At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Acts 8:1
And so it begins. The enemy now has another target. He has been trying to destroy Israel for centuries. He tried to destroy the Son of God, and now he must destroy the church. It just keeps going from bad to worse for him. But he’s tenacious, even in defeat, because he’s still a master of deceit and he finds a lot of willing accomplices.
But even his greatest efforts at wreaking havoc often end upserving the purposes of the Father who can use whatever the enemy intends for evil, for good. As all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
It has to be really frustrating to be the devil, perhaps that’s why he so angry all the time—as are his minions.
Speaking of unhappy minions:
Now Saul was consenting to his (Stephen’s) death. . . .
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest– Acts 8:1 and 9:1
Saul, one of Satan’s best minions, is portrayed as walking around in a state of perpetual anger muttering murderous threats and stirring up hate against the church— until he runs smack into Jesus. Another evil plan backfired. But that’s for next week. For now, he’s serving the purpose of scattering the church like seeds blown on the wind into fertile fields.
As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Acts 8:3-4
I find it funny how blinded and ignorant the hearts of evil men are as to how they are often used by God to accomplish exactly what it is they think they are destroying. I’m sure it was not very funny for the church at the time as they lived in fear of being dragged off and put into prison, but the fruits of their commitment to share the gospel, to sow the seeds, wherever they ended up soon produced much fruit.
It’s interesting to see, and a challenge to discern, what God is doing, and will do, with our current situation as the enemy seems to have found a new boldness and some new weapons for persecuting the church in America today. But rest assured, God can use any challenges we are, or will face, to advance his Kingdom and release his Spirit to work. If we’ll just keep scattering those seeds and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city. Acts 8:5-8
Just as the scattered church thought they had lost everything, they found they really had everything, they had the keys to the kingdom. And this scattered and battered band of Messianic refugees brought great joy to the world, because they brought Jesus.
Keep bringing Jesus!
The Lord’s heart is for you, for your heart, and for your mission. Carry on. HS
The Stephen of the book of Acts is known as the first Christian martyr. But why? Why was he so violently and unjustly pummeled to death? He was just a servant!
Stephen was one of several who had been appointed by the apostles to help with the distribution of the food to the widows and those in need after a dispute had arisen because of what some saw as an unfairness in the way it had previously been handled.
But we also learn in Acts 6 that Stephen was empowered by the Holy Spirit not just to serve food but that the Lord also used him to speak great words of wisdom and to do “great signs and wonders among the people”.
Thus proving that it is not those who aspire to lead who are the true leaders. It is the servants who are anointed to lead whom God uses. It is the faithful and the obedient who carry the sharpest swords.
But this Holy Spirit anointing was getting Stephen some undesirable attention as not everyone was ready to listen to the truth. And they soon started leveling false accusations at Stephen, accusing him of subverting the law of Moses and threatening the destruction of the temple through Jesus Christ.
These contrived accusations were in response to the unanswerable and irresistible words that Stephen had been speaking as he shared the gospel with all he could, while stumping those who would come against him with the wisdom of his answers. He was frustrating the snot out of those who refused to see truth, just the same as Jesus did. Because he is doing it by the Spirit of Jesus.
He was speaking words that cut straight to the heart and they either healed or hurt depending on the response.
So instead of arguing with him any longer on the merit of what he is saying, they falsely accuse him. And when that does not stop him, they stop their ears, then drag him from the city, and stone him to death. We’ll get him to shut up one way or another!
A little drastic don’t you think?
Well, the enemy will stop at nothing to silence the words of truth, causing those whom he has deceived, into totally irrational behavior, causing them to abandon all reason, to ignore evidence and even resist the Holy Spirit himself who would open their eyes and ears to the truth that would save them and set them free—if they would only listen.
So when this world seems to you to have gone mad, when you struggle to understand why this unnatural and unreasonable aversion to the things of the Lord—why scriptural decency and biblically based morality is disproportionately attacked and rejected when every other set of beliefs and values, or lack thereof, is embraced and welcomed— remember how they reacted to Stephen as he simply laid out truth using their own history and scripture to do so. (Acts 7) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+7&version=NKJV
When you consider that this is the very same reaction we see so many times in so many places over and over in history and the world, It becomes clear who must be behind this aversion to the truth and who is driving the lost insane with hate. It is the devil himself.
