REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on March 2, 2016, is provided by Pastor Mark Chun who pastors Radiance Christian Church in S. F. He studied biology at University California, San Diego and completed his Master of Divinity at Talbot School of Theology.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
“Either Preach My Word or Get Out”
Acts 5:12-16 (ESV)
Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
George Ladd, who was a renowned professor of New Testament at Fuller Seminary , taught that the kingdom of heaven is the dynamic reign of God and that the present reality of the kingdom is manifested through various signs such as the forgiveness of sins, care for the poor, healing for the sick, deliverance from evil spirits, miracles over nature, and the raising of the dead. Jesus began the rule of God through His life, death, and resurrection but Satan is still the god of this world (according to 2 Corinthians 4:4) and will not be completely defeated until the second coming of Christ. For John Wimber, this became the foundation on which he built the healing ministry at Vineyard through a theology of both power and pain. It was a way of believing that healings will happen but also a way to explain why it doesn’t always happen.
As Wimber preached through the New Testament at the beginning of the Vineyard, he began to focus on this connection between the kingdom of God and the gifts of healing. After four months he came to an impasse, in which he questioned whether or not healing was supposed to be a regular part of the church’s ministry. He concluded that it was and the following Sunday, he asked people to come up for prayer. The results were horrifying because instead of healing the sick, the prayer team caught the sicknesses of those they were praying for! As Wimber continued to encourage prayer for the sick, the church began to shrink because people thought this healing ministry was far too risky. Wimber knew from his time as a church consultant that it was okay to talk about some things as long as you didn’t actually try to do them and he questioned whether to quit or continue.
One week, as Wimber was preparing his Sunday sermon, he slammed his Bible shut and told the Lord, “I will not teach about healing anymore.” He immediately sensed the Holy Spirit rebuking him by saying, “Either preach my Word or get out.” Fortunately, he continued the healing ministry at the Vineyard and began to witness the power of God move through his congregation. Eventually, hundreds of people would be healed and the movement known as the Vineyard renewal was born.
It is impossible to preach through the Bible especially the Gospels and the book of Acts and not have to wrestle with why the church seems to have so little power. We often end up preaching our experience as opposed to what the Holy Spirit would have us believe about these subjects. The advancement of the kingdom is often evidenced by a display of miraculous power over sickness, both physically and spiritually. The Scriptures present to us an indisputable connection between the two. After all, the apostles represent the greatest preachers, pastors, and teachers in Christian history but we see that their ministry was not simply a matter of persuasive words but was evidenced by the demonstration of power.
Prayer: Lord, increase our faith to believe that you came to heal the sick, release the captives, give sight to the blind, and to free those in bondage to sin. Help us to overcome our lack of faith and to pray your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Teach us how to seek your kingdom first and trust that you will add everything else unto us. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 14
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 10:5-15 (ESV): These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
Questions to Consider
- Why does Jesus give priority to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” in his mission?
- How should we view the commands given by Jesus in verse 7-8 to proclaim the kingdom with its accompanying signs and miracles?
- Why did Jesus forbid the disciples from taking money and supplies on their mission?
- In the beginnings of Christianity, the strategy was to evangelize the Jews first for two main reasons. The first reason is mainly spiritual. Since the Jews represent God’s original people, his first born son, and the tree that Gentiles would be grated into, they had the privilege of receiving the gospel first. The second reason was more pragmatic. Jewish converts to Christianity would already have a baseline understanding of God and the OT scriptures from Judaism so they could quickly grow in their new found faith in Christ.
- Although many people dispute the commands in verse 8 as being limited to just the original disciples, there is no biblical warrant to relegate the commands to heal the sick, exorcise demons, and even raise the dead to Christians in the first century. If this were the case, we would have to limit the command to proclaim the kingdom to the original apostles. We see in the book of Acts that there was no such limitation in place nor is there any exegetical proof that miracles ceased with the last apostle. Therefore, Christians throughout the ages can expect signs and wonders from time to time.
- Jesus wanted the disciples to depend on the grace of those who received their ministry. Clearly this was not to exploit the sick or become rich using the name of Jesus as some have done but rather it was a means of teaching about God’s grace to both giver and recipient. It should be remembered that ministers of the gospel are not paid for their work but rather paid so that they can serve more freely.
In what ways have your experienced the supernatural work of God in your life? How have you limited God or limited yourself in terms of the ministry that you are called to perform? It has been said that a Christian is only bound by the limits of his or her faith. Pray that you would grow in faith and expect to do great things for God.