Paul the apostle wielded legitimate miraculous power. He told a man who was crippled from birth to stand up and “At that, the man jumped up and began to walk” (Acts 14:10). What would become of a man who could do that today? Who could just speak healing into existence? “You who were blind from birth – see!” And then the blind person looks around in amazement as she sees for the first time. Can you even imagine?
In our modern would I imagine there would be an enormous amount of skepticism at first. But as the stories added up and doubts faded could you imagine how famous the healer would become? How wealthy he could become if that’s what he wanted? There’s no doubt that at least some would believe this healer is just a little more than human. But be sure of this – if this healer accepts this praise and all this attention for himself, if he uses his ability to benefit himself by gaining riches and power, then he is no man of God.
Of course we know that no such healer exists today (even though some make the claim). There are, however, gifted speakers. There are talented businessmen, skilled athletes, people who are good at making money. All kinds of abilities exist that people use to direct the attention to themselves, to gain wealth and honor at every opportunity. But I want you to notice that Paul didn’t do that. The man who could do something more remarkable than any ability we see today refused to be praised. He wanted all the praise to go to God. After healing the cripple the crowd wanted to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods. I’m sure that would be tempting for some – but they wanted none of it. “But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: ‘Men, why are you doing this?’” (Acts 14:14-15).
If those who could do miracles wanted all the praise to go to God, who are we to seek praise for ourselves? I don’t care what you can do – you can’t heal a guy who was crippled from birth. “It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor” (Proverbs 25:27). Let’s take a page from Paul’s book. Give the credit to God. Give the praise to God. No matter what you do or what you can do be sure to direct attention away from yourself and toward the One who can do everything. That’s the honorable thing to do. That’s what true men and women of God have always done.
written by: Doug Wells
I remember a teacher in college telling the class about his encounter with a foreign exchange student. The student had walked up to Dr. Keller (the teacher) and told him that he didn’t think his God was worth believing in. Why is that? The student had just read Genesis 22: the account of Abraham being tested and asked to sacrifice Isaac. “Take your son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” (Genesis 22:2). So the student confronts Dr. Keller: “no God worth believing in would ask Abraham to do that.” The teacher confessed to the class that at the time he didn’t have a very good answer, and sort of struggled through a reply. We grew up with these Bible stories and have become comfortable with them. It’s interesting to see what people think when they have no previous knowledge of the Bible and then read something like Abraham obeying the command to sacrifice his son, even to the point when the knife was only a couple of feet away! Looking at this from an outsider’s perspective I can see how this would be shocking. Why would the Creator of all life want one of His chief servants to take the life of his boy? Here is Dr. Keller’s current belief, which he shared with us: “I think God wanted Abraham to feel what the Lord God would one day feel about His Son.” Unlike the exchange student we know, and Abraham knew, that whatever happened the Lord would make it right. What Abraham didn’t know was many, many years later the Lord would be giving up His Son to be sacrificed on the cross. We can admire Abraham’s courage. I suspect there aren’t many who would be willing to give God everything – even the thing they love the most. Abraham had waited many years for the miraculous birth of Isaac so I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled at the idea of giving this gift back. But he was willing and God blesses him richly. Perhaps God’s powerful words of blessing partially come from God being so glad that now there is someone who understands what He will go through, something He knew would be necessary since the beginning of time. Indeed, this is outrageous love.
Who could love us enough that they would be willing to give their son, whom they love? It’s shocking, but that is the love of God. God took his Son Jesus, whom He loved, and placed Him on a cross for us.
- Doug Wells
Academically motivated students all over the country work very hard in high school to have a good GPA and get good test scores. Their goal is to get into a good college with a scholarship. To get in these places they will study for hours. They will take practice tests on their computers. They may even beg their parents to pay for private tutoring. To have this good education they will make sacrifices, saying no to anything that gets in the way of this goal. And all this happens while another place of “higher learning” exists. If you get in this place you will learn much more than what you could discover in Harvard or Yale. “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).Those who are financially wise know that to get the most out of their money they need to make investments. So these people will put a part of their income aside and put into their retirement. This requires discipline and sacrifice but the rewards they will receive at retirement are worth it to them. All of this happens while much greater rewards exist. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).Don’t you see? People work harder for rewards on earth than they do for MUCH greater rewards in heaven! This must be a question of confidence. People have greater faith in worldly things then in the existence of heavenly ones. If someone really believes in heaven then there is no effort or sacrifice they wouldn’t make to get there. If we really believe we would be willing to join the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. “Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated –the world was not worthy of them” (Hebrews 11:36-38). And why were they willing to go through these terrible trials for the cause of Christ? Because they loved Jesus and believed in heaven! I pray we do as well!
