Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Beyond Belief Part 3; Manifestations of Reality

Beyond Belief
 Part 3; Manifestations of Reality

Hebrews 2:3-4 “3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,  4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will” NKJV

In Part 2 we covered the promises given to us by Jesus, concerning our authority to move in miraculous power when the Gospel was preached.  Now in this third and final installment, I want to show you how the apostles and the early church responded to the invitation to given from Christ.  It all began with obedience, the 120 waited and prayed for the day of Pentecost.  Preparing themselves for the baptism (immersion) of the Holy Spirit and of Fire, as they were promised in Acts 1:8.  And on that day 50 days after the death and resurrection of Jesus, God Almighty opened the storehouse and made what Christ gave to the 12 and the 70 available to all who followed Christ.

Acts 2:1-4 “1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  NKJV

Now the disciples could have been content with the infilling of the Spirit of God, they could of gone back to Galilee built a school and talk about that experience for the remainder of their days.  However with the gospel in their hearts and the presence of God within their beings they could do nothing but fling open the windows and begin crying out  to all who could hear them the great things that God had done through Jesus of Nazareth. 

Acts 2:38-39 “38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."  NKJV

From that moment on the Church was established, it was active and caring, and powerful.  They knew their call, to destroy the kingdom of the enemy one redeemed soul at a time.  To undo his works of suffering, sickness and pain, by shining the light of Christ onto all who would believe.  No matter the amount of persecution they faced or how many of the “wise” men commanded them to be silent.  Their accusers could not deny the power of God in action.  And God continued to move all through out the book of acts, beyond its closing chapter, all the way into our present day.  Nothing has changed Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Now let us read some examples of the Spirit of God in action through the lives of believers.

Acts 4:29-31 “29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."  31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

Acts 3:6-7 “6 Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” NKJV

Acts 5:12-16 “12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's Porch. 13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. 14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. 16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” NKJV

Acts 6:8 “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.”  NKJV

Acts 8:7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. KJV

Acts 9:32-35 “32 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda. 33 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed." Then he arose immediately. 35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” NKJV

Acts 14:3 “Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” NKJV

Acts 14:8-10 “8 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother's womb, who had never walked. 9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, 10 said with a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" And he leaped and walked.” NKJV

Acts 15:12 “Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.” NKJV

Acts 28:8-10 “8 And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed. “ NKJV

Behold these amazing acts, the Hand of God moving through vessels of flesh.  The ones seeing these miracles were no different than you and I today.  The Apostle Paul was not in the upper room with the 120, yet moved in the power of Christ.  So we have to excuse for why we ourselves cannot expect God to move in like manner in our lives as we preach the gospel.  The Church of Jesus Christ cannot live by intellectualism alone, a new translation of the bible or another commentary series wont reach for the unwashed hearts of the masses.  The words we speak and the beliefs we claim to have must leap off of the pages and enter our reality.  Our daily lives are to be a reflection of what we believe, if we believe in stale ritual then our lives will reflect the same.  Yet if we believe that God is a living cornerstone of our life.  Then our lives should reflect the light within as a rainbow (or prism) of love, holiness, endurance, wisdom, compassion, justice, and power. 

The primary function of every church and believer is to be a “Living Manifestation of the Reality of Christ”.  We being recreated into His image have the responsibility, on one hand to act as Jesus did in manners of the heart and mind.  Then on the other hand we are called to walk boldly in the unlimited possibilities of I AM.  Not for our glory or to build popularity or even to fuel our finite ego’s.  All this is for one purpose, to reach out into the darkness and bring back those who are lost.

