Websters dictionary defines laboratory as any place, situation, set of conditions, or the like, conducive to experimentation, investigation, observation, etc.
In the book of Luke we see Jesus saying things to the disciples and as soon as he tells them the disciples find themselves in situations or conditions where they have to live well into their faith. In other words they immediately find themselves in a LAB!
In Luke 9:1 Jesus gave the Twelve power and authority over demons and to cure diseases. Then he told them to go announce and preach the kingdom of God and to bring healing.
In Luke 9:3 Jesus tells them when they go out not to take anything with them. I mean nothing. Don't take your walking stick, your wallet. Don't take any food. Don't even take any extra clothes.
In Luke 9:5 he tells them whenever they go anywhere to preach the gospel and people do not receive, don't welcome you to shake off the dust from their feet. In other words just move onto the next village.
As soon as Jesus tells them these things they find themselves in a lab.
FIRST THING JESUS SAYS IS GO PREACH AND HEAL.
LAB #1 They went out and preached and came back and reported to Jesus all the things that they had experienced. Whoo hoo! How exciting is that? This experience had to build up their confidence.
LAB #2 Jesus comes down from having a conversation with Elijah and Moses and is approached by a father who has a son that is possessed by a devil. He convulses and foams at the mouth. He says to Jesus, "I implored your disciples to drive it out AND THEY COULD NOT." Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit and the boy is healed.
LAB #3 Jesus and the disciples go to Bethsaida. The crowds follow them, Jesus welcomed them, talked to them about the kingdom of God and healed those who need restoration and health. While this is occurring the disciples are observing.
SECOND THING JESUS TELLS THEM WHEN THEY GO OUT IS NOT TO TAKE ANYTHING WITH THEM.
LAB #4 While they are in Bethsaida the disciples bring to Jesus' attention that the people needed to be sent away so they could eat and find lodging for the night. Jesus said, "You feed them." All they had were 5 loaves and two fish. By the time Jesus blesses the food, feeds over 5,000 people they have 12 shrimp baskets left over. Hmm! 12 shrimp baskets. Who do you think the 12 shrimp baskets were for? Can you say lab? Sure, Jesus provided a miracle for the people, but I think this was a lab for the disciples. I think it was Jesus' way of teaching them while you are going from village to village I want you totally dependent on me for your provision.
THIRD THING JESUS TELLS THEM TO DO IS WHEN THEY GO TO A VILLAGE AND THEY AREN'T WELCOME TO MOVE ONTO THE NEXT VILLAGE.
LAB #5 Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for it was time for the Son of man to be delivered into the hands of men. I love this! He sent some of the disciples ahead of him to a Samaritan village to make arrangements to spend the night. Believe it or not the people did not welcome them! The Amplified bible says the people would not welcome, receive or accept them. Can you say lab? What did Jesus say earlier? When you walk into a village and they do not receive you shake the dust off your feet and move onto the next village. Look what James and John some of his closest disciples say, "Jesus, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them." They totally missed an opportunity to live well into their faith. Jesus responds to them, "You do not know what spirit you are." Then it says, and they went to another village!
We are finishing up a series on the book of James. James tells us to count it all joy in VARIOUS KINDS OF TRIALS. Many of our people are gong through their own personal trials. it doesn't seem to be any different for us a a church. Can you say lab?
This past week I received a call from one of the employees at the Ray. She notified me that the people installing the new gym floor were being sent home. The reason was that there was water under the gym floor and they had to get that problem solved before they could install the floor. The challenging thing is they have no timeline as to when the problem will be solved. This means we will have our services upstairs and moving our Freedom kids to a different location in the building. That was a little unsettling for our kids last week.
When the disciples could not heal the boy they had an opportunity to live well into their faith. When Jesus tells the disciples to go from village to village and not to take any money or food with them they had an opportunity to live well into their faith. When they were not received at the Samaritan village they had an opportunity to live well into their faith. Some times they lived well and some times they didn't.
We find ourselves as a church at a place where we have an opportunity to live well into our faith. We find ourselves at a place where we choose to live totally dependent on God to meet our needs.
What we are experiencing is just a "blip" in the journey of life. Let's totally rely on God, count it all joy in our trials and live well into our faith.