Jesus taught the crowds that clamored around Him with parables…but when He was alone with His disciples, He would explain the meaning behind them. It tells us in Mark 4:10 that, “When He was alone, the Twelve and the others around Him asked Him about the parables.” Reading about God from some author isn’t the same as being alone with God yourself. Solitary time with God and His Word enables you to ask those tough questions you’re confused about. And as you probe deeper into His Word, that alone time with God becomes even more important…for it’s then that He can teach, edify, and exhort you.
I use the King James version of this Scripture today… because it states that it was the Church that God was adding to daily…(other versions say – God added to their numbers). So what was so different about this particular group of people? What we saw was unity and mutual care for one another. There was fellowship, prayer, and the breaking of bread among them…but there was also evangelism outside the four walls. The early Church was a delicate balance of both inward and outward focus…and God added to their numbers daily.
When your motive of ministry to others is true…it is not only empowered by the Holy Spirit, but it’s powerful… impacting the total person. Your ministry doesn’t just tickle them with feel good, wishy-washy platitudes…it challenges them to a higher calling. The Christian journey should be an ever upwards climb filled with trials and tests that make us better…not a passive, apathetic walk where we are left weak and ineffective for the Lord.
The OT prophets had it pretty rough. They faced rebuke and persecution from all sides, especially when their message was the total opposite of what the people wanted to hear. So where did this boldness come from? How were these mild-mannered, many times even timid men able to stand before Kings and High Priests proclaiming God’s Word? It was the Holy Spirit within, enabling them to go boldly into battle for the Lord. Are you brave enough to pray the prayer the Apostles did in Acts 4:29? ” Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak Your Word with great boldness.” Boldness empowered by the Holy Spirit will change your perception. For you’ll no longer have your limited vision, but God’s.
Anytime sacrificial giving is mentioned, people get real antsy. It’s not that we don’t want to give to Kingdom work…it’s just that we’re selfish. Now you’re probably thinking I’m talking about money…No, I’m not! I’m talking about something far more valuable to you than money…it’s your time. We’ll happily give to charitable organizations, relief funds, and soup kitchens…but ask us to volunteer our time and that’s a different story. It says in II Corinthians 8:12, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” God wants you, not your money…He wants you to volunteer rather than just donate to the cause…He wants you to give sacrificially of your most valuable resource…yourself.
God had instructed Gideon to tear down his father’s false idols…and Gideon had obeyed, in a fashion. Instead of doing it in broad daylight though, he did it under cover of darkness, …all because of fear. He was afraid of what others would think. Fearful of retaliation, Gideon wanted to obey God, but also wanted to please people. It’s impossible to be a people pleaser and obey God at the same time…for you end up compromising yourself and your integrity.
The words of desperation, grief, and discouragement are heavy…they weigh us down to the point we can hardly breathe. This oppressiveness is only compounded by impulsive, frantic actions as we search for answers. It doesn’t help either if we’re sleep deprived. Sometimes the very best thing you can pray for is peace and rest. When our minds and bodies are frenetic, balance and reason can go out the window. Asking the Lord for peace, hope, and sleep can bring us back into alignment.