Why Such Contention? Part 1

Why do we yet have contention in the church after two millennia?

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Acts 11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

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Oh, horror of horrors!  Peter, one who might have been considered the very chiefest of apostles, had gone AMONG the Gentiles, and what was worse, had ministered TO them and dined WITH them.  Oh, the power of prepositions in the arena of contentions.  What had happened, the carrying forth of ministry, the saving of souls, the growing of the body of Christ, the outreach of the church, and the infilling of new believers with Holy Ghost and fire was secondary to our list of prepositions.  What was being perpetrated  instead of obedience to the Lord’s command to “go into ALL THE WORLD,” to “preach the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE” was the early invasion of the devil to weaken the church through strife.

Dear reader, the names of the characters have changed, certain nomenclature has changed, and the times have certainly changed, but we still have that same spirit operating within the church.  It may be shaved or bearded, coiffed or bald, suited or jeaned, hand-held, lavalier, or headset amplified, but it is still the same spirit of contention that roams so freely in the church today.  For Peter, it was his ministry to the Gentiles.  For Pentecostals, it is their crossing denominational lines to dear Baptist brethren.  For the many of the younger generation, it is their tattoos, hair (or lack of it), and jeans that many traditionalists fight against so adamantly.  And all this still runs rampant in our ministries after decades of battles that have crossed ethno-racial boundaries, music styles (still a thorn in the flesh of many), and technology (that many still attack) barriers.  What must we do to overcome this contention?

The answer is really simple.  Walk in love; keep God’s commandments; obey the Word of God (all three of these is the same thing – just different terminologies).  Let’s keep the main thing the main thing.  The main thing for the five-fold ministry (where the chiefest responsibility lies) is the perfecting of the saints.  Teach the Word and stress obedience, for obedience is better than sacrifice.  Obedience IS the love walk by which faith works at its highest.  The main thing for the church-at-large is taking the gospel to every nation, tribe, kindred, tongue, and people.  With billions who have still not heard a truthful witness of the Gospel, does anyone have the right to hear that Gospel twice until everyone has heard it once?  No!  Don’t stop witnessing to your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family, but don’t limit your witness to those groups.  What about the strangers.  “Gentiles” still exist, only we should today perhaps consider them to be the lost.  Do not allow contention to establish barriers.  Do not allow denominations to build boundaries.  Let NOTHING stop us from preaching the Gospel, teaching the Word, and being effective witnesses of the love, life, light, liberty, and power of our Lord.

Manna for Today – Acts 11:1-18: Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Matthew 24:1-14; Amos 3:3;           2 Timothy 2:24-26

 

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Creating Targets

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Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

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All my life, I have enjoyed shooting sports of all kinds; rifles, shotguns, handguns, and even archery.  I especially enjoy a few hours at the range with my son and grandson.  What a treat to have my son and grandson out-shoot me there, and I’m a pretty good shot.  But then, I helped to teach (train) them.  So, I’m living my dream.  At the range, we have targets.  If you’re going to shoot, you need a target.  If you desire to hit something, you have to aim.  If you hit the target consistently, you’re good.  God NEVER misses.

Look at our Text for Today.  We read that “Holy Ghost fell on them which heard the word.”  Holy Ghost did not fall just anywhere.  He “fell” where there was an intended target.  I truly love to see Holy Ghost “fall” on people.  It is absolutely awesome.  When that happens, lives are changed, people are born again, bodies are healed, people are delivered, needs are met, and people are filled with Holy Ghost, as it was in our Text for Today.  My question today arises toward that end.  What can I do to create a target for God?

To answer that question, let’s look at what Peter was doing, all the while remembering that God never changes, and that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

  1. Peter had come to a people who were desirous, deeply hungry, for a move of the Spirit, especially for the baptism in the Holy Ghost (being Spirit-filled).  When you find people who are truly hungry for such a move of God, Holy Ghost is ready.
  2. Peter spoke simply to the people (a) the truth of God’s Word, and (b) the testimony of Who Jesus is.  It was not about self, for a fund raiser, ministry growth, or church membership drive.  It was all about Jesus.
  3. The people listened to what the man of God had to say.  This is of absolute importance.  If the people to whom one speaks will not listen, they do not receive faith, and without faith there is no action of Holy Spirit on their behalf.
  4. There was a unity in the spirit of the people.

So, while Peter yet “spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.”  If you want Holy Ghost result, look for Holy Ghost patterns.  Like Father and Son, He never changes.  He shows us patterns of how He has moved in the past; the requirements, the placements, the obedience on our part. And when we fulfill our roles, He always fulfills His.  We can set the stage on which He will perform.  Let’s get busy.  The closing curtain to this age is closer than you think.