When a heart is deceived and full of darkness and lies, death and hate, words of life and light cut straight through to the core and create a crisis in the minds of the deceived—‘Believe and admit that I was wrong, or succumb to the evil within and silence or destroy the words that threaten my self-made world where I can justify my sin andselfishness?’ So many choose ignorance, that is the great paradox of mankind.
But, then ignorance is much easier to maintain and demands nothing of the adherent. Ignorance is bliss? Funny, those who cling to it don’t appear too happy to me. Because the ignorance we are talking about is not just a rejection of truth, it is an embrace of the lies, by default.
We have the truth, never stop wielding it, a warrior who gives his sword soon looses everything-freedom, family, dignity, life. You are a child of the King. No one has the right to silence you!
Find the courage that dwells untapped in your heart. Release the barbarian spirit and let God use it for His glory!
You ever have someone share the word of God with you or read a scripture and feel a quickening in your heart like—Wow, that is for me, that is important, I want to write that on my bathroom mirror so that I see it every morning!
If you love the Lord and his word than no doubt you have had that happen. That would be, after all, what got you saved in the first place—you heard or read the word of God and the Father just seemed to be calling your name as the words cut straight to your heart and you surrendered to him and entrusted your soul and your heart to him.
But, sadly, there are those who when they hear the word of God, they too are moved—moved with anger and fear because they do not want to let go, they do not want to face truth, they refuse to give up complete control of their hearts and their lives.
They are cut to the heart by the word, but they refuse to let Jesus come into what is now a wound where the heart was opened up to expose the rot within, so they just keep bleeding until they finally bleed out and wake up one day in outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The indignant group that Stephen faces in Acts 7 is apparently practicing the gnashingpart early.
Acts 7:54 reads: When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.
This phrase actually originates from the the term “cut to the quick”? The quick in old English, is the living essence of a person. That which animates. —to quicken—bring to life.
The Greek used here that is translated variously as full of rage or cut to the heart literally translates as “cut to the quick.” Quick meaning life. It was used in the older Bible translations as a way to differentiate between the living and the dead.
Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 1 Peter 4:5 KJV
And really, that is what it all comes down to—how and by whom we shall be judged in the end. Do we believe there will be a day of reckoning, when the quick and the dead must give an answer to their Creator? Or is this life all there is and no one has any right to judge us and we shall never answer for what we did with what our spirits testified to us was truth?
Stephen was making the point just before he was martyred that Jesus was that judge, and that only through faith in him would we survive that day of reckoning. Why people would reject him and the mercy he offers is a question that has many answers, but the bottom line is this—
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. John 3:18-20
This is the Apostles John’s perfect summation of why evil men hate the truth of Jesus Christ. Why they vehemently, irrationally, and violently, hate and must stop truth at all costs. Because their ways are evil, they are addicted to that evil, and the light exposes their deeds as evil.
And the only way those who are entrapped by the evil they embrace can have any peace of mind whatsoever is to deny that their ways are evil. They cannot continue in that denial if the truth of God’s word keeps shining the light of truth on them. So they must destroy it.
The truth cuts to the heart, cuts to the chase and cuts to the quick because it is indeed sharper than any two edged sword.
When the word cuts to the heart, what it finds in that heart determines the reaction. It is life to those who are being saved and death to those who are perishing. The perishing are cut to the quick without the resolve of repentance.
I found this definition of the phrase cut to the quick—
“To cut to the quick means to injure someone emotionally, to hurt someone with words or an action. To cut someone to the quick means to deeply distress them.”
Really, it is to touch someplace very deep. And that is power.
We wield the sword of power.
The Sword of Power
Cut to the heart, cut to the quick, cut to the chase—The word of God is sharper than a two edged sword. And it is ours if we choose to use it.
We have little concept of the power we really have. Wielded by our tongues. It can build or destroy, kill or heal. If we are speaking the words of God, the results are up to Him, but if we refuse to wield it, the blood of those who perish for the lack of truth is on our heads.
Stephen wielded that sword and he was welcomed into the arms of the king as a returning conquering prince. Keep your sword sharp and free of rust–you will never, ever regret it.
Kingdoms have risen and fallen based on the quality of the steel in their swords. Our sword was forged in heaven and tempered in the blood of Christ.
He who holds the sword rules. In folklore, from the Legend of King Arthur to the Lord of the rings, to countless other stories, the one who holds the sword of power rules over all and has the power to conquer those who refuse that rule. That power ultimately belongs to Jesus, but as fellow heirs with Christ, we wield the sword as well.
