VIDEO You shall call His Name, Jesus

Matthew 1.21

50 Names and Titles of Jesus:

1.  Almighty One  “…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev. 1:8

2.  Alpha and Omega – “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Rev. 22:13

3.  Advocate – “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” 1 John 2:1

4.  Author and Perfecter of Our Faith – “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2

5.  Authority – “Jesus said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matt. 28:18

6.  Bread of Life – “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” John 6:35

7.  Beloved Son of God – “And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matt. 3:17

8.  Bridegroom – “And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Matt. 9:15

9.  Chief Cornerstone – “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.” Ps. 118:22

10. Deliverer – “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thess.1:10

11. Faithful and True – “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” Rev.19:11

12. Good Shepherd  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

13. Great High Priest – “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Heb. 4:14

14. Head of the Church – “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church.” Eph. 1:22

15. Holy Servant – “…and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30

16. I Am – “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58

17. Immanuel – “…She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.’” Is. 7:14

18. Indescribable Gift – “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” 2 Cor. 9:15

19. Judge – “…he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.” Acts 10:42

20. King of Kings – “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” Rev. 17:14

21. Lamb of God – “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

22. Light of the World – “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

23. Lion of the Tribe of Judah – “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Rev. 5:5

24. Lord of All – “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:9-11

25. Mediator – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 2:5

26. Messiah – “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).” John 1:41

27. Mighty One  “Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Is. 60:16

28. One Who Sets Free – “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36

29. Our Hope – “…Christ Jesus our hope.” 1 Tim. 1:1

30. Peace – “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,” Eph. 2:14

31. Prophet – “And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Mark 6:4

32. Redeemer – “And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” Job 19:25

33. Risen Lord – “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4

34. Rock – “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” 1 Cor. 10:4

35. Sacrifice for Our Sins  “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

36. Savior – “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

37. Son of Man – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

38. Son of the Most High – “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.” Luke 1:32

39. Supreme Creator Over All – “By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.…” Colossians 1:16-17

40. Resurrection and the Life – “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” John 11:25

41. The Door – “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9

42. The Way – “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

43. The Word – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

44. True Vine – “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1

45. Truth – “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

46. Victorious One – “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Rev. 3:21

47. – 50. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Is. 9:6

All this…and so much more.

He alone is worthy.

Jesus.

Source: http://www.facebook.com/DebbieWebbMcDaniel

John 14.1

To Know Jesus as Lord and Savior

Images: Pinterest

https://beholdinghimministries.org/2019/09/01/you-shall-call-his-name-jesus/

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10 Ways to be a Happier Mom

Arlene Pellicane June 15, 2015
ArlenePellicane.com

10 Ways to be a Happier Mom

When your baby is catapulted into the world, you can’t help but feel joy. You echo the words of Leah in Genesis 30:13, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” But those first moments of bliss are quickly tried by crying infants, sleep deprivation, and all sorts of challenges.
According to a Barna study, eight in ten moms feel overwhelmed by stress. Only nineteen percent of moms report being extremely satisfied as a mom. You know if you hang your happiness on your children’s behavior, you may have to wait a while before you can break into a wide grin.
But there is good news. If you can tap into the joy that comes from obeying Christ and being in his presence, you can be a happier mom no matter what is happening. Happiness (pleasure, contentment, satisfaction, cheerfulness) is actually something you can increase in your life by your thoughts and actions. Here are ten ways to help you be a happier mom:

1. Discipline With Action, Not Tone

You’ve probably yelled this before: “How many times do I have to tell you…” Most likely, you were the one at your wits end while your child was unmoved. Instead of using long explanations or threatening tones, use actions and consequences that will stop your child in his/her tracks. For instance, when my daughter dawdled at breakfast (again), we simply took the food away and served it for lunch. No fanfare or emotion necessary.

2. Drop the Guilt

Don’t fall prey to the victim mentality that makes you feel like a loser all the time. Notice your negative self-talk and seek to turn your bad guilt into good guilt. Bad guilt says “I’m no good” but good guilt says “I did something wrong and I need to fix it.” Focus on the things you can fix and stop expecting perfection from yourself. Failure is an event; not a person.

3. Do Less for Your Kids

Are you still packing lunches for your sixth grader? It’s time to stop. Don’t do for your children the things they can do for themselves. Whether it’s tying shoelaces, homework, or washing dishes, we need to give our kids increased responsibilities as they get older. It will not only make you saner as a mom, it will prepare your children well for independence and adulthood.

4. Pray with Other Moms

The Lord God Almighty stands ready to hear and answer your requests for your children. Make prayer a regular part of your mom life. To add accountability and power, invite another mom to pray with you weekly for your children. You can visit www.MomsinPrayer.org to see if there is a group of moms praying for your child’s school.

5. Focus on the Yes

Motherhood can feel like a big NO. “No, don’t touch that.” “No, I can’t go. I have to watch my kids.” Instead of putting the emphasis on no, find places to emphasize the yes in motherhood like, “Yes, let’s have some fun.” “Yes, let’s do that service project as a family.” “Yes, let’s save up for a family vacation.”

6. Listen to Your Body

Remember what you hear over and over on flights? In case of emergency, place your own oxygen mask on first, and then help your children. We often sacrifice our health because we’re busy with our mom duties. Make sure you listen and respond to your body. Get a good night’s sleep, exercise regularly, and eat healthy foods that will act as fuel.

7. Streamline Your Family Activities

Is your schedule running you ragged? Do you regret saying yes to soccer, baseball, piano, and gymnastics? At your next opportunity, choose less. Perhaps have your children do the same activity to lessen your drive time.

