Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.(Acts 4:8-10)
God had performed an astounding miracle at the hands of Peter and John (a >40 year old man, crippled from birth was healed) and now they were being questioned by the rulers, elders and teachers of the Jews regarding it. They asked Peter and John, ""By what power or what name did you do this?"
Peter did not hesitate to proclaim the name of Jesus and told them that it was by the name of Jesus that the man was healed. Peter also proclaimed, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
The rulers were not very pleased with Peter's bold reply, but here was evidence of the power of God and no one could deny it, however hard they tried.
Our prime duty as children of God, is to make them who have not yet known Jesus and the power of his name, become aware of this glorious fact. We must not forget or ignore our precious calling to be effective witnesses for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Peter writes, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)
Let us remind ourselves of this fact this day and declare the praises of the Triune God as long as we live.
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19)
For you and me, as believers, there is no one else who can do this, i.e.daily bearing of our burdens. And so praise to him is justified.
When Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness to the promised land of Canaan, he often felt that the burdens that he was carrying was too much. He cried out to God and said, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!' I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now - if I have found favor in your eyes - and do not let me face my own ruin." (Numbers 11:11-15)
That may sound like how some/many of us cry out to God when we become frustrated with problems in life.
But we must remember that God is all too willing to take our burdens on him and solve our problems and that is exactly what he did for Moses. God allowed Moses to choose 70 elders among the Israelites to share his burdens and also arranged for a miraculous supply of meat for a whole month for the Israelites.
Remember to......Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (Psalm 55:22)
Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. (Isaiah 49:13)
If you have been troubled over the happenings of the past few days or if life in general seems pointless nowadays, this promise is for you. Though uttered more than 800 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, this promise still holds good for God's children. Our God is compassionate and comforts his people even today.
The Gospel writer Mathew writes this about Jesus, our Lord: When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14)
The Psalms are replete with verses where the Psalmists sing about God's compassionate nature.....
But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. (Psalm 103:8)
He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. (Psalm 111:4)
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (Psalm 145:8)
.....and there are many more.
If you are suffering this day, be it from any cause, remember that....
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.... (Psalm 103:13)
When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, (Nehemiah 4:1)
Sanballat, by any other name, is a hindrance from God's work taking root and progressing, but he can be overcome by prayer and by trusting in God's faithfulness.
Nehemiah set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem with a few faithful fellow Israelites, but found opposition all along. Yet he was able to complete the task in 52 days.
Sanballat ridiculed Nehemiah and his work saying, "...."What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble - burned as they are?" (Nehemiah 4:2)
Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, "What they are building - if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!" (Nehemiah 4:3)
Nehemiah did not stop because of the taunts. He prayed continually to the Lord and the people worked with all their heart.
If we stop the work that we are doing for the Lord, just because others taunt us, we become failures and that is not what God wants us to be. He expects us to be "overcomers" and he is there to fight our battles against the enemy. Nehemiah's work is a good example for us. We can overcome opposition to the work that we are doing for the Lord by prayer and determination. God will surely help us to complete the task that he has assigned us if we pray continually and trust in his strength. Praise God.
Isaac trembled violently and said, "Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him - and indeed he will be blessed!" (Genesis 27:33)
Isaac and Esau had become recipients of a deadly deception from their own family members. But Isaac had already blessed Jacob, his other son who had cheated him and sadly told Esau that Jacob would definitely be blessed.
Isaac's wife Rebecca and Jacob his son had chosen deception as a way to get blessings and thus this family suffered greatly. Esau planned to kill Jacob. Jacob had to go away from home and did not return for 20 years. What a disaster!
Deception is common among families the world over and the results are broken families.
Jacob was indeed blessed as his father said, but not before suffering for his deception. He had this to say to his father-in-law Laban, regarding his life for 20 years since going away from home after deceiving his father and brother......."I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times.(Genesis 31:38-41)
We then must give heed to this good advice from the book of Proverbs-
"The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception." (Proverbs 14:8)
And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? (Luke 18:7)
In Luke Ch.18, we read of Jesus telling his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He spoke of a widow who approached a hard-hearted judge pleading for justice against her adversary, but who kept ignoring her. Since she persisted with her pleas, the judge said to himself, " Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!".
Jesus emphasized the fact that God was not like this unjust judge, but merciful, caring and always willing to answer the prayers of his chosen ones.
Are you praying for justice regarding some matter concerning your life? It's only a matter of time before God intervenes. "The righteous judge" will definitely answer you. You will be set free from your agony. You serve a just Saviour who knows every aspect of your life. His love for you is so great that he keeps interceding continually in the presence of the Father for you. Meanwhile continue in prayer, worship and meditation of the Word. Your deliverance is near, so praise God.
Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. (Mark 16:2-4)
Their intention was simple- they just wanted to anoint Jesus' dead body with spices. But they faced a problem- the stone placed at the entrance of the tomb. The Lord had a surprise for them though- the huge stone had been rolled away. And now more surprises....things that made them flee from the tomb.
Mark, the gospel writer portrays the scene very vividly.....As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'" Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.(Mark 16:5-8)
The Lord can surprise you and me with his ways. Nothing to harm us, just to remind us that he is Almighty God and that he is indeed the resurrection and the life.
Also let us remind ourselves of this promise of his, in case we have not thought about it for sometime now- He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:25, 26)
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly.(Mark 14:4, 5)
While Jesus was in Bethany, in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. That's when there arose a discussion and a condemnation regarding her actions.
But Jesus defended her saying, ""Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."(Mark 14:6-9)
There are many things that we may do because of our love for our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, which others may think is a waste or they consider trivial, but that shouldn't deter us from what we are doing. The Savior will approve even when people condemn, so we should not lose heart but show our love to him in ways that are pleasing to him.
The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, "Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! (Joshua 6:16)
Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. God spoke to Joshua and said, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in."
The people of God, the Israelites were promised by God that he would be leading them to the promised land and Jericho was a hindrance on the way. But God had a plan in place for overcoming the obstacle and Joshua and the Israelites were to go according to that.
They did as God told them and there was deliverance.
It's the same for you and me. God has a plan in place for each of us at several points on our journey to our eternal home "heaven" and we need to obey it to see hindrances overcome. He has called us to be "over-comers" and we can achieve that only by following his plan and leading.
About Benjamin he said: "Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders." (Deuteronomy 33:12)
"O Lord, my God, let me and my family and loved ones rest secure in you; shield us all day and let us rest between your shoulders" is a simple but effective prayer that each of us can pray everyday. At a time when states and countries are upgrading security so very frequently, every believer can have assurance and peace of mind by praying to the Lord for security and safety. For the believer, it's not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. That doesn't mean that we must not be careful, but our trust is in the Lord for protection and deliverance.
Who can shield us better than the Lord?
Long back, God spoke to his servant Abraham to reassure him amidst uncertainities. He said: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. "(Genesis 15:1)
Yes, God is our shield. The Psalmist affirms that by singing, "He is a shield for all who take refuge in him." (Psalm 18:30)
Isaiah, the prophet wrote, "Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem; he will shield it and deliver it, he will 'pass over' it and will rescue it." (Isaiah 31:5)
Same with you and me, child of God. He will shield and protect us as we cry out to him each day of our lives.