‘And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs of and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:29-31 (Read Acts 3:1-4:31)
Over the past few blogs, we have taken a Scriptural look at the Christian’s living in the power of the resurrection; that same power by which God raised Jesus from the dead and which now resides within every believer through the presence and the enabling of the Holy Spirit! We have thus explored: Resurrection: “Assurance,” “Activation,” “Abundance,” and “Resurrection Application.” And for today, we look at “Resurrection Prayer.”
Peter and John had spent an evening in a Jerusalem jail for the healing of a forty-year old man who had been lame from birth, and for preaching Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Then, the next day, they were brought before the Jewish Supreme Court where they were severely questioned regarding this. Later, upon their release, but not after many threats thrown at them via the Jewish religious elite, note from our Scripture passage above, they didn’t pitch a pity party, try to get even, or get mad; they did what you and I are supposed to do in the face of crisis-the first thing we are to do-take it to the Lord in prayer! Be honest with God about what happened, but don’t dwell on your problems; just tune your heart in prayer toward your great God and then wait on Him and be amazed at what He will do! It may be earth-shaking! To love to talk with, and listen to, God in prayer!
Women of Faith: A Canaanite Woman (Mom)
“Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed at once.” Matthew 15:28
Earlier, Jesus had been having a conversation with Jewish scribes and Pharisees in the city of Capernaum. These men had traveled northward from Jerusalem and were in the area when they noticed Jesus and his disciples had not washed their hands before eating bread. Angry at Jesus, they told him that his men had broken the tradition of the elders by not washing their hands first, before eating. Jesus reminded them of their hypocrisy which flowed from their evil hearts by pointing out to them their lack of care for their own parents for the sake of their “religion which opposed the Word of God!”
(See Matthew 15:1-20).
How refreshing it was for Jesus to leave Jewish territory and, for the first time, enter the land where the Canaanites lived; and, in doing so, to encounter a Greek (Gentile) woman of “great gutsy faith” who believed Jesus for the healing of her daughter’s severe (worst of the worst) demon-possession. (Read the full account in Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30). [One thing to note when Jesus uses the word “dogs” in these passages, He’s not referring to the mean/lean scavenger dog of His day that roamed the streets; He’s referring to pet lap dogs that sat under the table waiting for food inside their master’s home]. Yes! Jesus came to His own first, the House of Israel, but He also came for the Gentiles as well! Are you practicing dead “religion” like the Jewish Pharisees, or fresh authentic faith in God like this Canaanite woman? A lot to think about on Mother’s Day!
“And the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. And it shall be that you shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.” I Kings 17:2-4
The great prophet Elijah had been called by God to approach the royal court of wicked King Ahab and his evil queen, Jezebel, in order to announce the judgment of God upon their sins, and the sins of Samaria: the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. And the form God’s judgment would take? No dew would form, or no rain would fall upon the land except by Elijah’s word, which the Bible says would not occur until three and one-half years later! (See Luke 4:25 and James 5:17)
Once he left Ahab’s court, God led Elijah to a little stream in the desert where He not only strengthened the prophet’s faith in His all-sufficient power to provide for Elijah’s every need, He did so by miraculously providing bread and meat for his breakfast and supper by whom? Ravens!
Are you in a desert right now? Perhaps you’re experiencing a crisis of faith; wondering where God is, in-the-midst of your drought-like circumstances. Have you approached God in prayer, inviting Him to empower you with an ever-deepening trust in His all-sufficient grace to provide you with daily strength, power, joy, and forgiveness through the Holy Spirit? Yes, my friend, our mighty God can even speak to the birds to provide what you need to accomplish His plan for your life! Trust Him today! (Read I Kings 17:1-24
In Christ, Are All My Needs Met!
Women of Faith: Listening Lydia
“And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” Acts 16:14
I grew up with the Billy Graham evangelistic team coming into my home via television. Paul, Silas, Timothy, and the team were on Paul’s Second Missionary journey when God sent them to evangelize Europe. Luke tells us in Acts Sixteen, that the first crusade was held in the city of Philippi right outside of town at the riverbank with Paul, his team, and some women who had come for a prayer meeting! Luke also tells us of the first convert to Christianity in Europe; a wealthy business woman who was eager to listen to the word of God as Paul proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the Church of the Riverbank! And Paul tells us her name was Lydia, who by trade, was a merchant of purple.
And the Bible tells us that because she was actively listening to (hearing) God’s word, the Lord opened her heart completely in order to hear, receive, and give her life to Christ in response to Paul’s message while she attended a prayer meeting. What a simple and beautiful means of salvation God has given to every man, woman, boy, or girl who, by faith, put their trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! A message for the wealthy, the poor, and the middle-class! God loves you and He died for you, so that you could be forgiven, and then use your spiritual gifting and talents to lead others to Jesus at any given time, whether you are worshipping God in a building or down by the river’s edge. The Holy Spirit will use the Lord’s word, to open the hearts of those who listen. Like Lydia, will you open your heart and home to Him, today? (Read Acts 16:11-15 and verse 40). Pastor Louie