The Power Of Unity

30th -31st May

Weekend Edition

And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need…And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”

Acts 2:44-45, 47c

Why did the early church experience so much growth, particularly in the face of persecution? Obviously God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit are huge factors, but could it also be that the unity seen within the church was also a huge factor to church growth?

In today’s church, sadly we often see the opposite. However, of late there seems to be a huge move towards the unification of the church across denominations and across styles of worship. It is so encouraging to see as this unity and attitude promotes church growth. Why? Because the world is crying out for hope, its crying out for unity in a world that is so filled with disunity, corruption, and individualism. Luke tells us in his writings that one of the reason that many people were ‘added to the fellowship’ was because of the unity of the believers.

In fact verses 32 to 34 of chapter 4 tell us that ‘all the believers were united in heart and mind’ and ‘felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had’, so much so that there ‘were no needy people among them’. It is because of this attitude, because of the power of unity, that God graciously added to their number.

This was not some unachievable, ideological elitist club, but a living and breathing tangible organism. The body of Christ is as much alive today as it was in the early church days. The great news is, that as individual members of this body, we too make up the body and we too can contribute to the unity of the church. When people look to church let them not see hypocrisy, slander and disunity. But rather, let us support our pastors, support our leaders, support our brothers and sisters around us, give liberally, love generously, meet regularly and worship faithfully. The church is growing and God will continue to add to our number of people being saved through the power of unity and through the power of the Holy Spirit!!

The Power Of Grace

29th May

But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead (it is only by God’s grace that you have been saved)…. God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a free gift!”

Ephesians 2:4-5,8

Have you ever received something that you didn’t deserve? How did it make you feel? Appreciation, humility, gratitude, or feeling of being loved? Well that is how we should feel, times a million, when we experience God’s grace towards us, His free gift of love towards us.

Sometimes I often wonder why God is so kind to me. I am overcome with all of the above emotions even just thinking about what God gives me when I deserve the opposite. Yet God is love, God is so rich in mercy, He does give life and does pour out His grace freely and limitlessly.

Sin may have had power over us when we were dead in our sins, but by the power of God’s grace, He has reached down and broken sins chains and chords that pull us down and has lifted us up so we now sit with Him in Heavenly places. God’s powerful grace not only has the ability to save us from ours sin but to completely transform us into new creations and sustain us in our walk with Him. Even when we do sometimes visit our old lifestyles, He still has grace to pull us back, lift us up and remind us we are a new creation again! It’s hard to understand why we deserve it, yet we must learn to accept it. Let the power of the grace of God break every chain and burden that’s holding us down in Jesus’ Powerful and Mighty Name so we can live in the fullness of all God has for our lives “and the good things He has planned for us long ago” (v10)!

The Power Of Salvation

28th May

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved….The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and God’s great blessing was upon them all. ”

Acts 4:12, 33

Today’s message is simple. There is no one else that can save us from our sin, apart from Jesus Christ. There is really nothing we can do that will lead us to salvation. Salvation is God’s work alone. There is no formula, no performance, no rituals you have to follow, because salvation is God’s free gift to us. The only way we are saved from living as God’s enemies is by accepting His gift, believing that Jesus is Lord and repenting of bad choices that lead us to live lifestyles in opposition to God! When we accept His gift to us we are adopted into His family and become sons and daughters of the most high God, no longer enemies or slaves to sin, but new creations. We become His family, His bride, and His friends.

As Peter and the other apostles declared, it is because Jesus powerfully rose from the dead, that He could defeat death and sin, and lead us into a life of blessings. However, Jesus does not save us so we can lock ourselves in our room basking in His forgiveness. We are saved to go out and share the good news with others. To proclaim the “powerful resurrection of our Lord Jesus”, and to declare that there is “no other name under by which we can be saved” other than the name of Jesus Christ.

This world needs hope, love and light and it is our job to declare it to a dry and thirsty people. Jesus is the hope of the nations.

The Power To Preach With Boldness

27th May

“”Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.”

Acts 4:30-31

After Peter and John had been released by the council, they went back to the believers and shared their experience. It must have been such a joyous occasion to have been released but at the same time a reality check. The persecution was heating up and the believers knew that they could not fulfill Jesus’ commission, to preach the gospel to all nations, without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Interestingly the council, when they convened together to discuss Peter and John’s punishment, had to admit that a miracle had taken place. Verse 16 of chapter 4 tells us that as they discussed with one another what they should do with Peter and John, they came to the conclusion that they had witnessed a miracle, “we can’t deny they have preformed a miraculous sign…”. It is this reason that when the believers gathered together to pray, they prayed that the preaching of the word of God would be heard and accompanied by miraculous signs, healing and wonders.

After the believers had finished praying the room they were meeting in shook and they were again filled with the Holy Spirit which enabled them to preach with boldness.