“The healings were so complete and really, uneventful, that it was hard to even remember that anything had been wrong—it was like we had just traded realities, a bad one for a good one.”
The early church had a lesson to learn not long into their new found faith–true power is released by the Holy Spirit, in those willing to serve. They had to stop complaining and start doing.
It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; . . . And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Acts 6: 2-3, 6
Thinking about this passage of scripture and the concept of true servants who make a real impact that reaches far beyond the work they put their hands to. I kept thinking about our old friend Ron Unfortunately Ron passed away a months ago but his legacy lives on.
Donna and I first met Ron at Faith Chapel in Billings many years ago. He would later come on board there as a staff pastor but back then he was just a fellow believer who loved Jesus and gathering with the saints. He was an electrician for Montana Power and also turned out to be neighbor on Blue Creek, at least by rural standards, he was still several miles away.
Ron’s wife Becky did the flowers for our wedding. and their kids were in our Sunday school classes. Ron and Becky would go on to be a part of our lives for many years, off and on, even until just before he went home to Jesus as they were ministering to married couples from their home near Absorakee where they had retired to, supposedly, and we were blessed to have been one of those couples.
But Ron had won his way onto our hearts long before that. As many of you have heard before, our house burned down three weeks after we were married but we were blessed enough to be able to rebuild right away.
It was a challenge and time and money was tight but with the help of some good friends and church family we were able to get it done. It’s hard to ask for help and it’s hard to find time to help, but with Ron, I did not have to ask and he somehow seemed to find time—it was what he did. He was a true servant.
Several Saturday’s that summer as we were framing the house, Ron would pull up with his two boys, put on their tool belts and go to work. I have a vivid picture in my mind, and a couple of old photographs, of Ron helping us set roof tresses, standing on top of the wall doing the Karate Kid crane pose. No particular reason other than he was just a goof ball making a hard job fun.
Fast forward several years, we now have three girls and have lived in our beautiful new home for several years. Ron is now a staff pastor, who gives great council and even does a little teaching, though he is still pretty comfortable with a hammer in his hand. And I am taking night classes at a Bible Institute, preparing to answer the call myself, to become a pastor.
And I realize that Donna and I are under attack. I have answered the call, after a season of wrestling with the Holy Spirit, and the enemy does not like that. He is not touching me, but he is going after our girls, or so it sure seemed.
Our oldest daughter Cally about 12 at the time was going through her second, weeks long bout with Mononucleosisin just a year or so and was feeling lousy and dragged out.
Jessie, our middle daughter, had whacked her head on the playground equipment at school and had to have stables to close up the gash; this on the heels of having to have staples in her knee to close up the gash from a sledding mishap— and scariest of all, Danielle, barely five at the time, had contracted some rare and strange blood disease that caused her to break out in horrible hives and made her joints hurt so bad she began crawlingaround the house because it hurt too much to walk.
The baffled doctors had no clue what to do about it.
At the time I was just learning about, and fully realizing, the incredible power of the Kingdom of God that was available for those who understood that it was there, the great faith and power that could overcome and alter the physical realm we live in for good.
So after service one Sunday morning, Donna and I went and collected our kids from their Sunday school classes, sore, tired, itchy and stapled, and brought them back to the sanctuary and found Pastor Ron whom we knew would be hanging around loving on and praying for people.
Donna and I were standing on the verse that said if any of you are sick go to the elders and have them pray for you.
We recognized Ron as an elder, not by age, but by God’s calling and place in our hearts. So we explained what was going on and had him pray for and anoint the three girls.
The next day, we got a call from the lab at the hospital saying that the test results from the blood they had drawn from Cally the previous week had surprisingly come back negative for Mono. Cally had already been feeling as good as new and had her energy back. God had not only healed her, but he had healed the blood they had drawn the week before!
At the same time Danielle was bounding around the house like she had never been ill a day in her life leaving the doctors baffled as to why they no longer had to worry about their first and only case of this rare incurable disease. And Jessie’s wounds healed up and she managed to avoid having to be stapled back together anymore after that.
The healings were so complete and really, uneventful, that it was hard to even remember that anything had been wrong—it was like we had just traded realities, a bad one for a good one.