8. Have a Game Plan for Screen Time

The average child age 8-18 spends more than seven hours per day looking at screens. If you don’t have a game plan, it’s just too easy for free time to get gobbled up by mindless screen time. Use technology to bring you together as a family with activities like Friday night movie night and Skyping family members.

9. Seek a Mentor

If you want to learn how to cook, you learn from a cook. In the same way, if you want to learn to be a happier mom, you find a happy mom. Take this mom out to coffee and ask her to share her secrets. It’s extremely helpful to have a trusted advisor who can pray with you and answer questions about what’s happening with your kids.

10. Remember Your Blessing

In the day to day race of motherhood, we can forget how fortunate we are to have kids in the first place. Psalm 113:9 says, “He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children.” Imagine what your life would be like if your kids were taken away. Be grateful for your children each day.
Which of these ten ideas resonates with you the most?

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. She has been a guest on the Today Show, Family Life Today, The 700 Club and Turning Point with David Jeremiah. Arlene and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children. Visit Arlene’s website at www.ArlenePellicane.com.

Anything …With God

 

September 6, 2019 by Discerning Dad

 

How many times have you heard it said, “You can do anything you set your mind to”? As great as that sounds, there are many bothersome things with that statement, the least of which is that it is flatly wrong. When I was a young ridiculous teenager, many, many years ago, I was a Beatles fanatic. I would dream about being on stage singing “She Loves You” with thousands of girls screaming for me, and, of course, being able to perform so well. I started taking guitar lessons and was certain I would be turning heads in no time.

Then reality began to set in. After years of effort, that golden voice that resonated in the shower, that made me certain girls would be chasing me down the block when I left my house, was typically way off key when heard in the real world. Not to mention other missing traits, excellent guitar skills, superb song writing skills, rhythm…sadly the list goes on. As I got older it became clear, I will never be a Beatle. DUH! This was simply absurd, as is our propositional phrase. God had gifted those men with extraordinary abilities, and no amount of practice, money, or coaching could ever cause these abilities to inhere in me.

Yes, reality does at times stink. And, can you imagine if we could do ANYTHING we set our mind to? There have been times I’ve wished for some dreadful things. I am grateful I wasn’t able to accomplish any of them—thank God for my limitations. HUH? Yes, we are fallen creatures with the ability to do great harm. Limitations, among other things, limit the damage we can do.

The phrase “You can do anything you set your mind to” is only true for one person, really three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Only a being that possess omnipotence and complete sovereignty over all things can produce and guarantee a particular outcome. How unbelievably fortunate we are that our God possess these wonderful qualities and is also good, perfect, and without error or malice. Otherwise we would be doomed.

It’s really the word ANYTHING that kills the phrase. Still, most people, at one stage, or even several stages in their life, ask the question, what CAN I do with my life? Is it too lofty to believe that we have something special to offer? No. The Lord himself not only encourages it, but has also ordained it:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 KJV

Aside from the fact that the works are to be good, the phrase “God hath before ordained” means that God had been intimately involved in planning our lives before we were born, and with that has instilled in us the traits necessary to achieving these plans, though we may not know it, or maybe we do? God is not limited in what he can instill in any human being, that is, within the bounds of what he has decided a human being can or can’t be.

For example, he gave David the power and skill necessary to defeat lions and bears in hand-to-hand combat. And who can forget he was given the ability to defeat Goliath. God had ordained this for David. I don’t believe anyone else could have defeated Goliath, but David. If we pause here as David is faced with the challenge of Goliath, and ask the question, what can David do with his life at this instant, we can see that God had provided the evidence David needed to make his decision. The question arises, did David have any assurance that he could do this? The obvious and typical answer is, yes, of course. David had great faith in his mighty God. This is true, but the more relevant question, is, did David believe God could and would do this through him? That is the question at the core after all, right? He knew, in the Lord, he could overcome incredible odds from his experiences fighting lions and bears. In David’s case, I would argue that he was provided sufficient reason for trusting that God would use him this way. David was keenly aware that God had been working in his life from long ago as we can see from his words in this Psalm:

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” Psalm 139:13-16 NASB

We must do away with the notion that God only started working in our lives when we got saved, when in reality He started in eternity past and continued through our birth to present day.

Furthermore, we must be aware of any unwillingness in us to do what God has prepared for us, as it was in a certain great figure from the past. Long before David, was Moses. Raised in the Pharaoh’s household, he became intimately familiar with the ways and mindset of this aristocracy. And they with him. God did not choose at random, a man to lead his people from bondage in Egypt. He purposed to use Moses and orchestrated circumstances that lead to Moses being taken from his true family and placed in the palace of Pharaoh to be reared in Egyptian culture. All this was done to prepare Moses for his future calling. Unfortunately for Moses, unlike David, when his time came, he did not greet it with open arms. He was resistant and full of excuses. He did not see himself as fitting the part. He did not consider his history as being woven by the sovereign hand of God to prepare him for this day. Thankfully, God in His mercy condescended to Moses concerns, and appointed Aaron to be his mouthpiece. This is a wonderful picture of how God is willing to help us succeed in doing what he has called us to do.

