Bible Reference: Acts 4:31-35
Translation: The Passion Translation (TPT)
Bible Text: 31 At that moment the earth shook beneath them, causing the building they were in to tremble.[s] Each one of them was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they proclaimed the word of God with unrestrained boldness.[t] 32 All the believers were one in mind and heart. Selfishness was not a part of their community, for they shared everything they had with one another. 33 The apostles gave powerful testimonies about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great measures of grace rested upon them all. 34–35 Some who owned houses or land sold them and brought the proceeds before the apostles to distribute to those without. Not a single person among them was needy.
OBSERVATION: Here’s a story about the results of prayer. Let me encourage you to carefully read the above verses. The preceding verse says that ‘after they had prayed….’. We are reminded that there is awesome power in the prayers of a righteous person. How’s your prayer life? As we meditate on the precious Word of God today, may it impact our life and drive you towards praying for the needs of those around you.
APPLICATION: There is a story about a renowned preacher that was blessed to have a team of prayer warriors in the basement of his church while he preached. Of course the results were always very productive, as God responded to the cries of His people concerning the hearts of those who were listening to His Word. Many surrendered their hearts to the Lord. In our story, the disciples had labored in prayer, and the Holy Spirit had dealt so strongly in their hearts that were willing to sacrifice their material gifts to share with those in need. Can you imagine the mindset of an unbeliever today if we (Christians) tell them that we love them, but we are willing to stand by and see them go hungry? Or that we care for their eternal destiny, but we uncaringly see them lose their home, while we drive around in very expensive cars and live in luxurious homes? Friend of God, can you see where those things just don’t go together? Unbelievers will never know how much we care about them until they see our God-like hearts revealed in caring for them whether we are asked to, or not. Think about the power channel used to see the earth-shaking experience mentioned in our Scripture today – prayer. One of our worst attended services in most churches today is our Prayer Meeting. So what do you suppose might be the driving force of our earth-shaking experience today? Church members and attendees today refuse to attend more than one church service per week; they are embarrassed to talk to their heavenly father (pray) in the presence of other believers; they find excuses for not attending a small, often thought of as insignificant, midweek meeting, etc, etc. Dear friends, with prayer being so insignificant to many, how might we expect to see an earth-shaking move of God in our churches, our communities and our country? God gave His all for us, yet we find excuses why we should not return the favor to Him in appreciation for all that He did, and all that He gave. Our lives reflect what we ask God for. If we ask for nothing, what might we expect from God?
PRAYER: Precious Lord, Your are our King! Thank You for all that You gave at Calvary so that we might have everlasting peace in our everlasting home in heaven. Please reach in to the hearts of many today so that there might be an awesome moving of Your Holy Spirit in Your people in our town. People need the Lord. Oh dear Savior, may our hearts be so impacted by Your love and Your saving grace, that they may see enough of Jesus in our lives to convince them of the decision they need to make. May You rule and reign in our midst heavenly Father, and may You receive honor and glory today from those who may surrender their hearts to you. AMEN!
Intro: “How shall we then live?” Who gets to say what the Bible means in terms of Christian living? How do we know that our understanding of the Bible is the right understanding of the Bible? What is our philosophy of life, as Christians? The Spirit of God through the apostle Paul was confronting these questions, because these new believers in Colossae were apparently being challenged by a competing group in their society claiming for themselves the same authority, the Word of God, for their very different philosophy. Evidently, the local synagogue was fighting back against Christianity, newly planted in Colossae. The Jewish religion had a long standing history in the community. Now along came these upstart Christians claiming the same Scriptures used by the Jews as authority for their new philosophy of life. “You can’t do that,” they said to the Christians. “You’re not keeping the laws about “food and drink, or with regard to festival or new moon or a Sabbath. You’ve got to afflict yourselves and you’ve got to take angelic majesties into account if you want to use our Scriptures to be saved. And what about mystical visions? We have them! Are you taking those into account?” So, who was right? Should these new Christians fall back on these old Jewish ways, or was the new way of Christianity they’d been taught the right philosophy? Paul wrote this letter to establish these new believes in their new way of life. His key argument was simplicity indeed: the new way is to be followed because Jesus Christ is preeminent over all things. As Christians, we are involved in this same fight over philosophies as the Colossians were facing. Today, we are not opposed by Judaism, but rather by secularism, the materialist world view. Paul’s answer to the Colossians’ opponents is valid for us in our battle today. The preeminence of Christ gives Him the right to say, “This is the way; walk ye in it!”
