Our inadequacies don’t limit the Spirit

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

These were not just words spoken. Paul lived these words out each and every single day. Plots were concocted against him. He was slandered, beaten, arrested, and chased out of cities. He left good friends behind to continue his mission. He followed the urging of the Holy Spirit knowing that afflictions and imprisonments awaited him in every city (Acts 20:23). Paul was determined and a unique man.

But his determination and dedication to the gospel was not due his personality. He was captivated by Jesus. Paul wanted others to be captivated by Him as well. To experience the same hope, joy, love, and blessings he experienced. He traveled around the known world sharing the good news of Jesus with all who would listen despite the difficulties he faced daily.

Admittedly, Paul’s love of Jesus is convicting. When I look at my life, I don’t risk as much as Paul did. I don’t risk relationships, comfort, bodily harm, or even my life for Jesus. That doesn’t mean Paul was super human. He wasn’t super human, instead He was empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The same Holy Spirit that empowered Paul empowers us as well. Though we might feel inadequate for the task of making disciple-making disciples, we aren’t inadequate. The Spirit empowers us for the task at hand just as He empowered Paul. While we all might not travel around the world sharing the gospel, starting and strengthening churches, we can accomplish what God has planned for us. We can be used by Him to accomplish His will, despite our felt inadequacies because the Spirit empowers us to do the work of ministry.

Are you laboring in vain?

“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Ps 127:1-2)

Are you anxious? Do you lay awake at night worrying? The psalmist reminds us this morning that we should not be anxious. If the Lord wants our project, our church, our (insert what you are fretting over) to work out, it will be successful.

James, one of the apostles, picks up on this idea 1000’s of years later in his letter when he says,

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)

It is not our will that we seek to do but the Lord’s. It is His will that we should ask He do in our prayer closet (Mt 6:10). We know our God is a good God. He doesn’t desire our harm (Mt 6:25-34). We can and should trust the Lord rather than worrying. What the Lord desires to be built will be built.

In saying we must trust the Lord and that He will build what He desires, we must not believe we are absolved from activity. We must work, putting forth effort, using the talents and gifts the Lord has provided. As we walk step by step each day, we can trust that the Lord will provide for us, as well as He will build, if it be His will.

When, then, if at all possible through prayer and counsel, we need to find what the Lord is doing and join Him in it.

Are you a responsible and accurate theologian?

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,” (Acts 16:25)

What strikes me about the apostles is there rejoicing in the midst of persecution. Paul and Silas found themselves in prison for helping a poor innocent girl. She was being used and abused for profit by local business men. Possessed by a demon she was able to reveal the fortunes of others. They were content to allow her to continue in this state of darkness for their own gain. Paul and Silas were not. They exercised the demon, freeing her from bondage.

Once these men realized their cash cow was gone, they lied about and slandered Paul and Silas to the local authorities. They had them beaten and thrown into prison. Even though they were wounded and shackled in the inner prison, they prayed and sung hymns to the Lord. Not to themselves but openingly so that all the other prisoners could hear.

  • Would we rejoice in the Lord openly in a situation like they were facing?
  • Would we praise God even as we were being persecuted by Him?
  • Would we continue to be a witness for him as we were being punished by the local authorities for following the Lord?

These are tough questions. Ones we won’t know the answer to until we are in the situation.

That, however, doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for the situation. I believe Paul, Silas, and others rejoiced in the Lord because they knew the Lord. They didn’t just know of Him, but they knew Him. Their relationship with Him was real and intimate. As well as they knew His character and His actions. They were theologians. We should be theologians as well.

No, you don’t need to go to seminary to be a theologian. Everyone is a theologian because everyone has an opinion about God, which means right now, no matter what degree you have or don’t have, you are a theologian.

The question is: Are you a responsible and accurate theologian?

If we are going to stand firm for Christ in the midst of persecution we must be responsible and accurate theologians because what we know about God will determine how we respond to difficult situations.