Oh Lord receive all the glory and praise for Your faithfulness. You have begun a good work in us, and You will continue to the very end. Thank You for giving us great sons and daughters in this house, who do exploits across the world. Thank You for raising a righteous branch that will carry the battle to the enemy’s gates. Help us not to be full of ourselves, or to get to the point where we think our own strength is responsible for our accomplishments. We praise and glorify You as you endow us with enabling grace to spread joy in this city and across the nations of the earth, in Jesus name, Amen.
Our God is great, and He is making us great. Greatness is in our D.N.A. [Isaiah 55:6-13]. There is no sin you have committed or will commit hereafter that has not been paid for by Christ Jesus, who is able, ready and willing to extend to you enabling grace that will make you live above sin [v7]. Sin produces shortage in the lives of people but Jesus Christ came to extend grace to the undeserving and mercy to those that should be punished, grace to live as we ought to, exercising dominion without sin having dominion over us [Romans 3:22-24]. v10-11 shows us that God is not just a goal-setter, but also a goal-getter. If He sets a goal, He shall always accomplish it, and there is nothing anyone can do against the counsel of the Lord. Once God speaks a word concerning you as He did to Isaac [Genesis 26:1-14], expect a performance of that word. God has declared that you shall go out with joy and with peace. The Lord’s joy is our strength, and with joy, we will draw water from the wells of salvation [Isaiah 55:12; Nehemiah 8:10; Isaiah 12:3].
[Acts 8:1-8] Sometimes sorrow may come before joy, mourning before dancing and tears before laughter, but God specialises in turning sorrow into joy, mourning into dancing, and tears into laughter. You will have major cause to laugh, as God will shut the mouth of your adversaries. Those who lied against you will bear the testimony of your greatness [Psalm 92: 12-13]. The strength of a church is not the number of people it sits, but in the number of people it sends out into the world to spread God’s gospel in all their areas of influence [Matthew 28: 19-20; Mark 16: 15-16]. The devil tried to hinder the gospel of Christ by scattering the Church in confusion, but the dispersed congregation went about spreading the gospel abroad even further [Acts 8: 4].
We will be releasing into our communities and nation, a home-grown phenomenon known as the8:8 New Wine Fellowship. It is made in-house (in Latter Rain Assembly), but we gladly share it with the larger Church of Christ everywhere. The name 8:8 Fellowship is from Acts 8:8. The mandate is to spread the aroma and joy of the Lord everywhere we go so that the whole world will clamour for our presence and input in every legitimate endeavour.
Understanding the Foundation of 8:8 New Wine Foundation
We identified and examined 8 vocabularies between Acts 2 and Acts 8, which defined the moments in the history of clashes between the proof producers and firefighters; when the proof producers confounded the firefighters in the latter’s bid to stop the spread of the fire of the Holy Spirit.
- Great Power [Acts 4:33]: The battle between those who sought to stifle the gospel of Christ and the carriers of this gospel showed one thing clearly – God’s power is superior to any other, and He has given us the authority to exercise power [Luke 10:19]. Only fools assume Satan has no power [2 Thessalonians 2:9], but when Light appears darkness disappears thus when we show up in God’s power demons crumble.
- Great Grace [Acts 4:33]. Great power is sustained by Great Grace.
- Great Fear [Acts 5:1-11]. When the sins of Ananias and Saphira were found out and punished by the Holy Spirit, it was recorded twice that great fear came upon the whole congregation. In these days we need the true fear of God to return to the Church so that we can conduct ourselves in real reverence and Holy fear, which will produce wisdom in us [Psalm 111: 10; Proverbs 9: 10].
- Great Multiplication [Acts 6: 7]. The Spirit of God moved so mightily that there was a great multiplication in the Church that shook the whole of Jerusalem. Even priests of the temple were not left out.
- Great Wonders [compare Acts 3:6-16 with Acts 6:8]. The apostles all performed great wonders.
- Great Persecution [Acts 8:1]. We have subscribed to a lie that since Jesus suffered for us, we would never suffer. This is not true [Philippians 1:29]. God repeatedly tells us that we will suffer for the sake of the gospel. This has nothing to do with sicknesses or diseases or material lack, but everything to do with maintaining our faith in God.
- Great Lamentation [Acts 8:2-3]. We should note here that the severe persecution of the Church did not lead to a scattering in fear (as supposed by the perpetrators), but a resolve by the apostles and converts to spread the gospel of Christ as they sojourned to seek safer places [v4].
- Great Joy [Acts 8:8]. The good news of Christ is guaranteed to bring great joy. The city was engulfed in boundless joy.
In contemporary terms, if every vocabulary listed above was a goal in a game of football, one could say that the fire carriers and proof producers defeated the firefighters by 6 goals to 2. If it were an athletics tournament, one could say the proof producers got 6 gold medals while the firefighters had 2 bronze medals. God will continue to disgrace the enemy of the Church. Many run a race, but only one obtains the prize. As Paul admonished us, we must ensure that we participate in the race in a way that will ensure we win the prize [1 Corinthians 9:24].
It is noteworthy that everyone on the proof producers’ team was weak like you and I. Recall that all the apostles fled for their safety while Jesus was being persecuted. They were neither strong warriors nor educated folk. These were the same men that, a few days later became terrors to the devil. What made the difference in them was the fire of the Holy Spirit that came upon them at Pentecost. The religious and political leaders saw Peter and John in action, knowing they were not educated, and they knew these ones had been with Jesus [Acts 4: 13]. It does not matter how much you choose to deny it (as Peter once did) who you are with will rub off on you. Since the day of Pentecost, the believers dared the devil fearlessly.