Proposition: Because Christ is preeminent over all things, Christ alone is all we need.
Paul’s argument is a simple one: Christ is preeminent because He is God (v.15a); Christ is preeminent because He is Creator (vv.15b-17); Christ is preeminent because He is Redeemer (vv.18-20).
(v.15a) Christ is Preeminent because He is God – “He is the image of the invisible God…” The discussion began with an assertion of the deity of Christ. Our Bibles are not shy in proclaiming that Jesus is God. Verse 19 will tell us this, as will verse 2:9, and we’ll discuss those verses more fully when we reach them, but here in the very beginning of the discussion we find an assertion that Jesus is the “Spitting image” of the invisible God of the Bible. This echoes the author of Hebrews who said in Hebrews 1:1-3: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” In other words, if you want to see God, look at His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus is God’s appointed way for humanity to see the invisible God.
[DOCTRINAL POINT] Jesus is preeminent because He is the “telescope” through which the invisible God, who is far away, is brought near, made visible, to man.
[ILLUSTRATION] There are some things that are real, that truly exist, but cannot be seen with the naked human eye. Some years ago, NASA had some time to kill with their Hubble Space Telescope. This marvelous machine has been giving us spectacular scenes of stars, planets and galaxies for many years. Someone had the idea of aiming Hubble at a “blank” piece of space, a tiny sliver of blackness about the size of a grain of sand compared to the total span of the visible night sky. So, the aimed at nothing and cranked out the lens to see what was there. What did they discover? That small, seemingly empty piece of sky contains hundreds of previously unseen galaxies of stars. They have been there all the time, but until humanity pointed the Space Telescope at them, they were completely invisible to our vision. The right instrument made the invisible, visible.
[APPLICATION] Jesus is the “right instrument” given by God to man through which who God is may be truly discovered. Anyone who has doubts about who God is and what He is like needs to hear that Jesus is the answer to their questions. In His miracle working power we see the almighty God who is Lord of all nature. In His tears at Lazarus’ grave we see His sorrow over death’s devastation of humanity. At the cross we discover the depths of His love for undeserving people like us. By His resurrection He reveals God’s plan for a whole new heaven and earth, without sin, death and with life everlasting. Jesus is the answer to man’s deepest questions. He is preeminent, first of all, because He is God.
(vv.15b-17) Christ is Preeminent because He is Creator – The second reason given for Christ’s preeminence is that He is “the firstborn of all creation.” “Firstborn” here is not speaking of the chronology of Christ as if He were created by God the Father before anything else came to be. That idea is an ancient heresy called Arianism. “Firstborn” can carry the meaning of priority in time, but it also carries the meaning of “priority of rank,” and that is the sense in which it is being used here. Aside from the fact that Jesus is clearly portrayed in Scripture as uncreated deity, the text itself makes clear that “priority in time” is not intended, for verse 16 tells us that “by him all things were created.” ALL things without exception could not have been created by Him if He himself were a “thing” that already existed! So, the text here is telling us that Jesus has preeminence over all things because He is the uncreated creator of all things. When the text says “all things,” it goes further and specifies what the “all things” are it means. “All things… in heaven and earth.” Everything in both halves of the universe in other words. Everything in God’s heaven and man’s earth was called into being by Jesus our Lord. “All things… visible and invisible.” Things visible like flowers and trees, and things invisible but real like morality, beauty and truth. All earthly authorities and powers and heavenly spiritual dominions and authorities are next mentioned. Jesus is Lord over all powers, seen or unseen, for He is their Creator. “All things were created through him and for him,” we are told. In other words, everything that exists was called into being through Jesus our Lord and exists to fulfill God’s redemptive purpose through Him. “And he is before all things,” directing all things to their appointed ends, “and in him all things hold together,” meaning that all of creation sticks together and keeps working as it should because Jesus our Lord causes it to do so.
[DOCTRINAL POINT] Jesus is Lord of creation because He is the Creator of all things.
[ILLUSTRATION] Ever so often you will find an article in the newspaper about a lawsuit between creative people. Usually it is something concerning the rights to a piece of music or a particular technical idea. Who owns something created first in the mind of a gifted artist or engineer? The courts invariably seek out evidence confirming one or the other contestant as the originator of the idea. Whoever created the idea is the rightful owner of the idea.
