Signs and Wonders

Jesus, the apostle of our faith, used the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit to grab people’s attention. In the 4th chapter of John’s Gospel we see Jesus using a Word of Knowledge to witness to the woman at the well. As a result of this “sign and wonder” she goes back into the village and tells everyone about Him. He then has an opportunity to speak to the whole village about the Kingdom of God (John 4:5-42). The gifts of the Holy Spirit can still help open people’s hearts today.

In the New Testament it talks about the “signs of an apostle” and thus the signs that will follow apostolic people who obey the command to “go into all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Although apostles were known as “miracles workers,” Paul made it clear that those involved in apostolic ministry should expect to see evidence of the power of God. “The signs of the true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance by signs and wonders and miracles.” (2 Corinthians 12:12 NASB). Supernatural manifestations (the gifts of the Holy Spirit – 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) are not the only signs of an apostle, but Paul clearly considered them to be very valuable. So should we today.

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The Priority of the Gospel

Priorities, priorities, priorities. Nothing shapes our lives more than our personal priorities. Many believers and many churches would tell you that sharing the Gospel is one of their top priorities, yet that is often not reflected in how they live their lives.

What about the apostles of the Early Church? Did they focus on dynamic meetings, church potlucks, and elaborate buildings? Was their priority to keep the Christians happy and make sure everyone kept tithing? Did they devote lots of their time to Christian conferences and the development of products they could sell to boost their income?

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Birthing Churches Through Prayer

One of my favorite church-planting stories is found in Acts 16, the account of Paul’s apostolic journey and outreach to Philippi. How did Paul get started on his quest to reach Philippi with the Gospel? Did he schedule a crusade? Did he try to evangelize the synagogues, as he did in other places? Did he develop a cell-church network? No, Paul had a strategy that might seem highly unusual to us today? He prayed.

How could such a strategy work? Why not get right into the work of preaching the Gospel to the lost? Paul realized that, as E.M. Bounds would later point out, “Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men in even greater.” Paul knew that before organizing an outreach to people, he first needed to spend time agonizingbefore God. He understood, as J.C. Ryle has warned, “Never, never may we forget that if we would do good to the world, our first duty is to pray.” Judsom Cornwall expands on this: “God does not command to pray as a form of chastisement or disciple. Prayer is as necessary to spiritual life as scuba tanks are to the physical life of a deep-sea diver. Prayer is the atmosphere in which a human spirit can function comfortable. It is the breath of eternity so necessary to our eternal spirits that are confined in temporal bodies.”

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Apostolic Prayer

The story has been told about a young man in Bible school who offered to help David Wilkerson minister on the streets of New York City. Wilkerson asked him how much time he spent in prayer. The young student estimated about 20 minutes a day.

“Go back, young man,” Wilkerson quickly replied. “Go back for a month and pray two hours a day, every day for 30 days. When you’ve done that, come back. Come back, and I might consider turning you loose on the streets where there is murder, rape, violence, and danger. If I sent you out now on 20 minutes a day, I’d be sending a soldier into battle without any weapons, and you would probably be killed.”

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Pray as Jesus Prayed

After the disciples had witnessed the amazing impact of Jesus’ prayer life, they were naturally curious about how they could have the same power in their own lives. They accordingly approached Jesus one day as He was concluding a time of prayer: “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of Hid disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1)

There are many other questions that the disciples could have asked: “Lord, teach us to share the Gospel,” or “Teach us to heal the sick,” or “Teach us to cast out demons.’” But there is no record of these questions ever being asked. Why not? Maybe because the disciples could see that Jesus’ prayer life was the secret to everything else He did. Read more

Thoughts on Accountability

There seems to be little of it these days in the Church – accountability, that is! People today apparently don’t want to be accountable. But, Christians need to learn to submit (there is that awful word) and be accountable to others, especially to their spiritual leaders. It’s biblical. The book of Hebrews speaks about submitting to those who are in spiritual authority over you (remembering that Romans 13 tells us all those in authority have been placed there by God). Hebrews speaks of submitting to those who teach you and lead you. This would imply submitting to the Word of God as well, I am sure.

Recently I have met one-on-one with some people who say they are believers. It was past time to cal them on their behaviour, their long-term track record, their lifestyle, and their obedience regarding finances – especially tithing to the local church. It was an interesting month to say the least. Some simply refused to meet with me and commented to other leaders that they did not tithe (we knew this) and didn’t plan to do so. Because this was their “big issue” they refused to meet with me. So, the opportunity to speak into their lives and help them be “accountable” simply was not there. Lesson learned: You can’t make someone accountable if hey don’t want to be.
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Content With the Ordinary

All around you there are people who are content with the ordinary. And, if you begin to search for God’s best – His presence, Hos purpose, and His power – they will begin to wonder what is wrong with you and why you are not satisfied with the ordinary, the normal, and what has always been. And, because you like these people and they are fairly nice and okay folks, you will be tempted to rejoin them and stop your quest of fulfilling God’s plan for your life. Encounters with these people can be very crippling when you are working at pursuing the life that God has called you to.

Maybe the reason some of us feel surrounded by opposition as we try to live for God is that we have surrounded ourselves with the wrong people. They are not hiding outside our windows waiting to ambush us. They are sitting at our tables by personal invitation. If you are going to do what God has called you to do, you have t intentionally bring the people into your life He wants you to have. And put out the ones who subtract from your potential.  Read more

Biblical Signs of an Apostle -9

The fruit in the ministry of an apostle is both obvious as well as abundant…

Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9:2 “If I am an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” In other words, the proof of his call to the ministry of an apostle is the fruit that can be seen in his ministry – in this case, people who have heard the Gospel and become disciples of the Lord. Fruit is one of the major ways we can judge a person’s ministry no matter what their calling is. And, if there is good fruit then there are good roots – the minister will be truly “rooted and grounded in love” as well as teaching sound doctrines.

Some of the fruit in an apostle’s ministry will include: Read more

Biblical Signs of an Apostle -8

We are looking at the biblical signs of a true, authentic apostle – a man who is truly called and commissioned by the Lord and send as the gift of apostle to His Church. The sign I want to look at this time is that “apostles proclaim and demonstrate the Word of God with miracles, healings, signs, and wonders.

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5) Read more

Biblical Signs of an Apostle -7

Another sign of a genuine apostle is that he is a Master Builder of the Kingdom of God. Paul writes: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation and another builds upon it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.” (1 Corinthians 3:10)

A master builder is one who is who is well trained, experienced, capable, and equipped in a science or an art; he designs the plans for buildings to be constructed. In the Kingdom of God, apostles are the designers or architects. They are passionate when it comes to building powerful ministries, churches, and networks (unions) according to biblical standards. Apostles are not satisfied with simply building a church or ministry; their greatest satisfaction comes when they build and extend the Kingdom of God and the Church. They know how to do it because God shows them the master plan and equips them in special ways to carry it out. Read more