Sunday, 30 August 2015

Bible Reading: Acts 6v1-7

"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.  They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith."


People often talk of two typical responses to danger.  When we sense a threat our system is flooded with adrenaline and we either take flight or fight.  Though there seems to be a third less talked about response of freezing.  But here in Acts we see the very distinctive way God's people respond to the dangers they have faced.  Danger for the early church is, under God's sovereign grace, an opportunity to grow.

Have you noticed how every time Satan has tried to derail the church it has come through the danger stronger and growing with more people having heard the gospel.  You see it in Acts 4 when the danger is persecution and in chapter 5 when internal corruption is the issue.  It’s the same here.   (1-2)Start off with the church in danger of division and distraction but by verse 7 it ends with the word of God being spread and keeping on spreading and the number of disciples in Jerusalem not just growing but growing rapidly and even some of the priests coming to faith.

The multiplied ministry of the church both in word and in action that results from the Apostles seeing the danger and leading the church to deal decisively with it results in an even great spreading of the gospel.  Freed from division and distraction the gospel is unleashed.   And even priests come to faith. The gospel will not be overcome it will not be derailed.  Isn't that an enormous encouragement?  When we face danger it is an opportunity to grow.

Growth isn’t a problem, though it will pose challenges.  Differences aren’t the problem, division caused by grumbling is.  Distraction from teaching the Bible well with good things can cripple the church.  Do you see the solutions?  We need to make sure that those who teach the bible can teach it well and have the time to do so.  We need to be multiplying ministers among ourselves so that we meet needs and the gospel we’re taught is at work in us as a church and the world sees and is won by the good news of Jesus.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Bible Reading: Acts 6v1-7

"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.  They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith."


There is another thing that the Apostles swiftly lead the church to do in response to this danger of growth.  They multiply ministers(3-6).  What and who is a minister of the gospel? I wonder how you’d answer that.  And what is the job of those who teach us the Bible?

We have a tendency in our evangelical churches to view the minister as the person paid by the church to do ministry.  Except the Bible has a different take that challenges our misconceptions.   It talks of every member ministry and of those who teach the bible equipping those listening for ministry in every day life and in actively serving one another.  The ministry doesn’t happen exclusively in the pulpit, it happens afterwards as you talk to one another and care for one another, it happens as people give out refreshments, it happens in the preparations for and during shared lunches.  It happens as we leave and go about everyday life and live and serve as church during the week equipped by what we have heard taught from God's word.

Here in Acts the Apostles means of growing both word and practical ministry is to multiply ministers. Not in terms of taking on paid staff, but in terms of recognising the gifting of others and giving them responsibility for practical mercy ministry which will flow from the Apostolic bible teaching. And notice who they pick, it isn’t just people who are very organised, but people who are “full of the Spirit and wisdom.” They must be godly characters who live life to please God. They commission those people and set them to work as practical ministers of the gospel.

We need to pause and ask what does that mean for us? Am I thinking of ministry rightly?  Have I restricted it to the job of the paid staff?  Do I think about Bible teaching equipping me and if so what is it equipping me for?  Are there ways we can help our churches multiply ministry? Are there places where those who we set aside to teach God’s word can be freed up to do so better by others of us using our gifts to serve?

It is always enormously encouraging for those who teach the Bible to see people motivated and energised by the gospel using their gifts to practically serve one another; people painting, mowing, driving, visiting and cooking for others, people starting and maintaining mercy ministry. That practical service is a valuable expression of the grace of God, it is what the Bible taught is designed to equip us for.

This is especially vital as churches grow.  As they grow they must think about multiplying both involvement and people to head up practical care, to oversee pastoral visiting, youth work and so on. So that practically we put the gospel we are being taught to work.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Bible Reading: Acts 6v1-7

"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.  They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith."


As we have thought about this passage over the last couple of days we've seen the twin threats growth posed to the early church.  Threats of division and distraction.  Now we see how the Apostles lead the church to deal decisively with danger.  They don't take their time, they don't convene lots of meetings for discussion, the problem is too serious and the danger too imminent to be left to fester.  

(2)The Apostles are quick to see the seriousness of the situation and lead the church to deal with it. They gather the church and make them aware of the issue bringing an end to the grumbling. And they lead the church in changing so that the gospel is unleash in word and action. There are two particular things they do, I just want to dwell on one here, we'll get to the second another time.

