CALLING THE CHURCH TO ACTIVE SERVICE Acts 9:36-43“In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha… she was always doing good and helping the poor.” Acts 9:36, NIV During his visit to Lydda, Peter had an emergency call from Joppa on behalf of Dorcas who had just died. Though the brethren had washed her body in preparation for her burial, they wouldn’t let go of her. They kept the body in a room upstairs and sent for Peter who just ministered healing to Aeneas at Lydda. She must have been a woman of influence. They sought for divine intervention because they didn’t want to lose this woman whose active service had blessed many. The presence of the widows at the scene and their display of the gifts they had received from Dorcas were testimonies to her life of influence. What will you be remembered for? Dorcas would have been buried and forgotten, but for the brethren who sent delegates to Lydda. The church should also give immediate response to the need of her members. Should you relocate suddenly from your current location will your church miss you for any reason? If you need the church’s recommendation for admission or employment will your pastor and the brethren be confident to recommend you? The brethren recommended Dorcas to Apostle Peter without hesitation can your story be similar?
- Birthday Blessing: “...for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning...” Lamentation3:22-23
AENEAS HEALED, RESIDENTS TURN TO GOD Acts 9:32-35“Aeneas, Peter said to him, ‘Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat. Immediately Aeneas got up.” Acts 9:34, NIV We live in a world where the human mind tries to explain everything and give answers to every question. However, this attempt has failed overtime and will continue to fail because the ways of God are unsearchable. God does things that no man can explain. The miracle working God was with Peter as he travelled about the country visiting brethren. During his visit, he discovered a paralysed and bedridden man, Aeneas. Speaking as Jesus’ spokesman, Peter ministered healing to him and Aeneas received his healing immediately. That miraculous act attracted all the residents of the cities of Lydda and Sharon to God – they “turned to the Lord.” Like Peter, do you also find time to visit brethren? And if you do, what do you go with – powerful grace of God or terrible rumours and slanderous talk? We must learn from Peter and ensure that our visitations come with grace and not with poisonous rumours. Also like Peter, we must seek to glorify God in all we do. Peter declared: “Jesus Christ heals you.” Don’t ever arrogate any glory to yourself when Christ works through you. Learn to always give glory to God so that He can do more through you. Are you also handicapped in some ways? Don’t give up; our God still does the miraculous. Call upon Him and He shall show His glory through your life.
- Birthday Blessing: “My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him...” Psalms 89:21-22
PHILIP’S PREACHING MINISTRY
Acts 8:4-8“Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.” Acts 8:5, NIV Philip was one of the seven deacons chosen to distribute food among the brethren in the early church but he did more. After the persecution that featured the death of Stephen, the brethren were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. In other cases, people might have been dejected and musing over why the all-powerful God would allow persecution to disturb His people. Instead, these people saw the persecution as an opportunity to spread the gospel in their new locations. Having fled to Samaria, and rising above his challenges, Philip preached Christ and great miracles were done through him. What are you going through at the moment? Instead of musing over your problems, wake up and utilise your challenge for the expansion of the kingdom of Christ. What is your area of service in God’s house? Are you only busy filling up the space or you are busy growing up? If all Philip knew how to do was to serve food to the brethren, he may no longer be relevant after they were scattered from Jerusalem. Like Samaria witnessed joy because of Philip’s ministry some people’s joy are also tied to your ministry among them. Wake up to your responsibility.
- Birthday Blessing: “Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty...” Isaiah 8:18.
PETER’S HEALING MINISTRY Acts 5:12-16“As a result, people brought those who were ill into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.” Acts 5:15, NIV God sometimes brings unusual testimonies out of common events. He makes His ways so unpredictable and mysterious that man will just have to acknowledge His divine hand. A hymn writer says: “God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform, He plants His footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.” This is very true of the experience in today’s text. One would have thought the event of the sudden death of Ananias and Sapphira would scare people away from the fellowship of the believers in Christ. On the contrary, God mysteriously used the event for an uncommon publicity for the expansion of the Church. As people regarded the Church highly, more people believed and were added to the Church. This resulted in open acknowledgement of the power of God in the ministry of the apostles. The sick and the demon-tormented received their healing just by a cast of Peter’s shadow on them. What a great God! As it was in the days of old, God is still in the business of healing people supernaturally. Will you, like Peter, be an available vessel for God’s purpose of divine healing? Remember that this did not happen until God purged His Church of lies and deceit. Will you also rid yourself of all forms of impediments and be a ready vessel in God’s hands?
- Birthday Blessing: “You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down...” Isaiah 45:8
CARE FOR WIDOWS AND ORPHANS James 1:22-27“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows...” James 1:27 NIV Some people engage in different religious activities in order to identify with God and His course, thinking that religious activity is a means of getting approval from God. However, these people often miss the mark because what they consider religious is often different from God’s requirements. In today’s text, James calls attention to the futility of some of those religious efforts and outlines the true worship that is acceptable to God. God desires obedience to His Word more than mere listening without practicing His Word. God also demands that beyond the claim of spirituality, believers should exercise control over their tongue. More specifically, Apostle James gives a clear definition of what God considers to be true religion. The religion that is acceptable to God is the one that transcends self-centeredness to cater for the orphans and the widows and that in which the practitioners keep themselves from worldly pollution. Will your religious practices pass these tests? Or are you, like the Priest and the Levite in the Good Samaritan story, so overwhelmed with self that you close your eyes to the helpless and the needy? As you seek to please God, are you not stained by the pollutions of the world? Check yourself and redress.