One last example from the life and ministry of Paul. Being the humble guy, he was, Paul said:

“Although I myself have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee; as to zeal a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness that is in the law, found blameless.” Philippians 3:4-6 NASB

Yes, yes, he does say in the next verse that whatever things were gain, he now counts as loss, but this is meant in the sense that it is not those things that contribute to his salvation and relationship to Jesus. The things he calls out here did have value in Paul’s ministry. And the Lord is the one who sovereignly instilled them in him and did so before Paul came to know Jesus. Paul’s vast knowledge of the scriptures contributed greatly to his ability to express how Jesus fulfilled the messianic scriptures. Most Christian biblical scholars, if not all, consider Paul to be the greatest theologian that ever lived. His knowledge, under the power of the Holy Spirit, has given the Church a great understanding of the essence and power of the Gospel. This, along with his zeal for the Gospel, allowed him to spread the message to so many, in the face of great adversity. This man was well prepared beforehand by God. We can easily see how God used these divinely instilled qualities strategically for spreading the Gospel.

You may say these are lofty examples, and I’ll never be a Paul, David, or Moses, and you would be correct in saying so. God does not need you to be Paul, David, or Moses. He needs you to be you. You are at your best when you are being the person God made YOU to be. You Christian, are the missing part in someone’s life, or in some community or church. YOUR effectiveness may be on hold until YOU discover from the experiences YOU’VE had, the way YOU feel, the convictions YOU hold, the skills YOU embody, the sufferings YOU’VE endured, and even from the weaknesses YOU possess, that YOU have something precious to offer, instilled by the hand of God.

Discerning Reflection:
Think through your life experiences from as far back as you can remember, both good and bad. How did people and events affect your life? What drives you? What do you feel deeply about, and why? What things have you learned to do well? What skills have others noticed in you? Instead of just thinking about these things, write them down…it will help to paint a clearer and more useful picture.

Prayer:
Lord, help me to open my heart and mind to what you have instilled in me. Help me to understand who you have made me to be and do. Help me to let you use my life, that it may be profitable for you. Amen.

Mark DiSalvo

Guest Discerning Dad

 

Guest- Mark DiSalvo- Anything…with God

What You Need to Know about Suicide Risk and Prevention

Dr. Timothy R. Jennings
MD, DFAPA Sept 12, 2019

What You Need to Know about Suicide Risk and Prevention

For the past decade, the suicide rate among teens has been increasing. Among teen boys, suicide completion has increased 33 percent over the last 10 years, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.1 The major risk factors for suicide are genetics, mood disorder (major depression), pessimism, misreading social cues, impulsivity, and impaired learning.

How Genetic Risk and Suicide Are Connected

Fifty percent of suicide risk is genetic, meaning suicide risk is inheritable and does run in families. This does not mean that a person is predestined to die by suicide if they have family members who have died by suicide, but they do have an increased risk for it. This risk can be mitigated by awareness and purposeful interventions to prevent or treat the other factors that increase risk, thereby reducing suicide risk even in those who have genetic vulnerability. There isn’t a specific gene that increases the risk; instead, it’s the interaction of hundreds if not thousands of genes. Thus, even though the genetic risk is well documented, a specific genetic test is not available.

While we cannot point to a specific gene, it is known that the brain’s serotonin system is involved. Postmortem studies reveal that people at high risk of suicide have fewer serotonin transporters in their brains when compared to people who died in accidents. And brain changes in serotonin receptors predict suicidality and also the lethality of the attempt.

How Depression and Suicide Are Related

People with a history of recurrent major depression have a 13-fold increased risk of suicide. Major depression is the most important and treatable risk factor for suicide. Many people believe that suicide risk goes up because of some stressful life event while failing to realize that many of the stressful life events are the result of major depression that is not being treated.

When people are depressed, they are more likely to:

  • Socially isolate, be unavailable, be easily overwhelmed, and thereby experience relationship problems and breakups.
  • Call in sick to work, have impaired job performance, and thereby lose their job.
  • Fail to pay bills either because of lost work and can’t afford to, or lost attention to life’s responsibilities, and thereby lose their car or home or have creditors calling.

So, the life stressors people attribute as the cause of suicide may, in reality, be due to underlying depression that is not being treated. Then when these additional life problems hit persons already suffering from depression, they are overwhelmed and pursue suicide as a means to escape their mental and emotional pain. In fact, the data shows that people without depression who face similar life stressors have significantly reduced risk of suicide when compared to someone with depression facing the stressor.

Further, studies show that not all people with depression experience suicidal thoughts, but those who have a pessimistic mindset in addition to being depressed are the ones at increased risk. Even when the depression is treated and remits, those at higher risk for suicide continue to manifest a pessimistic outlook on life compared to depressed people who are not suicidal.

The point here is that hope and hopefulness in the face of depression and real-life stressors reduces suicide risk, whereas pessimism increases the risk.

4 Risk Factors to Look For

Research documents four factors, occurring simultaneously, that work together to drive suicidal behavior. Those four factors are:

1. Recurrent major depression

2. Misreading social cues

3. Impulsivity/reactivity

4. Impaired learning

Brain studies reveal that when given standard tests that require them to determine emotional states by looking at faces, those at high risk for suicide misread the faces in ways that incite fear, hurt, rejection—which is a dysfunction of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where we reason, think, and problem solve.

Further, those at increased risk demonstrate impaired response inhibition—the ability to pause, think, and make a wise choice. When given a choice of receiving $50 immediately or $300 in 30 minutes, those at risk for suicide take the $50 right away, whereas those at low risk for suicide wait the 30 minutes. This is impairment in response inhibition, the ability to stop an impulse and wait for a better opportunity.

People at high risk also demonstrate impaired learning from previous events. We have all experienced situations in which something stressful has occurred, inciting anxiety, fear, and worry—but eventually, the problem passed. People at low risk for suicide are able to learn from such events so that when new stressors occur, they are able to remember that things will get better, the stressor will resolve, and life will improve. But people at high risk fail to learn this, and each new stressor is experienced with overwhelming fear and often hopelessness.

