We are in the days and the age where the world we presently live in is practically contesting everything that is written in the word. Lately when I go through my social media accounts and the things I get to see, speaks to and seems to want to challenge the things that we believe in! Today many people seem to have dedicated their social media accounts to challenging the veracity of the word.
Let's not speak in parables. Just about two years ago a movement started with a young free mind who began to question the validity of God's word on the subject of giving, the subject of tithes and offerings and seems to question its veracity, it's authenticity and it's practiced! In response to that, I have written quite some articles on what my position is on this subject.
Many other people joined in on that bandwagon and have become self-acclaimed facebook preachers. And on their pages, they tell you the richest people in the world are not believers! So they advised us believers to get to work as if we don't work in the first place. I am sure they know we do but it seems to me through their various messages on social media and all related media they have made some inroad into the hearts of many believers and the church, that it seems these days that the church has gradually exalted expertise in the world over obedience to the word. The issue for us as a church is the challenge to always find the balance between two extreme doctrines. For some time the answer is neither here nor there, the answer is both here and there.
There was a time the church happily gets on by thinking only obedience to the word will give us headway in the world. And today we are having it the other way. Today many think they can just make it on their own: get knowledge, get skills and expertise in your field, work hard and you are okay! In both cases, we have a walk on the path of the extremes and the result is always lopsided. Jesus once complained somewhere that the children of this world are in their own generation wiser than the children of lights! What was his intent in saying this? He wants us to understand the ways of the world as well! But much more He wants us to walk according to the dictates and commands of heaven, for when we have these two combined we will command astonishing results!
And then within the church, the message of grace has taken the center stage! His grace is sufficient for me! Hallelujah, it is for me also. Only that sometimes when people make this statement it's always an excuse for spiritual laziness or spiritual laxities. We ask grace to do everything without doing nothing for grace! Yes, there is always what to do for the grace of God to increase. But it seems for the modern-day believer we ask grace to do everything without doing nothing for grace. Part of the spiritual excuse is, "Jesus has done everything for us on the cross, so what are we to do again? Let's just claim. and appropriate what Christ has done!" However, the appropriation of the grace that Christ procure on the cross of Calvary still needs some measure of spiritual work for them to find expression in our lives!
This is why we have the book: ACTS OF THE APOSTLE. It's a documentation of how the early church walked and worked with the grace of God
The Church in the Acts of the Apostles looks like a working church, a church that appropriates the grace of God by their work and not by their talk.
As I read Luke 5 today I see some verses, stories in this chapter that presently addresses some of the challenges the church is facing today. I will pick on a few today and we would deliberate on them.
TOILED ALL NIGHT - Luke 5:1-11
Luke's account of how some band of fishermen started following Jesus is not the only account in the gospel that recorded this incidence, but the details that Luke put together in his own story makes you wonder whether it was the same story that you read in the other gospels.
Here Luke recorded the toiling of Peter and his band of fishermen. And it's this story that brings into focus for me the place of expertise in what you do and the advantage of obedience to the word of God confers on you. Luke 5:4-4 tells us
"Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net"
Simon Peter called Jesus Master here, which meant that before now Peter and his band of fishermen knew Jesus before now. I won't be tempted to attempt to prove that through the accounts that we see in all the gospels. But he addressed him as Master, that tells you of the familiarity that was there. Peter before now was already following Jesus in some way, but he wasn't fully committed yet to the cause. Probably afraid of how to survive when you make such a commitment. The several accounts of how Jesus called his disciples in all the gospels seem to say different things but historically they all tie together. Proving and arranging them will be another work. But Peter called Jesus 'master', meaning he was already a follower of the Lord in some way. But let's get to the main point.
Peter is the expert fisherman and his venture this time around was yielding no results. His expertise was not producing tangible results today! It was there for all to see. As an experienced fisherman, he wasn't complaining. He knew there would be days like this. He has seen days like this. But beyond the expertise of men, there is the word of God that prevails over all others! The master gave a prophetic command, a command that carries both instruction of what to do and the resultant blessings or provision that follows when such instruction is obeyed!