- Birthday Blessing: “Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.” Psalms 32:2
JESUS RAISES A WIDOW’S SON Luke 7:11-17“Then he...touched the bier.... He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk ...” Luke7:14-15, NIV There are some unusual encounters that last a lifetime. Such was the encounter the widow had with Jesus as recorded in today’s text. This woman did not lack people around her in her moment of distress. However, none of the members of the large crowd around her could give her the help she really needed. The best they could offer was joining her to mourn her loss, they could do no more. Just then Jesus showed up for her. His heart went out to her and He acted on her behalf. Jesus did more than mourn her loss like the large crowd; He restored that which was lost. He raised the boy and gave him back to his mother alive! In the midst of her sorrow she never lost sight of the person of Jesus. What have you lost and it seems the best people could do is simply sympathise with you? Do not lose sight of Jesus in the midst of your despair because God is interested in returning that which you seem to have lost. Is it the joy of your salvation, your admission, your marital relationship, your relationship with your family or any other loss? God is able to restore all you have lost, only believe that “God has come to help his people” (Luke 7:16c).
- Birthday Blessing: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten….” Joel2:25.
WIDOW’S SON RESTORED TO LIFE
1 Kings 17:17-24“The LORD heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.” 1 Kings 17:22, NIV Many times we ask ourselves why the righteous should suffer. One would think a kind person like this widow, who did everything to make the man of God comfortable, should face no challenge. But it is often not the case. The son of this widow took ill and she must have been hoping that he would get well soon but the boy’s condition grew worse. How often do we find ourselves in such a mess when rather than see our pleasant wishes come true the case deteriorates? The woman’s hope was dying off right under her nose and she could not help the situation until her son breathed his last. Imagine her agony, helplessness and hopelessness. When all hope was lost, this widow called on the man of God who pleaded with God on her behalf. When it seems all hope is lost, what do you do? Do you merely bury your head in self-pity or you let faith rise up in you? When you are crest-fallen, do you seek the intercessory assistance of brethren or backslide into idolatry? Elijah stood in the gap and God heard his cry. In your state of hopelessness, call out to God and the Lord will restore your hope. He is still doing the impossible.
- Birthday Blessing: “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land...” Ezekiel 37:14.
CONTROL YOUR TONGUE James 3:1-12“…Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” James 3:2b, NIV A woman who was having serious marital crisis sought her mother’s help on how to restore peace in her home. The mother gave her a stone to put in her mouth anytime trouble was brewing in her home. The next time there was a problem, the woman used the stone as instructed by her mother. Gradually, peace was restored in the home. When the woman went back to appreciate her mother, the mother confessed that there was nothing special about the stone that it was just a way of teaching the daughter how to tame her tongue. We often feel the need to be heard. This sometimes makes some people talk before they think and some others engage in unwholesome talk. In today’s text, Apostle James warns us to tame our tongue asserting that if we succeed, then we can control every other part of our body. Failure to control our tongue is equal to paving way for destruction as an uncontrolled tongue is equated to a deadly poison. Are you guilty of having a loose tongue? Do you curse people, tell lies or run others down with the same tongue with which you praise God? Repent and pray that God will circumcise your tongue.
- Birthday Blessing: “But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”
SAY ONLY “YES” OR “NO” Matthew 5:33-37“And do not swear…. All you need to say is simply “Yes,” or “No”; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:36-37, NIV Swearing is common in our daily experiences; yet, people hardly live up to the integrity of their speech. Gone are the days when Christians were trusted on the basis of their identity. Nowadays, the world will want to cross-check the integrity of a believer because some have misrepresented that identity and they are no longer known for integrity. In today’s text, Jesus strongly warns against swearing by anything at all. Instead, He admonishes us to simply say ‘Yes,’ or ‘No. ’The thrust of this injunction is for believers to be people of integrity. God desires that as His children the world will be able to hold us accountable for our words and believe whatever we say without having to prove our sincerity by swearing. If we will simply say ‘Yes,’ or ‘No’ as the Lord commands, then, our words must be our bound. Christians should be straight-forward and their words binding on them. Are you double dealing with your fiancé or fiancée? When you tell your parents you are going for a church meeting, won’t they have to cross-check to be sure you haven’t gone visiting a friend instead? Should a video clip of your intentions be shown, will it tally with your speech? Make a fresh commitment to Christ today to maintain integrity in your speech.
- Birthday Blessing: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through...” 1 Thess. 5:23.
INFANTS AND BABIES SPEAK Matthew 21:14-16“…From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have you called forth your praise.” Matthew 21:16, NIV Three categories of people were involved with Jesus in this text. These are the blind and lame, the religious leaders and the children. Each category had different intentions for coming to Jesus. For the blind and the lame, they came to Jesus and they received their healing. As for the religious leaders, though they saw the wonderful things Jesus did, they refused to acknowledge them. Instead, they were angry because they felt insulted by His deeds. The children, however, seized the opportunity to praise Jesus and they got divine recognition for their actions. The children did not allow the wrong perceptive of the elders discourage them. Where do you belong, among the miracle seekers, the blasphemers or the worshippers? The angry religious leaders challenged the actions of the children, perhaps they felt they were too insignificant to get it right. However, Jesus commended the children. He affirmed that they were doing God’s biddings because He has decided to call forth His praise from their lips. What is proceeding from your lips, praises or condemnation? What is your attitude when God uses the unexpected around you to project His fame? Pay attention to the ‘insignificant’ ones around you today, God might be speaking through them. Like the children, always acknowledge the deeds of God and speak of His wonderful works.
- Birthday Blessing: “There is surely a future hope for you and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs23:18.