Acts 9:33-35 Peter found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralysed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
The Apostle Peter was on the move, preaching the gospel and ministering healing and freedom in Jesus name, wherever he went. In the town of Lydda, Peter encounters a paralysed man, bedridden for eight years. The reality of the situation is intimidating for anyone of us but Peter doesn’t appear to miss a beat. He pray’s a simple but powerful prayer of faith in Jesus name and commands the man to get up. The bible records the man immediately rose up from his paralysed state and started to walk. I’m challenged by Peter’s faith and simple prayer. I’m confronted with the fact that although, I too have seen miracles in other’s lives through the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus name, and yet I hunger for more of God’s love, grace and power to flow through me into the lives of other’s, helping them to be restored into a place of freedom, healing and purpose. Where is the power of God? God’s power is found in a revelation of the name of Jesus Christ. God’s power is found in the expectation of faith that believes God will move in any given situation, no matter how intimidating the circumstances. God’s power is found in the daily pursuit of relationship with Jesus where a greater portion and awareness of his presence grows with each prayer and step of faith. I encourage you to not settle for the comfort zone of your life but to seek God and step out in faith, releasing God’s power into the lives of the people around you. Explosive Insights!
Acts 13:12 “Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”In Acts 13, Barnabas and Saul are on Cyprus ministering but Elymas the magician, demonically inspired, is opposing their ministry and leading the proconsul away from hearing the gospel. Paul, filled with righteous indignation curses Elymas with blindness for a season and immediately darkness falls upon him. The proconsul witnessed first hand the miraculous power of the spirit and the demonstration of authority through the apostle Paul. Not only was he astonished in his teaching but he believed that Jesus was the Christ. No one wants resistance in life but opposition is often the catalyst for supernatural intervention. Many of us pray for miracles but miracles are needed because of the contradictions and paradoxes we encounter in life. Growth in the supernatural is often birthed out of an encounter with opposition that drives us closer to God in faith and prayer. See resistance from Gods perspective and watch God move mightily on your behalf as you boldly step out in faith. Explosive Insights!
“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (Genesis 2:7)
Everything in God’s creation, He created by the words of his mouth with the only exception being us. He created us by reaching down into the dirt of the earth and forming us in his image. Thus, every one of us have God’s fingerprints all over us. Dirt doesn’t seem very appealing but when you plant a seed in it, that seed will eventually produce life. God has planted seeds of blessing in every one of us. You may not be able to see the blessings God has planted on the inside of you but the seed within you has potential within it to produce life. It’s just buried at the moment. You need to water it, nurture it and have the courage to let God bring the seed forth out of the dirt of your life.
One of the things that plagues the Western Church is complacency. There is not a passionate contending for the fulness of God’s anointing in our lives and ministries that I think is available and needed.
Jesus said, ‘He who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also, and greater works than these he will do.’ (Jn 14:12) The church is supposed to walk as Jesus walked. We are the body of Christ. We must not settle for anything less than what Jesus has promised us as his people. Too many of us dismiss Jesus’ words as hyperbole or already fulfilled in the book of Acts but I think we are mistaken.
We have a tendency to excuse our lack of power by filling up time with more religious activities, trends and techniques that are ok on the surface but distract us from our higher calling. Unfortunately, the words of Paul to Timothy are coming true of our generation, we are ‘lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power.’ (2 Tim 3:4-5)
Jude 3 exhorts us to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. We have limited contending to sound doctrine and holy living. These two are foundational and vitally important but if we don’t demonstrate the power of the doctrine we profess or outwork our righteousness, than we aren’t fully contending. We need the power of God to deliver spiritually impoverished people.
I think it’s integral that we contend for all 3 elements of true faith: Biblical ideas; Biblical lifestyles; Biblical experience. Contending for the fulness of God’s anointing looks like:
- Ask God for a vision of what more looks like
- Don’t despise the day of small things
- A lifestyle of prayer and fasting
- Hear God clearly and obey God boldly
- Be prepared for the attack that accompanies the anointing
When was the last time you were truly amazed?
The truth is, we don’t look hard enough for the amazing in everyday life. Too often we are content for the routine, rather than hungering for the mystery of God in everyday life. Life can get routine but it needs to be punctuated with shots of amazement from the presence of God.
God does amazing very well. He parted oceans, turned bitter waters into sweet, stopped the sun, shut the mouths of lions, raised the dead, opened blind eyes and revealed the secrets of people’s hearts.
It seems like this sort of amazing only happens when we watch an enthralling movie but walking with God should include moments of ecstasy where heaven makes contact with earth. To embrace an ethos of amazement in life we need to practice the presence of God each day (John 15:7) but we also need to make ourselves available for the mysteries of God to break into the mundane-ness of everyday routines. This dynamic of amazement shouldn’t just be expected in eternity but right now. Praying, ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’, is a call to live with an ethos of amazement right now.
I pray with the apostle that God would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know the hope to which you are called and the immeasurable greatness of his power (Eph 1:17-18). This is a pivotal key to living in the amazing of God!
As a preacher, I’m called to proclaim the whole counsel of God, not just the bits that will attract a crowd or keep the polls heading north in my congregation.
In the last 12 months I’ve committed to preaching through books of the bible as the norm, rather than the exception. Many pulpits are filled with life-application, therapy sermons that avoid the tough texts of Scripture. However, my authority for preaching must come from the Scriptures alone (not my personality or influence) and all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, rebuke, correction and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be competent and equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16). I am an expository preacher committed to letting the text speak for itself.
The more I preach the bible, the more my congregation take the bible seriously and the more they listen, weighing the ramifications of what God’s Word is commanding. Preacher, whatever you are excited about, the people will get excited about.
Preaching through books of the bible follows the story of the Scriptures but it also forces you to deal with issues in the text that you would never have dealt with, had you adopted a pick and choose method of reading and preaching. Some of the tough texts of Scripture include: Romans 9; Phil 1:12-30; Ephesians 4:22-33; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Cor 6:12-20; 1 Cor 9:1-14; 1 Cor 11:1-16; 1 Cor 14:26-40; 2 Cor 8-9; Revelation (all of it)… to name a few.
I make no attempt to convince you that I’ve got all these texts covered or neatly packed away in my theological tool box but these have been some of the key texts that I have wrestled with over the years in my ministry and I’ve observed others doing so as well.
Here are 5 reasons you should preach the tough texts of Scripture:
- People are curious about what ‘that’ text really means
- People need help understanding how to apply the tough texts
- People need assurance that the bible is God’s truth to us in this age
- People need to hear what God says about things that displease him
- People need to wrestle with the mystery of God