The first thing they do is to show the church that they must make the main thing the main thing(2,4). The Apostles recognise the danger of distraction from teaching the bible and move swiftly to remedy it.  It's worth noticing that they don’t deny the value of mercy ministry, as some today would do, they want to encourage it.  The gospel should always lead to practical love and care of those in need.  But it isn’t right for them, the Apostles, to being doing that rather than preaching and teaching.

Why? Because they have been called to witness to Jesus(1:8).  The church has grown through people hearing about Jesus and the churches unity is maintained by the gospel taught and applied and if they stop teaching the good news of Jesus then the church will struggle and mercy ministry will fizzle out and die.  The good news of God’s grace in Jesus, that he gave up everything to die condemned in our place to win for us a relationship with God is what fuels the church. Grace at work is what leads to salvation, unity and love for one another expressed practically. If they stop teaching the gospel, if they stop witnessing to Jesus, mercy ministry will dry up, the church will fracture, and the mission they were given by Jesus to be his Spirit empowered witnesses will fail.  So they have to make the main thing – preaching and prayer - the main thing.

The church grows in numbers and maturity as the word of God is taught. The church is united together as the love of God for us is taught and applied. The church grows in love for one another expressed practically as the grace of God fills and overflows our hearts.  And that overflow results in mercy ministry.

There are lots of good things we can and should do as churches.   But we have to make sure that preaching and prayer are guarded and remain central.  We need to make sure those who preach and teach be it in Sunday school, home group, in an Uncover group, at toddlers or on Sunday morning are not so overworked with other good things that they are distracted from teaching the Bible well.   We need to make sure they are not so busy that prayer gets squeezed into snatched minutes here and there, because to do so would invite disaster.

But as all of God's people we also need to ask to what extent do I reflect those priorities?  Do I prioritise hearing preaching, applying it, being changed by it?  To what extent do I encourage those who teach me to devote themselves to the word of God and prayer?  Because to do any less invites disaster.  How can we better encourage those who teach us God's word to teach us well (notice the word encourage, not berate or burden)?  How can we better facilitate their study and prayer?

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Bible Reading: Acts 6v1-7

"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith."

We thought yesterday about how one of the dangers that growth posed to the New Testament church in Acts 6 was division, a highlighting of difference which when grumbled about resulted in an overturning of the gospel.  But that isn't the only danger which growth posed for the church, there is a second danger that is attendant with growth and division: distraction.

Specifically, verse 2, the Apostles being distracted from their task of witnessing to Jesus.  What was causing them to be distracted from it?  Distributing the food to the needy in church.  The point here isn't that that was a wrong or bad thing to do, in fact that’s a good thing for the church to do.  The church reflects God’s heart and concern for the widowed as it does that.  But the issue is it’s distracting the Apostles from preaching God’s word.

One of the first thing that strikes me as I read that is that it is not where I am most prone to distraction.  This isn’t the distraction we struggle with; Facebook, twitter, TV and whatever it is that keeps us from being on task.  This is distraction with a good thing, a thing the church should be doing.  But it is dangerous because it is stopping the Apostles teaching about Jesus.  In Acts 4:29-30 we see that persecution won’t stop them teaching about Jesus, in 5v42 they leave the Sanhedrin with bloodied backs but the good news of Jesus on their lips. What persecution couldn’t prevent distraction with a good thing is in danger of stopping.

Acts 6 isn’t setting up a priority list for the church.  We preach and pray and whatever left over energy and time there is, if any, we spend doing mercy ministry.  No, the danger is that the Apostles are distracted from what they have been called to do; preach Jesus.

As people, and as a church, we must ensure that good things don’t distract us from preaching Jesus. So practically as churches must ensure that those who are set aside to teach the Bible aren’t overloaded with other things so that they’re distracted from preaching and teaching.  We have to ensure they have time to do what we have set them aside to do.  And again the danger of that grows as we grow in number.

So in Acts 6v1-7 we see the twin dangers of growth; Division and distraction.  It's worth stopping and asking ourselves are we in danger from either of these?  Actually in some ways that's the wrong question because there is always those dangers.   The question we need to ask ourselves is has difference led to complaining which results in division?  Has distraction lead me to miss out of the most important thing?  Are those who teach in our churches distracted by other tasks?  So how do we ensure those dangers don’t derail us as a church?  Tomorrow we'll look at the answer Acts 6 provides.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Bible Reading: Acts 6v1-7

"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith."