But Donna and I remember, we remember well the goodness of God and the servant of the Lord whose faith and anointing God used to channel his healing power to our girls
We all need Stephens in our lives, and should strive to be more like those servants.
Don’t think it does not still happen. God still loves his children and his Spirit is still powerful. And he uses his humble servants to prove it.
That servant, Ron, never sought or claimed any credit or glory for himself. He never bickered or complained about his lot or his church, and he died with a tool belt on, of heart failure, in his “retirement” doing volunteer maintenance work at Camp on the Boulder, a Christian kids camp.
And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. . . . And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel. Acts 6: 10,15
A servant full of faith and power, one that God can use to release the kingdom power and healing on this earth, is one who is not contentious, who is not looking for offense or whining about wrongs to right, is not swayed by the voices of criticism or accusation, but is one who is just using the gifts they have been entrusted with and not letting anything get in the way. And their joy cannot be stolen.
Their heart language is love.
Move in the gifts I’ve given you but strive for all of them. Power is power and must not be held back. HS
Saphira’s husband has just fallen dead at the feet of Peter for lying to the Holy Spirit, now she comes along and doubles down on the scheme.
“Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”
She said, “Yes, for so much.”
Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Acts 5:8-9
She does indeed fall down dead. OMG!
Apparently character and integrity rank pretty high on the Lord’s list.
Why it matters
Yes what happened to this couple may seem harsh. But integrity, honesty, character is important. Very important to God because he knows what we will be facing if we are truly following him.
The attacks and the trials of a Spirit filled believer who professes Jesus Christ as the Son of God in a world that is largely in control by the Prince of Darkness who hates us and our God, who knows that our words are just exclamation points on his defeat are frequent and relentless. Our strength of character and the integrity of our relationship with God is paramount to our standing and even flourishing in the attacks.
Immediately after this event we see why character is so important.
“Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” . . . and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5:28, 40—42
A clean Heart
The Lord needs our hearts to be right for the trials ahead. A pretentious spirit that wants to please godly men while disregarding the Spirit within will never stand up when it matters, when they are called to proclaim the words of life to others even if it may cost their own.
What a stark difference between the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira and the Apostles here. The first two sought acclamation and attention by pretending to be sacrificially serving the Lord in obedience and thus suffered internally even to death.
The later sought only to glorify Jesus, sacrificially serving in obedience to the Lord even though it made them look rebellious in the eyes of man and thus they suffered externally. But they rejoiced and were strengthened within.
The time to play games is long past. The time to pretend is long past. It is time to be real, to be who we are in Christ and to be honest in all things to ourselves, each other and most importantly, we must be honest to God.
Because in the end, we must be found standing. We must stand in and against this evil day. To do that we must have a heart of integrity. No pretensions, no falsities, no showboating.
All the Lord wants is a heart that’s true, a heart that’s pure, a heart that‘s His
We are the bride of Christ, we are one with him, as we are one with our spouse. A dishonest marriage, a marriage where one person lies to the other with no remorse or hesitation is not a marriage that can nor should survive, it is in fact not a marriage at all as marriage is based on a covenant, a promise, a word.
If that word is no good, the marriage covenant is meaningless. The same is true in our relationship to our God. You gave your heart to Jesus, be true to him. He is always true to you.
But remember, it is the same God on both sides of Matthew chapter one. Sin is still sin and God still desires hearts that are honest before him and are appreciative of the grace and mercy given. The difference is that we now have direct access to that God through his Son Jesus Christ and we are now his Temple, and the Holy Spirit now lives in us So we better pay attention to what we do with that access and what kind of condition we keep that temple in.
Ananias and Sapphira were trying to make themselves appear sacrificially generous and thereby godly in the eyes of Peter and the church. What they did not realize was that lying to the church, the body of Christ, and to those anointed to lead in that body, was tantamount to lying to God.
The Holy Spirit of Christ was leading the church through Peter, and the other apostles, thus a lie to them concerning things of the Lord was a lie to the Holy Spirit.
And this could not be allowed. Sudden death seems a harsh thing for a small crime—small to us but huge to God. The fallen nature of man makes lying all to acceptable, but with God, not so much, especially among the newly birthed church.
And if not dealt with here and now, nipped in the bud, it would be a condition that might only worsen and spread to the rest of the body. And, if this behavior is allowed to stand, the strength of character that would be such a vital part of following Jesus in their hostile world would be destroyed.
