Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.”
There are a couple of Christian bookshops in little Adelaide. My favourite is Koorong – I’ve shared testimonies with friends in the café, and spent hours walking through the shelves looking at books, DVDs, bookmarks, journals, bibles etc. etc. I’ve also had to learn some self-control here as I seem to have a particular propensity to buy bulk amounts of scripture cards/bookmarks, journals and bibles. This has occurred even when I go with the aim to buy only one particular item (usually a book or CD for a friend’s birthday). I have read some books, watched some movies and listened to some CDs, but considering the vast collection of “Christian merchandise” available, I can hardly say I’m an expert on selection. I often find myself scanning the many shelves in the shop for one particular item, speaking with the Lord as I go. I’m usually shopping for some sort of present and find myself asking, “Lord, I’m not really sure what they will like or what would encourage them best at this time, but you know. What do you think?” It’s quite a fun time actually – picking up different books or CDs, and asking the Lord, “What do you think of this one? Should I get this for them?” I love shopping with my friends and getting their opinions on things and, shopping with my Best Friend, is never boring!
Sometimes I buy books I’ve read before. Sometimes, I’ve never actually read the book and, on occasion, I’ve never even heard about it. Could be quite a gamble, and I haven’t always been 100% sure of the choice I’ve made though I generally have a quick flick through to check if it seems biblically founded. Nevertheless God is faithful and I love asking for His opinion. It is always spot-on since He sees everyone’s hearts even when I am unsure myself! I’ve been encouraged even as I’ve shopped, chosen and bought gifts from people because very often, someone will share with me a testimony of how God worked in their life at just the right time and in just the right way J If I can be a part of God’s work through obedience to Him and learning to discern His voice, I’m 100% in. I’ll set my heart to obey despite my weakness, and I know God will take care of the rest! My prayer as I buy the gift, as I wrap it, and as I place it into the hands of another is simply this, “Lord, let your word/voice go forth.”
A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by Koorong on the way home from the hospital. A friend of ours had just arrived in Adelaide and was meeting us for dinner so I didn’t have much time to shop around. In fact, my Dad called to remind me I had to be home soon, only a few moments after I walked in the door! So I decided I’d better make the decision fast and didn’t go far past the front of the shop. I bought the intended present, then happened upon a thin book entitled “The Baptism in the Holy Spirit” by Willard Cantelon. Flicked through it very quickly, thought about it then, since it was only $1, I decided to buy it. That evening, when I presented the book, we joked and had some fun google-ing the author. There was also the fact that the book was written and published in 1951, around the time when the Assemblies of God denomination might be remembered for a period of exponential growth, and encouraging people to desire spiritual gifts. This was also around the time of the latter rain movement based on the book of Joel and a promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all people. Anyway, not knowing too much about that time period in Christian history, I explained that hey it was $1, so I thought it was worth buying it and having a look. I thought the amusement would end there and went off to bed.
The next morning, I awoke to voices excitedly discussing the work of the Holy Spirit. After a while (maybe eavesdropping) in bed, I realised that they were talking about this book. We had a couple of friends visiting Adelaide that weekend so a few extra people in the house. Turned out a couple of people had read the book which was short, concise and easy-to-read. It had sparked some curiosity about what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit and the gifts of tongues and prophecies. The author, Cantelon, had given some good commentaries on particular verses and now we all wanted to explore the word for ourselves. By the end of the day, at least 5 of us had flicked through the book as it had been passed around. We had a number of discussions, got stuck in our understanding, threw out ideas, then went away to individually meditate on the word and ask the Lord about it. 1 Corinthians 14:20-25 was of particular interest and all the bibles, translations and computers were out as we tried to understand what Paul was teaching about the gifts of tongues and prophesy. The searching continued through the week with emails being sent and discussions continued not just in Australia, but with people overseas. I really enjoyed that spontaneous, week long bible study and it helped me understand a passage I had often paused at to ponder but never quite understood fully.
That’s just what Jesus did with $1 – it started a cascade of deep searching in the word and prompted many hearts to ask the Lord for wisdom and understanding. Just think of what Jesus does with a life completely given over to Him – every word, every deed, every dollar spent, mile walked, coffee with friends saturated with the presence of God. I remember another time when the Spirit prompted a spontaneous time of study in the Word, prayer and worship. I was at a friend’s house minding the kids when I found one of my first devotionals. I really can’t remember the name, but I used to read it along with the Beginner’s Bible and it featured short stories about the life of a Christian family journeying together in the Lord. It was cartoon-illustrated and the daughter always wore purple. Anyway, I recognised it and I discovered my parents had given the book to this family so that their children could also benefit from it. There were 3-4 children in the room and we ended up reading some of the devotional together and discussing the text. We then had a spontaneous bible study on Matthew 19:14 – why Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those like children and what it means to have a childlike faith. We prayed, sang and worshipped Jesus – all of this spontaneous and fun. I later heard that the children shared this testimony with others, including a number of adults who were initially sceptical. However, when your own child testifies enthusiastically about the truth of God and being moved to joy in the presence of His Spirit, it’s hard to ignore. I myself was encouraged and felt blessed to share in that time!
I can testify that not one of God’s words is wasted, but that every one, even in the most unlikely of circumstances yields fruit. Why? Because God’s Word does not return to Him void but accomplishes exactly what He has purposed for it to achieve, even beyond what we can imagine! [Isaiah 55:10-11] So, my encouragement to you is this – “…whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” because your inheritance is in Christ Jesus [Colossians 3:23-24]. A life invested in Christ is a priceless investment with eternal value.