As we've been reading through Acts we've seen that the early church has been growing explosively. Filled with the Spirit, proclaiming Jesus, seeing God’s word applied in people’s lives, and loving in action has led to growth from 120 to well over 5,000. But as they have grown so they have come under attack.  Satan has not been inactive or unconcerned, he has been trying to destroy the church. And he has tried using different methods; by persecution, twice, and once through internal corruption.   Each of those challenges has been met by a resolve to stand and witness for Jesus and to be his church that fights sin and stands firm on the truth.  Now, here Satan tries again using a different method. Here we see a new danger to the church though it’s one that might surprise us.

The danger this time is growth.  That sounds counter intuitive to us, we would love to see a growing church, especially for many of us in small churches where growth is slow an the going hard.  So how can growth be a problem or a danger?   After all it would be great to have a church of hundreds, just think of all the positives. Just think of all we could do, the impact we could have. And that’s true growth itself isn’t a problem. But it brings with it a number of potential problems, dangers which the church – which any church if it is to grow - must face and deal with.  I want to pick out one today and one tomorrow:

The first danger we see here is division in verse 1.  As the church has grown different people from different cultures have joined the church. There are two specifically mentioned here, the Hebrew speaking Jews and Greek speaking Jews. But this divide is about more than just the language they speak, they come from different cultures, different ways of thinking too. Having these different groups in the church isn’t a bad thing, in fact it’s a proper expression of the power of the gospel to cross divides. But the problem is that the Greek speaking Jews complained “their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.”

This isn’t prejudice in action, it isn’t discrimination, it’s not racism. It is just an oversight. We saw in Acts 4 that money was given to the Apostles for the needy and they distributed it, the same happens with the food for the widows. That was fine when there were 120 in the church, maybe even when there were 3,000. But now there are well over 5,000 it is an impossible task for the twelve apostles to combine with preaching, teaching and praying. Amid all the busyness one group is being treated better than another, and that leads to complaining. Notice here they “complained against the Hebraic Jews…” There is grumbling in the church about others in the church, differences are being highlighted and it is spreading.  At the outset of God's new community they face the danger the Old Testament people of God succumbed to - grumbling.

We live in a culture where complain is viewed as a British right. But the Bible is counter to our culture. Complaining and grumbling are dangerous. It’s like rust that gradually corrodes your car, or a boat or swing until they fall apart not longer able to hold together. But here it is corroding relationships between people in the church and therefore corroding the gospel that unites them. Complaining maximises differences and minimises the gospel. It sets up again barriers the gospel has knocked down, it disrupts the unity Christ has won at the cross, and it makes something other than Jesus’ death and resurrection central to our identity.

It is important that we see the division isn’t caused by the differences; difference isn’t the problem. Division is caused by complaining. We should expect church to be full of people who are different from us because that is the wonder of the gospel. That’s the joy of church. Different races, different ages, different likes and dislikes, different social backgrounds, different economic backgrounds but all one church. If we find ourselves bemoaning it or grumbling that there is no-one like us then we’ve misunderstood the nature of the gospel and of church. In fact what we are saying is I don’t want a gospel church.

The Bible would also warn us that if we find ourselves complaining and grumbling then we need to stop because it undermines church. If we have a genuine issue we will take it to the churches leaders. But don’t go round grumbling or complaining to individuals creating division in the church.

We also need to realise we mustn’t listen to others complaining either. Don’t listen and then stay silent because people assume silence means you agree with them. We need to challenge complaining and grumbling, especially about differences in our church family. Challenge them that those differences are a positive, a sign of the gospel being at work. Warn them that if they want a church full of people like them they don’t want a church Jesus pictures where the gospel is at work as we bear with others. And then send them to see the elders to talk about their grievances. If the grievance is genuine send them to see the elders and tell them not to grumble and moan about it to others because to do so is dangerous, it’s like rust undermining God’s people.

An oversight is the issue here, it’s not deliberate, and it needs correcting and the Apostles quickly correct it. It really helpful reminds us that our church leaders aren’t infallible, we will miss things, we will make mistakes, if the Apostles did we certainly will. But when you see that happening don’t grumble about it to others go and see your leaders so they can see what they have missed and act on it.

