Spread The Gospel In Spite Of Circumstances

When we are commanded in God’s Word to spread the gospel to the world, isn’t it interesting that He didn’t place exceptions on that command? He didn’t say that we are exempt from spreading the Word if conditions are poor, or if we may receive opposition. In the preceding verses we read where Saul was persecuting the church, in fact, he was going door to door dragging out believers and throwing them into jail. Yet in these verses the believers just moved on to other places and continued preaching the Word of God. Isn’t it interesting how today we let such little things prevent us from attending church, or visit the shut-ins, or minister to those in need? I wonder what God must think of our lack of faith? Think about the excuses why we think that we can’t teach or share the gospel with others. We must be willing to do whatever God demands, knowing that He will protect us, guide us and powerfully use us for His glory as we accomplish His will for your life. Lord, I pray that I might not be just a ‘sunny day’ Christian, but to follow Your commands knowing that You are concerned only with my availability and willingness, not my known abilities. May I learn to depend on You for all things!
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The believers who were scattered went everywhere, preaching the message. Philip went to the principal city in Samaria and preached the Messiah to the people there.

Are you the ‘Real Deal’?

Imagine for a moment that someone was facing the most awful time of their life. Challenged with possible harm, maybe even impending death. Imagine how you would feel to comfort others by saying like was quoted of Stephen in this verse: “It’s OK brothers, for this man is full of the Holy Spirit, and there he is looking into the face of Jesus who is standing at the right hand of the Father. This man is going to be OK. You had best work on yourselves and your relationship with God”. Now, what about you, are you at the place where this could be said of you friend? Are you the real deal, or are you still trying to impress God and others with your ‘religion’? We really have no one to impress friend. God knows our heart, there is nothing we can do to impress Him or change His mind with any action or outward pretense of our own. Lay yourself bare before God and allow Him to cleanse you, so that you can be open and honest before Him and all your fellow brothers and sisters. Whether a person knows you or not, let them see the same person when looking at you. Dear God, please open my eyes to any pretense that I need to expose and correct in my life. Please allow others to see Jesus in all that I say and all that I am. Not for any praise of myself, but that they may catch a glimpse of You, even through me.
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But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God’s glory and Jesus standing at the right-hand side of God.

Where is God?

Many of us go to church at least once per week to worship God? Praise God that you have found a place to worship Him in a corporate setting, but where do YOU worship God. Friends, as you develop a personal relationship with God, you begin to recognize His awesome power through answered prayer; through Godly direction in your decision making and daily living; through His unending and unhindered love for us, and everything in between! Think about the beauty of everything as you drive to work each morning, such as when you see another sunrise, and the night clouds blowing gently away to reveal the beautiful blue sky for your day; perhaps the wild animals parading around looking for their daily food for the day; perhaps luscious pastureland with dew dropping from the leaves of grass grown by our Father for the cows that will provide milk for our cereal and beef for our steaks and hamburgers. We are so prone to taking these things for granted, but it is at those times that we need to turn the radio off and just thank and praise God for His wonderful touch on everything around us, so that we may be fed, or kept warm, or just to glory in His majesty! What about those times that you walk into a store and see someone struggling to walk, or like in my case yesterday, have a blind person walk in to have lunch across the restaurant where I was at. It is at those times that we worship and give God thanks for blessing us so richly! And please don’t forget to thank God when you see those who may appear to be more blessed than you are. They may have more wealth, but do they enjoy the peace that you do? They may have a whole body, but do they use them for God’s glory like you do? Learn to praise God in all walks of your life friend! God has never made ‘junk’, so you are a blessed creation of His. Worship Him and praise Him for making you in His image – His likeness! He is worthy of your praise friend, not just at those times that the church worship leader may ask you to raise your hands in worship. God is omnipresent – always in your presence. There is no church building that contains God, even though He loves to be in the presence of His believers who worship Him. I believe that a one-on-one worship to our heavenly Father is way more meaningful and appreciated by God than corporate worship that is often driven by leadership and/or peer pressure.

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“But the Most High God does not live in houses built by human hands; as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is my throne, says the Lord, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house would you build for me? Where is the place for me to live in?

