WHERE WILL YOU GO AND DO FOR GOD?

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.Acts 1:6-8

We know that it was probably only as a result of persecution that Christians eventually moved out of Jerusalem to spread the Gospel. Hence, we know that God will do whatever is necessary to accomplish His purposes. What was the eventual outcome? From what we know, Peter and his wife traveled into Asia Minor, over to Greece, and on to Rome, never to return home. John eventually made his way throughout Western Turkey and settled in Ephesus to oversee the work there. Notably, he ended up on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. Thomas headed in the opposite direction to India, Matthew to Ethiopia. Judas Thaddeus to Armenia.

But for most of us, God’s call is to go out into the community where He has placed us. The big question is, are we completing the great commission to make disciples in our community? Considering we are approaching the time of His return the answer to this question in the affirmative is mandatory.

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YOU WERE CREATED FOR GOOD WORKS

Read this great testimony by Nathaniel Oliveri—Founder and CEO, The Normal Christian Life. It will encourage and challenge you at the same time. It certainly did me. The testimony is based on this amazing Scripture.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”Ephesians 2:8-10

“I just love how this Scripture builds to a climactic cliffhanger, as though heaven is awaiting our response. After establishing that we’re saved by grace and not by works—but that we are created for good works, it builds this profound picture of God preparing works beforehand.
Think about it: the God of heaven literally preparing hearts, events and situations before we even walk into the room or pass that by person or make that phone call. Then the Scripture peaks with this profound statement: “that we should walk in them.” Walk in what? The works! Which works? The works He has already prepared for us!
You mean, we have a choice? Yes! It doesn’t say, “you will walk in them.” It says “you should.”
The stage has been set by Heaven, prepared beforehand. And now we have a choice to partner with God Almighty. So, what does that look like? I’m glad you asked.
I am, of course, growing in this myself and I haven’t yet arrived, but here is an example from my life in the last week that encouraged me, and I pray it will encourage you too.
So, last week I was picking up some carpet squares from a church that was moving location and selling many items. As I was putting the carpet squares in the car, a lady walked past with someone from the church. She had seen some items on the internet and didn’t even know this was a church. She asked me about the carpet squares and I sensed she may not be a Christian so I asked her a simple question. Are you from this church? She said “no”. So I said, ”Well then, I get an opportunity to tell you that Jesus loves you!”

The church staff member looked surprised that I even mentioned the ‘J’ word to a stranger. But, at that moment her eyes shot open. “My ten year old son just said while we were driving here, “Mum, do you think Jesus is real?” I then prodded cheekily, “And do you?”


“Well, I’m not sure,” she replied. I went on, “Well, what do you think the chances are of me telling you about Jesus just moments later?” To this she agreed that the timing couldn’t be a coincidence, and this in turn led to her inviting me to share the Gospel and pray for her and her son. They were deeply impacted, and I gave them some video links from our YouTube channel The Normal Christian Life.
The kid was excited because he was meeting a “YouTuber” in his words, and seemed keen to watch the videos. Now, they didn’t give their lives to Jesus there and then, but I know seeds were planted. But what struck me was how God had prepared their hearts just moments before I shared with them, even allowing her boy to ask such a specific question about Jesus, just before they arrived.
I wonder how many amazing works God has prepared beforehand for you today. What a blessing to be able to partner with Heaven and respond with our free will and walk in them.

Prayer

Lord, today, help me to draw close to you in my prayer life and in my day-to-day life. Help me to be sensitive to your prompting, and help me to walk in the works you’ve prepared for me. Lord, thank you that you love me and value me enough to make me a part of Your story. Show me today the people you want me to reach. Prepare their hearts and help me to be bold and obedient. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

ENCOUNTERING MISGUIDED PROPHECIES

This story provides an important lesson in the what we do with prophetic messages, regardless of who gives them, particularly when they relate to God’s call on your life.

Twenty-three-year-old George Whitefield sat on a ship ready to sail for America from the port of Deal, located approximately 70 miles southeast of London. For some time, he had experienced a compelling call to preach the gospel to colonial America and now the day for his departure had finally arrived. His heart was filled with gratitude, excitement and expectation.

As he waited for the ship’s crew to hoist anchor and sail, a letter was delivered to him from John Wesley who had just returned from a failed mission to Georgia. He opened the letter and was stunned by what he read. Wesley wrote that when he saw that the same wind that brought him in was taking Whitefield out, he inquired of the Lord about Whitefield’s journey. Wesley emphatically stated that the word God gave him for Whitefield was, “Let him return to London.”

Whitefield was shocked and momentarily confused. Wesley was 10 years his senior and had been a mentor to him. He held the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, in very high esteem. However, this word from John contradicted everything he believed about his call to America.

Whitefield went to prayer, and as he prayed, there came to his mind a story from the Old Testament about a “man of God” who lost his life because he listened to the words of an “old prophet” instead of diligently adhering to what God had instructed him.

I Kings 13 tells this story of the unnamed “man of God” whom God instructed to go to Bethel and prophesy against the idolatrous altars that had been established there by King Jeroboam. God also instructed him not to stop to eat or drink but to return directly home to Judah when he had completed his assignment.

Based on this directive from the Lord, he went to Bethel. As he prophesied against the idolatrous altars, they miraculously split apart, and the ashes were poured out on the ground. As he departed Bethel according to the Lord’s instructions, an “old prophet,” who heard of what had happened, saddled his donkey, caught up with the “man of God” and invited him to his home to eat and drink.

When the “man of God” recounted to the “old prophet” what the Lord had instructed him, the “old prophet” said, “‘I am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house so that he may eat bread and drink water'” (1 Kings 13:18). The “old prophet,” however, was lying.

The “man of God” went back with the “old prophet” in contradiction to the instructions the Lord had given him; and as a result of his disobedience, he lost his life and was not buried in the burial ground of his ancestors.

With this story so vividly impressed on his mind, Whitefield knew what he must do. He sent back a reply to Wesley in which he said, “I cannot return to London.” Whitefield said no to Wesley’s “thus saith the Lord.”

History has demonstrated that Whitefield made the correct decision, for he became the major figure in the Great Awakening that rocked Colonial America and prepared her for statehood. Everywhere he went, great revival followed his preaching.

Because of God’s blessing on his labors, he became the most recognizable person in colonial America and Thomas S. Kidd, who teaches history at Baylor University, calls him “America’s Spiritual Founding Father.”

We can all be thankful that Whitefield said no to Wesley’s “thus saith the Lord.”