Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews. However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord. When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)
During this time some prophets travelled from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.) So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could. This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem.Acts 11:19-30
Surely there can’t be anything wrong with knowing just how Paul and Barnabas went about discipleship. Can there? Isn’t the person right in saying that it helps to work out what Paul did and what Barnabas did? Is Acts meant to be descriptive or prescriptive? What a pity the Barnabas and Saul Manuals of Discipleship are missing! Imagine if we had those and could clone them all over the world.
Three people wrote a response to the last Gem and commented on the nature of the quotes that I used at the end to the effect that they thought the quotes I used were significant in some way but were not sure what the significance was. One of the three said. “Ian there is something about those quotes that you chose that teaches more isn’t there?
Yes you three were very astute and maybe you have got to know me too well. There is always something significant in the quotes. Let me take you through them one by one.
Then the king said to me, “What would you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favour before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”Nehemiah 2:4-5
An interesting verse isn’t it? “So I prayed to the God of Heaven . . . and . . . I said to the King.” It cannot have been a long prayer. When a king asks you something you don’t delay with your answer. Before some kings you might lose your head if you didn’t answer immediately and instead took time to ask God for the answer. It could only have been a short “help” prayer but notice at the end of Chapter 1 Nehemiah spends some time in prayer before going in to the king’s presence. It helps to live a life “prayed up” so that when things happen you are ready for them by virtue of having being with Jesus.
When Elisha came into the house, behold the lad was dead and laid on his bed. So he entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to the LORD. And he went up and lay on the child . . .2 Kings 4:32-34
Notice in this short segment there is a huge clue hidden there. Elisha is faced with the death of the Shunamite’s son after she had called him. So he goes up to see the boy and we are told after he saw the boy was lying dead on his bed, he goes in shuts the door, prays to the LORD and then goes and lies on top of the boy in a mirror image: mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. Some of you may say, Oh he simply gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation. No it is way more than that. Imagine what happened between, “he prayed to the LORD . . . and lay on the child.” Can you hear the LORD saying to Elisha, “Elisha go and lie on top of the boy mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands.”? And maybe Elisha said, “But LORD that is crazy. I can’t do that. You told us not to touch a dead body. That is abhorrent to me.” “Elisha just go and do what I am telling you to do.”
Think back to Jesus ministry and do a study of the way people were healed. There are no two healings alike. One time He simply spoke a word of healing, another time He reaches out and touches a leper to the horror of the crowd. (Much like Elisha lying on a dead body). Still another time He spits mixes it with dirt and makes a muddy compress and then smears it on the blind eyes. I beg your pardon, that is such a weird thing to do. So as I have said to you before why don’t we have Churches of the Lying Down or Churches of the Holy Spit? Are you getting my point? God is so spontaneous. I imagine in each case he spoke to Nehemiah, Elisha and Jesus and told them what to do.
No two occasions are the same. There is no pattern as to what to do! It is as Mary said to the wine waiters at the wedding at Cana, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” How do you teach that? You can’t teach methodology. I am convinced that God doesn’t want us to pursue methods. He wants us to be his disciples (sheep) and hear His Voice. If we had Paul and Silas’ Missionary Method Manual we would slavishly carry it around or memorise it and do things exactly the way they did. But that is pointless because the power is not in the practice, it’s in the person of Jesus harnessing the power of God. There are no magic formulas in God. What He wants for you is your life lived in communication with Him so that you know what to do in each situation you face because you hear Him tell you what to do at the appropriate moment. It’s simple really but oh so hard. It requires you living and moving and having your being in Him.
Elijah learned that lesson before Elisha came on the scene. We have a curious story in 1 King 19 of Elisha fleeing before Jezebel’s threat. He runs off to Sinai but finds that the Lord was not in the earthquake, He was not in the fire, He was not in the mighty wind. Do you get the connection between these three elements? That was the way Moses experienced God on Sinai. To the Jews Sinai was the mountain of God. It was where you went to feel God’s presence. So when Elijah is feeling down and crushed He goes to the place where He knows God is. Mount Sinai. He expects God to speak in earthquake, fire and wind BUT HE DOESN’T. God is breaking the pattern. That was how He spoke in the past but Elijah needed to hear YHWH now in the present, not the methodology of the past. Then God says to him twice, “What are you doing here Elijah? Go back to where you came from.” God wants your relationship with Him fresh and active so that He can turn it into a sharp two edged sword for Him. God doesn’t deal in methods slavishly learnt and replicated everywhere. That is dead religion not living Christianity. The essence of Christianity is the Spirit of Christ living within you. Get in touch with him and go live it out.
Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? OR Jesus said, You believe at last. (John 16:31)
Is it a question or a statement?
I am not going to open this one up to you as it is a major verse of understanding John’s Gospel and the turning point of the Gospel of John and the training of the disciples in their believing in Jesus. It is a significant lead in the quest for understanding John’s Gospel. But I will say it is a case of coming to understand what believing in Jesus is all about and from that point on living in a state of trusting in Him. Hence the reason for my question – Is it a question or a statement?
As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, “Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Luke 9:33)
Isn’t this reaction typical of Peter? Not knowing what he was saying, he blurted out “”Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Peter wanted to institutionalise what he had just experienced. How like us! He wanted to live in the moment. He wanted to recapture that experience every day. He thought the way to do it was to recreate the past, but the secret is not in repeating what God did, but walking with Him into the future and doing what He tells you now. Simple as that. Let’s imagine another conversation – yours with God.
- Ian: God why don’t we do what You did last time? Just speak a word of healing. I don’t want to touch the leper Lord. I might get leprosy.
- God: Ian do you love Me? Do you trust Me? Just reach out and touch him.
- Ian: But God he looks so hideous and filthy. How can I touch that?
- God: Ian, didn’t I reach out and touch you when you were hideous and filthy?
- Ian: Ok God I get it. I’ll do it because I love and trust you.
What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy.Paul Helligenberg
I love what Paul wrote to me so long ago in this quote. So often we think “this” is in focus and the heart of what God is doing, but so often the focus is “that”. We get it turned around in our minds and we don’t see that He is teaching us something totally different. Learn to expect the unexpected when you walk with God. He will ask you to do things you really don’t want to do but in the asking He is simply testing your ability to trust Him and He himself will provide the lamb for the sacrifice. It’s always the way He works.
Now you know why we don’t have the Paul and Silas Missionary Method Manual. Just ask the One who scattered stars in place and positioned them exactly where He wanted them. He will tell you what to do and between the telling and doing you will come to know Him intimately.
Yes in quoting those passages last Gems I was giving you a clue (a remez). I didn’t think anyone would see it but three of you did.
Go back to the place that you experienced the worst bitterness, God’s going to take your bitter and make it better!T D Jakes
There are times when you have to experience the death of a vision in order to achieve it.Ian Vail
Your success does not depend on what you do or what you know, but on Who you know and what He tells you and how closely you follow Him.Ian Vail
and he gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are. (CEV) It is through him that we are able to live, to do what we do, and to be who we are. (ERV) for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’ (ESV) We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ (MSG)Acts 17:28