It should be noted that all of the above risk factors are worsened by alcohol and drug abuse. Such substances increase mood disorders, damage thinking and learning circuits, increase impulsivity, and often contribute to increased life stress (financial, relational, and legal problems).

Factors in Reducing Suicide

Understanding all of these risk factors has led to effective interventions that reduce suicide risk and rates. What are the factors with proven efficacy in reducing suicide?

1. Removing the means—removing guns and lethal pills from home

2. Treating depression with psychotherapies and medications; both reduce suicide

3. In-school education about risks and warning signs and ways to get help

4. Limiting media reporting and coverage of suicides

5. Alcohol- and substance-use treatment

Another factor at play in suicide risk includes loss of meaning, value, and purpose. Neuroscience demonstrates that when the brain’s love circuits activate, they calm the fear/stress circuits. Activities and experiences that increase love, altruism, other-centered connection, and meaning will decrease suicide risk, whereas actions that isolate and increase fear will increase suicide risk.

With this in mind, let’s examine societal trends and infer some potential changes that may be increasing risk. Historically, American values were built on three overriding elements: God, Family, Country. When these elements are valued and esteemed, they create an other-centered worldview—we live to glorify God, to bless and protect our families, and to help our country. As John F. Kennedy said more than 50 years ago, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

But today’s generation is taught that there is no God, many families are fractured, and the country is abusive, can’t be trusted, and is supposed to give to “me.” This change in values and mindset means that there is nothing more important than the self, which results in increased fear, which in turn neurobiologically drives increasing depression, hopelessness, and suicide.

How Can We Reduce Suicide Risk?

By being aware, by removing means from those at risk, by treating mental illness (depression), getting into substance treatment—but also by increasing love, purpose, and meaning. We need to teach young people that they are valued, they are loved, they are precious, and they have purpose, but also that life is not all about them; we teach them that their true joy, happiness, and health will be realized only when they come into harmony with how God built reality to operate. And God built reality to operate upon other-centered love.

Young people must see in their families, churches, schools, and community how genuine compassion, grace, mercy, and altruism functions. They must see love in action, love manifested toward them and those they care about. They must see the God of love, choose to surrender self, and live lives in harmony with God’s design—lives of altruism, compassion, and service—seeking to give, to bless others, rather than seeking to get. When this occurs, the fear circuits of the brain calm and the risk for suicide decreases.

Notes:
1. Miron, O., et al., Suicide Rates Among Adolescents and Young Adults in the United States, 2000-2017, JAMA. 2019;321(23):2362-2364. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.5054


Timothy R. Jennings, MD, DFAPA is president of Come and Reason Ministries and is a board-certified psychiatrist with a private medical practice in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is a master psychopharmacologist, lecturer, international speaker, and the author of several books including The God-Shaped Brain: How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life and The God-Shaped Heart: How Correctly Understanding God’s Love Transforms Us.

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-you-need-to-know-about-suicide-risk-and-prevention.html

VIDEO When Sin Entered the Church, part 2

Sept 28, 2014 by John MacArthur

Acts 5.  “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.  But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own?  And after it was sold, was it not under your control?  Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart?  You have not lied to men, but to God.’  And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it.  The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.  Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.  And Peter responded to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?’  And she said, ‘Yes, that was the price.’  Then Peter said to her, ‘Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?  Behold, the feet of those who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.’  And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.  And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard these things.  At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico.  But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem.  And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number.”

Frankly, that seems a bizarre approach to church growth; killing people at the offering, frightening the people in the church and terrifying the people outside the church.  But as it turns out, based upon that text, that kind of divine action bringing judgment on the church, God used as a means to add more believers.  This is the first sinful event in the life of the church, the first sinful event.  In fact, it is in this text that we have the word church used for the first time in the book of Acts.  Even though the church began on the Day of Pentecost, that word, which is so familiar to us, doesn’t actually appear until the passage that I read you. 

This is not the first sin.  There was always sin from the Day of Pentecost on because though they were redeemed, they were still sinful.  Believers sin, but this is the first sin recorded in Acts.  This is the first public discipline of sin, and it all started out so wonderfully.  Jesus rose from the dead.  He spent 40 days, as the Book of Acts begins, meeting with His disciples, speaking with them of things concerning His kingdom.  Then they select somebody to take the place of Judas, a man named Matthias so the apostles, it is back to 12.  Then the Day of Pentecost comes, and the Spirit arrives.  By the work of the Spirit, by Christ through the Spirit, He literally creates His body by the Holy Spirit placing all believers into one by sharing the common life of Christ.

The church is born on the Day of Pentecost.  There are miraculous evidences that God is at work and something remarkable is happening.  Then the gospel is preached and 3,000 people believe.  First, it’s 120.  Then it’s 3,000, and then Peter preaches again and another 5,000 men.  So it’s 3, 000 men, then 5,000 men.  Add the women, add the young people to that, and the church is 20,000 or so, and it’s all flourishing, and it’s all joyful.  Chapter 4, as you remember, verses 32 to 37 ends with a look at the unity of the church, amazing unity.  They were all, according to verse 32, “one heart, one soul.”  Nobody was holding on to property that they possessed.  Not only liquid assets that they possessed, but even those assets that weren’t like houses and property, they would be willing to sell in order to provide money for needy people, so that verse 34 says, “There was not a needy person among them.”

They weren’t trying to control their giving.  They laid it as the apostles’ feet, verse 35, and let the apostles distribute the money to anyone who had need.  Well, a man came along that becomes a very important part of the Book of Acts.  His name is Joseph.  He is a Levite from Cyprus.  We know him as Barnabas because he was nicknamed “son of encouragement.”  He owned a tract of land and sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet to be distributed to the folks who had need.