Acts 2:41-45 “41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.  42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” NKJV

Written by Cameron Conway

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Beyond Belief Part 2; An Invitation to Follow

Beyond Belief
 Part 2; An Invitation to Follow

Matthew 9:37-38 “37 Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."  NKJV

In the first part of this series, we were laying the framework to support the fact that God still moves today, in our nation, in our city, in our church and in our individual lives.  We must admit the fact that God can and wants to use us in a powerful way if we would only believe that He would.  The reality of His everlasting power and dominion must resonate not only within us, but also flow out through our hands and lips.  These messages are called “Beyond Belief” because we can all read the gospels and the Book of Acts and see these actions and miracles on the page, and never believe for Christ to act again.  We must do more than just believe something happened we must take the actions beyond the page and into our reality.  We must go from believing to demonstrating.  This is what sets apart the Church of Christ from all others, our God and Savior is alive and is not afraid to move in divine power to heal, guide and deliver anyone who call upon the Trinity.  Yet Christ does not work alone, he has an army that is qualified (whether they believe it or not) to do as he did, with their hands, hearts and mouths.

Now getting back to Part 1 you may be wondering where Paul could have gotten the authority to say the things he did in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and Romans 15:18-19.  This was the fulfillment of what Christ promised to His disciples and to all those who would call on His Name.  These gifts were not reserved for the holiest of them all or those with enough seniority to collect them, no the Fruits and the Gifts are available to all.   First we must begin with the words of Christ to His disciples and the permission He gave to them to do as He did. Let us take look at this moment in Matthew, Mark, and Luke

Matthew 10:1 “And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease” NKJV

Matthew 10:7-8 “7 And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'  8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” NKJV

Mark 3:14-15 “14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, 15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:” NKJV

Luke 9:1-2 “Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. 2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” NKJV

Here we see the precursor of what Paul spoke of.   That they were not only to preach, but were also able to perform these miracles.  The very same miracles they had witnessed Jesus perform.  Now take notice there is a subtle condition in play here, God’s power comes when the Gospel is preached.  It is a sign to confirm the words they were preaching, and the words they were preaching was of the Messiah.  Not of man’s wisdom, not of psychology, not of pop-culture but the pure gospel.  These powers are not to amuse the crowds or our egos, but the purpose of to illuminate the hearers to the light of Christ.  And at the time of this ordination of the twelve Christ still hadn’t been crucified, and yet they had results as we see in. 

Mark 6:12-13 “12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.” NKJV

How much more must we do the same now that Christ has been raised and is King of All?  Now even today must we swallow our pride and step away from fear, and pick up the weapons given to us.  We must embrace Faith, laying the security of tracts and scripted prayers.  We too are called to move in the miraculous, we must only believe, the question has never been can Jesus heal but rather will.  All through the gospels all who asked received, Jesus felt compassion on them and reached out His hand.  Today we are those hands, we are the ones who feel compassion on the lost.  We are the ones proclaiming the Good News of His atonement of our sins and His free gift of salvation.  We are the beacons of light, not of paper.

Yet despite all this there is a very popular argument against what I am speaking of, that this power was reserved for the apostles alone.  Which cannot be true because Jesus also commissioned the seventy to go out and do the same works in Luke 10:1.  And after a short time they returned also with the following report.

Luke 10:17-20 “17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." 18 And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.  20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."  NKJV

The gifts are never for our own pleasure, they are the tools from the Almighty to reach the lost, be it healing, deliverance, prophecy, or the rest.  We have free access to all these in order to advance the Kingdom not our own islands.  Our job is to speak the gospel, then to reach out with our hands and let God be God.  We are simply to believe that He is, He will, and He did.
From the twelve to the seventy to all those who would believe the invitation and the commission was sent out.  To all those who believed, to all those called to the harvest, to all those who have been adopted.  We are one body, with one purpose, and one King 
And our King after His resurrection proclaimed to all those who would follow Him that they too would walk the Earth in the same way He did in Holiness, Love and Power.

Mark 16:16-18 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.  17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;  18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."  NKJV

These promises are not for another day, but here and now, no longer will fear bind us to the shadows, we are to burn brighter than the sun.  Our pasts, the failures of others is not what our faith is based on, it is based on what Christ did.  There is nothing anyone can do to change what Christ did, no one can nullify His actions or words, or commission to His children.   We have a choice, will we become like a mighty rushing river of the presence, power and love of Christ. Or will we become like a Dam trying to control the waters of life?

John 14:12-15 12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. 15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. KJV

Written by Cameron Conway