August 3, 2010 § 2 Comments
Acts 4:13 “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.”
So Peter and John were ordinary. These are the men who have done miracles and seen miracles, but they are ordinary. These are the men Jesus chose as His intimate friends. They were privy to His transfiguration, they were at the last supper, they were in the locked room in which Jesus appeared after His death. Yet they were ordinary. They were not rich or well-educated. They were not being talked about nor would they appear in the tabloids of the day. They were even called “unschooled.” In other words Peter and John had not gone to the seminaries of the day. They were ordinary, everyday folk you see at the Wal-Mart. Yet they were doing some extraordinary things. They were healing people. Peter and John were courageous. They were standing in front of the Sanhedrin, the high council of Jewish leaders. This council had authority to send them to jail, or even report them to Roman authorities who may try to execute them as they had Jesus. These men were bold. The council had just asked Peter and John “by what power or what name did you do this?” The “this” was healing a crippled man. Peter told them straight up that Jesus whom you crucified is the name by which we did this. Interestingly the Bible tells us that Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit” when he spoke.
Are you like me ordinary? Are you wondering how God could use you to do anything extraordinary? Do you think I haven’t been to seminary, I haven’t been perfect, I am nothing, but ordinary. Oh sweet friends, do not buy this lie from Satan. Peter the bold witness, the healer of the crippled man, he denied Jesus three times. Peter a weak, frail, ordinary man who betrayed the Jesus he loved, was filled with the Holy Spirit and was doing extraordinary things in the face of great peril. Let us never buy the lie Satan tells us that we are not good enough, not special enough, not smart enough to be anything more than ordinary. The truth is that through the Holy Spirit, we are extraordinary. Why? The Holy Spirit is God indwelling us! When we are filled with Him we are no ordinary people. We are the temple of God. He has some extraordinary business for us ordinary people to do. Not because we are qualified or we are smart or we are beautiful or we are rich. No, because of Christ in us.
The problem is that we often think extraordinary means huge things, not simple things. Sometimes the extraordinary things are just the extra kindness you show the woman struggling to carry her groceries to the car. Maybe you let a car in the jammed full line of traffic. Perhaps you smile and thank the lady cleaning the bathrooms in the airport. It can manifest itself in the way you forgive an offense rather than holding a grudge. When your natural reaction is yelling the extraordinary thing is keeping your cool. Extraordinary patience, compassion, self-control can only come from the Spirit of God in your life. Holding tight to Him, you can live an ordinarily extraordinary life.
So my ordinary friends, what extraordinary things are you going to do today?
April 15, 2010 § 5 Comments
So I help teach Sunday School to fifth and sixth grade girls at my church. Today during our discussion, it dawned on me that sometimes we tell kids that God loves them and Jesus loves them, but we forget to tell them that God is to be feared. Jesus isn’t a meek and mild mannered man who only turned the other cheek and forgave those lost in sin. Jesus also made a whip and turned over the tables of people selling and trading in the temple. Jesus was a carpenter, He walked every where He went. He was not a wimp. He is often depicted gleaming white, and gentle and mild, but He was much more than that. He stood up for what was right. He often called the religious leaders of the day out on the floor…He called them brood of vipers, the blind leading the blind, deceitful (because they cared about the outside of the cup, but the inside was filthy). Jesus is our lamb. That is true. He willingly sacrificed His life to pay the penalty for our sin, but was that easy? NO! Let’s look at Jesus in the garden before He was arrested. He was praying, he was praying that this cup pass from Him, but not His will, but the Father’s will be done. He was so burdened with the agony He knew He would soon face, that his sweat became bloody. Jesus is tough my friends. We serve a God who isn’t just a loving God, who says ok do whatever you want to do…No we serve a loving God who is righteous and just. He is HOLY. He is AWESOME…He created everything from NOTHING!!! He gave you life and can take it away at any time. He isn’t just the lamb, He is the LION OF JUDAH…He is our KING. He is strong and mighty. What Jesus suffered during He beating was enough to kills man, yet He made it to the cross. I find it amazing that no matter what His physical body endured, in the end, Jesus offered up His life. No one took it from Him, no one killed Jesus. Jesus gave His life up to God on the cross. The Bible tells us that on the cross He did the work of redemption. He paid the price for my sin and today He bears those scars. He rose from the dead victorious! And the best news of all, is that He is coming back. He is coming back this time as a conqueror. He is coming back as a MIGHTY KING!!! Don’t get me wrong, God is compassionate and gracious as His word tells us over and over, but He is also MIGHTY and “He will not always strive with us nor keep His anger forever.” Ps 103 He is patient, but not slow in keeping His promises. He is loving and He is just. He is the Lamb who died on the cross for us, but He is also the victorious Lion who defeated death! What a Savior, what a God!
