The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways: Behind the Scenes of a Movement

20170513_124211For those of you who are up on US history, and I mean really up on US history know the name Peyton Randolph. For the outsider who does not know who this man is he is actually one of the most prominent colonist. He was Williamsburg, VA number one citizen and was the mentor to a number of the founding fathers. For those of you who have visited Colonial Williamsburg know that Randolph likely would have preceded George Washington as the first president of the United States had he not died of a stroke in October 1775. So who was this man that so few of us know about? He was the Speaker of the House of the Virginia House of Burgesses (kind of like the senate) and he was the first president of the continental congress. Many Americans will never know who this man was or his role in mentoring some of the most prominent names in our nations history. He passed away before the Declaration of Independence was signed. While many of us do not know about the name Peyton Randolph those who do can look back and see the impact which he had on the development of our nation. While history continues recognize the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Henry, and more very few of them would be without the whits and leadership of a one Peyton Randolph. Many figures in the Bible have been mentors, but I would argue the one whose mentorship goes the most unseen is the one of Gamaliel. Ignore the face his name screams he had an awesome beard. He was the mentor to Saul of Tarsus. History will know very little of the name Gamaliel and like Peyton Randolph his name is really only still know due to the people who lived up his legacy. Had the American Revolution of failed we would have no clue who many of those figures were including Randolph.

Gamaliel is often brushed under the rug because one he was not a Christian, but rather the Jewish mentor of Saul of Tarsus. He is only mentioned a couple of times through out the Bible. His name appears in the book of Acts. Gamaliel was a Pharisee, and he had a notable bloodline. He was highly respected in the Jewish community as a member of the Sanhedrin. However, his impact on the early church is on that is often overlooked. While Randolph may have had the intentions to create the bigger thing and Gamaliel not so much their impacts are similar. We first see Gamaliel in Acts 5. Peter and John are on trial before the Sanhedrin for preaching the name of Jesus. The two Apostle were about to be put to death before Gamaliel stepped in.

When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
-Acts 5:33-39
Two significant events occurred here, not only did Gamaliel preserve the lives and soon to be legacies of two of the most prominent Apostles. However, he said something which should be looked at by anyone as profound truth. For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God. Surprise, were still standing and as time would tell they were fighting against God.
Later in Acts we begin to see his connection to the Apostle Paul. We are able to see a brief connection between Gamaliel and his far more famous pupil in Acts 22:3. Gamaliel developed the knowledge of Hebrew scripture and developed the knowledge of Paul. It was this mentorship which made Paul a prime candidate to take the role which he would go on to have. However, his significance does not end there. Gamaliel’s name and lineage can be used to authenticate the book of Acts. The description and family line which Paul uses is consistent with the one presented by the historian Josephus. Much like Peyton Randolph our understanding of the person they were is limited, but every indication of them was one of wisdom. While we may not know the extent Mr. Randolph paid to creating this nation we know we likely would not be where we are without him. Likewise, it goes to show how great our God is and how he can use unlikely figures for His good. He used a Jewish Rabbi to teach his pupil to become a central figure in the creation of Christianity. Not only this, but he preserved the lives of many others and he helped equip the Christian movement with the steam that was needed. He largely influenced one of the most fierce missionaries of all time. Without these men who knows what the world would be like. Peace and Blessings Always my Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

Our Oath, Our God, Our Forgiveness

“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

-Acts 2:38

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You know I hear a lot of people talking about how we don’t cover enough of the bad of the Bible, and teaching the healthy fear of God, but in my view is that what God wants. If this were true I don’t believe one of the most predominant themes in the Bible would be love. Did you know that in the NIV the theme of love appears 551 times. So when we sometimes ignore some of the negatives are we really taking away from God’s plan? Above is another iconic Bible verse. If you are Christian you surely have been baptized its our mark of a believer, the Apostle Paul believed baptism to be the mark of the Christian. How beautiful is a baptism? One washing away their sins accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It’s absolutely beautiful. When you get baptized its the beginning of your relationship with God that will never end. Contrary to popular belief there is no sin, no act, nor thought that could separate you from the Fathers love. Even if you have strayed away, God will be there. In the name of Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Our sins are washed as white as snow by the crimson stain of the blood of Christ. God will forgive you in the sun, rain, snow, or storm. One of the reasons people fear going to church is because they fear judgement, but there is no sin you can commit God does not know about. There is no way you can sever the love that God has for you. There is a heaven and there is a hell and God surely wants you in the first option, and will do anything to keep you from the second.

This verse in Acts which was written is a call to action for believers to repent. Repent a word which for some reason now was become synonymous with zealot podium banding preachers. All jokes aside though this is such an important word in the Bible, its the act of humility where you admit your lesser than God, you admit you need Him, and you admit you were wrong. For some of us admitting we are wrong is harder for others. When you become baptized you are taking an oath to God that you will love Him above all else, you believe in his son, and you want to be cleansed. That oath is not something that God takes lightly, its the most important decision you will ever make. Peter in this verse does not say you who is strong, you are fine, no he says everyone of you. Everyone of use need to be baptized because regardless of the mask we put up we are all weak. We all go through our lives fighting something. Some fight gluttony, some fight lust, some fight lies, gambling, addiction whether that’s drugs, alcohol, or maybe pornography. Many of us boast, gossip, and use our tongues in dishonorable ways. However, none of this matters because Jesus has died for us, we are all flawed. While we are flawed, those who were baptized took that oath to Jesus. With that oath we were healed and saw our sins washed clean. As we felt that water touch our bodies and looked around we felt different. We are filled with the Holy Spirit. With that we became part of the body of Christ, and with that each day we must live as a part of the body, but eventually we will stumble and we will fall, but its OK because of the oath we took with Jesus, and the promise He gave us. That promise was one of forgiveness. Selah!