I just love this verse. It fills me with both comfort and encouragement because it is good to know that your work is both appreciated and valuable.
Anyone who does any kind of work for the Lord should also take comfort in these words.
They are words of hope because they tell us we are valued for what we are doing in the service of the Lord. The highest calling any person can have is to serve others. And there is no higher call than to serve the Lord God and His son Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Your Labour Is Not In Vain”
Resurrection, as I have been making the case in my last few posts, is the core, critical teaching of Christianity for without it, there is no Christianity.
The hope of salvation that we teach and believe in is that we will be resurrected to life in Christ Jesus through the grace of God and the faith that we have in His working. It is not about anything we do but what we believe.
And in this short section of scripture we see the power of the resurrection. And it is incredibly powerful because it is the means by which we receive life with Christ.
What changes when you are called to the Lord? Or what is it that SHOULD change when the Lord calls a person to Himself to become a Christian?
There are many different thoughts and ideas on this matter and some people presume or even expect that there will be a huge change in their lives. But there does not have to be or need to be a lot of change in how you live or where you live.
Certainly there will be some changes but not as many as people may think. This particular section of scripture shows us that the amount of change is not necessarily as great as people might presume, and it is worth considering because knowing it can relieve a lot of pressure on you as a Christian.
In times of dire circumstances, Christians often have a level of protection that is not afforded to unbelievers.
Here in this section of scripture we see that The Lord had promised Paul that not only he, but all of the people on the ship with him, a total of 276 people, would not be lost. The ship and all it's cargo were to be lost, but the lives of all aboard would be preserved.
The protection of The Lord in this case was granted to be extended so that all those aboard would give God the glory for being saved from what would otherwise be a hopeless situation. We see in this case that had this promise not been given by The Lord, the soldiers had planned to kill all of the prisoners, including Paul, and that would not have served the purpose of The Lord.
As Paul stood and made a defence before King Agrippa, Bernice his wife and the Roman governor Festus, he spoke openly about the things to do with Jesus. Agrippa was the king over the Jewish realm at the time and had an excellent knowledge of all that had happened concerning Jesus and his disciples.
However Festus was the new governor and did not have this same background knowledge. It was clear that as he listened to Paul he became increasingly perplexed and dumbfounded over what Paul had to say. In the end Festus could contain himself no more and he cried out saying in verse 24,
And as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are mad; your great learning is turning you mad!”
And this is a typical opinion of most non-believers who consider Christians to be mad. So let us consider for a moment the question: Are Christians mad?
Paul makes a fascinating exclamation at the end of this section of scripture as he addresses Agrippa the king. He says,
Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
Of all the many doctrines and teachings of Christianity, resurrection is the single most important and the one that causes the greatest controversy. It is important because if there was no resurrection there is no Christianity for we Christians worship and praise the RISEN Christ.
And it is controversial because the world cannot accept that it is possible for a man to be resurrected. They consider this question from a scientific perspective and completely disdain the very idea of resurrection as science has not been able to duplicate this event despite years and years of research.
“There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened.”
Christians fall into the first group. We make things happen. Not in the sense that the world understands, but in the spirit. Christians are in a work of transformation where they are being changed, molded & transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We know that faith can move mountains as Jesus taught and we believe the words of James when he wrote in James 5:16-18:
16 …The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.
17 Eli’jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
18 Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.
But this section of Acts is more interesting because it looks at those in one or the other of the other two categories. The new governor of Judea, Festus, was baffled and he was like the third group left wondering “Wha…wha…what happened?” So let’s take a look at these three aspects and see what value & insights they offer us today.
It is the folly of the young, and young men in particular, to think they are bulletproof. They often think, act and behave as if life will go on forever and that no matter what they do they will be OK. The news is full of the stories of young men who have died or been seriously injured doing foolish things in the name of “fun.” What they do not understand though is that their life as well as that of every person on earth is in God’s hands.
And it is not just the people of the world who are subject to the will of God in these matters, but also the children of God. A classic example is seen in this section of scripture where God dealt quite differently with two of His people, two who were both members of The Twelve Apostles and yet were dealt entirely different hands with regard to life and death. I am speaking of Simon Peter and James the brother of John.It struck me as I read this first section of Acts 12, how The Lord deals with the lives of people. Some He protects while others He allows to die. We see in the news from time to time about the miraculous way some people cheat death yet others die in circumstances that should not have normally caused death.
What is it that man seeks more than anything else? And what is it that in spite of all the advances in medicine and science he simply cannot achieve?
In a word…LIFE!
Man has learned how to prolong life and repair many sicknesses, illnesses and physical conditions, but once a person is dead, they’re dead and nothing man can do will bring them back to life. Oh sure they are doing remarkable things now to preserve human bodies by cryogenics in the hope that at some future time science will be able to restore life…but it won’t ever happen.
Why? Because life is a spiritual thing, not a physical thing. The life force of every person is a matter of spirit, not electricity or radiation or chemical reactions or whatever else man has attempted. The creation and maintenance of life is about keeping the spirit of a person in their body so that they live, and man does not have the power or authority to do that. Only God can do it.
But sometimes God allows the spirit of a person to re-enter the person so they live again. This is what happened in this section of scripture and from it we learn that with God there is nothing impossible.
These scriptures hold a few interesting teachings that bear thinking about. They firstly show the nature of man and the opposition that those who follow Jesus will receive. Then they go on to identify what it is that causes the people of the world to oppose the words of The Lord.
We see here the humanity of man at it’s worst. How one group stand against the other and the motivations that drive them to do evil when it is apparent and obvious to all that they are in the wrong. The passions of human nature are not of God and it is those that we must conquer, not through our own strength, wisdom or power, but through the power of the Holy Spirit if we are to stand in the presence of God.
And then we see what it is and why it is that these negative human passions sway men to do evil. In a word, it is jealousy. And they were jealous because the disciples had something that the priests did not have. They had the words of This Life.