Paul had wanted to go into the province of Asia and preach the Gospel. It doesn’t seem like there would be anything wrong with that, but God had other plans for Paul. This is a good example of how God works. He has a specific plan for each of us. That plan includes the what, the when, and the where. He has prepared certain hearts to hear and respond to His word. That word must be spoken at the exact time and place He has prepared. Unless we follow God’s plan, our work is in vain. Yes, God will honor it because His Word does not return void, but it won’t produce the harvest He had intended for you to produce. Complete obedience is the difference in 30 fold, 60 fold, or 100 fold.
23 The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. — Galatians 4:23 NLT
God had made a covenant promise to Abraham that he would become the Father of many nations. Abraham and Sarah were past child-bearing age and still Sarah had not conceived. It was at this point that they decided to take things into their own hands. Since the promise was to Abraham, he could Father a child by another woman. In this case, Sarah’s servant Hagar was chosen as the Mother. That decision has caused a lot of grief for a lot of people throughout the ages. Years later, Sarah conceived and bore a son. This son, Isaac, was the son God had promised. But because of the impatience of Abraham and Sarah, the war was on between the sons and it continues today. He will bring them about in His good timing. If we wait, we will reap the rich benefits of the fulfillment of His promise. If we try to fulfill His promise to us in our own way and in our own timing, the results will be nowhere near what God has planned for us. When God gives us a vision or a promise, we must be patient and allow Him to fulfill it in His way and His timing. Joseph spent years waiting for God to fulfill His promise, He suffered loss of family, false accusations and imprisonment before he was made second in command of Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world at that time. God doesn’t need our help to make His promises come true. He just needs us to be patient and obedient.
Nicodemus was a leader and a Pharisee. He came to Jesus at night because he probably did not want the other Jewish leaders to know about the visit. Nicodemus readily admits that he believes that Jesus has been sent from God. He wants to know more about this man that is proclaiming that the kingdom of God is near. Jesus immediately tells Nicodemus that unless you are born again, you will never see the kingdom of God. What an amazing concept! How can a human be born again? Jesus explains that He is not talking about physical rebirth, but spiritual. It is not a physical change, but a change of the desires of the heart. How does this happen? From a human standpoint, we are unable to explain what happens inside. But just as the wind comes and goes without our understanding, so the Holy Spirit works inside us to renew us and rebirth us as children of God. We may not know how, but the work that He does in our hearts leaves no doubt in our minds that we are being made into new creatures. At the very moment that we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, the new creation is born with all the rights that come with being a citizen of heaven. God will spend a lifetime completing the work that He has started in us, but finish it, He will.
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,—Hebrews 12:1-2a (NKJV)
The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. — Luke 1:31 NLT
To anyone who knows anything about the Bible this is a very familiar story. The angel of the Lord appears to a young girl named Mary and prophesies to her that even though she is a virgin she will give birth to a son without ever having sexual relations with a man. Not even considering the legal and social ramifications, this is an amazing announcement. How is this young girl to understand this? She is being told by an angel (which I understand could be quite a frightening sight) that something that has never been known to happen before and will never happen again is about to happen to her. We can’t know what experiences or situations she had been through before but somehow God had chosen her and prepared her for this occasion. Mary trusted God to do exactly what Gabriel said. When God speaks to us, whether it be through an angel, His Word, His people, a dream or a vision, do we have the faith to take Him at His Word and act on it? Even if that action could result in us being put in a situation where we could very easily be ridiculed and cast out? Or do we say this can’t possibly be God and He can’t possibly be asking me to do this? God needs those that are willing to be world-changers no matter the cost here on earth. He has a plan for each of us and He is asking us to participate in His work, Are willing and ready to do so? If we are and we say yes, God will take provide the ability and the resources. Do we trust Him to do that?
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Jesus had instructed Peter to feed His sheep. He was basically appointing Peter as the leader of the church after His ascension. He had also told Peter that satan desired to “sift him as wheat”. That is a metaphor meaning that satan wanted to separate Peter from the others like a farmer separates the chaff from the wheat when he winnows it. By stirring up King Agrippa to have Peter arrested and put in jail, satan was attempting to sift Peter. The leaders of the Jews were recruited by satan and joined by encouraging Agrippa in his acts of persecution. Peter was chained in prison with sixteen guards assigned to do nothing but watch him. God sent an angel to free Peter from his chains and they walked right past all of those guards. Peter thought it was a dream or a vision until they gates to the city swung open of their own accord and the angel left Peter. I can imagine that about the time Peter realized that it was for real, he probably remembered that Jesus also said “but I have prayed for you”. Jesus had prayed, was now at the right hand of God praying and the whole church was praying late into the night. God had a plan for Peter and Jesus had prepared Peter for that plan. The enemy’s plans to thwart God’s plans were defeated because of prayer. All the demons of hell and the earthly recruits were not enough to overcome the prayers of a handful of saints. We need to be prayer warriors and spend more time praying fervently for God to rescue our nation and keep our families safe. God is able to protect us and provide for us when He selects us for Kingdom work. We will not be defeated!
1 Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. 2 Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. 3 Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. 4 He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God. 5 Don’t you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you?–2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 (NLT)
The return of Jesus has probably been and still is the most debated subject in the history of Christendom. We cannot know for certain when that event will occur. Even Jesus told us that we would not know for sure, not even Jesus knew: “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.–Matt. 24:36 (NLT)
We can only know for sure that it hasn’t happened yet. In the above passage, Paul tells us of some events that must occur before the return of Jesus. Some have already occurred, but there are more to come. We have no need to chase after rumors of His return. When He returns in the eastern sky, everyone will know about it. Our concern is to stay ready at all times and spend our time telling others about Jesus and His love. Jesus will return at the very day, hour, minute and second that the Father has already chosen. We are to keep our lamps burning and filled with oil, so that we will be ready when He returns whether that be now or thousands of years from now.