A great door and many adversaries.

“For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” -I Corinthians 16:9

     The apostle Paul found an opportunity to preach the Gospel.  It was something that he could not pass up.  Something had happened and he could not let this get away from him.  He knew that the time for action was now and that it may not be there again if he left Ephesus.  Instead he looked to stay and send someone in his stead before him.

The greek really blows this door wide open (pun intended).  “Great” is μεγάλη (megalē)  in the original Greek which we gain the word mega.  “Effectual” is ἐνεργής (energēs) in the original Greek from which we gain the word energy.  This is a “mega” opportunity and it is providing Paul with lots of “energy” for proclaiming the Gospel.

This door that has opened up to him is to good miss.  He was on his way to visit the believers at Corinth and to stay with them for some time (vs. 5-7).  The book of Acts reminds us after a visit to Corinth that Paul went to Ephesus and seemed to have planted a church there during the end of his first missionary journey (Acts 18:19).  On Paul’s second journey, as he was on his way to Corinth, he passed first through Ephesus (19:1).  While there he became engaged heavily with the city in evangelism and discipleship.  He spent what could of been up to 2-3 years there before going on with his missionary journey.

What could be more compelling than the gracious reception of the Gospel to a minister.  Even Jesus would tarry longer with the people because of His compassion on them.  Paul could not hurry up this process but would stay there as long as the Lord was moving.  To many times we hurry God and what He is doing.  We must discern what He is doing now and stick with His plan.

Now while there is an opportunity for ministry presented by the Lord we must always be aware of those against God.  “Adversaries” (I Cor. 16:9) in the Greek is ἀντίκειμαι (antikeimai).  It means those who are against others, lie on the opposite side, and oppose.  Wherever the Lord is working the enemy of men’s souls is also at work trying to stop the Lord’s work.  We are warned again and again to be aware of the enemies presence and ability to come in and destroy our work.  By the help of the Lord we can stop the advances but we must be vigilant.

So what doors are open to you?  Are you excited by the ministry?  Are you being opposed?

Love the Lord and love His Word.

Revival Thoughts – Number 5

In the spring of 1993 my family was on the way home from a revival week that had ended on Sunday night.  I remember laying down in the seat as we neared home I remember my thoughts vividly.  I remember thinking that I wanted a voice like my grandfather when he preached.  It could fill the room without any amplification.  I then felt a difference between him and myself.  He was a preacher, a true blue Christ and I knew that I was not like him.  I was raised in a Christian home but I felt something lacking in myself.  So at the age of eight I placed my faith in Christ and have never looked back.  I’ve made my share of mistakes but the Lord has kept me from a lot of heartache and pain.

    What’s your Jesus’ story?  Jarred has a Subway story.  He isn’t paid to know how to make the subs or to grow the plants or all the positions in the company.  He is only asked to share what Subway has done for him.  You are not expected to know every theological statement and have every scripture memorized.  Your just asked to share you Jesus story.  Where were you before you met Him.  What happened when you came to faith and soon after?  What is happening with you now?
   This is an attempt at a song I used to do as a child.  It used to be recorded by the Lauren Talley as a child and I can only remember parts.  In the end I think you get the idea.  You do not know have to know how to explain how God can take the darkest soul full of sin and apply the blood of Christ that was shed and make it whiter than snow.  All you need to do is now your Jesus story and be sure to share it.
What makes popcorn pop?
Or a black cow give white milk and yellow butter?
Jesus made the corn and the cow, and though I don’t understand the how.
I enjoy buttered popcorn just the same.
How can a mommy and daddy be born again?
Nicodemus came by night to ask the Lord about it.
And though Jesus answered he really didn’t get it.
You can change the outside
but only He can change the inside
To be born again.

Revival Thoughts – Number 4

“Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? and she answered, It is well.” – 2 Kings 4:26

     If you look at this woman’s situation you know that all is not well.  Her son had taken upon a sudden sickness and died as he was on his mother’s lap (2 Kings 4:18-20).  For many of us we would have fallen apart and never recovered.  Somehow this woman had confidence.  Somehow this woman had peace.  She told no one and when asked why she wanted to see the man of God she said, “It shall be well” (4:23).  This may let us realize that the pain of losing her child was real and not well at the moment but also that she had faith that it shall be well soon.

