Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Acts 25:23-26:32: Paul’s Testimony of the Risen Christ before King Agrippa by Gan Tuan Boon dated 16.11.14

Bro. Gan started with the story of the Commander of the King or Aram, Naaman.  He was a great commander but he had leprosy. He had a Jewish servant girl who convinced Naaman that if he seeks the prophet in Israel he will be healed.  Naaman got the King’s permission and he approached Prophet Elisha to heal him.  Elisha asked him to dip into river Jordan 7 times and he will be healed.  He did that and was healed.  Effectively he was saved by the testimony of a Jewish servant girl. ( 2 King 5:1-19 )

Paul’s Testimony of the Risen Christ before King Agrippa

900 years later a Jewish man appeared on the scene of Palestine.
Apostle Paul – A former Pharisee who became a believer
Porcius Festus – A Roman Governor who succeed Felix
King Agrippa and Bernice – Ruler of Galilee region and married sister Bernice
Main story line – Paul was on trial before King Agrippa for the “crime” of preaching the Gospel

12 years after Paul’s conversion he conducted 3 missions – 1st mission to the many provinces up to Turkey, 2nd mission, a historic crossed to Europe, and 3rd mission Paul extended his mission to Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem he was arrested by the authority when a mob tried to kill him.  Paul was transferred by the authority from Jerusalem to Caesarea because the Jews wanted to ambush and kill him.  He was tried before Felix who found nothing wrong with him.  Felix kept him in prison expecting a bribe.  Festus succeed Felix and Paul was again stand trial before him, and he found nothing wrong with him. Festus wanted to move Paul from Caesarea to Jerusalem to be trialled there but he objected and appealed to Caesar.  Festus has no charges against Paul and that was unreasonable to send him to Caesar. King Agrippa came along and Festus arranged for Paul to be heard before him.  King Agrippa was an expert in Jewish customs and culture and he would be able to help Festus with his duties in sending Paul to Rome.

Paul gave his conversion testimony before the King, Queen, Governor, high ranking military officers and prominent men of the city.

Part 1 – Paul acknowledge the presence of his audience with respectful remarks ( Act 26:1-3) he agreed that King Agrippa was an expert in Jewish customs and counted himself fortunate to appear before him.

Part 2- Paul’s life before conversion ( Acts 26:4-11) a) he lived as a Pharisee b) he was a persecutor of the church.

Part 3 – Paul’s conversion (Acts 26:12-19) a) he met Jesus on the way to Damascus b) he became a firm believer.  Jesus asked Paul why he persecute Jesus and told him it was hard to kick against the goad. A goad is a sharp stick for driving a ox forward.  It is painful for the animal to kick against it.

Part 4- Result of Paul’s conversion
a) he was appointed as witness of Jesus ( Acts 26:16 )
b) he received hope for the future. ( Acts 26:6-8) because he believed in the resurrection.
Isaiah prophecy about the Resurrection of the body. “But your dead will live, Lord; their bodies will rise— let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy” (Isa 26:19)
c) he obeyed the calling to spread the good news. (Acts 26:17-18) 
         (i) Turn from darkness to light   ii) transferred from power of Satan to God.  Iii) received forgiveness of sin. 
       Two Reactions to Paul’s Testimony
         a) Unbelief: Festus thought Paul was insane. 
         b) Belief: Agrippa showed signs of believing.

Judgement of Paul’s Trial

        a) Paul had no done anything to deserve death or imprisonment.
        b) He could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.

Therefore Paul was sent to Rome to bring the good news.
How Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! (Rom 10:15)

Monday, 3 November 2014

Testimony by Catherine Elia dated 2.11.2014

Catherine shared with us her testimony of God’s work in their lives.  She shared that once we have Jesus in our heart we can give life to other people.  We will be directed by the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel with other people.  We show them and lead them to Jesus.  For her it is her attitude to share because she wants people to know Jesus.  All of us have opportunities to share with people.  When we share Jesus with people, let them speak and not to rush into sharing the Gospel because as we listen, the Holy Spirit will prompt us to share at the right time.  We are not to worry because the Holy Spirit will help us.  Do not be afraid to share, ask the Holy Spirit what it is that He wants us to share and the Holy Spirit will tell us.  She shared that she often walked in the park and seeking the Holy Spirit whom she should talk to and what to talk about.  She said usually people are more relax at the parks and they usually have more time.  That was where she shared with many people about Jesus.

At age 35 she personally encountered Jesus and she felt awesome power of God in her life.  She had a personal relationship with Jesus which changed her life.  Jesus had taken away all her sins by shedding His blood.  She received the Holy Spirit that now dwells in her.  No matter where she is the Holy Spirit is with her.  As a Christian she wanted to do the best she can.  We are better than people who do not know God, they do not have the Holy Spirit.  We do and we can do many things with His help.

In 1989, her husband Giancarlo, a very successful lawyer decided to give up everything to follow God.  His business partners were unhappy and he had to give 18 months grace period to leave the job.  However, during this 18 months both felt they did not hear God speak to them about what they were to do.  A Swedish friend suggested they go to Sweden to share what God’s impressed in their hearts.  What they shared was well taken.  Than they moved to America for two years, they shared in many churches and venue and they were also well taken.  However, they felt they wanted to return to the UK.  They went back but not many churches invited them to speak, so they went to Europe for some time.

She shared Matthew 6:31 “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?”  Do not worry about anything, our heavenly Father knows everything.  Catherine shared all these 20 plus years they are in ministry they have been provided for and they have visited more than 40 countries. Earlier they did not know what to call their ministry, but finally they call it “Light to the nations”.

Once, she and her husband were in Austria, a Uganda man heard their preaching and invited them to Uganda and from there they went to Tanzania and other countries.  Catherine could not believe that she could take the poor living conditions in Africa, but she trusted God and went.  Her visits there turned up well!  In Africa people came by the thousands to hear them speak.  In these meetings they witnessed healings, the sick were healed, those who could not walk healed,the blind healed.  Most time, they did not pray specifically for these people.  The Holy Spirit was present and He healed them.

They ministered to people in churches are pastored by former addicts.  They can relate well with their congregations.  Catherine also ministered in the prison where there are many addicts.  But those who received Jesus were very fervent believers.  She could see in their worship and prayers.  In one case, she shared that a young woman addict was put in prison by her mother.  In an ordinary case, this was bad, a mother putting her child in prison but in this case it was a blessing as she became a believer and turned a new leaf!

She shared about how Jesus shed His blood and clean our sins.  She emphasised about His blood that cleansed us.  Many came to believe and receive Jesus in their hearts.  In another case, there was a Christian family who had a deaf and dumb child.  While sharing and praying, this child started to speak.  Catherine and her husband only learnt about this one year later when they visited this family.  So the Holy Spirit can heal even when we do not pray directly for the people.

In one visit they had a new friend who mistaken Giancarlo for a famous evangelist from Argentina. People were expecting this evangelist to speak but that was a mistake.  Nevertheless, Giancarlo spoke to them and many were touched.  Their friend apologized for his mistake and said perhaps they will speak in Argentina some time.  They do not have contacts in Argentina.  One day, they were sharing in Germany and someone asked whether they wanted to share in the prisons in Argentina, so they went.  Sometime people may prophesy we are to take note.

The presence of the Holy Spirit is with us.  We are not to worry what to say or do, seek the Holy Spirit for direction.  When we pray for people we trust God for healing and answered prayers.  Sometime we do not need to pray for people directly, the Holy Spirit can heal.