April 10, 2010 § 1 Comment
So my last post was on Naaman his account is in 2 Kings 5, but his account has other people in it. Namely two servants. The first one is a young girl. She was kidnapped from her homeland, Israel, during a raid and brought to Naaman’s house to serve his wife. We don’t know her name, nor her age, but she is called a servant girl. So she was not very old. She cared enough about her master Naaman to tell his wife about the prophet in Samaria, Elisha. This girl risked quite a bit by saying that if ONLY her master went to this prophet she KNEW he would be healed. She had quite a view of God. I can only imagine how servants were treated who sent their masters on a fool’s errand. However she understood that God was powerful, that Elisha was His spokesman, and that Naaman could be healed. Her testimony and her willingness to speak up shames me. How often do I keep the truth to myself for fear of being laughed at or thought crazy. How often do I know the cure, the cure to what ails you…The disease is sin the cure is Christ and I hold it to myself…Because I am afraid of people, not God. Oh Father forgive me and make me more like this servant girl.
At the tail end of the account of Naaman’s healing is another servant. This man was a faithful servant to Elisha. His name is Gehazi. You see after Naaman was healed of leprosy, he went back to Elisha and tried to pay him. Elisha refused knowing that it wasn’t he who did the miracle, but God. Elisha refused to steal God’s glory and he sent Naaman on his way a changed man, healed of disease and honoring God. Now Gehazi didn’t like it. He thought Elisha was too easy on Naamnan, this Aramean. So Gehazi runs after Naaman, lies to him to get some payment, and hides it in his house. Elisha finds out his sin and Gehazi has to deal with leprosy himself and in his descendants because of his hypocrisy. So essentially Gehazi thought, Naaman isn’t even an Israelite, he isn’t one of God’s chosen people, so WHY should he get off that easy? Don’t we do the same to ourselves and others. It can’t be that easy to be saved, we have to do something more than just believe right? I mean at least do a few good works. Believing is just too easy. Or we look around at those in the world and decide that God cannot save him or her. When they do come to a saving faith instead of rejoicing, we think that was too easy…Their sin was too great for them to just accept Jesus. It isn’t fair. Oh, it reminds me of the Prodigal son’s older brother who asks where is my party when the Father rejoices over his brother returning; or the workers in the field that worked all day but got the same wages as those who worked only a few hours. It is as if we demand justice, but don’t realize what that would mean. JUSTICE means we all, you, me, everyone goes to hell. That is just, that is fair. However in God’s GREAT MERCY, He forgives us all. Regardless of our heritage, regardless of our past, regardless of our future sins, God’s amazing grace extends to ALL of us who accept Jesus as our savior. Even if it is someone we don’t particularly like. Even if it is an enemy. Don’t let us forget that we were all once enemies of God and Christ died for us while we were His enemies…WHY? So that we, His enemies, could spend eternity with Him. Oh Father forgive me that I shout UNFAIR, when You are just and gracious. Forgive me for being judgmental and harsh to those who come to You broken and scarred. Father remind me that I am broken and scarred too. That without Your Son I have nothing. Thank You that it is only by His blood that I can come to You. That through His sacrifice on the cross, You call me righteous. That because He shed His blood, I get to be called a child of God. Oh Father give me Your heart for those lost without You. May my words and deeds point them to You.