Differences aren’t the problem, they aren’t the danger. Complaining and grumbling is because division fractures Christ’s body and destroys the church and stops the spread of the gospel. Don’t allow differences to become division by grumbling or allow grumbling to destroy Christ’s church. That becomes more important than ever as the church grows.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Bible Reading: Acts 5v27-42

As you read these verses you can't help but feel the antagonism of the Sanhedrin towards the disciples.  They are so angry that they want to put the Apostles to death.  But why are the Sanhedrin so angry with the apostles? There are three reasons given in verse 28. Firstly, the apostles disobeyed their charge to stop teaching the people. Secondly they are angry about the spread of the message the Apostles “have filled Jerusalem with your teaching” that Jesus is Saviour and Lord. Thirdly and finally they are angry because the Apostles are “determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

How would you react to being put on trial on those charges? Peter doesn’t go on the defensive. He turns the tables and puts the Sanhedrin on trial. (30)The Sanhedrin want the apostles to disobey God, but they won’t. The Sanhedrin are opposed to God because God raised Jesus whom they killed to life and God has declared Jesus to be Prince, or ruler, and Saviour. In Jesus there is forgiveness if people repent and yet the Sanhedrin won’t accept him, and (32)they ignore all the evidence and the eye witnesses. In short the church is now the people of God and the apostles the leaders of God’s people. The Sanhedrin is in opposition to God.

(33)The Sanhedrin’s reaction is no surprise is it. They just want to kill the apostles. But God sovereignly intervenes again, at work even in the Sanhedrin through the actions of those who oppose him. Gamaliel speech is the key to this chapter really, especially(38-39). Other groups have come and gone, they didn’t last he says “Therefore, in the present case I advise you; leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

Acts charts the proof that it is from God. As the gospel spreads and more and more people come to faith, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Gamaliel’s words are proven true – God is at work and opposing the gospel and the church is opposing God himself.

Again we need to realize that and adjust our thinking so that we live in the light of it. God is at work in the gospel and through his church. To oppose it is to oppose God and there will only ever be one winner. The church is unrelenting, it endures even though it faces opposition from without and within. That must change our thinking, it isn’t us on the defensive it’s the world on the defensive.

As a church as we take the gospel to our community and family and friends in the run up to Christmas we are to expect both acceptance and rejection. But we can confidently hold out the gospel because God is at work, God is with us, the gospel is God’s good news he wants the world to hear and we participate in his mission. And to oppose God’s church is to oppose God.

History tells us that. Under communism in the last century the Chinese governments aim was to eradicate Christianity, yet today more Christians will meet together in church in China than in the whole of Europe. That same growth despite persecution happened in Romania and other countries that were behind the Iron Curtain. It is happening today in places where persecution continues to be the norm. To oppose the church and the gospel it holds out is to oppose God and you cannot win.

We don’t need to feel defensive, we need to pray and go trusting God, empowered by the Spirit.

And do you see the confidence these two facts bring the Apostles. God is at work through his people as they join in his mission of making Jesus known. And to oppose the gospel is to oppose God. (40-42)Even as they suffer for the gospel, they know events are not out of God’s control. In fact they count the dishonour of being flogged an honour because the stripes of their flogging echo those of their Saviour. “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” And they never stop teaching and proclaiming Jesus as Saviour and Lord(42). They don’t take a step back, they don’t retreat, they don’t go on the defensive. Because God is at work and is for his people and they treasure God above all else.

Isn’t that helpful. Isn’t that encouraging. Shouldn’t that change our thinking. We are not alone, the church is not on the defensive, or it should not be. God is at work through his people taking his message about Jesus to a world in need and we have the privilege of cooperating in his mission. God is with us by the Spirit and it is his powerful message about his Son that we have to share. And opposition is futile, they can do no more than he allows, because you can’t fight against God and win.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Bible Reading: Acts 5v12-26

Verses 12-26 give us further insight into the churches life together after this challenge of rooting out sin in the church.  Having survived these three threats to their life together and their witness to Jerusalem and beyond would the church go into its shell?  Would it pause to take stock, lick its wounds, or go on a heretic hunt?

Verses 12-16 give us an astonishing snapshot of the church gathered and united and its ministry in, and effect on, Jerusalem. Luke highlights the “many signs and wonders” that the apostles are doing. So great is their reputation for doing the miraculous that, just as with Jesus, people come from all the surrounding towns and bring their sick and possessed(16) and they are healed. In fact there are so many are healed that sick people just long for Peter’s shadow to fall on them(15). Do you remember the purpose of the signs and wonders? (2:22)They were Jesus' accreditation by God that he was the Son of God and the Messiah, Saviour and Lord, that God was at work in him and therefore people should listen to his words. Now God is at work through the apostles in just the same way. Accrediting them as his spokesmen by signs and wonders, calling people to listen as they preach about Jesus risen and still at work by his Spirit. Every wonder and sign shows that God is at work through his church and apostles and that he approves of their message, that their message is his good news to the world.