[APPLICATION] Jesus owns all of creation because all of creation was His idea, His artwork, His to construct, direct and care for. Because this is true Christians can rest easy no matter what happens around us because “We know that for those who love God all things work together for the good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) In other words, Jesus is preeminent over everything that is happening in heaven and earth. He has called all of space, time and history into existence for the purpose of saving you and me. He will not rest until we arrive at home in the new heaven and earth that He has purposed for His people to enjoy for eternity. Are you concerned about the things that are going on around you? Are you worried about nature going nuts? Office holders losing their senses? Wars and rumors of wars? Fret not! Jesus is preeminent over all creation and everything that is going on is working out His plan for the final redemption of His elect. This is a good time to “take a chill pill.” Jesus is Lord.
(vv.18-20) Christ is Preeminent because He is Redeemer – “And he is the head of the body, the church.” Those who know the Greek language tell us that the “and” in that sentence is emphatic and means “Christ alone” is the head of the church. Christ alone is the source of redemption and salvation. He is the head of the Church, His body on earth, meaning that the Church is in organic union with Christ. We are joined to Christ by the Spirit of Jesus living in each individual believer’s heart. We are joined with each other by that same Spirit. As the “head of the body,” Christ is the one directing all things in His Church. Jesus promised “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Furthermore we are told in that “he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” While this verse does mean that Jesus was the first example of a new way to be human, the first example of the new creation that awaits us in the future, it also tells us that he is the source of life for all who come after Him. This is because, “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” In other words, it is because He is God the source of all life. Finally we are told that through Jesus, God was “pleased… to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Jesus is preeminent in redemption, then, because He is God’s plan for reconciling all things to Himself.
[DOCTRINAL POINT] Jesus is redeemer so that he is the source of life and reconciliation for all who believe.
[APPLICATION] The Colossians were facing opposition from people reading the same Scriptures as they were in their worship services. These people were saying to them, “You’re doing it all wrong!” The Holy Spirit through Paul wrote to the Colossians and said, “Actually, you are doing it all right! Jesus is all you need because He is preeminent over all things.” Do you know that Jesus is preeminent? The world we live in tells us that we are sadly deceived, a poor, ignorant lot of folks who believe in a fantasy because we want to escape from the sad reality of our stunted lives. They say to us, “Throw all of that aside! Real life is out here with us!” Don’t buy into that for a moment!
Conclusion: In Jesus we have all we need. He is God; He is Creator; He is Redeemer. He is preeminent in all things. What more could you want? Let’s pray.
Intro: “Syncretism.” It’s a big word you may not be familiar with. Syncretism is “the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.” Syncretism occurs when well-meaning Christians adopt teachings or practices outside the Christian faith in an attempt to become more relevant to outsiders, or to satisfy a hunger within their own souls for something more. Something more of holiness. Something more of Christ-likeness. Something more of authenticity in Christ. The temptation for those who long to make progress in spirituality, (and who doesn’t want to do that?), our desire for progress can lead us to follow, unknowingly, dangerous pathways; pathways that lead us away from the Bible’s clear teaching and into mere human ways of creating a perceived righteousness. Little by little we can be lured away from the freedom Christ won for us on the cross; slowly, gradually, we can slip back into a yoke of legalistic slavery. These pathways seem right. They seem to promise increased power over the fallen nature. Greater evidence of genuine conversion. Perhaps, in our worst moments, the thought of increased prestige in our spiritual circle crosses our mind. What are these pathways? Our text deals with three of the most dangerous: legalism, mysticism and asceticism. These pathways were a danger for the Colossian believers, and they remain a danger for believers today. Let’s study them together tonight and learn that…
Proposition: Because we have the whole Christ, we should let no one take us captive to the world’s ways again.
Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Spirit of Jesus, warned his Colossians brother & sisters against three distinct dangers.
(vv.16-17) The First Danger: Legalism – Someone was pressuring these believers to include Jewish Religious Ritual in their practice of Christianity. Apparently they were saying something like, “If you were really God’s people, you’d be eating kosher foods, you’d be keeping the New Moon festivals, you’d give up worshipping on Sunday and properly keep the Sabbath! Since you aren’t doing these things, you’re obviously still under God’s condemnation.” These outsiders were “passing judgment” on the believer over things that believers were freed from by Christ’s victory on the cross. Legalism seeks to substitute human pathways and practices for God’s righteousness. The legalist tries to create his own righteousness through rules, rituals and higher levels of self-discipline. Listen to Warren Wiersbe’s analysis of the problem the Colossians were facing: “The person who judges a believer because that believer is not living under Jewish laws is really judging Jesus Christ. He is saying that Christ did not finish the work of salvation on the cross, and that we must add something to it. He is also saying that Jesus Christ is not sufficient for all the spiritual needs of the Christian. The false teachers in Colosse were claiming a ‘deeper spiritual life’ for all who would practice the law. Outwardly, their practices seemed to be spiritual; but in actual fact, these practices accomplished nothing spiritual.” This is why Paul said, “These (Laws and rituals) are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ (v.17).” What did he mean? He meant that the Jewish laws were simply foreshadowing all that believers have now received in Christ. Christ has fulfilled the law on our behalf. What more do we need to add? “Why go back into the shadows when we have the reality in Jesus Christ? This is like trying to hug a shadow when the reality is at hand!”
