Can anyone see the work of God in a person?
Can anyone see God show up and change someone from the inside out?
After Saul’s personal encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul was supernaturally changed by Jesus. This experience motivated Saul to tell everyone about Jesus. But, everyone was afraid of this Christian Bounty Hunter. Everyone knew that when this Bounty Hunter came into town, look out, Christians run and hide.
Suddenly, Saul’s message changed from against Jesus to for Jesus. Was this a trick? Was this a new tactic to find those secret Christians? Was this a new strategy this Christian Hunter was using as bait?
Acts 9:19-21 Saul spent a few days getting acquainted with the Damascus disciples, but then went right to work, wasting no time, preaching in the meeting places that this Jesus was the Son of God. They were caught off guard by this and, not at all sure they could trust him, they kept saying, “Isn’t this the man who wreaked havoc in Jerusalem among the believers? And didn’t he come here to do the same thing—arrest us and drag us off to jail in Jerusalem for sentencing by the high priests?”
Could Saul be trusted? Did anyone have an eye on the invisible work of Jesus? Would anyone take a risk on this possible new convert? Was there anyone willing to put their life on line for this potential new Christian leader?
No one, except one man.
26-27 Back in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn’t trust him one bit. Then Barnabas took him under his wing. He introduced him to the apostles and stood up for him, told them how Saul had seen and spoken to the Master on the Damascus Road and how in Damascus itself he had laid his life on the line with his bold preaching in Jesus’ name.
Barnabas had an eye to see the invisible work of Jesus. Barnabas had the vision to see the miracle working of his Savior. Barnabas had the heart to grasp the specialty handy work of his Lord. Barnabas had the courage to put his life on the line for a potential new leader for Jesus.
Why couldn’t anyone else see this? Why was everyone else so blind to their Savior’s work? Why didn’t anyone else take a risk for Jesus?
A beautiful mark of a mature Christian is someone who can see the impossible handiwork of their Savior. This mark is seen in risking taking for Jesus.
What do you see in everyone and every day?
Can you see the signs of the invisible spiritual world or just the physical world?
Do you even care about these two different worlds?
Do you regularly take risks for Jesus because of the every-day spiritual opportunities Jesus provides for us?
Are you seeking to become more like a Barnabas Christian as opposed to all other Christians?
Praying for Jesus to continue to grow us to be more Barnabas like.
At my parents’ cabin stands a mighty oak tree that has been there long before I was born. It is massive. It has grown. It is unique. It has damage from wind, storms and changes from the Minnesota seasons. Yet, it stands strong and healthy.
At the end of the Messiah's ministry description in Isaiah 61:3, there is a picture of a person who lets Jesus do His life changing work in them. "They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor."
What a description of a mature follower of Jesus, "Oaks of Righteousness."
What comes to your mind?
What do you see in your imagination?
Strong, sturdy, deeply planted, crooked, cracked, bent, weathered, rugged, flourishing, stalwart, secure, resolute, and more.
We all love this end result. I do not think anyone likes the process to get there. Let's remember the process of cooperating with Jesus to transform us in Isaiah 61.
"No, not that branch."
"How about this branch."
"Let's just ignore that one."
"I'm not ready to face this one."
"Why do we have to deal with that one?"
We must decide to let Jesus come and do some painful work.
If we do, "(We) are like trees that grow beside a stream, that bear fruit at the right time, and whose leaves do not dry up. (We) blossom in everything (we) do." Ps 1:3
Remember, this result is for "His splendor."
I am praying that together, we will decide to cooperate with the painful transformational process of our Messiah. I am praying that Jesus will strengthen our lives. I am praying that we will let Jesus create His righteous oaks.
A neighbor walked up to a teenage boy and asked him what he knew about Jesus. The teen replied, "Not a whole lot. Maybe I need to look into that."
Walking home from his part time job, this teenager heard someone on the street sharing about Jesus desiring to save everyone. He heard the words, "If you do not know how to be saved, call out to God by saying, 'God be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.'" As he walked home, he could not get those words out of his mind. Arriving home, he went straight to the attic to think about these things. These thoughts about God, about life, about himself, about sin, brokenness and death excited him, haunted him and filled him. Late one evening, this teenager, A. W. Tozer, walked out of that attic a new creation in Christ in 1915. He experienced God adopting him into Jesus' family. He described it as such a profound change that it opened his mind to intellectual curiosity and a ravenous hunger to know God.
With a packed home of eight family members and many boarders, Aiden Wilson Tozer, claimed the dirty, unused space behind the furnace as his place to talk with God and study the Bible. His sister would hear strange noises in the basement. She went down to find out what was going on. It was Aiden crying out to God to know Jesus, for his family to know Jesus and for the people in his life to know Jesus.
I love to be reminded of how Jesus steps into individual peoples' lives. It is so good to be reminded that Jesus is still touching one person at a time; sometimes through a neighbor putting a hand on a shoulder and at other times a stranger on the street.
As we are reminded about Jesus still moving, what might we do to be energized by God? What is Jesus calling us to right now? What is He whispering to you?
"I miss you."
"Drink deeply into My Fountain of Life, The Word."
"Let's just sit awhile."
"Let's talk about it (that elephant in the room)."
"Experience My love."
"Don't give up."
"Here it comes, be ready."
"Go and have that hard conversation that you have been avoiding."
"That person needs some help. Go."
Let's go to our space behind the furnace, deeply connect with God and emerge with a ravenous hunger to do whatever Jesus is leading us to do.
Ps 63 "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. Those who want to kill me will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals. But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced."
Praying for deep encounters with God for all of us,
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.