On the surface, this was a stupid instruction. It is a well-known fact that the best time to fish is during the night this prophetic command is however coming during the day. This command goes against the logic of every reasonable fishermen's practice. And yet Peter obeyed!
This is where the church is presently challenged and stucked. We are in the sense age and people question everything that the church does and sadly many believers are questioning the so-called 'stupid instructions' that brought us to where we are! 'How can you give your money and tithes to the church? Are you daft? You're giving your money to pastors? What stupid seeds are you sowing? Better get to work'. And many other things they say that seem to make sense and are making many believers question their stance in the word of God.
Paul foresaw this and warned in 1 Corinthians 1:17-18
"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God"
That the gospel we preach is not a gospel of sense, it is a gospel of power! And those who embrace the words and sense of the world brings the cross of Christ to nought!
The wisdom of God is foolishness to the world, but howbeit when this wisdom goes to work, it brings amazing results! What was the result of Peter's obedience to God's word? Luke 5:6-8 tells us.
"And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both the ships so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord"
This was a mind-boggling, mind humbling and mind-numbing result. It made Peter bow down and worship. The result changed Peter's perception of Jesus, at the beginning he called him Master, but after the miracle, he called him Lord! Decent work will command decent results, but obedience to God's word will command mind-numbing results!
We must not allow Satan to cheat us out of our covenant advantages. The covenants though stupid in its practice gives the church unassailable results and advantages in the world! Where men toil all nights the covenant will work against all odds!
When Peter saw what the covenant can produce, he abandoned his worldly venture and decided to follow Jesus. I am not asking that you abandon your pursuit in the world. Am not asking that you rubbish the need for skills and expertise in what you do, there is a place for all these, but I am saying beyond what natural expertise can produce obedience to the dictates of God's command and covenants will put you in command of all situations in life.
OFTENTIMES HE WITHDREW TO PRAY
"And he withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed. And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them"
The message translation put the verse 16 this way, Jesus instructed him, “ As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer."
The message translation show to us that it was a regular thing with Jesus to always withdraw to pray. And you will see this as we read further in the gospel of Luke. Somehow the doctor took the time to write a lot about Jesus' prayer life! And from this passage we see how the prayer life produced tremendous results: as he was teaching the power of God was present to heal the people. And in the verses that followed, we saw that power illustrated when a man was let down through the roof and Jesus healed him!
When Jesus came in the flesh, he had an intent to show to us that will believe in him what we can achieve as men anointed by the Spirit of God. That's why he said if we believe in him that we would do the works that he did, but much more we would do greater works!
Believing in Jesus means following the life of Jesus. And here in Luke 5:16, we see one of Jesus' lifestyle, a life of prayer! He was always in it, according to the message translation. The grace that flowed forth to heal the man in verses 17 was produced by the work of grace in verses 16 - the work of prayer!
Today the present church want an outflow of grace but the church is not ready to pay the price for that grace. We want power without prayer! We want the help of God without calling to God! Jesus in all his omnipotency always finds time to withdrew and pray to God. In some other places, the Bible says he woke up a great while before day and prayed! Nothing depicts dependency on God other than a strong prayer life!
Prayerlessness is proof of self-dependence. The man who is dependent on God always calls on God! The man who always call on God always receives the help of God! And with the help of God, we cannot be helpless on the earth!
When we pray we receive grace and with grace, we become solution providers to our world - saviors! Still in doubt of the role of prayer in walking in grace?
Hebrews 4:16 tells us
"Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need"
The one who comes for the grace of God is the one who receives the grace of God!
WHEN THE BRIDEGROOM IS GONE
Well someone can say, "well that can apply to Jesus because he is the savior of the world, he needed to do that. Moreover, Jesus has paid all the price for me while should I struggle and labor again". Now for people who think this way the master left some words behind and it wasn't just for prayer but for fasting. This word was for the church to be birth after he has left the scene.
"And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days"
Luke 5:34-35 KJV
We are presently living in 'those days', the bridegroom is gone, and so we shall not only pray but we shall couple our prayers with fasting and in doing so experience a huge deluge of God's power on the earth that will bring about a change to our world! The glory days of the church is yet to come. Amen.