[DOCTRINAL POINT] Don’t fall into the trap of legalism; stand firm in the freedom Christ purchased for you in the cross.
(vv.18-19) The Second Danger: Mysticism – Here again, pressure was being exerted on the Colossians by someone outside of the church: “Let no one disqualify you…” Some were apparently saying to them, “Look here. You haven’t had a qualifying experience that’s necessary to salvation. Have you experienced the supernatural personally? Have you had this particular experience of the Spirit? Haven’t you had visions of angels? No special dreams? Well, are you really a Christian at all, then?” This is another type of legalism, just as the insistence on ritualism we saw in verses 16-17 was. The idea here is that in order to be authentic, you must pass through certain prescribed spiritual experiences of a mystical nature. “Have you spoken in tongues,” for example. Or, “Have you had visions of Jesus?” “Has God spoken to you in dreams or have you had some other special experience with the Holy Spirit?” Well, what about that? Shouldn’t a believer have these extraordinary things happen in his or her life? The Scripture is clear that some believers do experience such things, but that not everyone has or needs to have such experiences. God deals with each one differently, according to each one’s need and situation. What counsel does the text give us about those who would pressure us in these matters? First of all, we are told that the pressure to seek these things often comes from a false humility: “insisting on asceticism…” The word the ESV translates as “asceticism” is perhaps better translated, “false humility” as in the NIV. These people are always talking themselves down, (“I’m really just an insignificant worm”) and talking their experiences up (“But I’ve had this great experience of the Spirit”). Their special experience comes out over and over again. You can’t be around them for long without hearing about it. They sound humble, but in reality they think of themselves quite highly. This is why our text tells us that such a person is “puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind.” Note that word “sensuous.” This is a person that is run by their feelings, and insists that everyone who is really a Christian should be run by his or her feelings as well! What is the Spirit’s judgment of such people? It is that they have lost hold of Jesus, “not holding fast to the head.” True spirituality is found in Christ. He is the one who causes the whole body to grow up with a growth that is from God. Wiersbe gives us another good word here: “The spiritual body grows by nutrition, not addition.” We grow in Christ because we spend time with Jesus, not because we add mystical experiences to our spiritual resumes!
[DOCTRINAL POINT] Don’t fall into the trap of mysticism; stand firm in the freedom Christ purchased for you in the cross.
(vv.20-23) The Third Danger: Asceticism – Another danger faced by sincere Christians who want to grow up in Christ is that of “asceticism.” Asceticism is “Severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.” There have been times in Church history when asceticism seemed to dominate the spiritual lives of believers. From about the fourth century onward, Christian monasticism loomed large as a sure way to holiness, prestige and heaven. The ascetic denies himself pleasures and comforts others might enjoy, and this is done in a quest to escape from the power of the flesh, our old fallen nature living within each one of us. “How can I overcome temptation,” asks the ascetic? “I’ll master self-control through self-denial.” So the ascetic says, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not [even] touch.” It all sounds very spiritual, but what does the Scripture say about it? First of all it says that this is just worldly nonsense (v.20). This is the human way to try to attain godliness. This, too, is a form of legalism. “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch,” are restrictions on Christian liberty. All things have been made clean by Christ (cf. Mark 7:19). Asceticism is the natural product of ritualism and mysticism: it gets its working method from legalism and its inspiration from mysticism! What is God’s evaluation of asceticism? Verse 23 is very plain: these things “are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” This is because asceticism has the appearance of godliness, but in reality exalts man rather than God.
[DOCTRINAL POINT] Don’t fall into the trap of asceticism; stand firm in the freedom Christ purchased for you in the cross.
[ILLUSTRATION] I don’t wish to be inflammatory at the expense of other Christians, but could any illustration of this principle be more apparent than the trouble of rampant pedophilia being discovered in certain Christian denominations in our day? Mere self-denial has no power to overcome the strength of our fallen nature! We must have the strength that comes from our union with Christ by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence.