Their signs and wonders and teaching produces a curious but normal set of reactions. People are both fascinated and yet fearful, amazed and attracted and yet afraid. People know the opposition the church faces, they know what happened to Ananias and Sapphira, they can see the power and authority of the apostles, some are amazed and think well of them but are too afraid to join the church(13). But others “more and more men and women” come to faith in Jesus. There is a curious fascination with the church but a fear of joining for some, whilst others come to faith. We shouldn’t expect any less, God is at work through his people.

But they aren’t the only reactions(17f). As we’ve seen before the gospel preached always brings two reaction; faith and opposition. (17-18)The high priest and other religious leaders are filled with jealousy, so they arrest the apostles and throw them in jail. But God sends an angel to lead a prison break and tells the apostles to go back and preach again in the temple courts. Before the confused Sanhedrin have them arrested again and brought to trial.

It’s a slightly comical incident isn’t it? Can you picture it? The jury are all gathered together and told the apostles will be brought out, the captain of the guard is sent to get them. But they aren’t there and a confused captain reports back that the jailed is tightly locked up, the guards are still stood at the doors, but when we opened the doors we found no-one inside(23-24). No wonder everyone’s puzzled. No trick brick in the wall that opens a secret passage, no tunnel dug with a spoon, no bribed insider among the guards. They are just gone, disappeared, it’s as if they were never there in the first place.

And then it just gets stranger, because where are they? They are back where they were originally arrested, preaching about Jesus in the temple courts, and so they are rearrested and brought before the Sanhedrin.

We have to ask why did God free them? When the Sanhedrin put them in prison for the night what were they intending to do the next morning? Put them on trial. God releases them but notice they still end up on trial the next morning. Nothing really changes for all their miraculous escape. So why did God do it? Why the temporary get out of jail free card? Why not tell them to run? Why send them back where they would get caught again?

There are two reasons. Firstly God is showing the Sanhedrin that they aren’t in control. God is and he is at work through the apostles and will decide what happens to them and when and where, not the Sanhedrin. And secondly God is showing that he wants the gospel proclaimed, God frees the apostles and sends them back out to “tell the people about this new life.” Sharing the gospel is God’s work, the apostles aren’t alone against opposition.   God is at work, God is with them, they are on his mission and he isn’t a silent partner or uninvolved. God, Father, Son and Spirit are invested in taking the good news to the world.

The Sanhedrin can only do what God allows them to do. Their power is limited. They can’t keep them in jail, they can’t arrest them by force because they fear the people. God is at work. Can you imagine the encouragement that gave the apostles as they went to face the Sanhedrin, God is sovereign, he wants the gospel preached, he is at work in us by his Spirit and he is sovereign over even the opposition, they can do nothing he doesn’t permit.

But there’s one other thing we need to see here. God is answering his people’s prayers. Do you remember their prayer(4:29-30)? Here God answers it as he empowers them to perform signs and wonders and to speak boldly, as he encourages them to do so.

Do you see how that transforms our thinking as we take the good news of Jesus to a needy world. God is at work in the church – we don’t just gather out of habit, we gather expecting God to be at work.  Does that change the way you think about yesterday and the sense of expectancy you have about next Sunday? That means when we gather together we should expect to hear from others how God has been at work in their lives and in our lives together. When we pray for God’s help in his mission to make the gospel known we should expect God to answer.

It means that as we share the gospel with family, friends, neighbours, colleagues we’re not alone. God wants Jesus proclaimed to the world, that’s why Father, Son and Spirit planned for Jesus to come and die and rise again so that the world might find life with God in him. So that people could be resurrected from spiritually death and given Jesus' life and relationship with the Father. That’s why Jesus sent the Spirit; (Acts 1:8)the Spirit comes to enable and empower his people, us, to be his witnesses. God is with us as we share the gospel, God is with us as we answer questions, God is with us as we face those who mock us for our faith, God is with us in their reaction whether it is hostile or trusting Jesus.

And God is sovereign even over opposition and how that shows itself. They can do nothing that God does not permit them to do. That doesn’t mean there will be no suffering as we share the gospel. Sometimes we may get the equivalent of the get out of jail free card, but other times that will mean suffering for sharing the gospel as in v40. But God is for his people, he wants Jesus to be made known, he is sovereign and he’s at work through his people.  That is our reality, know it, think on it, carry it into your day and week.