Persecution. Have you faced any? Do you think persecution still exists?
Acts, chapter four, shows Peter and John as they face the courts over the healing of the lame man in chapter three. Actually, it wasn’t the healing that got them in trouble with the court, it was the credit given to Jesus. The court did not want them to speak “in the name of Jesus”. They were even released after an overnight stay in jail, but were told to not speak in that name again.
Little did the court know what would happen….
Enter the Holy Spirit again!
Encouraging, uplifting, pointing the way to Christ and all He is, and giving boldness…boldness that quickly multiplied among the believers and jump started a whole new movement for the Lord.
These are the basic details of chapter four. I don’t feel like I can expound on them in any better way than to explain the details of yesterday’s gathering at Cornerstone.
The praise team seemed to struggle in practice last week. I was sick, and undoubtedly, did everything but help as I struck the wrong notes on the keyboard, lagged behind in some areas, and even ran ahead in others. It seemed to me that I was still even struggling somewhat as we warmed up yesterday morning.
My husband was given the opportunity to speak. Even though he had spent a lot of time over the last weeks preparing, we were up late into the night Saturday helping him complete a powerpoint presentation. Then, on Sunday morning, as we tested it, the video he selected would not work. He had to run home, download it again on a separate disk, and then get back in time for services to begin.
We were all tired. It had been a long week. Also, on Saturday night, I took the boys with me (so Dad could get some quiet study time) to a woman’s shelter where the praise team was singing. The four year old, however, proved to be a total distraction. He had been up all day, no nap, and was having a melt down. As I was attempting to play the keyboard and sing, I heard his voice over everyone else’s, and then look down to the front row where he is dancing, playing, talking, pulling his arms in and out of his shirt, and even turning his ball cap inside out and putting it on his head. I see poor Dreama trying to help, but he just ignores her warnings and continues on.
At some point, he decides to come up on the platform, inside-out ball cap and all, and begins talking to me during a song. I get him to go back down to his seat, only to start the whole thing over. Another round of “shushing” from me — at one point I leave the platform to get him quiet and then rejoin the group again. He came back to me on the platform again. I send him back down. Ugh! It was awful. Not to mention that I couldn’t hear what I was playing nor the voices of the other vocalists because we didn’t bring the monitor that I normally use.
Seriously, it was a disaster. Oh!….then to top it off, as Mike gets up to give a sermon, my son starts burping …on purpose and out loud!? I grabbed his arm and took him outside, swatted his little bottom, and came back in only to have to leave (for good) the next time. He just wasn’t going to cooperate — he needed the nap he had missed earlier, and it was time to go. So, we sat out in the van until the earliest possible moment for sister and brother to join us and we left for home.
I tell you all the these details because it is interesting to note that all the preparations that were made for Sunday morning seemed to be less than desirable. Nothing seemed to be working out. We were so exhausted after getting home Saturday night that we just wanted to go to bed. However, as I said, we ended up staying up late working on the presentation. Then the power point didn’t even work as we had thought…then last minute changes…then…then…then.
All our efforts, all our plans, everything we had attempted just didn’t seem to be measuring up. We had the heart, the good intentions, but was missing the power.
…….enter the Holy Spirit! Praise the Lord for His Holy Spirit!
Kenneth got back in time with the video that worked beautifully. The praise team came together. The songs were beautiful. I remember thinking as I looked out on the floor, “He’s here. God is in this place. Look at everyone, Lord. They are praising You. The Holy Spirit has arrived!”
Kenneth delivered what I thought was a beautiful sermon. His message was that we were to deny self, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. The video illustrated that even though we desire to do so, it is not until the Holy Spirit arrives, that we have the power necessary to be effective.
One statement he made was that if we are going to follow Jesus, we have to be willing to take up our cross, and we can’t take up our cross until we are willing to deny self. It is a triad of actions that are all interwoven. We have to be willing to sacrifice our time, our things, our money, our “comfortableness”, our reputation….everything in order to follow Christ. “I” cannot be first. “I” has to be denied.
Following the message, John gave a beautiful explanation and instruction regarding the Lord’s supper. Bread was shared, and we drank in remembrance of Christ. A beautiful meal was served — yum, fajitas! It was just beautiful.
Then……(yes, it gets better)…
Just as we were preparing to leave, those who were still there gathered around to pray for Delaine (sp?). Delaine lives at the outreach center where Cornerstone ministers. She received a ticket, I believe, and worked out payment arrangements for it, however the funding for the payments did not work out and an additional fine was added making the cost rise to over $600. Monies were made available from the outreach center to pay it for her, however, we were told because of the message that was given that day she had decided to “deny self” and spend 14 days in jail instead.
She said that she couldn’t take money from the outreach center, and that she was willing to face the consequences in jail. She goes this morning to turn herself in and begin the next 14 days as a follower of Christ, scared, but willing to face whatever God has for her there.
What a powerful, beautiful testimony of the Holy Spirit! He had touched her, too. It was evident that He has a plan. Perhaps there will be someone in jail that will be touched by her testimony?
It was beautiful. The whole day was beautiful. Just like the contrast in Acts chapter 3, where the lame man was healed at the gate called “Beautiful”, God can take old, lame, chaotic, tired, weary, and broken people and make them beautiful. He can take the message and use it to reach the hearts of the people. We are not able, even through all of our efforts, to make that happen without Him.
It was a great day with the Lord in our very presence!
Then, Kenneth announced that we were “home”! (No, I didn’t know that was coming either?!) lol It does feel good, though, to know that we can join a group of brothers and sisters, who really feel like brothers and sisters, and whom are already following the direction of the Holy Spirit in reaching outside the walls of the church building.
What a blessing you all have been to us!
I pray you all have a great week, walking with the Holy Spirit, and looking toward the goal of leading others to Christ.