Remember, there were a lot of believers in Jerusalem who had come for the feast of Pentecost from other towns around the Mediterranean, other countries.  Since this was the only church, they stayed, and there was nothing to go back to.  So they’d become a burden for the church, and they need care.  So people are literally selling their assets in order to meet the needs of those who depend on them in this situation.  Even later in the Book of Acts, Paul is going around Asia on his missionary journeys collecting money from gentile churches to give to the Jews who were still in Jerusalem. Also, I have to add the fact that when these people identify with Christ, they would have been put out of the synagogue.  Not long from now, they’ll begin to feel some serious persecution, but they would have been cut off from social life.  So these folks wouldn’t have been offered economic opportunities and jobs.  Maybe the opposite would have happened.  Some of them would have lost their families, family support, inheritances as well as jobs.

So, everything looks absolutely wonderful.  We come to the end of chapter 4 on a high point.  The gospel is being preached.  People are being converted.  Unity exists in the church, and then we hit chapter 5.  Against the background of all this wondrous work of God is this really devastating Sunday in the early church.  This, by its nature is a sin that the church has to always recognize.  It is the sin of hypocrisy.  It is blatant in this case.  It is devastating.  It is exposed.  It is exposed because the Lord exposes it.  Normally, it’s not exposed.  It normally survives for a very long time, a very long time.

In fact, in some cases, we don’t ever find out about hypocrisy.  People die as hypocrites.  Some men’s sins, the Bible says, follow after them, but some don’t.  Time and truth go hand in hand, but sometimes hypocrisy is so well-managed that we never find out.  But just to let us know that this is of dire consequences in the life of the church, this is what Paul calls the leaven that leavens the whole lump.  The Lord exposes such a sin to make us aware of its presence, and shows us how He feels about it by executing in front of the whole church the two hypocrites.

By its nature, hypocrisy is hidden.  That’s what it is.  By its nature, it’s a disguise.  It’s a mask.  It’s a rouse.  It’s covered, but Scripture is very clear on the seriousness of religious hypocrisy, spiritual hypocrisy.  Our Lord’s most strong devastating malediction that ever came out of His lips, Matthew 23, was given against the hypocrisy of the leaders of Israel.  God hates hypocrisy, even in the early years of human history. 

Go way back to the patriarchal period and look at Job, for example, and his conversation with his friends because the issue of hypocrisy comes up a lot in the Book of Job.  Job is in the time of the Pentateuch, historically, very early in redemptive history.  In Job 8:13 we read, “The hope of the hypocrite shall perish.”  In Job 13:16 we read, “A hypocrite cannot stand before God.”  In Job 15:34 we read, “The company of hypocrites shall be barren.”  Job 20:5, “The joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment.”  So way back at the very beginning of redemptive history we find out that whatever hypocrites hope for, perishes.  They cannot stand before God.  Their lives are barren, and their joy is only for a moment. 

In the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 5 the apostle Paul warns those who he says, “Boast in appearance, but not in heart.”  Hypocrisy is unmasked by our Lord again and again.  I’m not going to take the time to delve into all of the things that He said about hypocrisy, but obviously just knowing Matthew chapter 23, and being familiar with that gives you a full idea of how He viewed hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is a corrupter, and it should be exposed, and it should be judged, listen, for the sake of the hypocrite and for the sake of the church.  It needs to be addressed.  So-called churches, so-called churches today welcome piles and piles of people who make a pretense of interest in Jesus Christ and never warn them about hypocrisy.  To be called a hypocrite, to be warned about a being a hypocrite is very offensive, very offensive.  But we have to do that for the sake of the hypocrite who needs to be exposed for his own sake and the sake of the church.  It needs to have the hypocrite exposed for its own health sake. 

But again, churches that are that direct and that concerned about hypocrisy and that targeted at genuine conversion, genuine sanctification, genuine godliness are not the norm today.  They’re just not.  The idea today is to make everybody feel comfortable and to welcome people who have a nominal or superficial interest in Jesus, but that’s not God’s attitude towards hypocrisy. 

His church is a gathering of truly redeemed people, and He is not eager to have hypocrites hiding in it.  That, in fact, is a work of Satan.  Jesus said, “An enemy sows tares among the wheat,” and the enemy is Satan who sows the hypocrites among the genuine.  This literally sucks the power out of the church, corrupts the unity of the church, devastates the testimony of the church, confusing the world.  Having superficially committed people in the church is not helpful.  They may feel good about it, but it doesn’t help the church.  It doesn’t help them, and it doesn’t advance the gospel effectively because it confuses people as to what a Christian really is, at least those who know the truth about those hypocrites.

So against that beautiful backdrop is the reality that Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 13 that when the wheat begins to grow, the enemy will sow tares and those are the hypocrites.  Here, we have a perfect illustration of the fulfillment of Matthew 13, Matthew 13.  This sin is a sin that needs to be recognized.  There are sins that are easy to recognize.  They are overt.  They are manifest.  They are experiential.  But what you can see is not nearly as dangerous as what you can’t see.  And this is the kind of thing that literally sucks the very power and testimony out of the church because, by design, it intends to be invisible.

Now, as we look at this account of this sin, we’ll just give you four little titles.  First of all, sinful pretense, sinful pretense.  “But a man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property and kept back some of the price for himself with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.” 