By faith she came to the man of God and only the servant would first and the man of God later.  The servant went with her and her “it is well” faith (4:25-30).  Her faith was strong in God even though her “soul is vexed within her” (4:27).  Faith does not deny the problems we have but it also knows the reality of God.  So to repeat, “If you look at this woman’s situation you know that all is not well ” but if you look at this woman’s God then you know that all is well.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28

If you look at her circumstances without God in the picture and what He would do through the man of God then there is no purpose.  It could be said, “that’s life and a shame.”  God in the picture though adds a holy purpose to this event.  For those that seek God in all things will find His holy purposing in all things.  God takes all things and can use them for good to us.

It may not be clear how God is using your situation but if you keep your faith as this mother God can bring good out of the situation.  For her it was her son back to life.  For you it may be your family back together.  A new job or a new start.  God will take what you are going through and use it to his holy purpose.  So you to can say, “it is well.”

Revival Thoughts – Number 3

“She hath done what she could.” (Mark 14:8a KJV)

     Powerful thought that Jesus raises when a woman anoints His feet with precious ointment. The disciples were mad because they saw how much good could have been done but Jesus shares that what she did was the best for that season of life they were in. Jesus was about to be crucified and the disciples couldn’t grasp the moment. In our worship, families, service to God do we really do all that we could?
Think of blessings people recieved when they did all they could.
-The widow’s cruse of oil and barrel of flour.
-the little boys lunch that Jesus borrowed.
-the widows mite
-Peter healing the beggar who asked for money.
So many times the scripture teaches for us to do our best and give all we have and see God move. Little is much when God is in it.

Revival Thoughts – Number 2

“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” – Psalms 122:1

In this second installment of my thoughts from revival I want to write about church attendance.  Not just going and sitting in a pew, singing a few songs, hearing a sermon, a going out the same way in.  I am also not writing about the attendance of an unbeliever in the worship service.  There is a way for believers to enter into worship.  It is with anticipation, expectancy, and reverence that has been built up by prayer, bible reading, and witnessing and fellowship.

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” – Psalms 100:4

     The world has taken away our holy expectancy.  No longer do we look forward to worshipping with other believers.  Just as we go to the game or show we “hope” it is a good one.  We “hope” to pull out the win.  That’s not the mindset of the believer.  “I hope its a good service” should not be part of our  vocabulary when it comes to the set apart time of worship.  The writer in Psalm 100 is excited about worshipping in Jerusalem.  He is excited to stand before the presence of God.  He is excited to be with fellow believers in worship.  The writer in Psalm 122 is excited about the journey he is making.  He will sing the psalms of ascent (or degrees in 120-134) as he makes his each of his journeys toward Jerusalem for four festivals a year.  There he will worship and nothing has made him more glad than to say “lets go worship.”

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” Acts 2:46

     “Gladness” in Acts 2:46 speaks of an unhidden joy.  The word in the greek “agallisei” means “the utterance of sounds with great joy” or “exuberant delight.”  Is it wrong to come with a heavy heart?  A burden? Maybe the loss of a loved one has recently happened.  Perhaps there are issues at home or work.  Does that mean a person comes in with a fake smile or a mask to cover up there true feelings.  No because happenings work with happiness and joy is of a different nature.  Gladness or joy is contentment no matter what.  For the believer “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b) and “My soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation” (Psalm 35:9).  Our Joy comes from God.  We may be hurting from tragedy and worn from trial but our joy and contentment is founded in God.

That should impact the way we come to worship no matter the circumstances.  We are coming to worship God not because we want to see something wild happen but to give thanks and praise to the One who has saved us. Not only has He given salvation but also provision.  We truly have so much to thank Him for.  Cherry Constance writes, “Worship is an invitation, not an invention…We don’t create worship; we don’t manufacture services.  Rather we respond to a person” (Constance, 2010, p. 4).  Worship is a conversation because “true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23).   God has spoken in the beginning to create.  God has spoken mercy, peace, and forgiveness.  God has called out to us all and those of us that have answered come in worship.

The set aside time is the local gatherings set apart time to gather and respond to the Holy Father’s seeking of worship.  We answer His call with thanksgiving and praise.  He responds again in the preached Word.  We respond again by heeding the invitation and our sending to live out the Word.  Worship is never about us but always a response to God’s actions.  That’s why we can anticipate and expect great things at worship.  The need for us to sing pretty enough, to shout louder, to run faster, is not there because we could never attract God into our presence with that.  We come before Him.  He is already there.  He has beat us to the gathering place.  So let us walk in with joy, gladness, thankfulness, and expectation.

Constance, Cherry; The Worship Archetect; Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 2010