Character cannot be faked, holiness cannot be faked. Lying and deceit is the antithesis to holiness and character.
Jesus compared this condition, when he perceived it in the Pharisees, to white washed tombs. They look good on the outside but inside they are full of dead men’s bones. That pretend holiness would not be tolerated in the fledgling church. Peter, in the Spirit, deals with it immediately and decisively. A religious spirit that fosters pretenders will not be tolerated.
A religious spirit is one that pretends to be Godly. And it is from the devil himself.
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? Acts 5:3
Satan mimics everything good and then perverts it, even holiness. It is his greatest deceit. Pretend holiness in the flesh to make one look good, as opposed to genuine heart surrender with no concern for one’s image, deceives others, and sometimes even yourself, into thinking you are godly. But, like the prophet Samuel had told Saul so many years earlier; “Obedience is better than sacrifice.”
Peter no doubt remembered the time when he became the mouthpiece of Satan when he voiced what seemed like a holy sentiment at the time as he tried to steer Jesus away from the cross. Jesus looked him straight in the eye and commanded: “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
So, in that sense, it was not Ananias and Saphira who were being rebuked per se, but Satan himself, and these two were victims of his deceit, like Judas who hardened his heart to the point where he allowed himself to betray the Lord even knowing that Jesus knew he was lying to his face about his loyalty. Death became his end also.
So being honest before the Lord. Honest to God, is critical if you want to stay free of the enemy’s influences and to be in a place where you can be trusted by the Lord to be used for his purposes, to fulfill the plan he has for you and be blessed in the process with joy in your heart and a peace of mind.
It’s all kind of sobering if you ask me. How many times have I stretched the truth,led others to believe I was more godly, generous, obedient or committed than I really am? It’s especially tempting for someone who is prone to be codependent, as I am. I want to play by all the rules, make everyone happy and make myself praiseworthy—especially those in power.
Okay, maybe I’m not that way anymore so much. If you have been around me for a while, and especially if you read last week’s blogs, https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/blog.hopechapelredlodge.com/3424 you know I am largely over the submissive obedience thing for the sake of looking good. The Lord has fanned to flame the barbarian heart of the warrior in me so I am a recovering codependent. By the grace of God and the freedom found in Christ.
But it is still tempting to want to appear to have it all together for Christ, or appear to be suffering and giving more for Christ than you really are. Or at least make sure you are getting noticed and getting credit for all that you do.
Unfortunately it seems that is more the norm in the church than the exception. Churches are known as a place where people come together and act like they have it all together and that they are blessed into eternal bliss because of all their sacrifice and obedience, and oh yeah, faith.
You are not going to see a lot of that in my church. I won’t put up with it especially if it is being done in a way that knocks others down. People who are wanting to climb the “look at me I’m super godly” ladder often do so by stepping on others to make themselves look higher up that ladder than they really are.
That’s what I call a religious spirit. And I have tangled with those many times. I have cast more than one religious spirit out of our building. This barbarian preacher can spot a pious faker a mile away. And the spirit’s they leave behind leave a real sour taste. Just like the faces of those they deceive—sour.
But the main reason I won’t put up with those lying sour sprits, and why you don’t see a lot of pretension here, is because we foster an environment of honesty. If you’re a mess, we want to know you’re a mess, so that we can love on you and pray for you. If you are lying to the Spirit via your brothers and sisters in the church, and to the pastor, you cannot be prayed for and ministered to by those who are moving in the Spirit and in the authority of the Spirit.
We are all real people here who just happen to know an awesome God and we are all on a journey to know him better and to learn to follow him more closely. Pretension only gets in the way of that. Our eternal souls are too important to jeopardize by playing games. And life is too short to play at being perfect when the truth can set you free.
But to receive and benefit from truth you have to be truthful. There is an unalterable law in God’s creation—You reap what you sow.
“But, but, but, aren’t we supposed to submit to the authorities?“
So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:18-20
Peter and John found themselves in hot water with the “authorities” one day as they healed and preached Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem. Did they meekly go home and keep to themselves? If they had we would not know this story, nor any of the gospel for that matter. Jesus who?
‘But, but, but, aren’t we supposed to submit to the authorities?’ How often have you heard that in the last year?
No! A big resounding— let the deceived and the deceivers, the darkest corners of hell, and the devil and his Antichrist hear it—No!