Manna for Today – Acts10; Luke 11:13; John 14:15-17; Acts 1:8; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8

Preach and Testify

Just what is the basic assignment of men and women of God in the earth?

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Acts 10:41-42 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God . . . He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

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Stop right where you are, re-read our Text for Today, stop again, and think about what it says.  Here is the answer to the question so often heard concerning ministers of the Gospel.  What have we been called, assigned, empowered, equipped, and sent to do?  And the answer . . . PREACH and TESTIFY.  It’s really that simple.  I fully realize that people set in different offices of the five-fold ministry, apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher, carry different anointings of service to the body of Christ, and that their role to the body is specifically established as “perfecting the saints.”  While that role will be fulfilled through ministries with different appearances, the general focus should be the same, and it should all point to Jesus as Lord and Judge Advocate General of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is to that end that I offer you a word of awareness and potential alert today.  In our present age, the tools, venues, and avenues of ministry exceed anything we have ever seen in the past.  Today, one can minister, real-time, to untold numbers of people on an international scale without the need of passport, visa, expensive travel, and untold danger factors that exist in many parts of the world.  Technology alone has made it possible for the work of the ministry to mount to new heights, dig to deeper levels, and invest more time than ever.

But the question arises today, just what is being dispensed by those engaged in what we call ministry?  I urge you to examine all ministry to which you are exposed in the light of the following.  Are they preaching the true and accurate Gospel of Jesus Christ, and are they testifying to the truth that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord and Eternal Judge?  The judgment of that is really simple.  First, to the element of preaching, we examine it in light of the Word.  If it is the Gospel, it is “good news.”  It is about drawing people to the Lord for Him to reign in their life as Lord, and to form a relationship that draws them closer to Him daily in fulfilling His will in their life.  And what is their testimony?  Does it point to the exalted Lordship of Jesus?  Does it give irrefutable proof of Who He is and what He has done and will do?  To testify, one offers evidence.  Is there evidence that what they say is truth?  When one truly PREACHES and TESTIFIES, people are drawn to Christ and evidence is presented.  It’s that simple.

Manna for Today – Acts 10; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Acts 1:8; John 20:21; John 14:12-17; John 15:8-16; Ephesians 4:11-1

Have We Missed This?

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God love and power is unquestionable.  But can we do things to hinder its work in our lives?

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Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

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I fully realize that I am treading on what many may say is shaky ground as I address this topic today.  All I ask is that you read this page completely, think about it openly, and consider it in the light of the Word of God.  Take a moment and read our Text for Today a few more times.  I want you to notice closely who it is that Jesus went about healing.  Read it here once again: Jesus “went about doing good, and healing all THAT WERE OPPRESSED OF THE DEVIL.”  Let me state very clearly, JESUS IS OUR HEALER, and He will heal anyone who will come to Him in faith.  It doesn’t make any difference whether or not the reason for the sickness or disease in the person’s body is purely the result of demonic attack, or if it is there because the person in need has continually lived and self-abusive lifestyle.

Once again, allow me to be straightforward.  There is much sickness and disease in the world today that is NOT the result of demonic oppression.  There are people who have lung cancer or emphysema as a result of smoking.  There are people who have diabetes because they abused their body through diet, lack of weight control, and lack of exercise.  There are people who have ulcers because they have literally made themselves sick from worry, anxiety, and fear of things that often never happened.  There are people who suffer from cirrhosis of the liver from use of alcohol.  In no way am I saying that all people who have suffered with these illnesses have done so because of self-abusive behavior.  Many have suffered these diseases who have never done such things as I have named.  Once again, I am simply pointing to the undeniable truth that there is much sickness in the earth today that is NOT the result of demonic oppression.

Will the Lord heal these?  YES!  But for our prayerful consideration, we must consider if we have approached these things in full integrity.  Did Jesus not say to some that He healed that they should sin no more for the possibility that something worse would come on them?  My dear friend, one does not have to commit sin to come under demonic attack of sickness.  But there are sicknesses that are directly related to sin.  When that is the case, it should be addressed, NOT in a manner of condemnation, but in a teaching manner for future prevention.  Bitterness and unforgiveness, for example, can open the way for crippling disease to destroy one’s body.  Such issues need to be addressed.  Let us not overlook them as we minister to people.  It is NOT a matter of looking for such things, but of being sensitive to Holy Spirit that He might lead us into a truly accurate and long-lasting healing ministry to those in need.

