God at Work

Acts 4:1-4 

1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

Unbeliever’s Doubt

Someone asked, “If God is love why did He allow sin to enter the world?”
Another question is, “If God cares for us why did He allow us to have problems?”
A young believer with a traumatic experience expressed anguish and said, “Why me Lord,” I’ve been faithful to You?”

Have you felt like God has betrayed you each time you are faced with difficulties? Have you felt like God just turned His back to you each time you have a problem?

Well, you are not alone and your case is not isolated. The Lord Jesus expressed being forsaken by His own Father when He was on the cross.

In Mark 15:34 the Lord Jesus cried in a loud voice…34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “”Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? “”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Well, if Christ, the Son of God, the One and Only who knows the Fathers plan expressed that feeling of being forsaken, God understood it when we feel the same.

The man after God’s own heart, King David expressed the same in Psalm 22:1-2… My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? 2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.

When you are in-tune with God, when you are doing the things God wants you to do, persecution in any form will surface. Persecution from you love ones, officemates, friends or anybody who come closer to you and that’s tough because you do not expect them to be your adversaries. Persecution that comes from strangers or from the oppositions is easier to accept.

1. Persecution

1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 

There would have been a great rejoicing among the believers because they saw the work of God in their midst. There was huge number of conversions [3,000] when Peter preached after the Pentecost. In Act 2:47 we are reminded that the Lord added to their number daily. 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

They might have felt uplifted because they were enjoying the favor of all the people. The apostles were making miracles like the healing of the crippled man who miraculously walked after Peter helped him stood on his feet. They’ve got the people’s attention and freely preached the gospel, amazing, eyh!

Suddenly, here come the priests, the captain of the temple guards and the Sadducees. Those people with authority are the oppositions of what the disciples were doing. Now, one might be thinking, “Why does God not just shut down their mouth so that the work in evangelism will be easy?”

Is there anybody here who enjoys persecution… nobody, right?

Mature believers may understand that persecution is an integral part of being involved in God’s work but to enjoy persecution is not easily accepted.

TMEC Promotion

Before the Anniversary Celebration, some of you went door-to-door inviting people in the community. So far, we are waiting for someone who comes and joins us saying, “I received this TMEC invitation leaflet or TMEC flyer and I want to join your celebration.”

The church spent good amount of money for invitation leaflets, some of you spend precious hours going house-to-house, but we are still waiting for results.

Does that mean that we failed to pray about that TMEC Promotional Blitz? Does it mean that we are just doing thing just to do thing without any clear vision from God? Does God want us to go house-to-house because we find it hard to invite our friends, relatives, officemates, schoolmates, neighbors or friends?

During those promotional activities, some of you might have been scared of dogs or people. Some of you might have encountered rough feedbacks or comments from house owners. I have also my share of animosity or hostility when someone called our church phone and trash talked about scattered TMEC flyers in his yard and mailbox.

If God is actively working among us why do we experience such hostility or persecution?

John 15:20… 20Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

When you decide to get involved in the ministry, the Lord Jesus said remember His words. True believers will always face persecution just as they have persecuted Christ. Persecution is the signature of productive involvement in God’s work.

To expect products or good results of godly works is to expect persecution.

2. Product

4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

In just few days, the number of men who believed in Christ grew to about 5,000? Wow!

When the Holy Spirit is at work, there is persecution but expect great result. Wait upon the Holy Spirit, and when the time is right God will eventually do miracles.

When our passage mentioned about the priest, the captain of the temple guards and the Sadducees, they were the toughest opponents of the gospel because they have authority over the religious life and laws of the Jewish people. The priests were very envious of the popularity of the disciples who were from countryside.

Peter and John who come from Galilee are considered second class citizens. It is not easy for city people with superior feeling to accept someone who did not originate from the city getting all the attentions of the people.

If you would accept it, it is a kind of racism or superiority complex.

Immigrants: Have you felt that kind of superiority complex of Canadian-born citizens?

The captain of the temple guards may not be as antagonistic or hostile like the priests but he was given the authority to keep the peace and order in the temple courts. When there is chaos or disorder, the captain of the temple guards will be held liable. Moreover, he was under the supervision of the priests therefore, he cannot do anything but to join the priests in reprimanding Peter and John. He would rather follow order or face the consequence of losing his job and prestige.

The Sadducees are sad, you see, because they do not believe in eternal life.

In Matthew 22:23 it says…23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question.

The Sadducees are group of Jewish leaders who do not believer in eternal life or angels.

Similarly, those people who ignore God or reject eternal life are outright adversaries. But, our passage says, that even more, more people believed.

Do you feel like it is easier not to be involved in the ministry than to face the opposition?

The love going for vacation is a sign that there is love to escape difficulties or anxieties. Everyone wants to relax just doing nothing instead of daily rigorous activities. If there is any way to build muscles without sweating, that would be great, and we want that.

It is easier to buy fish from the Superstore than to go fishing, when it’s very cold. Someone even bought himself a championship trophy without competing in any sport. An Olympic gold medal was put into auction and many came in the hope to purchase it. People want to have prestige without sweating or get what they want the easier way.

Those are just evidences that many people even Christians do not easily accept persecution or difficulties of any sort.

Service before Marriage

In the previous generation, parents would require a suitor or prospective husband of their daughter to serve the family. Cutting firewood, carrying drinking water, helping in the rice field, or any manual works that are commonly assigned to the man of the family. The reward of eventually winning the heart of the girl is sweeter when one has survived the test than the easy-to-get kind of girl.

There are a lot of questions, argument, hypothesis or theories surrounding the tradition but for the suitor or the man with genuine and fervent intention, no sweat!

I am convinced that faith needs to be tested for us to know if we truly have faith in God. If faith is active in our life and the Holy Spirit is actively at work, no amount of persecution can stop us from obeying the command God has given us, in evangelism or any ministry.

In James 1:12 we are reminded… 12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

It was also written in Revelation 2:10… 10Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

If God is at work in and thorough in the believer’s life, persecution is always present.

If persecution of any sort is experienced, God must be working productively in you.

Persecution and productivity in the ministry are inseparable twins.

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