- Doug Wells
I am happy to announce that our family is now moved into our new home in Belpre. We love the house and have wonderful dreams about ministry that can happen there. However, I must admit that moving did not go as smoothly as we hoped. Some of our possessions were in an uncovered trailer. After checking the weather in Michigan (which said clear skies all day) we thought it would be okay. We should have checked the weather in southern Ohio too I suppose. After driving a few miles first it dumped snow, then it rained, then it hailed, then it snowed some more. We scraped a half inch of ice off our stuff when we got there. Additionally, the U-Haul got stuck in a ditch when we tried to back it up into our narrow drive, requiring a wrecker at two in the morning. Gasoline from the tipped lawn mower got dumped on our best mattress. A few other pieces of furniture got wrecked in transition. And you know what? It’s okay. All of these are temporary things. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
My troubles are temporary and my best blessings are forever. Whatever minor trial we go through does not come close to comparing to all the good that is in store for me as a Christian person. By comparison even a severe illness, even the complete loss of all our possessions, even being separated from one another for a time is a “light and momentary trouble.” This is one of the many reasons I am so happy to be a Christian. I know that even if I have to walk through some dark valleys God is always leading me to good places. What hope do you have if you do not follow the Lord? What hope do you have as your body wears out and your possessions rust and break and those you love pass away? I’m sure I know several people who would fall to pieces if their table or their T.V. broke in the U-Haul. Without Christ they have no hope of anything better.
Let all who belong to Christ know that our hope is great. Let’s say along with David: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). Whether God gives or takes away let us praise His name! His presence in our lives is worth far more than any material thing we could hope to gain. His love is more precious than any costly jewel. These are blessings that can never be taken from me. They are blessings I enjoy now, they are blessings I will enjoy in the house of the Lord forever. If you cannot say the same I encourage you to put your treasure in a different place. Then all of your troubles will seem light and momentary compared to the eternal glory that outweighs them all.
Written by Doug Wells
I think a general rule is the more worthwhile something is the harder it is to get it. In school it wouldn’t have been hard for me to pass a class with a “D.” I could do that with almost no effort at all, but the much more valuable “A” took a lot more work. If something is extremely valuable it might even be unattainable. Could I get a small diamond to ask Raeanne to marry me? Sure, with some saving and sacrifice. Could I obtain the 45.52 carat Hope Diamond? Uhh . . .not legally. And since I’m a minister instead of a master criminal not illegally either. Get how this works? The best things tend to be super hard to get. But I hope this doesn’t discourage people from pursing God. I hope this principle doesn’t convince people to abandon seeking God’s Word.
Even though every Word from God is more precious than diamonds it is amazingly accessible to us. As Moses once said, God’s Word “is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it” (Deuteronomy 30:12-14). I think righteous people would happily cross the ocean to receive a word from God . . . but they don’t have to. God loves us so much that He has put something incredibly valuable within reach.
The Word is in our hearts so that we may seek (and find) God. I’ve watched a few Indiana Jones movies in my time, where Harrison Ford goes on incredibly difficult quests to obtain priceless artifacts. Perhaps that’s how many people view seeking God. They may think the quest to get to God would be so difficult, the obstacles so great, it’s not really worth the effort. Perhaps these people would be surprised to know that God is not far away. The obstacles to get to God are great but they have already been overcome by Christ. “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:26-27). What is it worth to you to be near God? How worthwhile would that be? Rejoice that God has made this an exception to the rule! God is worth more than the whole world but He is not far from each one of us.
Written by Doug Wells