So, why are these three dangers still a peril for believers in our day? Though the Scriptures have warned believers of these dangers since Paul penned the book of Colossians, even today believers continue to be taken captive by these traps.
[APPLICATION] Believers give in to the pressures of legalism, mysticism and asceticism because they do not realize that in Christ they have enough. Perhaps we want to be more than Christ has made us. Maybe we dream of becoming “Super Christian,” distinguishing ourselves in some way, setting ourselves apart from the run of the mill lot we see around us in our churches. The use of these practices does indeed exalt the self! Another cause of falling into these traps might just be the opposite: far from wanting to exalt ourselves, maybe we fall into these snares because we are disappointed with ourselves. We don’t seem to measure up, so we look for ways to improve ourselves. These legalisms appeal to us as human ways to try to find God and draw closer to Him. This is a good hearted aspiration, gone terribly wrong! But by far the greatest pressure comes from neither of these two sources. It is just plain old fashioned peer pressure. Those around us, those in our group who seem influential tell us that this is what we’re supposed to do, and like sheep we follow their wishes. Our leaders say, “Do this!” and we say, “Okay!” Only a clear understanding of the total sufficiency we have in Christ will keep us from falling into this trap. When Jesus becomes bigger than ourselves in our vision, we will stop believing we can contribute anything to the righteousness and power He has already provided for us. We must be people who are constantly searching the Scriptures for Christ, for He lives on every page. Many today constantly search the Scriptures in a vain effort to find themselves! “I have to become like David, the giant killer! I must dare to be a Daniel!” Such people are completely missing the point of those men’s lives! Their stories aren’t about who they were; they are about who God is. They are about what God did for David; what God did through Daniel. The story of Scripture is of God’s sufficiency, supplying for man’s poverty. A believer need never surrender to legalism, or mysticism or asceticism because we already have enough in Christ. We are complete in Him. His righteousness is our righteousness. His Spirit lives within our hearts. Believer, are you tempted to supply what God has already provided? The notion must be killed that we can contribute anything to our own salvation, for until that is grasped we will fall back on our own self-help methods, the human way of thinking that is valueless in our fight with the flesh. Because many are ignorant of this principle they live lives of despair and resignation. Having tried and failed time after time to overcome the flesh, they finally settle into a life of plodding home to glory, neither very good nor very bad Christians. They sort of “slump” into heaven’s gate. What a tragedy! As believers we have died with Christ to the old way of powerless living and been raised with Him to a whole new status. All is ours in Christ. Are we claiming it, or do we still believe that we must contribute something to our salvation from the flesh’s power? “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” dear one. “It is not in trying but in trusting.” Are you counting on His power or yours for godly living?
Conclusion: Syncretism, throwing together God’s gift and man’s practices will never provide a sound pathway to authentic Christianity. “Let no one tell you otherwise: legalism is bondage!” Some old preacher years ago said it best: “There is only one thing that will put the collar on the neck of the animal within us, and that is the power of the indwelling Christ.”
 Guy Appere, “El Misterio de Cristo,” page 91.
 Warren Wiersbe, “The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament Vol. II, page 129.
 Guy Appere, “El Misterio de Cristo.”
 Vaughan, C. (1981). Colossians. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 208). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
Bible Reference: Psalm 46:9-11
Translation: The Message (MSG)
Bible Text: “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, GOD-of-Angel-Armies protects us.
OBSERVATION: I’m not on Facebook as much as some are, but by now I have seen many evaluations of 2019 – good and bad, and then I have seen many wishes for 2020 – worldly and spiritual. Whether you’re a Facebook fan or not, it’s a place where people express their views, and often where many look for your response to their views. But that is really not the best place to look for your ideal advice, because some may wish to simply express their most far-out ideas with hopes of stirring up a good conversation. As we meditate on today’s Scripture we are reminded that we serve a God who fights for us and protects us.
