Devotional 166: Uneducated and Untrained

Acts 4:13-17  The Name of Jesus Forbidden

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

The Word of G-d is full of story after story about how the attempts at oppression, in all of its forms of ugliness, tries to keep the words of the Gospel, the Atonement, and the Resurrection from spreading,  but Jesus has already told us that His words will not pass away (Matthew 24:35) and that He speaks that which the Father has told Him to say (John 7:16).

Let us be reminded, particularly, of the story of Bartimaeus, who cried out all the more when the crowd tried to stop him. He was so loud that he actually got Jesus’ attention, and was healed on the spot. (Mark 10:46-52).

In this hour of wretchedness and disease, the human need to control things, combined with faithlessness and false worship, has stirred the hearts of men to frustration, fear, despair, anger, hate, defiance, and rebellion.

Their faith has been placed in those who haven’t the knowledge, skill, or motivation to seek wisdom in counsel to plan or lead. Their hearts are made weak and their minds fearful by agenda driven programming, and in the meantime the crisis at hand continues to exact its price among them.

Let those of us who claim to hold fast to faith now manifest it, let those of us who have heard and received the Word in faith now go forward and do the work it has called us to do, for we are told faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26)

Let us be as the sower of seeds, in truth, boldness, and faith. For those who can, let us be in the makeshift pulpits of our surroundings, at our keyboards or on stage, and sow that into the fields to let the Holy Spirit bring to the Father those He has called out of the world.

For those who have no such training, ask G-d for boldness to be a light on a  hill where you are to those around you having restless, fearful, and angry spirits. Cry out all the more when they come against you, and having done all you can, stand in faith on the promises of the living G-d (Ephesians 6:13) Bring to mind, should you see yourself a grasshopper in your own eyes, these Apostles, uneducated and untrained, taught by a Rabbi who never studied, yet astounded them with His teaching.

It is He who will give you a mouth and wisdom (Luke 21:15)

Therefore I pray:

Lord Jesus, 

In this, the hour of our visitation, let us be stirred to be one of accord, rejoicing in faith and not fear that You have given us this opportunity to be sowers of the seed of Your salvation, that we might be reconciled to the Father before His restoration of all things in the new heaven and new earth.

Before the throne, we humbly ask to speak the Word with boldness before a wicked, adulterous, perverse generation that mocks, scorns, and falls away. Let us follow fast our Shepherd, that we will not be stand in the presence of the ungodly, scornful sinners. 

Today, we seek Your presence Lord, that we might fellowship with You in a time of refreshing. The path to the other side of a dark hour is emerging, but is not finished yet. 

We are but flesh, seeing what we want to see, hearing what we want to hear, believing what we want to believe, but You have told us the Father’s Word is truth. We are not only to hear it,  not only obey it, but manifest it in love among ourselves and to a dying world.

But we too, are sometimes frail of heart, timid of will, and shouted down. Help our unbelief, Lord, and strengthen us. Stretch out  Your hand to save us from the distractions and destroyers of our faith that allows us to step out and come to You in the midst of the storm.

It is good that we are uneducated, untrained, and unfruitful, so that when Your power is manifested through us, we can’t boast of our own strength and wisdom. Our legacies of ministry, however humble, however obscure, belong to You. They will be the only works that withstand the power of the testing fire in the day of judgement.

Until then, we abide here, witnessing the coming of a new age, watching Your prophecies begin to come to pass, and we pray that we are counted worthy to be profitable servants in whatever way You would have us share the message of salvation, that we might enter into our Father’s rest.

In righteousness, peace, and joy may we honor You.

Amen.

 

 

Devotional 41: They Made Widely Known…

Luke 2:8-18  Glory in the Highest

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold,[a] an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”[b]

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[c] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

The Father uses shepherds for all manner of things, from kings to evangelists.

They were often men of low birth, smelly, filthy, and ragged from the toils of their ignoble but necessary service. Yet in the fullness of time, when the Messiah finally arrived, it was to these and not the religious leaders that the angels appeared.

If anything this proved a foreshadowing of the unconventional ministry of our Lord: a King born in poverty, a Savior born amid peril, a Divinity clothed humanity, a Creator helpless in the arms of His earthly mother.

Why shepherds?

They were simple, as in uncomplicated: They weren’t puffed up with learning and ritual, they weren’t sidetracked by philosophy or obsessed with power and control, they had no trappings of office, and no real wealth to speak of that made them arrogant.

They were dutiful, as in responsible: They were in the fields at night, when more predators are about. Their lives were ever in danger, and their vigilance had to be constant at all times. They likely slept during the daylight hours  in order to be alert and earn their keep.

They were unified, as in co-operative: Whatever differences they may have had took a back seat to the fact that in order to survive the perils of the night’s watch, they had to work together to make it through.

They were fearful, as in reverent: When the angels appeared, they didn’t panic and run though they were afraid. After the assurance of the angel, after the blessing of the hosts, they rejoiced at the news.

They were bold, as in excited: Knowing how they were perceived by society at large, nevertheless they left for Bethlehem to see the Babe for themselves, and believing, they made what the angel told them widely known. They probably spent a great portion of the night traveling to wherever they would to spread the Good News, a foreshadowing of the Apostles going into the world, to make His resurrection widely known.

Therefore I pray:

Father, I’m not a shepherd. I’m not built for mountain perils or desert dangers, but You already know that, nor did You call me to it.

But I find that oftentimes, I’m not as the shepherds were: simple, dutiful, united with other believers, not reverent, and definitely not bold. 

Yet I would not be fruitless tree, cursed by the Messiah to never bear again. 

So Father, I ask for the shepherds’ heart, that I may make widely known the Good News of my Lord, who willed to reveal You to me, and sent me the Spirit to empower me and seal the Word of my salvation on my heart.

Equip me, Father, to find travel the long, hard distance to the narrow road; I would greet my brothers and sisters who walk with me there. I would see my family rejoicing in the Kingdom. I would save a lost soul who needs You, even if it’s just to plant a seed.

The lions and bears of life come for me. The desert sun of doubt and cold moon of rebellion makes my heart hard soil. My darkness is greater for the things I see, though I profess to know You. 

I would plead You send a star to guide me on the path back to my King, that I might worship Him in spirit and truth, and honor my vows to Him.

I would once again be a wise man bearing gifts for Him, ever seeking, rejoicing, glorifying and praising, and making widely known that which was told to me: He is Emmanuel.

“G-d is with us.”

I ask it in the power of His Name, believing I’ve received.

Amen.