The little word “but” is there.  We know something is up.  Against this beautiful backdrop of verses 32 to 37, and you could even go back to verse 31.  They had all been filled with the Holy Spirit.  They were speaking the Word of God with boldness.  There was all this wonderful unity, one heart, one soul, all this love, sacrifice, giving, all this trust in the apostles.  Against the beauty of this background is the word “but,” “but.”  A word of failure, a sad word.  This is the word that signals evil.  Two members of that church, two of those believers, and they are professed believers, and I think it’s fair to say they are very likely believers because there don’t appear to be in this congregation folks whose faith is called into question.  Why do I say that?  Because they were all, all continuing in the apostles’ doctrine, prayers, fellowship, breaking of bread.  They were all, verse 31 of chapter 4, “Filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

So these wouldn’t be false Christians at this early point, but these would be hypocritical believers, hypocritical believers.  Two believers caught up in pride are the first hypocrites who are identified in the church.  Ananias’ name means “the Lord is gracious” and Sapphira’s name means “sapphire, beautiful, jewel.”  The deed is anything but gracious and anything but beautiful.  They are believers.  You say, “Well, wait a minute.  This kind of severe discipline against believers?”  Absolutely.  According to 1 Corinthians 11:30-32 there were actual true believers that God was killing at the Lord’s Table.  “Some of you are weak and some of you are sick, and some of you – ” what? “ – sleep.”  You’re dead because of how you desecrate the My table.  Some of you, some of you. 

“Among believers – ” 1 John 5:16, “ – there is a sin unto death.”  So this is that kind of situation.  You have sinning believers, and their sin is this hypocritical pretense that begins to unfold in verse 2.  This piece of property that they sell brings a certain price, but they kept back some of the price, both of them agreeing, and they brought only a portion of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 

Obviously, they had publicly declared they were going to give it all.  That was what others were doing.  That is what we see being illustrated.  For example, back in chapter 4, verse 34.  If there was someone who owned land or houses, they would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet.  Then there was Barnabas who did that, owned a tract of land, sold it, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.  Now, obviously, there’s gratitude.  There’s affection.  There’s love.  There’s honor.  There’s praise being heaped on the people making the sacrifice, and Ananias and Sapphira want to get in on this.  So they decide they’re going to sell a piece of property, and they make a public declaration that they’re going to give all the proceeds, that it’s all going to go for God, but this is a complete pretense.  They are like Pharisees, Matthew 6, “Doing their alms before men,” to be seen.

But nonetheless, they sell a piece of property, as the others had done.  They show up and they lay an amount of money at the apostles’ feet minus what they had kept back for themselves.  The sin is not that they didn’t give everything.  That’s not the sin.  You don’t have to give everything.  In fact, they weren’t commanded to give anything.  God didn’t command them to sell their house, sell their land.  God never demanded that.  The selling was voluntary.  The sin was not that they kept back some of the price, that they could sell the land if they wanted and keep some of the price.  They could sell the house and keep some of the price.  It’s not a sin.  It’s not a sin to keep it, not a sin to sell it and keep some of the price.  It is a sin to lie about it.  That’s the hypocrisy.  They had vowed to the Holy Spirit to give everything, and this was a pretense before the congregation and before the apostles while they were secretly holding back some of it.

The sin is not in the selling.  The sin is not in the keeping.  The sin is in the lying.  They committed a secret sin and, of course, secret sin on earth in open scandal in heaven because you can’t hide it.  They wanted spiritual status.  They wanted to be elevated.  They wanted to be exalted.  They wanted to be honored and appreciated as others who had done this.  They sought prestige.  They wanted to be thought of as great and godly and generous and sacrificial, but they weren’t willing to give up everything.  They just wanted to appear to be giving up everything. 

So they made a pretense of giving it all.  The lie was simply the vehicle that their greed used to gain their ends.  The sin is the sin of hypocrisy.  It’s a dirty sin.  It’s trying to create the impression you’re something you’re not.  You’re doing something you’re not, you’re giving something you’re not.  Thus, did Satan move from the outside persecution to the inside?  What did I tell you about persecution?  What did persecution do to the church?  Empowered the church, expanded the church.  The old saying, “The blood of the martyrs becomes the seed of the church is absolutely true.”  The more the church is persecuted, the more it flourishes.  We saw that.

So Satan was being counterproductive by persecuting the church.  He’ll do it again and he’s done it through history, but a persecuted church is a purified church, and a purified church is a powerful church and a growing church.  So Satan decides that his external work didn’t gain his end, so he goes inside the church to corrupt the church from the inside.  This sin, which God hates, is the sin of hypocrisy among believers, among believers. 

It’s not wrong not to give everything you have.  It’s not wrong to hang onto your property, to hang onto your house.  That’s a choice God allows you to make.  The Lord has given us richly all things to enjoy.  It’s just wrong to lie.  It’s wrong to create an imaginary image of yourself.  It’s wrong to be a hypocrite, and it also needs to be said that you’re lying to the Holy Spirit.  Verse 3, “Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?’”  Did you think you could fool the Holy Spirit?  This is so ugly in God’s eyes, so ugly.  To paint spiritual beauty where it doesn’t exist, to paint virtue where it doesn’t exist, but it happens in the church all the time. 

People say there’s hypocrisy in the church.  Of course there is, of course there is.  There always has been.  That’s the first sin that is recorded in the life of the church.  But you need to know God’s attitude toward that hypocrisy.  That’s why the story is here.  Yes, it’s in the church.  Yes, it’s in this church.  Yes, we’re all subject to putting on a mask of spirituality that’s not legitimate.  You just need to know God’s attitude towards hypocrisy in the church by the people of the church.  Sinning saints feigning holiness, feigning virtue, pretending godliness.  Very dishonoring to God.