Manna for Today – Acts 10; Psalm 107:20; Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:1-3; Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:24;      3 John 2; John 5:1-14

Anointed for Good

There is NOTHING in the anointing of God that is for ANYTHING less than TOTAL GOOD.

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Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

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Did Jesus ever sin?  NO!  He lived completely sinlessly.  Did Jesus ever fail?  NO!  He lived, and still does, in complete victory.  Was Jesus anointed?  YES!  Was there ever anything in the life of Jesus that would or could hinder or negatively impact the anointing in and on His life?  NO!  And that is key to under-standing how Jesus could walk in such victory.  He always did those things that pleased the Father.  That is indicative of two very powerful issues.  First, Jesus ALWAYS, and IN EVERYTHING, lived by faith, for without faith it is impossible to please God.  And second, Jesus yielded the anointing in His life to the will and desire of Holy Spirit at all times.  And what was the outcome of this which one might call a two-prong spiritual strategy?  Jesus “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; ;for God was with Him.”

Jesus said that He sends us forth as the Father sent Him.  We have just examined how Father sent Jesus; “anointed…with the Holy Ghost and power,” and walking in that anointing and power, He went forth “doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil.”  So, that brings me to the question that will be very personal to each of us.  We have been sent forth by Jesus as Father sent Jesus forth.  We know what He did.  WHAT ARE WE DOING?  Jesus declared that we should do the works He did, and even greater.  If God said it, that settles it.  Once again I propose the question.  WHAT ARE WE DOING? 

Our Text for Today declares that God “anointed Jesus of Nazareth,” and that “doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil” were the results of the power that flowed through that anointing.  You ARE anointed.  I AM anointed.  We ARE anointed.  We ARE without excuse.  Multitudes who need our help in doing good are waiting.  Multitudes who are oppressed of the devil are awaiting healing for their bodies.  WHAT ARE WE DOING?  This is NOT an affront to the church, but a challenge to it; a challenge to step up to the standard our Lord established, for which He has equipped us, in which He has anointed us, and upon which He waits to demonstrate His might through us.  WHAT ARE WE DOING?

Manna for Today – Acts 10; Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Joshua 1:6-9; Luke 4:16-21; Hebrews 11:6;        John 6:63; John 14:12-14; John 20:21; Luke 4:16-21

The Name of Power

There is NO higher name than the wonderful Name of Jesus!

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Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

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Today I write to you about the power that rests in the Name of Jesus – “all power in heaven and in earth.”  The power of which I write was vested in that great Name in three ways.

  1. Jesus was appointed to receive it.  The Scriptures declare that it pleased the Father that the fullness of His power should rest and be fully vested in Jesus, His Son, and by that, in His Son’s Name.
  2. He inherited it.  Jesus was the Son of God from the beginning, but at His birth, the Name of Jesus was given as signification of the power He received.  And that power was, of course, reiterated at His resurrection when Father seated Him on His right hand and called Him God.
  3. He took it by conquest.  Jesus, born of a virgin, lived sinlessly in this life, defeating Satan daily.  And though He died on the Cross, He was raised incorruptible, and defeated Satan on his own turf, overcoming every demon of hell and all of hell’s collective evil, stripping the keys of death and hell from Satan, and capturing the crown of complete Lordship demonstrating “all power in heaven and in earth.”

All of that is in the Name of Jesus.  But there is more that we must recognize.  When Jesus walked through all of that, He did so as Father saw us in Him from the foundation of the world.  When you were born again, all that power was transferred to you through covenant.  As the Father sent Jesus, Jesus has sent you and me, His ambassadors, heirs of God, joint-heirs of Christ, have full and credibly use of the Name of Jesus through His delegated power of attorney.  IN CHRIST, you were (1) appointed to receive it, (2) have received it by inheritance, and (3) daily take it by conquest, overcoming the enemy of your soul “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony.”

That same anointing that Jesus carried in His Own person during His earthly ministry has now been placed upon the body of Christ.  None of us has the fullness of the “Christ” anointing, but EVERY believer has a portion.  And as each of us exposes and releases that anointing that is peculiarly ours to Holy Spirit, we can see our part of the picture, our part of the kingdom work and product made fully manifest to, in, and upon the world about us.  In great brevity, that, my friend, is HOW the great power of the Christ came and was manifest, and it is by the same pattern, albeit in a different set of circumstances, that this same power can and will flow through us to a world in darkness.

