July 18th 2021: Paul Daniel

Acts 5: 12 -42

We are sitting here, on a lovely sunny day in Roch, because two thousand years ago men and women stood and were beaten for the sake of the gospel. It is a privilege to come together, knowing that others before us took a beating so they could share the gospel, and then their sons and daughters could share the gospel, and their sons and daughters could share the gospel, and we have that beautiful privilege of meeting in freedom today.

This passage of scripture is quite challenging. I don’t know how you would respond if you were living at that time, and you were told not to go and tell people about Jesus, or you would be put into jail. What would you do?

The Book of Acts, Luke’s second volume, records for us what the early church was like. Luke’s first volume, his gospel, tells us all that Jesus did and taught. His second volume, Acts, tells us all that the risen Jesus did. So, we see here is Acts of the Apostles, or you could say, Acts of the Risen Jesus. We now look at everything Jesus did through His Spirit. He has ascended into heaven, and He sent His Holy Spirit. His Holy Spirit lives and dwells in His people and they are helping His people live for Him. When you open the book of Acts you realise that there is a small group of people who follow the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the people who turned the world upside down. You and I stand on their shoulders.

Has God’s Spirit changed? Is the Holy Spirit who helped Peter on the day of Pentecost, when he preached to thousands, changed? Has God’s mission changed, to save a people for Himself? Has Jesus Christ changed? Has the cross changed? Is the cross not the same cross that Jesus Christ bled and died on and that is the only means and way of salvation? Has anything really changed? No! Nothing has changed. When Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, the Bible says He is waiting to return. We live in the last days, waiting for Jesus Christ to return. God’s Spirit has not changed and the cross stands still as the only means of salvation. God’s mission has not changed. He desires a people for Himself, even from Roch. The Commission has not changed. God has not changed. Until Jesus returns our mission hasn’t changed – we are called to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. Take the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and share it with others who do not know him.

Pray drives evangelism. The apostles were doing many signs and wonders, and people were being healed. In chapter four, the apostles had already been arrested (4:29-30). They prayed and their prayer was answered. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. If you believe this and have a God-Man who intercedes for you, you can pray to Him. The apostles prayed and were able to do extraordinary things. If you think, ‘Well, I couldn’t do that,’ you would be right. But God can! Christ healed a blind man, the deaf and the lame. God can do all those things because He is God. Evangelism is driven by prayer. God is the one who opens all the doors, who gives us opportunities, the one who answers our prayers. It is ludicrous, as Christians, we don’t pray to the God of heaven, the giver of all things. Pray for an opportunity to witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Evangelism is about speaking life. The apostles were arrested because they were preaching and they were healing. They were doing all sorts of wonderful things. But the High Priest didn’t like it, the Sadducees didn’t like it. They arrested them (v.17). They put them in a public prison. But an angel of the Lord brought them out and said, ‘Get on with it! Go and stand in the temple court and speak to the people words of life.’ (v.19). The apostles got together (v.21). Did they have a big discussion whether they should obey the angel? No. An angel of the Lord comes and tells them what to do and they do it. They are obedient and they go. At the Ascension Jesus Christ ascended into heaven and a cloud hid Him from their sight as they were watching. Immediately two angels come down and said, ‘What are you doing looking at the sky? Why are you looking up there when you should be looking all around you and getting on with the task of evangelism?

Evangelism is about speaking life. It is so important that an angel of the Lord comes and breaks them out of prison and tells them, ‘Get on with it.’ My friends, this is not a message about purchasing some goods, what colour paint you should buy, what your homes or gardens should look like. It has got nothing to do with this. This is about the words of life. This is about life that every one of us needs, that we live in a beautiful but broken word, that sin has entered in and the wages of sin is death. We experience sin in our bodies and we get old and we creaky and things fail. Yet Jesus Christ came to deal with the problem of sin and death. The good news about the gospel is not just having your legs healed and about being able to see. There is much more than that. It is about having this new life where you have a relationship with God, where you will know Him now and forever, into eternity. We are called to go out and give the words of life. Jesus Christ is the only way. There is no other way in which men and women, boys and girls can be saved. We need to know what God is calling us to do, what is He calling us to be more urgent about in our speaking to others?

Evangelism is driven by prayer, evangelism is about speaking life, but evangelism is about what God is doing. The apostles go back into the temple courts (v.27) and once again they are brought back to the Council, questioned and told, ‘We strictly told you not to teach in this name, yet you are doing the things we told you not to do!’ And they reply, “We must obey God rather than men,” (v.29). Scripture calls us to obey the authorities. In one sense, they are obeying the authorities. They get arrested and they don’t oppose being arrested. They let themselves be arrested. There is one thing we cannot disobey and that is we must be obedient to the laws. But here they are in Acts chapter 5 saying they must obey God rather than men. Even though they are told not to speak in the name of Jesus, they say,’ No, we must obey God, because here are the words of life that people must hear, for there is no other name.’ That’s what Jesus did, isn’t it? He obeyed the will of His Father, not His own. There, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was sweating drops of blood, knowing what He would go to, yet He did it, “Not My will but Yours.”

You and I face many dilemmas today, we are faced with complicated situations. We live in a very privileged society, in a very privileged country where there really isn’t that much dilemma about obeying God. We have freedoms, and as we have these freedoms we are not challenged, are we? There is no-one really threatening to put us in prison here in Roch. Don’t get me wrong, there might be cultural variations, there might be regional variations, there might be other variations, maybe a part of a city where it might be more difficult. But it is not about what is happening there, it’s about what is happening here. What is God calling you and me to do?

We have this word of life, and we are living in not difficult days but complex days. With God’s help, we will all know is it that God is calling us to do.

