You might have read an earlier post about fear, and if you did, you might have noticed I'm a bit passionate about the subject. Fear is something people use as a means of controlling us, especially if they can get everyone else whipped up into a frenzy. We have a tendency to follow fear in a crowd, than to follow reason; it's easier to go with the flow than against the tide. Nowadays, we can't go out in public, we might get sick, we can't speak our minds, we might offend someone, we can't post what we want, think what we want, feel what we want because we're constantly told thought that goes against the grain is offensive. We might as well stay home and say nothing, right? Who does this mentality serve? It does not make our society more polite, as a matter of fact, people are becoming more mean and violent the more we bow down to these social demands. I think it's time for us to ask honestly: what controls our lives? It used to be that people wouldn't mind telling someone like it was, not because they wanted to be right, but they cared about the person and wanted them to succeed. After all, it's their life, they could do what they want with your advice, it's theirs to take or leave. Now, if someone wants to give advice, and it's something the other person doesn't want to hear, they're heartless, a bully, publicly shamed (or privately destroyed), and an all around horrible person. This isn't godly to let your brother hang himself for trying to hold himself steady with a rope around his neck while trying to change a light bulb (fix a small issue). And yet every day, we close our mouths as people spiritually destroy themselves because we want the temporary comfort in knowing that, at least today, they like me. We are really saying "I would rather you like me now, than love where you're going eternally." It needs to stop. We need to pray for more boldness, as the church in Acts did when Peter and John were arrested by the Sanhedrin. If we're plugged in to the media (whether social, music, the news, or similar things) you may have noticed it seems like someone is trying to begin a panic. Don't touch, stay home, wash your hands a million times a day (Can't get germs if there's no skin left!) avoid contact with people, etc. Meanwhile, in Wuhan, the underground church is using this opportunity for the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Where we're close to panic, and isolating ourselves, these warriors for Christ are in the streets working with people, risking it all for the sake of their neighbors. We need to ask ourselves, if we're believers, this one simple question: what controls us? Are we slaves to whatever wind blows our way, going in the direction that is strongest, or do we stop, close our eyes and pray, and say "Spirit lead me, even if it means I must perish?" I am grateful for the example of Esther, who knew that to see the king meant death if there was no favor. Yet she risked her lush and lavish lifestyle for the sake of all her people, and God made a way. I am grateful for Stephen who cared for his people with the same passion, even at the cost of his own life. We need to stop, pray, and ask ourselves, what is more important? Temporary security, or eternal security! Church, love everyone as if tomorrow wasn't coming (Nashville Tornadoes proved that point for many people...pray for them). Love them as if you had no other choice but to love them. Love them as if eternity depended on it. Acts 4 ►
Peter and John Before the Council
1And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
5On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11This Jesusa is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.b 12And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among menc by which we must be saved.”
13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.
The Believers Pray for Boldness
23When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,d said by the Holy Spirit,
27for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
They Had Everything in Common
32Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
English Standard Version Par ▾ Footnotes:
a 11 Greek This one
b 11 Greek the head of the corner
c 12 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women
d 25 Or child; also verses 27, 30 e 26 Or Christ