Manna for Today – Acts 10; Matthew 28:18; Mark 16:15-20; John 14:12-14; John 20:21; Acts 4:12; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10; Revelation 12:11

Title – Name

There is a difference between “title” and “name,” but when joined together, oh, the possibilities!

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Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

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Take a moment and consider our Text for Today.  The Trinity is revealed in this verse.  There is God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Ghost.  And there is the term “anointed.”  That term is in reality the Title of our Lord and Savior, for the “Anointed One” is Jesus the Christ.  We could legitimately declare that God “titled Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ with the Holy Ghost and with power, Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him.”  Note in this verse that with the conferral of a title came accompanying power.  But it was not the title that was behind the will to do that good and heal; it was the Name.  A title unconferred is an inanimate thing, but a title conferred is revealed through the will of the person upon whom it is conferred.  Within  a title may be a clear understanding of what that title should represent, but it is still out of the will of the person upon whom the title is conferred that the power of that title flows.  Though a man’s title may be police officer, it is out of his will that law enforcement flows.

“Christ (Anointed One)” is His title, but it is out of His Name, Jesus (the Word of God) that His will to do flows.  Now what of you?  Your title is Christian (little Christ [anointed one]), but from where does the will to do flow?  It flows out of your soul, a soul that should be renewed by the Word of God to think with the mind of Christ (an anointed mind), always in a place of “reason(ing) together” with God.  Now receive what I say.  We already know the power and will of God, both “to will and to do” His pleasure, and that is that you “prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.”  Now will you align your will with His will, and in so doing, fully accept the title He has conferred upon you?  Remember, it is God Who is “at work in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”  Your title indicates you can do the works of Jesus, and greater.  But will you?  Is your will strong enough to pursue faith to that level?  Will you plunge into the Word by which such faith can be built, fed, and kept strong?  If you WILL, you CAN!

Manna for Today – Acts 10; Philippians 2:5 & 13; Revelation 19:13; Romans 12:2; 2:5; Isaiah 1:18;        3 John 2-4; John 14:12-14

No Need to Wonder

God is specific enough about His instructions that you really have no need to wonder.

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Acts 10:19-20 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.

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Let me state it plainly.  From Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, any time the Lord issues instructions for someone to follow, while He doesn’t always reveal His entire plan, He ALWAYS sets forth enough infor-mation to His servant(s) that immediate obedience is possible, and that obedience can be demonstrated without any concern for whether one is being obedient to the will of the Lord.  For example, consider the following . . .

  • When God called Abram to leave Ur of the Chaldees, He did not give Abram all the details.  Abram did not know of what he would face.  He did not know his name would become Abraham.  He did not know he would have a son by Sarai (later Sarah).  Many things were unfolded to him as he continued forth in obedience to the Lord’s direction.  In fact, though he was already in the land to which the Lord wanted him to go, he did not know it until he had fully complied with the initial instruction of the Lord to (1) get out of your country, (2) get away from your father’s house, and (3) get away from your family.  Yet in all the steps he took, he never needed to question the will of God being revealed to him.  That was always clear.
  • There were many times in the life of David when he knew the general outcome of that to which the Lord had called him, but was in no way fully informed or understanding of all the Lord would do.  Yet at no time from his first anointing, even to his death, did he have any legitimate reason for doubting what God had ultimately assigned him to do.  When David was honest with himself, that was always clear.
  • Even Jesus, when in His earthly ministry, did not always know all things at all times.  He knew what He was called to do, even from His early years.  But consider Jesus at the fig tree in Mark 11.  He came to the tree looking for figs, but there were none.  At the moment He came, He did not know it was barren of figs.  When He encountered the demoniac of Gadara, Jesus asked the lead demon what his name was.  At that moment, Jesus did not know.  But He never doubted that He was about His Father’s business.

How about you?  You may not know the precise steps you will need to take tomorrow or next week, but you can be assured right now that you are walking out the will of God for your life.  God will NEVER leave you doubting.  If there is doubt, check yourself.  Your doubt is NOT from or because of God.  He is perfectly clear.  His Word, His instruction, His direction ALWAYS BRINGS LIGHT UPON ITS ENTRANCE.  Walk in the light, my friend, with your eyes wide open.  You have no need to wonder.

Manna for Today – Acts 10; Luke 4:1; Romans 8:14

 

Let There Be No Argument

I say it somewhere almost daily; “If God said it, that settles it.”