So we see the sinful pretense in the first two verses.  Then we see the spiritual perception.  Spiritual perception comes quickly in verses 3 and 4.  “Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own?  And after it was sold, was it not under your control?  Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart?  You have not lied to men, but to God.’” 

Peter immediately saw the deception.  How?  How did he know that?  I don’t think he took a look at the books, their private accounting.  I don’t think he necessarily knew whoever did the transaction or brought the property or knew the price.  I think the Holy Spirit is at work here, and he was given the ability to discern this.  This is pretty bold on Peter’s part because everything is going really well.  Peter might have said, “You know, things are going so well.  The church is booming, people are being converted.  This is a glorious time.  There’s so much love and so much unity, and we did get a lot of money from Ananias and Sapphira.  Maybe I ought to just cool my heels here a little bit.  Why do I want to make an issue out of this?  It’s better that they sold the land and we got what we got.  After all, Ananias and Sapphira are some of the wealthier people in our congregation.  We need his shackles coming in to keep the work going, and he was generous, and we want to be appreciative.”  Those are not his thoughts.  Those are the thoughts of a rationalizing compromiser. 

Ananias comes to church, and he’s ready to receive honor from the apostles for the money that he places at the apostles’ feet in verse 2, and instead after he’s deposited his money, and assuming he’s still standing there, Peter says, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?”  Whoa!  Immediate spiritual perception, immediate. 

The whole church back in 4:31 was filled with the Spirit, but here the same word filled is being used of Ananias being filled with Satan.  I don’t know all the dynamics of this.  Literally, this man opened himself up to satanic influence.  I don’t believe that Christians can be demon-possessed in the sense that demons take up a permanent residence in them, but I believe they can be demon-influenced, Satan-influenced.  The apostle Paul says, “Don’t let Satan take an advantage of us.”  The apostle Paul say, “Put on the whole armor or God because we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against – ” what? “ – principalities and powers and the rulers of spiritual darkness and wickedness in the heavenly places.”

We’re in a battle with demonic forces.  They don’t live in us because we’re the temple of the Holy Spirit, but they have influence over us.  Because of the lie and the hypocrisy, they had given place to the devil.  They had given place to the devil.  It isn’t so much that they were money lovers.  They were.  It isn’t so much that they were greedy.  It isn’t so much that they were liars.  All of that is true.  They were really glory-seekers, and that’s so ugly.  Glory-seekers pollutes the church.  Just be honest.  Just be real. 

Do you not think the Holy Spirit knows?  You open yourself up to Satan’s influence.  That would be the last thing any true believer would want, right?  I mean we don’t want to open ourselves up to the influence of Satan.  That’s what hypocrisy does.  So we see the sinful pretense and the spiritual perception of the apostle who nails it while a man is still standing there just having put the money on the altar.  Thirdly, come swift punishment, very swift.  God moves fast to perform surgery. Cut out the hypocritical cancer from this beautiful creation, the body of Christ.  The judgment is swift.  The judgment is terminal. 

Peter says, “Look, you didn’t have to give it.  While it remained unsold, it was yours.  You didn’t have to give all of it.  Even after it was sold, it was under your control.  You could do what you want.  Why have you conceived this deed of lying that you’re giving it all when you’re not?  You have not lied to men, but to God.”  This is so corrupting in the church.  Hypocrisy, spiritual hypocrisy is so corrupting in the church that God’s action is shockingly swift.  “And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last.”  He died on the spot.  What an amazing moment in the church.

What killed him?  Well, you remember reading from the twelfth chapter of Acts how God struck another man, and he was eaten by worms and died who usurped undue glory to himself.  What killed Ananias?  We don’t have any clinical report.  We have no idea.  There’s an old record, kind of interesting in English history that says, “One day, Edward I,” the king who was a fierce guy, “blazed in such anger at the dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London that the man dropped dead on the spot of fear, under the sheer power of the verbal barrage from Edward I.”  I don’t know how true that is, but it is true that there can be literally such an overwhelming terror that grips the heart. 

Just imagine Ananias comes.  He’s all decked out.  Sapphira’s not there.  She needs three more hours to do her hair.  She doesn’t show up for three hours.  He’s there.  He’s ready for his big moment.  He walks up, lays down his money.  Peter says, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?  You blatant Satan-influenced liar,” in front of the whole church.  His conscience went into immediate tremors.  His heart surely began to beat fiercely as he was trapped in the horrors of his hypocrisy.

You could say he died of a ruptured heart, or you could say God killed him, but whatever happened, no doubt he was so literally terrified of that moment that he must have been horror-stricken.  When that killed him or God added to that, I don’t know.  He came up for glory and he was stunned at what faced him.  Burial, as you know from Lazarus, was immediate in Israel.  So the young men got up and covered him up.  They went up and put some kind of cloth on the dead man lying in the front of wherever they were meeting there, and carried him out and buried him.

Burial was immediate in Palestine, immediate.  No embalming.  We saw that, right?  Just to review that.  Burial was immediate.  The body begins to decay and rigor mortis sets in.  You know the whole process.  So the burial is right then.  That’s the perfect illustration of how the Jews dealt with dead bodies.  The young men take him out to wherever the appropriate place was, and they bury him.  This takes three hours.  There elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in not knowing what had happened.

As I’ve often said, this proves that church services should be at least three hours long and maybe even longer.  They should be at least long enough for people to fall out of the window, break their neck and die, be raised from the dead, come back, and hear the rest of the sermon as we’ll find out later in the Book of Acts with Eutychus.   