Careful That You Stay Humble Before God

I believe that most Christians will acknowledge that God has been great to us. For we can give examples of times that he has protected us; directed us; healed us; loved us when we have felt very unlovable; provided for us; and yes, died for us so that we might have the hope of eternal life with Him! I’m sure there are lots of other descriptions of how God has blessed us, but friend, we have to be careful of not doing like King Uzziah and allowing these blessings to give us the feeling that the next time we are in need of help, that we can do it ourselves. This king felt so proud of the fame his people convinced him was his, that he felt like he could do anything he pleased – yes even those things that were against God’s will and direction – for he then abused his privileges in the temple. Now a point to be acutely observed is that in spite of all that God had done through this king, and all the ways he had blessed him, yet He (God) treated him like any other subject of His, and punished him for his sin. I believe that a key observation for us in this story, is that we don’t earn a privileged spot in the kingdom because of our successes in our Christian walk. Like King Uzziah, God chose to use one of His instruments through whom He would show His power, so that He might receive glory. Now anytime we interject self in that equation, we not only dishonor God, but we minimize the value of His power though us. Friend, God is not selfishly working through us so that He might gain glory, He primarily works through us so that lost folk may see the need for Him and surrender their lives to Him. Who are we to minimize such an awesome effort by the King of all times, and of our everlasting future? Try praising God for using you, not trying to take any credit for yourself. We can do nothing of eternal value in, and of, our own power, it’s only through Christ that these things can be done.

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…… His fame spread everywhere, and he became very powerful because of the help he received from God. But when King Uzziah became strong, he grew arrogant, and that led to his downfall…..

Refusal To Listen Will Also Get God’s Attention

Often we may feel God’s tug on our heart and strongly discern His will to do something, but of course in all of our wisdom, we may feel that we have the better choice in the whole matter. Friend, as we read God’s Word, and stay closely in tuned with His will and direction for our lives, it is imperative that we remember to whom we belong, and listen to His voice. God loves us and He wants His very best for us, so He will protect us, and see to it that we receive His very best. However in doing this, we may be led in ways that our self-deserving selves may kick and scream because we want to do our own thing, with every possible pleasure included. King Amaziah worshipped idols, (you know, these are things that take priority in our lives – even over our dedication to the Lord’s work! TV programs; sporting activities; our children’s busy lives and programs; work related activities). The king also refused to listen. Now in today’s environment, with all of the technology, and the internet, why would we need to find time to listen to the still small voice of the Master of this universe, when we could Google the master of the internet for every possible answer to our questions? Friend, this may sound farfetched, but don’t fool yourself, think about how real this might be in your life! Do you deliberately consult with God on everything? Would you recognize if He was placing a roadblock in your path? What’s stopping you from being obedient to the Master? 

Oh Lord, may I always place my faith in You – even for the things that appear small and insignificant, and especially for the daily things that could very easily affect others. The decisions and sin of King Amaziah cause many people their lives in battle. May I always be obedient to You and Your will for my life, so that I may not be the cause of harm to anyone following after me, or affected by my decisions. Than You Lord, for the leadership role You have in my life! 

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But Amaziah refused to listen. It was God’s will for Amaziah to be defeated, because he had worshipped the Edomite idols.

Guilt – A Powerful Influence

I got stuck on the last sentence of verse 18 today, and I believe that God was speaking to me on this subject: …”Their guilt for these sins brought the Lord’s anger on Judah and Jerusalem”. Although I couldn’t find a whole lot on this particular verbiage in my commentaries, I believe that God was very angry over the people ignoring the warning system He built into them – their guilt about the sin they were committing. Often the guilt about something we have done, or perhaps currently doing, will make us sick mentally, worse than the effects of the sinful act itself. God placed that trigger in us for a purpose and when we blatantly ignore that, I believe that it really angers Him, as illustrated in this verse studied herein. Oh Lord, I pray that we might clear our conscience and allow You to openly work in us through the internal triggers You have uniquely built into us. Please help us to not ignore these triggers, but to use them as indicators of when we have crossed the line and are perhaps doing something that displeases You. Please forgive us for the times we have committed that sin anyway, in spite of our guilt. We never want to displease You dear God, so please help us to be victors in our actions, because of  Your strength, and through the power of the triggers You have built into us.
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So the people stopped worshipping in the Temple of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and began to worship idols and the images of the goddess Asherah. Their guilt for these sins brought the LORD’s anger on Judah and Jerusalem. The LORD sent prophets to warn them to return to him, but the people refused to listen.

Where Do You Go For Advice?

We must be careful from whom we seek advice. Lord, please help me to seek godly advice, and even secular or financial advice from godly men. King Ahaziah quickly learnt that following advice from wicked, ungodly men led me to a short reign and the death of himself and his kindred. Where do you go for advice friend? Find you someone who is praying for you, or at least willing to pray for you, and they will seek God’s face and His direction so that the advice given to you might be led by God. Acting on bad advice could very easily destroy you, as it did to King Ahaziah.
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He sinned against the LORD, because after his father’s death other members of King Ahab’s family became his advisers, and they led to his downfall.