Acts 13-14, Psalm 125
My patients often pray for a healthy child. When they struggle nutritionally or otherwise they fear they are damaging their child. When the child is born healthy they often will state how good their doctor was or tell others how they did it by eating organic or exercising. Whenever they tell me this I try to emphasize that their pregnancy began with God and ended with God. That in God's creation of their child, He defends the defenseless and that He is the main character in their child's development and birth with both them an myself playing supporting roles at best. But this is the situation with all things in life. How many athletes and military leaders start in prayer then when victorious and interviewed shed the light on themselves how they out flanked their opponent or overcame their enemies. Read any history book and it is filled with the exaltation of the individuals and nations involved in the stories. But we will see in Paul's description of Biblical history where he places the emphasis.
In Paul's first recorded sermon in Antioch in Pisidia before those in the synagogue, Paul describes the history of the Jewish people from the Exodus from Egypt to the death and resurrection of Jesus. If you look back from Acts 13:17-39, virtually every verse states that God was the power behind every event. The human contribution was minimized while God's role was emphasized. This emphasis continued in Acts 14:3, as we read, "Therefore they stayed a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands." In Acts 14:15 due to the teaching along with the signs and wonders by Paul and Barnabas the people sought to glorify them and considered them gods. Paul responded in 14:15, "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them,".
Though God enabled Paul to speak boldly and heal as he told the lame man in Acts 14:10, to "Stand up straight on your feet!", the power was from God, not Paul. The amazing thing is that God uses ordinary men to accomplish His work. In James 5:17, the prophet Elijah was not exalted, but God who was the power behind Elijah, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months." The prophet Isaiah was used mightily by God not by his inherent greatness or strength, but by his willingness to be used. We see how Isaiah rightly saw himself in Isaiah 6:5, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;...". Then we read in Isaiah 6:8, "I also heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." Despite how mightily God used Isaiah throughout his life, Isaiah never lost sight of who deserved the glory as we read in Isaiah 64:6, "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;..". To be used by God we must start and continue with the realization that we are but vessels who if willing can be used mightily by him. If we forget this, things can change quickly. After the Red Sea Crossing in Exodus, soon after came the false worshipping of the Golden Calf with it's devastating consequences. After the amazing victory over Jericho came the surprising defeat to tiny Ai when the Israelites lost focus on God. What we must take from this and ask ourselves is, who knows what God could do through any of our lives if we were fully yielded to Him and sought to glorify Him.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: