"The voice of Gamaliel"
Today's reading: Acts 5:33-39 (NIV)
33When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34But 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. 35Then he addressed them: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36Some 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. 37After 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. 38Therefore, 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. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."
First the apostles were incarcerated, then released by the voice of an angel, began teaching about new life again, confronted by the crowds, brought before the Sanhedrin for questioning and possible trial, defended themselves quite well I might say in yesterday’s lesson and now they are sent outside for recess! At first glance I am thinking man; by sending them out for recess someone is having second thoughts.
But as I read deeper into the purpose of this scripture it becomes clear that isn’t so. The clear message here is when their actions are of God, the end result will happen no matter what is done to them! Cautiously, Gamaliel presents his case …‘men of Israel, consider carefully ….” and begins to remind them of the results of previous acts!
I have been teaching myself how to make graphics and movie projects on the computer. There are times I just wish someone would come over and show me the steps as I have spent hours going back and forth to learn one little trick about a layer in a graphic (then promptly forgot how I did it, age is my excuse). Even when I remind myself of the things I have tried over and over again that don’t work , I sometimes justify another attempt, when in reality reading the tutorials would have benefited me much more.
Gamaliel knew the law, probably wrote the tutorials, so was he now a friend of the apostles? Probably not, but he knew from experience what happens when one keeps doing the wrong things over and over again.
When you and I are in ministry, truthfully witnessing for the Lord, sincerely helping someone in need, we must praise God from deep within our heart and give Him the glory. The final outcome will be blessed and be fruitful. If you hear a voice in your mind questioning if what you are doing is right, that just might be your Gamaliel challenging you to make certain you and God are in the activity together for His kingdom. If you are not in sync with God’s will, frustration, division and failure are certain. God has given you the incredible gift of the Holy Spirit; open your heart to his presence, his calling and direction. He is there!
Shalom to Deb and her friends,
Aldersgate UMC, Nixa, Mo.