APPLICATION: Unfortunately, I believe that what we read on Facebook, expresses the minds and thoughts of the average person alive today. But when I read this passage of scripture in various translations, God helped me to realize that Facebook is not the place I should go to for a spiritual meter on how well God did in 2019 nor a general opinion about how He might rule in 2020. Here are some of the thoughts that I believe God wanted me to discern in my study today: a) Get away from the noises of this world. Get to a place where it’s just you and God. ‘Step out of the traffic’ of everyday noises and seek the face of God. ‘Be still and know that I am God’ is the way one version put it; b) Don’t be one to look for the general consensus of the world, or even the church, but reflect on the proven power of your God and be reminded of His awesome power. Know that He is in control of each one of us, and if we allow Him to direct our path and control our tongues, then perhaps we too can be used for His glory, and then we just might see God’s mighty works performed in our land. We should be reminded that God is in charge of us individually; our families; our respective churches; our workplaces; our towns; yes, everywhere and in everything that He has created. Knowing all this then, why would we worry our little heads with what might happen in each of these scenarios? In other words, we have no idea what may happen in our lives – health-wise, relationship-wise or in any other area of our lives, but after being reminded of who’s in charge, will our worries amount to anything other than degrading our mental health? Friends, you can say the same things about each of the other scenarios mentioned. For the United States, we are entering into a year of presidential elections. God is telling U.S. Christians to be still and know that He is God over everything in our lives, especially our elections. We are told in Romans 13 that God places our rulers in authority over us, so are we worrying our little heads because we fear that God might mess up? Be still Brothers , and know that He is God over everything that we know and have committed to Him. Sisters, be still and allow God to be God. He is very capable, willing and able to handle our affairs today, just as He did for Jacob, Moses and all other Biblical accounts written in God’s Word to support our theory on this. Be still! Listen! Surrender control to God and return thanks to Him in all things!
PRAYER: Lord God, we acknowledge that You are indeed God of our lives, and God of this universe. Please forgive us for so often trying to reverse that order, especially when we think that we know better than You, how things should go here on earth. Thanks for the reminder that You made it all and that You are still very capable of managing everything – even today. Forgive us Lord for our lack of faith. Even as I write this, I am very concerned about many matters that I already know are hot agenda items this year. Please forgive me, and give me extra strength and boldness to declare Your glory, Your power and Your majesty as You continue to control my ‘world’. I am very weak, but praise be to the God of this universe, You are immensely strong, and very much in control of Your creation. In total surrender, I join with my Christian Brothers and Sisters – Your servants, to lead the pack in glorifying You as our Leader, our God, our Savior and our Lord. For these things, and all for Your glory, I ask all this in Your strong and mighty name, ‘Jesus’ my Lord, AMEN!
Bible Reference: Acts 5:17-21
Translation: GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
Bible Text: 17 The chief priest and the whole party of the Sadducees who were with him were extremely jealous. So they took action 18 by arresting the apostles and putting them in the city jail. 19 But at night an angel from the Lord opened the doors to their cell and led them out of the prison. 20 The angel told them, “Stand in the temple courtyard, and tell the people everything about life in Christ.” 21 Early in the morning, after they had listened to the angel, the apostles went into the temple courtyard and began to teach….
OBSERVATION: In most translations, the angels’ first words to the apostles were ‘Go, stand in the temple courtyard and tell…’. I believe these are awesome words for us to remember as we usher in a New Year – Go, tell the good News of Jesus Christ. As we meditate on this Scripture today, let us be reminded that we still serve the same miraculous God who sent the angles to the apostles!
APPLICATION: I believe that one of the biggest obstacles to current day Christians sharing the joy of knowing Christ, is rejection, coupled with our fear of intruding in someone else’s space. But notice in our Scripture that the angels first approached the disciples in prison, then miraculously released them from prison, without the authorities actually opening the gates to let them out. Do you suppose that there have been any doubt by the apostles that God would be with them as they carried out the instructions given to them? But before you come back at me about the differences between the help given the apostles and what we might expect today, let me remind you that the Bible is clear on how God assures us: How He will be with us until the very end; How He will direct our paths; How He will fill our hearts with joy; and How He will give us the words to say, if only we will surrender ourselves over to Him completely, and allow Him full access to our lips and our heart. Friends, I believe where we mess things up, is that we quickly assume full responsibility for our words and our actions, and only call on God for direction when we run into trouble. I am hoping that God will send me, and use me for His glory. When He does, the ministry will only be successful if HE uses me as a means for His ministry, not the other way around. My thoughts about the ministry will be limited to what is impacting me. In most cases, that will be irrelevant to what is troubling my Brother. Trusting Jesus to fulfill His awesome work through a usable vessel like me, or you, will achieve His work in each of us.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I am trusting You today to accomplish Your work in Your people today, and I make myself available for You to use me to accomplish that work in accordance with Your perfect will. People need the Lord, not more of broken mankind. Please complete your work in me. I believe that many of my readers will submit to a similar commitment today. Please touch their hearts and make them Your usable vessels dear Lord. AMEN!