Do not submit to lesser authorities when a higher authority is directing you another way.
Never mind the whole county, state and federal agencies overstepping their authority and demanding things of us that go against the highest authority of our land, our biblically inspired USConstitution.
Until March of 2020 no one in America would have ever imagined that an unknown and unelected county health official could shut down every food service business in a county with virtually no warning, and that a state Governor could unilaterally demand that private business close indefinitely, that people stay sequestered in their homes, that kids lose nearly two years of education and that churches close their doors while cooperate box stores and liquor stores are still packed full of people.
And we just go along with it, it’ all for the greater good after all—we must submit. Fine. The world is full of monarchies and dictatorships that strip all people of their God given rights, for the greater good of course. That’s been the way of man for eons, and one, by the grace of God and the blood of God fearing men, that we had gotten away from for almost two hundred years.
The shredded US Constitution is one thing, perhaps arguable, but I do not believe Godfearing Americans should deem it null and void and just passively allow all our God given rights to be stripped away.
Words that affirm God as the giver of our freedom founded this nation in 1776 as we declared independence from a King who would hinder those rights granted by our creator.
But that’s another matter.
We are focused on the spoken word of God today, and the right and command to share it in power. We must not submit to authorities who tell us we cannot preach Scripture and that Jesus is offensive and not acceptable in the public square.
We do not submit to the authorities when what they tell us is in direct contradiction to the word of God. The Apostles had been told by Jesus to go into all the world and make disciples of all men, and they cannot do that if they allow people with worldly power and influence to control their speech.
The followers of Christ had a story to tell, a witness to give and a fire in their hearts that had to burst forth in testimony and could not be contained. And if they were to suffer for it—they would count it all joy for it only confirmed the validity of their message and gave God more opportunity to be glorified as he indeed would be as he rescued the apostles over and over from their persecutors.
Because of their boldness and refusal to submit to those who would silence, their words would became a witness that would change the world. Those words are still just as powerful, and the enemy hates that, he fears that more than anything, and he has been on an all out assault on that truth ever since. But he keeps losing.
Let’s not be the generation that allows the word of God to be silenced because we were afraid to offend, because we were convinced that it is outdated, hurtful and hateful. The enemy is real good at changing the definition of words, of normalizing sin—‘No wait, we can’t label anything as sin—who are we to judge?’
‘We can’t claim that Jesus is the only way—that’s narrow minded and intolerant.’
‘Let’s just take that out of our discourse, let’s take Jesus out of our music, out of our sermons—’we must be more tolerant and just talk about grace in general and how much God loves us all and wants to bless us. Never mind that old fashioned notion of repentance and self-control.Holiness? What is that anyway?’
‘And all those things about immorality—who are we to say that what you do and whom you do it with is right or wrong. God is cool with it all, andso are we. You will all be fine, in fact, let’s just forget about all that confusing scripture stuff and just use generalities and the latest bestselling aren’t we wonderful books.’
‘We all know what the bible says right? It’s just the overall concepts that God wants us to know—we don’t need to get bogged down in the word for word stuff. That just causes division and scares people away. Let’s just gather together and celebrate the power of love. “All we need is love, love. Love is all we need.”’
‘If we just do that no one will be offended, more people will come to our church and all of “they” will leave us alone and praise us for our progressiveness. No one will bother us and we will continue to grow our empire, I mean the Kingdom, and we will be blessed with abundance.’
‘. . . ‘What? Shut down our church for a couple of weeks because some people might get sick. Okay no problem. Can we open yet?’ No, ‘How about now?’ No. Now?’ No. ’We’re not essential? Okay, I guess…’
‘Umm, it’s been months, can we open yet?’ Yes, just a little. But cover your faces and don’t sing or get near each other. ‘Okay, I don’t want to be like that radical bible thumping pastor down the road who refused to submit and got arrested. That’s just not a good witness.’
Are you tracking with me here church? Are you getting uncomfortable? Because we are living in an uncomfortable world right now, but you know what? This world is not our home. And it never will be until Jesus comes back to defeat the lies and prove to all once and for all that he is the way, the truth and the life and that not one jot or tittle of his word will pass away until all is fulfilled, and all who love his word and long for his return will be vindicated.
While the weak and enlightened, and the powerful who demanded we be silent and submissive are begging the mountains to fall on them and hide them.
