Then they traveled back through Pisidia to Pamphylia. They preached the word in Perga, then went down to Attalia. Finally, they returned by ship to Antioch of Syria, where their journey had begun. The believers there had entrusted them to the grace of God to do the work they had now completed. Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles, too. And they stayed there with the believers for a long time.Acts 14:24-28
- I find it amazing Ian that we are reading all about this and you are experiencing it as you write in Jakarta. How can that be?
- I love how God uses you wherever you are. I want Him to use me like that. Tell me how it happens.
- Looks like the enemies of Christianity followed Paul and Barnabas and stirred up the crowd. Sounds like where you are Ian?
In Deeper Bible I have a built-in-segment at most levels called Experiencing the Bible. Every time we come to the Word of God we have to be prepared for the Bible to become reality in the midst of our life in this day and age. I cannot count the times when the Word of God has come alive to me in ways that I cannot imagine. There is one story of mine I would love to share with you all but I will have to ask permission of the person who features in the story before I would share it publicly. I will ask him. But it is the best story I have which illustrates the point of how God takes His Word written centuries ago and brings it alive in ways I never would have imagined possible. It is like the God-breathed Word Of God is somehow made personal to each of us in our daily life day after day in specific personal moment by moment ways in a way that I can’t explain, except to say IT HAPPENS.
Over this last two month time and time again God’s Word has been my guide, my light, in the midst of decisions I have had to make which have been hard. But each time God Himself makes it clear what I have to do in timely ways and when handling difficult decisions. That is how it works when the Creator of the Universe is your personal guide. I would never want to shrink back from following Him and lose that personal connection with God. It is true. I am not exaggerating one bit. My problem in sharing the detail of the ways in which it happens is that in being specific I call into focus things that others are deciding or decisions they have made in ways that I would not want to do nor should do publicly. I can only share my end of the experiences without divulging other’s personal part. Except I will ask permission to share the one example I mentioned above but be prepared for me not to share it if the person involved asks me not to. I will honour his decision. If he agrees to me sharing the story with you all I will include it in the next Gem.
It seems uncanny to me how time and time again I can be living out the reality of what Paul or Luke or some other Bible author wrote centuries ago and find that it is as though it was written for me personally just for the day ahead of me. It happens time and time again. I don’t know how He does it, He just does. It is the main factor which turns me into a “Bible Fanatic” or a walking Bible virus. It’s all to do with God’s personal touch on my life when I read the Word of God. It comes alive to me in ways that no other book on the planet has ever done. No wonder I have a library surrounding me built up over the years where each book is specifically chosen to assist me to dig into the Word of God using primary or secondary resources. I am not interested in knowing what this person or that expert have to say about faith, or grace or prayer or any other Bible word. I am keen to plumb the depths of God’s Word to find the meaning of the words in the situation in which they were first spoken. So I have gathered the resources to help me do that since I became a Christian on August 19th 1973.
When we left to go over to Indonesia in September last year for a three month stint we prayed that God would show us the right people to look after our house while we were gone. Soon after praying we heard of a family who had come back from working in Paraguay as missionaries and who needed a place for a family of five plus a place where the wife’s sister could stay from time to time in Auckland in the midst of chemotherapy treatment. We just felt that this was perfect. My point in telling you this little vignette has to do with what the younger son said when we came back. Although the overall story is yet another example of how God takes care of every little detail. The young teenage son ended up having to sleep on a mattress on the floor in my study. He noticed that every book in my study has to do with the Bible. “The Bible this and the Bible that. Your office is filled books related to the Bible Ian. Why don’t you have other books in your room? Why do you need so many Bibles? It is just one book. You just need one copy of that book.”
Looking back on my life I have gone from staunch atheist to committed God lover; God hater and Bible opponent to a God filled, Bible-inspired walking virus and I love it. I am indebted to Paulina Ongkowidjaja’s description of me as “a contagious bible-loving virus”. Yes, that pretty much sums me up. It is what makes me tick, what fills me with passion. To read the Word of God and discover It’s treasures at a depth I never imagined possible thrills me. But what thrills me even more is to pass on that love for the Word of God to others so they in turn grow passionate about God and His Word. I can’t think of anything more fulfilling to do with my life while I live on this planet.
Now to address the request: I love how God uses you wherever you are. I want Him to use me like that. Tell me how it happens:
It is simply a matter of following the lead of Mary based on her statement:
Do whatever He tells you.John 2:5
I have learned over the years as I have sought the LORD to follow the principles laid down in His Word, the Bible (Logos) and to pay attention to the Word of God which is quickened to my heart as I read (Rhema). Those verses which leap off the page at me and seem to as though God is talking to me personally and asking me to respond in a specific way. I have learned over the years not to push aside those promptings but rather to grab them with both hands and seek to follow His instructions to me with all my heart. I have also learned to be more willing to let go of my agenda for the day in favour of His. I want always to be open and available to people in their hour of need even though it may cut across my plans for the day. I have learned that when I set aside my agenda for His at any moment in the day, then I am hugely blessed. Why would I not want to do that? It is like walking around hand in hand with God for the day. Don’t get me wrong, every day is not like that. Many days are just a normal day when I get to actually do what I planned. But there are so many other days where with God’s intervention the day turns into an opportunity to share His love and concern with other fellow travellers – Christian and non-Christian. It doesn’t matter. It’s a privilege. Tania and I often pray asking God to leading us this day and arrange the events of our day for His glory – AND HE DOES. Our life is all so similar to the report Paul and Barnabas gave to the church of Antioch on their return. Good and bad.
When you get to your wit’s end, you’ll find God lives there.Ian Vail
Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.Ian Vail
Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.Anon
Are you God’s child? Is there a family resemblance on your Father’s side?Ian Vail
You can’t change the world if you are afraid of it.Ian Vail
Don’t sit in judgement over the Word of God; learn to let the Word of God judge you.Ian Vail
Learn to recognise the Rhema Word of God in your life and follow His lead.Ian Vail