As believers today we can learn a lot about how to share our faith with others by the story found here in the book of acts. The most important fact is the unity of believers in prayer and secondly the infilling of the Holy Spirit. We must pray that God fills our lives daily with His Spirit to lead us, guide us and to give us boldness to preach His word. Let us pray that we would have the confidence, through the powerful name of Jesus and through the boldness of the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the sick, see the dead raised again and most importantly see souls won for Christ.

The Power Of The Holy Spirit

26th May

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene.””

Acts 4:8,10

In chapter 3, in the book of Acts, we read of Peter and John’s compassion towards a crippled beggar. As they prayed in the name of Jesus Christ, the crippled man jumped up, walking around and praising God. This caused a great stir among the priests and Pharisees, as this man begged at the gates of the temple for forty years. Sadly the priests and Pharisees were not as overjoyed as the rest of the crowds so they decided to arrest Peter and John.

Today’s reading is taken from chapter 4, where Peter and John are facing trial before the council. Interestingly, the council members were made up of exactly the same members that condemned Jesus to His death. Peter and John had every right to be fearful of their arrest and imminent judgement. In fact Peter denied Jesus a few months earlier in front of less authoritative figures. Yet something was different here. After being questioned by the council, “by what power or in whose name have you done this,” Peter being filled with the Spirit answered them with a statement that blew them away.

Peter (and John), boldly proclaimed that the crippled beggar was healed by the Name of Jesus Christ, the Man they killed but whom God raised from the dead. Such was Peter’s eloquence and boldness in speech, that it left the council dumbfounded as to how these two ordinary men with no particular training where so compelling and knowledgeable in the scriptures. Yet Peter was fulfilling exactly what Jesus had prophesied would happen in Luke 12:11-12 “And when you are brought to trail in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”

The same is true for us today. God empowers us through the Holy Spirit and gives us the words to say to bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ in whatever situation we are faced with.

The Power Of Pentecost

25th May

“”So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah”… Those who believed what Peter said were baptised and added to the church that day-about 3,000 in all.”

Acts 2:36,41

Yesterday marked our anniversary of the baptism and gift of the Holy Spirit for the disciples, 40 days after the resurrection of Christ in around 30 AD. It is a time when we celebrate God’s promise of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Helper, who was given to humanity to further extend the Kingdom of God and to reveal Jesus Christ to searching hearts. It is a time when we see the Trinity in all its fullness and power and discover the person of the Holy Spirit through His mighty acts, as recorded in this wonderful book.

Yet for Peter and the disciples awaiting the gift of the Holy Spirit in the upper room in Jerusalem, it was not only a life changing experience but a ministry defining moment when the Holy Spirit was finally given on the day of Pentecost in the form of tongues of fire. He empowered the disciples to live in all the fulness God had intended for them and even in areas of their lives that they didn’t even realise they had gifting in.

None more so than Peter the Apostle. Just a few months prior to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Peter, who had walked so closely with Jesus, denied he ever knew Him as Jesus was facing trial by the High Priest and Pharisees. Yet through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the same Peter boldly proclaimed the message of Christ and 3000 people were added to the faith in one day.

This is a timely message for all believers across the world. In and of ourselves we can do nothing. Yet with the empowerment of the person of the Holy Spirit, we can proclaim the message of Salvation to the lost and liberty for those broken hearted and captive to sin. We must be filled daily with the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Grace Of God

23rd -24th May

Weekend Edition

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty of sins.”

Romans 3:23-24

This last week we have explored the life of Samson, one of the longest serving Judges of Israel. We have looked at his mistakes and investigated his weaknesses. However before we pronounce judgement on him, we must also take into account that he was remembered and honoured for his faith in the book of Hebrews.

We also looked at the life of Joseph and saw how it contrasted to Samson’s lifestyle and decision-making. It is clear that removing ourselves from situations that cause us to stumble and rejecting the enemies fiery arrows through faith and in the power of Christ, prevents us from falling into sin. Much like Joseph, we are to put our love for God before our need to satisfy our fleshly desires.

However, when we do stumble and fall, make wrong decisions, put ourselves in compromising situations, and show attitudes contrary to Christ-like living, He is still gracious and kind to forgive and declare us righteous. The great news is that because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who paid for our sins with His life, we are declared free and righteous. We do not deserve the grace of God, yet as the writer of Romans says, He freely paid the penalty of our sins. Today we must rejoice in the grace of God, rejoice in His forgiveness and rejoice in His love.

By Faith … We Can Change The World!

22nd May

Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation…..their weakness was turned to strength.”