That day will come because the Antichrist has deceived the world into worshipping the beast and turning away from the one true God because the church fell silent. And a lot of good people, who might have turned if they had heard the words, will perish.
But is does not have to happen on our watch. We must speak the words of life, in the power of the Spirit, boldly and joyfully. The world, is starving for truth.
Speak the words of life.
By the way, here is my Authority to keep my church open and to keep preaching truth:
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
We have the words of life. Desperately needed, lovingly given, to be boldly shared.
“Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Acts 4:1-2
They fear our words. Is that a revelation to anyone? You all know who they is. If you don’t, you are they.
They are many and varied and wear many different hats, but they all deny the Truth of the Author of life and embrace the lies of the father of lies, claiming diversity yet acting in unison according to the approved script . And if you speak the truth often enough and in enough different circles, you will soon discover just how prevalent they are and how powerful they have become—so they believe any way.
If they truly had power they would have no reason to fear our words, right?
Think about all that is going on lately, all the emphasis on political correctness, but now under a new heading; woke-ism, whereby everything is offensive and must be cancelled– history erased and altered.
We have an unapologetically biased news media, big tech social media censorship, churches regulated, choked down or shut down, face covering mandates, honest questions and dissension shamed, and any criticism or questioningof the sanctioned experts and authorities is banned by those who control the narrative—all in the name of keeping us safe.
Compliance to the state and her anointed spokespersons is paramount. Because big brother knows best and us ignorant redneck church going little people are incapable of taking care of ourselves and we are all racist and backwards thinking anyway.
And then we go and start talking about that Jesus stuff like he is some kind of Savior that can take care of us and give us hope. ‘Those backward evangelicals teach personal responsibility, accountability and right and wrong, freedom in thought and in spirit, loving their enemies, and prayer? We can’t be having that!’
They fear our words because when we speak in Jesus name, about our Jesus, it destroys their narrative that we are ignorant, that we hate everyone who is not just like us, that we are intolerant and backwards and want to put everyone into bondage.
They fear our words because when people listen and put their trust in Jesus they no longer give up everything in return for security from the government, they start to think for themselves and understand the difference between good and evil, truth and lies, love and lust.
‘People who love God have their eyes open, and we can’t have that. People who trust Jesus don’t live for the here and now, and they have no fear of death, and we can’t have that either.’
A people who do not fear death cannot ever be totally subjugated—’and that is unacceptable in a society where power is attained and maintained by fear.’ It’s disturbing.
“being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Acts 4:2
So yes, they fear our words and are greatly disturbed when we teach and preach in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They find that offensive.
You all know there’s going to be a resurrection right? “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” 1 Thess 4:16
The enemy can scheme, lie and deceive, arrest, shut down, accuse and even execute believers in Christ all they like, but they cannot stop that archangel from blowing that trumpet.
And they cannot un-speak the word of God once it has been spoken. And that’s what we have, hidden in our hearts and empowered by the Holy Spirit, and that’s what makes us dangerous. Because we keep stealing souls away from the devil’s clutches of death.
And I don’t know about you, but I will NOT be silent.
After Peter and John healed a lame man in the Temple gate one day they took the opportunity to preach the gospel to the gathering crowd.
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” Acts 3
How often do we moan and complain about how weary we are, how helpless and downtrodden we feel. ‘Lord, why don’t I feel the joy of my salvation like I used to? Why do I feel like I have nothing left to give?
Well, is there repentance involved in your walk with the Lord? Or are you just presuming on grace, always presuming and never turning away from the things we need grace for?
The simple truth is, you are not going to be feeling a lot of refreshing in the Lord’s presence if you are always wallowing in the sin he died to rescue you from.
Turn from the lust of the flesh and the distractions that bind and blind, and turn to the one who can set you free, look to Jesus and expect something, expect a miracle.
And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said,Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you.” Acts 3:5-6
Jesus can give you whatever you need to overcome whatever it is that keeps you from him, but you need to trust him enough to turn to him in honesty, andto look into his eyes and say “Help me Lord, I’m tired of fighting this alone and I need a touch from you. Silver and gold I do not need, times of refreshing in your presence is what my soul desires.”
Living in a world of plenty we easily forget that, as a church, as people, as parents. We lose focus on what is truly valuable when we focus too much on what the world considers treasure.