Consider men like Stephen and Phillip. They were deacons in Jerusalem, yet they were made to serve tables and attend to the mundane needs of the congregation. Under pressure, glory sprang up in Stephen who in all wisdom confounded those who opposed the Church; and evangelistic grace issued forth out of Phillip so that he carried the gospel into Samaria, with great exploits [Acts 8: 9-13]. Phillip’s household became so full of God’s presence that his 4 virgin daughters prophesied in the Holy Spirit [Acts 21: 8-9]. This is a lesson for us to raise our children in godliness.
In continuance of our contemporary exposition of the struggle between the proof producers and the firefighters, consider the movement of one of Arsenal Football Club’s best goal-scorers to Manchester United Football Club – Robin Van Persie. Needless to say, he became a thorn in the flesh of Arsenal every time they met. Apart from the supposition that he might have had friends in his old team, who would not tackle him hard in order not to injure him, he was also a prolific goal-scorer. This was the peril the firefighters in the days of the apostles found themselves in when God arrested Saul on the road to Damascus and turned him from a firefighter to a fire carrier and proof producer! The losing camp was dealt a deadly defeat in the loss of their “best goal-poacher”.
Saul later became Paul, and went on to do great damage to the agenda of the firefighters throughout the world. These days we pray to God for open doors, but Paul simply praised God and all the prison doors flew open. Paul went from city to city, exposing and upsetting evil forces and principalities, causing great revival and upsets. He trained others to be like him, and in a short while, all of Asia Minor was imparted with the gospel of Christ Jesus. Persecution and imprisonment could not stop him – he wrote two-thirds of his letters in New Testament while he was in prison. He was recorded to have given prison authorities a hard time by converting every set of guards that were stationed to watch him every night. He just kept leading them to Christ! How do you deal with a man whose joy you cannot take away? The firefighters lost the best player on their team because Jesus paid more for him [Galatians 1: 13-24].
The whole essence of this message is that those who were once hiding in fear of being identified with Jesus, suddenly became fearless witnesses to His lordship even to the point of death, after the Holy Spirit came upon them. This is relevant for us who carry the same Holy Spirit today. May the Church bear testimony of us, as they did of Paul in the days of old [Galatians 1: 22-24] and give glory to God concerning us, in Jesus name, Amen.
Know without any iota of doubt that Paul’s message went beyond the cross to the resurrection. If you stop at 1 Corinthians 2 it would seem the entire message was about the crucifixion of Jesus but Jesus left the cross. The origin and crux of the gospel is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. InActs 1:21-22, the apostles nominated men to replace Judas on the criteria that they had been with Jesus and were witnesses to His resurrection. What angered the firefighters was the continuous mention of the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the guilt and condemnation of those who sought His crucifixion [compare Matthew 27:20-24 with Acts 5:28].
All believers must know beyond any doubt that they will be doing themselves an injustice if they only uplift and exalt the resurrection of Christ without understanding and realising that they were also crucified and resurrected with Him [Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:5-14]. Anyone that does not believe Jesus was raised from the dead is not saved, and eternal damnation awaits them. If you do not believe in, and confess, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you cannot be saved [Romans 10: 4-9]. If you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, then He has also raised you with Jesus, far above all principalities and powers.
The word “disciple” is not peculiar to the new testament. There were disciples in the Old Testament before Jesus came. Samuel probably instituted the school of the sons of the prophets, and both Elijah and Elisha mentored them, as did Isaiah [Isaiah 8: 16-18; 1 Samuel 19: 20; 1 Kings 20: 35; 2 Kings 2: 3, 5, 7, 15; 2 Kings 4: 1, 38; 2 Kings 5: 22; 2 Kings 6: 1-2; 2 Kings 9: 1]. In the New Testament, John the Baptist had disciples before Jesus began His ministry on earth [John 1: 35]. The Pharisees also had their own disciples [Matthew 23: 15]. Before Christ, these disciples also did great things. Instances include Elisha’s disciple that anointed Jehu to overthrow Jezebel and Ahab’s household [2 Kings 9: 1-10].
Men of God did great exploits of old. They raised the dead before Jesus came; Elisha caused seeing men to be blind before Jesus made the blind see; Moses turned a river into blood before Jesus turned water into wine – and they all had followers and disciples. However, the major difference between the disciples of Jesus and disciples of others is seen in Mark 2:21-22. The meaning of Jesus’ statement can be explained in Judges 9:7-15. In v12-13, we are shown the purpose of wine: to cheer (delight) both God and men. In order words, our purpose and assignment, as the new wine (in Christ), is to spread the joy of the Lord everywhere we go. As the new wine in new wineskins, we must not put people in bondage but set them free. We must also demonstrate it in our conduct, and continue to spread joy as we see in Acts 8:8. The bramble’s fire that destroys and consumes is hatred, backbiting, backstabbing, spite and suffering [v14-15]. This is the work of evil, not the doing of those called by Christ to spread joy.
In the name of Jesus, we release into our households, communities, families and companies the Spirit of Joy. We will permeate the entire environment and every territory of influence, in every place God has positioned us in. We must cheer God and men every inch of the way. Whatever is causing us sorrow will bring us joy, from generation to generation, place to place and household to household in Jesus’ name.
Life eternal, joy indescribable, health and wellbeing, mountain-climbing strength and joy shall be your portion. You will spread joy all over your cities, on the seven mountains of culture in our society and in Nigeria in Jesus name, Amen! Nobody will be able to withstand or stop you. From today, you become ambassadors of God’s glory, peace and joy. Keep spreading His joy, in Jesus name, Amen!
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