Hebrews 11:2,34b

Hebrews 11 lists so many of the Old Testament veterans, who through faith, overcame evil, fought for justice, endured horrible and gruesome deaths for the name of the Lord, or defeated those who opposed the Lord. It is so interesting to read each of their stories found in this intriguing book because it highlights that God used normal people to accomplish His works on earth, and through them, nations were defeated and God’s name was proclaimed among the world.

Furthermore, it highlights that God used these heroes of faith in spite of their weaknesses. If you look through the list of people mentioned in Hebrews 11, you will no doubt be able to pick out stories or attributes of their characters that either seem controversial or dishonouring to Almighty God, none more so than the life of Samson. Yet, here they are in this hall of fame, having being credited for their faith by the writer of Hebrews.

We have learnt that in the last few days that Samson’s life was far from perfect. He was arrogant, selfish, lustful, weak (in terms of controlling his desires), immature, reckless and even lived a lifestyle in opposition to God through his rebellious decisions. However, his last act of courage, bravery and faith show us that God never gives up on us, even in our last dying breath.

We can take comfort in knowing that God doesn’t wait for us to be perfect or doesn’t wait for us to make the right decisions. He chooses us not on our credentials but, because He sees a vessel that He can pour His grace out on. His chooses us in spite of our weaknesses and flaws and gives us strength in our weakness. God’s grace for us is enough.

So stop saying you are not good enough to be used by God and learn to trust in Him. Through Christ’s power in us, we are world changers and we can brings glory to the Name of Jesus throughout the nations.

Joseph: An Example We Can Follow!

21st May

She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible!

Genesis 39:10

Throughout the last few weeks we have been looking at the life Samson and learning valuable lesson about how not to act. His life seemed like a repetitive downward spiral of living in opposition to God rather than in partnership with Him. In today’s passage we read of someone who got it right, Joseph. If only Samson had spent more time reading the stories of old and less time giving in to his selfish and lustful desires.

Joseph, a noble and faithful servant of God, found himself betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. He was hired by Potiphar, the captain of Pharaohs guard, to work in his household and quickly gained favour for his integrity, honesty and diligence and was soon promoted to run of all his household affairs..

Because of Josephs handsome looks and great physique, he unwittingly caught the eye of Potiphar’s wife. Time and time again she would approach him and offer him her body, yet time and time again he would refuse because of his love for God and because of the trust that his master Potiphar had showed him.

One day, Potiphar’s wife could not resist Joseph anymore. She grabbed his cloak and insisted he sleep with her. However, yet again Joseph remained pure and holy, left his coat in her hands and ran away. This act eventually led to the unfair imprisonment of Joseph, yet he remained true to God and true to his master Potiphar.

When faced with temptation, Joseph gave us three great examples of how to act. Firstly, he kept out of her way as much as possible. When faced with temptation we shouldn’t linger around and flirt with it. Secondly, his love for God outweighed his need to fulfill his lustful desires. Thirdly, when temptation finally cornered him, he ran away (even though it would lead to his imprisonment!!). Honouring God is achievable if our motives and desires are to honour Him, and if we don’t rely on our own strength but on the grace of our Lord Jesus.

Samson Physical Blindness

20th May

When he woke up, he thought, “I will do as before and shake myself free.” But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him. So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes…”

Judges 16:20b-21a

After being easily deceived by Delilah’s cunning plans, Samson, in a moment of madness and weakness revealed the secret to his strength. Verse 19 tells us that as Samson lay asleep in the lap of Delilah having just had his hair shaved off, the Philistine army came in and captured him, took out his eyes, chained him up and led him to a prison to grind grain.

What Samson didn’t realise when he woke up, was that because he had broken the covenant his parents made with God when he was a child, to not cut his hair, the Lord had left him and his strength had departed. It was for this reason that he was able to be captured. However, the story doesn’t end there. In fact the next part of the story is what earns Samson his credibility and why he is among the Heroes of faith in the book of Hebrews.

After finally capturing their enemy, the Philistines rulers threw a party to dedicate their victory to their god, dagon. While they were all half drunk, they called out for Samson to come and entertain them. Little did they know that Samson’s hair had already started growing back. In an act of sheer courage and bravery, Samson wisely asked the young servant to prop him up against the pillars of the temple, called out to God for one final injection of supernatural strength and tore down the roof and the temple, crushing and killing over 3000 Philistine rulers.

Interestingly it was only when Samson was humanly blind that he realised his spiritual blindness. In fact this is the only time that Samson called on God to give him strength and didn’t rely on his own ability. Something must have changed in that prison. Moreover it is such an important lesson for us to learn, that when we live our lives in our strength and for own desires, it leads to spiritually blindness and imprisonment. It is only when we rely on God, that He can fully use us according to HIS will in our lives. Sometimes, however, it takes huge circumstances in our lives to realise that we are spiritually blinded to our selfish way of living. We must pray that God would open our eyes to our spiritual condition so we can live in the fullness of all God has for us.