Summary: Whether we progress or not often depends on whether we more afraid of God or men. Peter knew that it was impossible to withstand the power of God without losing big time! Making progress despite difficult circumstances
Progressing Through the Storm
Illustration:"THEY MAY TRIP SEVEN TIMES, BUT EACH TIME THEY WILL
RISE AGAIN." (PROVERBS 24:16 NLT)
GET UP, GET OVER IT, GET GOING
Jonas Salk, who invented the vaccine that wiped out
polio, conducted 200 experiments before he got the
formula right. When he was asked the secret of his
perseverance he replied, "My family didn’t teach me in
terms of failure, they taught me in terms of
experience and what could be learned from it. I just
made my 201st discovery. But I would never have made
it without the previous 200 learning experiences."
John Maxwell points out that the difference between
average people and achieving people, is their
perception of failure and their response to it. Most
of us fear failure because we haven’t been properly
prepared to handle it. Each time you plan, risk, fail,
reevaluate and adjust, you have an opportunity to
begin again-only better than the last time.
Jeb Hubbard writes, "There is no failure except in no
longer trying. There is no defeat, except from within,
no really insurmountable barrier, save our own
inherent weakness of purpose."
1. Have you ever wondered why some people are afraid to progress when conditions appear difficult?
Most of us are hesitant to try something new unless we are given guarantees. When persecutions became intense in the first century church the apostles pressed ahead to advance the gospel to Antioch – a corrupt city occupied mainly by Gentiles. Peter said, “If therefore God gave the Gentiles the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17)
Application: Whether we progress or not often depends on whether we more afraid of God or men. Peter knew that it was impossible to withstand the power of God without losing big time! Ask the Lord to help you remember that if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31) Trust the Lord to help you continue to help advance the kingdom of God and His righteousness through all possible means. Follow the example of the apostle’s progressive thinking.
2. The apostles went to Antioch without being invited. Do not think you have to be invited before contributing to the progressive growth of Christ’s church in qualitative or quantitative measures. Thanks, in part, to the persecution of the church, the apostles were scattered and some made their way to Antioch. Eventually, Antioch became the center for the missionary movement of the world in the first century.
Application: Often one step of progress for Jesus Christ provides a launching pad for others to multiply the progress of God’s truth, justice and salvation story in their vicinity. Ask the Lord to help you make progressive choices so you can help multiply the progress of others’ ministries.
3. When people see examples of God directed progress they in turn grow in their faith, vision and courage. Dr. Luke wrote, “The hand of the Lord was with them and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.” (Acts 11:21)
Application: Your progress does not have to swift, but it should be steady. Sow the seed and God will give the fruit. Ask the Lord to help your progress catalyze the spiritual growth (qualitatively and quantitatively) of other believers who will win many more to faith in Jesus Christ.
4. The apostles believed God for the provisions, power and connections needed to establish new churches in the regions beyond. You may fear making a move because you are unsure of making new friends. You may fear how your family will adapt to a particular change.
Example: The famous founder of the China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor, once said, “God’s will done in God’s way will not lack God’s support.” Ask the Lord to help you trust Him for whatever you need to progress forward with His will.
5. Do not expect to get credit for the progress made for God’s purposes. Few of these people’s names are mentioned who started the church in Antioch. If we wait to make sure that we are appreciated for every step of progress, little will be accomplished.
Application: Ask the Lord to help you to not hesitate to advance God’s purposes because no one acknowledges your contribution – God remembers and rewards every good work of faith.
6. Progress is often done against much resistance. Expect and prepare by equipping yourself with the full armor of God. The apostles knew that the entire armor of a Christian is offensive – the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, the breastplate of righteousness.
Application: The Lord expects His soldiers to move forward for the advancement of the gospel, truth and His church. Do not think that those who are stagnant are able to enjoy the best of God’s blessings. Ask the Lord to help you to prepare for every form of resistance against His kingdom’s progress.