A story is told of Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century priest, friar and philosopher, calling onPope Innocent II one day as the Pope happened to be counting out a large sum of money. “You see Thomas,” said the Pope, “the church can no longer say ‘silver and gold have I none.’” “True Holy Father,” replied Thomas, “neither can she now say, ‘Rise and walk.’”
Was the church richer when it had nothing to offer but Jesus and nothing to gain but forever?
Are our families richer when we have nothing to offer our kids but our hearts, our time, and our outstretched arms?
Mothers, I hate to say it, but you’re the worst. You love your kids and you want to give them everything. You want to be the world’s greatest mom and you judge yourself in that regard by looking at what you perceive other ‘perfect’ moms giving their kids—or maybe by the standard of your own mom who seemed to have it all together and made your childhood special.
Here’s a secret, your mom had the same struggles, was not perfect, and neither are all those other moms whose kids you deem to be so lucky and well adjusted.
You are the perfect mom for your kids. They would not want any other mother than you, and they see in you things that they love and admire that you are blind to.
But most importantly, more than all the things you could buy them, more than all the programs you could get them to, more then all the crafty things you could invent for them or perfect lessons you could teach them—they just want you.
They want your time and attention, they want you—loud, messy, disorganized and broke—they don’t care. They just want what you have to offer them, the best things they could possibly receive from a mother, the same things you get from your Father in Heaven— unconditional love, mercy, grace, wisdom, correction, stories, tenderness, strength, a smile to wipe away the gloom, or a tear to share a hurt and a kiss to fix the boo-boo.
When they reach out to you in expectation, they don’t want money or stuff, they just want your hand reaching back to them, because like Peter on that day at the Beautiful gate, your hand is far from empty.
In the first days of the new church Peter and John are walking into the Temple and take notice of a lame beggar whose life and eternity is about to be dramatically changed.
“And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Acts 3:4-6
The beggar was expecting coinage, just hoping for lunch money. He saw an empty hand extended to him that turned out to be far from empty. These radical Christ followers just gave from what they were given, and it turned a hopeless lame beggar into a joy filled child of God who would soon be leaping for Joy in the Temple courts. Simply because a couple of fisherman from Galilee listened when the Holy Spirit said reach out to this broken man.
What do I have? A question we all ask of ourselves. ‘What do I have that is any good to anyone? What do I have that sets me apart, makes me someone? What do I have to give? What can I possibly give to God? What do I have that he can use to advance his Kingdom, to bless his people, to bear fruit for Jesus?’
What do you have? You have a lot of things I’m sure, many of them unique to you, and many of them you are not even aware of. Most of us would be amazed at what others see in us that they wish they had, or are grateful that we share with them. Yet we spend much of our time being envious of others or wishing we were better.
You have gifts, talents and natural abilities that are passed along in your DNA, the miraculous code embedded in every cell of your body that can contain information handed down to you from countless generations of amazing people who came before you, now suddenly coming out in you. Gifts that the creator decided he would release in you as he was forming you in the womb. Gifts you can build on and perfect as you live, pursue, and experience life.
You have passions born of God given inspirations and life experiences. Wisdom born of God, and again, life experiences—hard lessons learned and scars that remind. You have a unique personality that sets you apart from all others and an amazing brain that can learn, shape and even rearrange ideas and concepts. Understand mysteries and create new ones.
You have a unique look and a beauty that is yours and yours alone that can only be truly released from within, allowed to shine forth by a bright countenance and a confidant smile no matter what imperfections of the flesh you believe you have. You have an inner radiance that ink, make up and piercing’s can never replicate and would only distract from.
You can laugh, cry, rage and soothe—at will if you so choose. You have a tongue that no one controls but you, that can encourage, teach, build up and praise. Hands that can either build or tear down, paint, draw, write, play music, defend or heal. Maybe all of those things, depending on what you choose to do or what your gifting allows, again, in ways that are unique to you.
And if you are a believer in Christ; a born again, Spirit filled, scripture loving, child of God; you have a light that shines from your eyes, a hope that is heard in your voice, a love that is felt in your touch, and a power that is yours to command that can make the universe tremble.
What do you have to give? You have the Holy Spirit of the living God dwelling in your heart. You have the name of Jesus to release it into the world and you have the love of the Father who calls you child and gives you the authority of a prince or a princess in his Kingdom.
So do not ever say—I do not have anything to give—what you do have to give is all that He gave you—and that is everything.You have life, love, healing and hope to give. What you do have, is Jesus.