Evangelism is driven by prayer, evangelism is about speaking life, evangelism is about what God is doing in and through us. God is the one who is saving. Finally, the way we live can really help (v 38-39). The apostles are persistent, they are not giving up, they are willing to be put into prison time and time again. If it is from God, God is not going to fail. If this is from God, don’t get in the way or you will be opposing God.

My friends, as you and I live out our lives, as we go about sharing the gospel, the way we live really can help people to hear the gospel. You and I might not have a single conversation with somebody this week, but the way you live really can influence the way people listen to the gospel.

Evangelism is driven by prayer, evangelism is about speaking life, evangelism is about what God is doing in and through us as we are obedient to Him, and the way we live can really help us in our evangelising.

August 13th 2017: Peter Gleave

Peter-Glave -August 2017Luke 5:1-11 – Jesus calls the last disciples.

In 1869, Thomas Huxley, an avid supporter of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, often gave speeches on the subject. After one of his speaking engagements, Huxley was in a hurry to catch his train to his next engagement. He took a horse-drawn taxi and assumed the driver had been informed where he wanted to go. “Hurry!” Huxley exclaimed. “I’m almost late. Drive fast!”

The driver sped away. After a while Huxley looked out of his window and realised they were travelling in the opposite direction to the train station.

“Do you know where you’re going?” Huxley asked. The driver shouted back, “No, but I am driving very fast!”

There’s no use in driving fast if you don’t know where you are going. We need to spend time away from the business of the world, and spend time knowing what Jesus wants us to do. Put the brakes on and slowly walk beside the seaside.

Imagine you’re in this passage of scripture; it’s a warm sunny morning, a gentle breeze sounds around you, the Sea of Galilee lies before you, with its pebbly shoreline.  To the other side of you, six miles away, lie the mountains. Take in the scene, where there is a crowd following a man, pressing in on Him. We move in and start to listen to what He has to say. We need to see what God has to say to Penuel Chapel, to you and me and other churches.

This was not the first time Jesus had met the disciples, He had encountered them before (John 1 & 4). It is perhaps surprising then that these men, who Jesus has already invited to follow Him, where still at their business – fishing. We too can distance ourselves, tending to our everyday business and being too busy for God. If the disciples were to answer Jesus’ call they needed to make God their number one priority. Not even family, or work in Church should be more important than God. He has to be our number one priority. We don’t need to give up work or family, but in thought we should prioritise God and make Him first in our choices.

Jesus got into Peter’s boat and the boat was pulled a little further out. ‘He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon (Peter), and asked him to put out a little from the shore.’ (Luke 5:3). Now Jesus had Peter’s attention. Has God been trying to get your attention recently? God wants you in a position so He can speak to you and you can focus on Him, draw closer to Him.

We need to hear Jesus and see Him. What better way is there then seeing Him in the scriptures? Read, search, and study the Bible. What is God trying to teach us today? Look in the scriptures, it will help you become better fishers of men. Each of us can bear testimony to the fact the scriptures are life-changing. We need to study, study, and study some more – in personal life and essential Bible study with others. Be prepared.

One way of reaching out to the community is to participate in projects such as the ‘Community Bible Experience’, in which, a church buys a little gospel for members of the community, inviting them to later discuss what they have read. This is a great way to engage with a community.

Peter lends his boat to Jesus. He used what He had and gave it to Jesus. God will bless all we do in His name. Jesus says to Peter,

Luke 5-4

Peter may have wondered why Jesus, a carpenter, was telling him, am experienced fisherman, how to do his job. However, because Jesus had asked him to do this, he did so. I wonder, has God said something to you that is counter-intuitive – something which doesn’t seem to make sense to you? Perhaps it could be to try some evangelism that in the past didn’t work. Remember Peter’s response,

Luke 5-4-5.jpg 

There was a certainty that didn’t rely on Peter’s skill but on the Master.

Has God called you to a specific evangelism in Roch? If so, then do it. Be encouraged in faith, believe God will provide all you need for a great catch. It’s not our work that changes hearts and convicts, but the work of the Holy Spirit. We’re called to do the fishing, to let down the nets. Because God says so, we will let down the nets in Roch. Against all the principles of fishing, the disciples caught so much. Imagine you evangelise and the nets are so full. Jesus sent the fish to where the boat would be. God is all-knowing and in control. If God determines to fill your nets with men, women and children, it’s a reality waiting to happen. He wants you to be where the fish are.

Such was the catch, the disciples signalled their partners to help them. “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that there nets began to break. So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them.” (Luke5:6-7). Spreading the news in the deep waters of Roch village is a job for all partners. All of you have a job. Maybe you’re not called to be a preacher or evangelist, but you’re called to use your gifts – whether it is knocking on doors, leafleting, praying, etc. You’re needed to serve God here in this church, in this community. Your role is just as important as everyone else’s. Be obedient and faithful.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” ” (Luke 5:8). Peter became aware of his own sinfulness. He recognised Jesus, not just as Master but as Lord. The closer we are to God, the more we realise our own sinfulness, the more we have a desire to serve him. Peter could have been so preoccupied with the wealth of fish, but he was no longer focused on fish, but on the new Lord of his life – Jesus. He now realised who Jesus was and where he stood in that relationship. Have we got a sense of the presence of God, so that everything else become insignificant and Jesus become central?

Then Jesus says something unusual to Peter, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” (Luke 5:10). What fear had Jesus detected in Peter? Possibly the fear of not having enough money to pay the bills if he gave up his job to follow Jesus. Possibly not being good enough for Jesus, that his sins precluded him from future service? What fears do you have? You may have fears and failures but Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid”. If you repent, Jesus can take all your fears and failures and restore you and commission you. What will you do today- will you answer Jesus’ call, make Him the Lord of your life?