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Acts 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

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I have said it for decades, fully believing it.  In Peru it became a power-statement expressing the absolute integrity of God’s Word that should take precedent over any and all other words, ideas, and actions.  “If God said it, that settles it.”  In Peru I learned to say it in Spanish, making it even more impactful to Spanish speaking peoples.  “Si Dios lo ha dicho, esta establicido.”  In my travels in Africa, I found I could make a strong and Godly impact on the good people of Kenya by learning that phrase in Swahili.  There it is said, “Kama Mungu alysema ataidhibitisha.”  My point is simple, and one to which every believer needs to submit him/herself.  There should be NO argument with ANYTHING God says.  Once again I state it simply and directly; “If God said it, that settles it.”

In Acts 10, we see the Lord beginning to open the pathway for the fulfilling of the Great Commission, to “go into all the world.”  “All the world” includes the Gentiles; the NON-Jewish world.  So, God instructed Peter to NOT call common what He (God) had cleansed.  And Peter certainly understood the truth of our leading statement in today’s Second Miler; “If God said it, that settles it.”

It is to that end that I write to you today.  I see and hear all to often how easy it is for us (believers) to speak judgmental, often harshly or disagreeably so, statements based on what we see with our eyes, when in reality, what we see with out eyes is in complete disharmony with the Word of God.  My friend, such things ought not be.  We know the power of words.  The Scriptures are replete with instruction, admonition, teaching, and even correction concerning the words of our mouths.  Words license unseen spiritual forces, both holy and unholy, to carry out activities that all to quickly become seen.  What is seen provokes even more words.  Sadly, when what is spoken is contrary to the mind, will, and plan of God, dark forces move quickly to attempt the establishment of something that appears concrete, thus powerfully impacting all who see it to speak even more words in witness against the Word of God.  Once again, my friend, such things ought not be.

The finest and most powerful guard the believer has against such activities and speech arising from his/her own mouth is to personally covenant before the Lord that he/she will allow NO WORDS that are contrary to the mind, will, or plan of God to proceed from his/her mouth.  Simply stated, ANY WORD contrary to God’s Word is a corrupt word.  Commit Ephesians 4:29 to heart, and then live it.

Manna for Today – Acts 10; John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Proverbs 6:2; Proverbs 4:20-23; Matthew 12:35-37; Ephesians 4:29; Romans 3:4

Give a Hand

All so many people in this world need is a hand, and they, too, can live.

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Acts 9:41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

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This event can be related very simply.  Dorcas (Tabitha) had died.  She was greatly loved.  The church called for Peter, perhaps for some comfort in their mourning.  Peter raised her from the dead.  When she opened her eyes, Peter “gave her his hand, and lifted her up.”  Now isn’t that simple?  But we must be aware that in the simplicity of how this story is related, we do not lose the importance of what took place.  Was it important that Dorcas had died?  Yes, for the death of a saint is precious in the eyes of the Lord.  Was it important that Peter be called?  Perhaps.  At least he understood something of comforting the bereaved, and he DID walk in the power of God.  Was it important that Peter put out the mourners?  Likely so.  After all, Jesus put out the doubt and unbelief before He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead.  Was it important that Peter spoke to her?  Yes!  For it was in his words that faith was released, and Holy Spirit found full authority upon which to act.

Sadly, that is where many would stop.  Imagine if you had just had the wonderful opportunity to raise a person from the dead.  What a marvelous event!  What a powerful demonstration of the power of God!  What a powerful testimony you can now offer of the power of God!  But is that all that happened in our Text for Today?  Hardly.  After that, Peter gave Dorcas his hand, lifted her up, and then presented her to the saints.  It was not his raising of the dead that was the great gift of the day.  Rather it was his presentation of a valued human life who carried specific talents, treasures, and anointings that was the great gift.

To that end, I offer you this challenge.  There is much that every believer in God’s kingdom both can and should be doing in the earth today.  As long as a single lost person lives, the Gospel needs to be delivered to them.  As long as one sick person remains, the saints of God must proclaim healing and walk in the power of God to deliver it.  For every cripple, there is a healing.  For every prisoner, there is a deliverance.  For every blind eye, there is sight.  For every deaf ear, there is hearing.  For every poor man, there is an enriching.  For every mute, there are words to speak.  For every dead man raised, there is yet work to do.  And for all these, having received that critically needful thing, there needs to be a hand given.  That’s where our work really starts.  The healing, the deliverance, the dead living, the need met is an event, but there is a life to lead that follows, a life that needs a hand given; given to rise up, given to move forward, given to begin again, given to lead them to their own fulfilled life in Christ.

Manna for Today – Acts 9:36-43; Mark 16:15-20; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6