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Gamaliel.

“Are they lucky?” -that was the question that Napoleon used to ask of his Generals.

For the Christian the most important question when anyone is serving is “Are they prayerful?”

The truth is everyone has ideas, opinions, thoughts and are always willing to share them, yet within the community of the Church we need to careless about what you think, and more about whether you pray.

For when we pray we bring ourselves before God, we ask him to guide and shape us and our thinking, we need to too pray in community, corporately, seeking and saying to God: “You will be done”.

God changes people’s minds in prayer.

God changes people’s hearts in prayer.

God builds community together and deepens are relationships together when we pray.

There is a verse that says “If the Lord does not build the house then the labourers labour in vain”, the question when people say what they think should happen should not be “how much will it cost?” or “will it affect me?” but have you prayed about it.

I wonder whether some of the pain that has happened over the years might have
been avoided if we had learned to pray more and listen to the guiding of the Holy Spirit?

A character I find interesting in Scripture is Gamaliel, in the Acts of the Apostles, a very wise man, he sees the angry Jewish people incensed at what the apostles are doing. He says to the crowd -his friends- often it is harder to rebuke our friends than to ‘challenge an enemy- that perhaps God is at work through the people you are opposing.

Acts 5.29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 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. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 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. 37 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. 38 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. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

“you may be opposing God himself” -A terrifying line.

There is a song “Who is on the Lord’s side?” -the danger is we automatically assume that God thinks the same as us. Let’s not be people who resist and grieve the Holy Spirit, instead let our primary motivation be to be obedient to Christ’s will for us as individuals and corporately as a Church family.

Often we have our ideas, opinions and thoughts in order and yet don’t enquire of the Lord where is he calling, where is his heart, what is he saying? Perhaps too he is speaking and working through the person disagree with?

Part of being a Christian is that act of surrendering and submitting to the Lordship of Christ, it is no longer about our personal preferences, but where is the Holy Spirit leading.

There have been times when I have gone along with people on occasions not because I have initially been convinced of their arguments, but because I believe they have sought and wrestled with the Lord over the future, and are people of prayerfulness and integrity. The reverse is true, people maybe compelling and articulate, but if I don’t believe they are prayerful and honourable, I treat their opinions with a greater scepticism.

So, the question for us all is are we seeking the Lord, are we seeking him together, are we prepared to put aside the futility of our own thinking as we bow the knee to the Lordship of Christ?

I’ll end with a challenging comment if you do not come and pray should you be holding a leadership position? When we speak is this coming from our own agenda or has it been birthed first in prayer?

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