At the Laurel fellowship, we are still studying the book of Acts, and as indicated in the last edition of this newsletter where we shared what we learned from chapters 1 to 11.
Our goal still remains the same as listed below;
- Understand how the Apostles lived their lives.
- Understand what they experienced from their interaction with the world.
- Learn from them and what the Lord did through them.
Summarized below are some of the lessons and observations from chapters 12-14;
- Persecution from non-believers: It is evident from the lives of the Apostles that walking with the Lord does not shield us from persecution, even our Lord was persecuted as well. Herod arrested some believers and also killed James (Heb 12 v3). Martyrdom is an area that is rarely talked about in Christianity in this part of the world today and Bible is replete with several instances of this.
In the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, the writer of Hebrew shed some light on the walk of faith of believers in verse 37;
“they were put to death by stoning they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.”
Believers are encouraged throughout the bible that our eternal destination is much more glorious that this physical life we live and this is our consolation in HIM.
- Sovereignty of the Lord: In a miraculous way, after James was killed, the Lord almighty in His sovereignty decided to spare Pater’s life when Herod put him in prison. The bible recorded that the churched prayed for Peter and in His infinite mercy delivered Peter from physical harm or even death. Acts 12 v 11.
It seems Peter wasn’t expecting to be saved from Herod, maybe based on the fact that James was just executed. The death of James did not make him question the Lord but they seem to be concerned not about this life but the life in eternity.
As believers, we ought to acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty that he is able to save and if He decides not to, it doesn’t change who He is which a mindset of the Hebrew brothers during the time of Daniel as well.
- Specific Mission call: It’s the Lord’s decision to pick whom He desires to use or send on specific mission and our responsibility is to be faithful and continually seek His face.
Paul and Barnabas were worshipping the Lord with the other brethren when the Lord called them to a special mission in Acts 13 v2;
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”
- Miracles and associated glory.
In Acts 4, the Lord performed the miracle of healing a man that has been lame from birth at Lystra and as usual it caught the attention of those around to the extent that they thought Paul and Barnabas were their gods that have come down in human form;
“When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.”
Now there are several ways that the apostle could have reacted to this “honor” they were accorded. They could have just enjoyed the fame of a miracle worker, deny the “ownership” of the miracle in a subtle way or deny the “ownership” of the miracle vehemently. To the glory of God, they held the latter position and then used the opportunity to share the gospel and glorify our Lord;
“14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15“Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”
Let’s all remember that the miraculous working of our Lord is to confirm His word and point people’s attention to Himself. Mark 16v20:
“And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the Word with signs following. Amen”
So, are we surprised in our generation why signs and wonders are scarce now? Could it be because men now want to share His glory with Him? Men sees outwardly but the Lord sees the heart. May the Lord find us faithful in His vineyard as we honor him with our lives. Amen.