She comes to church, puffing up her hair.  All excited to get a little of the glory because by now it’s rippled through the crowd.  Everybody knows they’ve given the gift.  She’s coming in.  It’s all theater for her.  She walks in.  Peter responded to her.  “’Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?’  She said, ‘Yes, that was the price.’  Peter said to her, ‘Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?  Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they’ll carry you out as well.’  And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and carried her out and buried her beside her husband.”

Why would it take three hours to do that?  Because burials always had to take place outside the city because grave sites, caves, places of burial were never inside the city.  Notice the question in verse 9.  Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?  Are you trying to see if the Holy Spirit can spot hypocrisy?  Is that the test?  Is that what you’re doing?  Do you think you can deceive the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God?”

What folly.  What stupidity.  It wasn’t as if there was any question about the Holy Spirit being present.  This isn’t now where we don’t see manifestations of the Holy Spirit that are visual; but from the very beginning on the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of God came, there were visible manifestations of the Spirit’s power.  Languages were being spoken people didn’t know.  There was a loud noise like a mighty rushing wind.  There were tremors.  There were all kinds of phenomenon going on, and then there were miraculous signs and wonders being done at the hands of the apostles.  Miracles were flourishing in the early church, and it was very clear that the Holy Spirit was present and powerful.

The question says, “How ridiculous are you?  How stupid are you?  Do you not know that the Holy Spirit is present?  Do you think you need to give Him a test to see if He can spot a hypocrite?”  So she fell at his feet, Peter’s feet, just like her husband had fallen at Peter’s feet.  It all happens in the same spot.  Ananias comes, puts the money down, falls over dead.  Haul him out.  She comes to Peters, falls over dead.  They haul her out.  Right where the money was laid.  Ah, it’s just a stunning Sunday in an otherwise glorious beginning in the life of the church.

Somebody might look at this and say, “Well, this is the end.  I mean this is the end.  There’s no hope for that church.  People are going to run like mad.  They’re going to flee.”  I remember when I first came to Grace Church, I’d never heard of a church, never through all my years as a student, through all of the times that I grew up in my dad’s church and knew lots of churches and pastors.  Through all of my seminary days, I’d never heard of any church that did discipline like Matthew 18.

If a brother sins, go to him, confront him.  If he repents, you’ve gained your brother.  If he doesn’t, take two or three witnesses, confront him again.  If he repents, you’ve gained your brother.  If he doesn’t repent, tell the church, tell the whole church to go confront him.  If he still doesn’t repent, put him out and treat him like an outcast, a tax collector because you treat him like an unbeliever because he’s acting like an unbeliever.  Get him out because as 1 Corinthians 5 says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”  That’s the first instruction in the entire New Testament given to the church. 

It’s in Matthew chapter 18.  The church is first time mentioned in 16.  The first instruction to the church is to confront sin in the church.  I had never ever heard of a church that did that, never, no church.  Nobody suggested that in any course I had in seminary.  So I came here, and I’m looking at the Bible, and I’m saying, “Why don’t people do this because it’s clear?”  So I asked some older, wiser pastors.  I said, “Why don’t you do this?”  “Well, people will leave.  It will drive them out.  You can’t do that.  You can’t confront sin.  People will run.  You’ll frighten them away, and who are we to sit in judgment.” 

I would answer by saying, “But what do you do with the passage?  What do you do with this?  You just ignore it?”  So I was warned that if you do that, you’ll destroy your ministry and you’ll be out of there.  But really I was hoping to get better advice than that, so I did what the Bible said and guess what?  People didn’t run away.  They ran toward us, and they’re still running toward us because the Lord wants a pure church, and the Lord blesses a pure church.  True believers want a pure church, and the Lord adds to a pure church. 

This is the most critical lesson of church disciple in the Book of Acts because this is before anything is actually implemented and God does the whole thing.  This is 1 Peter 4:17, “Judgment must begin at the house of God.”  This is where judgment begins.  The Lord was saying, “I am dead serious about my church.  I’m not playing church.”  I’m dead serious about my church. 

That leaves the fourth principle, the sinful pretense followed by the spiritual perception of Peter led to swift punishment and that produced a solemn purging, a solemn purging.  The end of verse 5, “Great fear came over all who heard of it.”  Great fear.  Fear of whom?  Guess.  Fear of God, fear of God, great fear.  Verse 11, “Great fear came over the whole church and over all who heard these things.”  Twice, same thing.  Verse 5, second half, verse 11.  This is a holy terror, holy fear. 

The Lord is serious about the church.  What do we draw out of this?  God hates the sins of the saints.  They corrupt His church.  God hates hypocrisy.  God hates lying.  God punishes sin.  People died in the early church and people died at the Communion table.  There was a sin unto death.  Purity is critical to the church, and critical to the power of the church and the testimony of the church.  Now, we’re not perfect people, but we don’t want to hide hypocrites, and we don’t want to be hypocrites. 

I don’t know.  If you come up to me and you tell me, “Here’s who I am spiritually,” I’m going to have to take you at face value, but I don’t have any apostolic revelation.  I don’t have any insight.  I promise you I’m not going to judge you.  I don’t have any secret knowledge.  I have no more access to the mind of God than you do.  All I know about God is revealed to me in His Word.  Okay, I don’t have any secret knowledge, so I don’t want you to worry when you come up to me that I’ve got some kind of spiritual radar that’s seeing the real you.  I don’t have that.  I’d like to have it, but that would really be devastating.

I will take you at face value, but I will do this.  I will pray that God will reveal hypocrites.  I will pray that God will reveal hypocrites for their sake and for His church’s sake, and for the sake of the world that is watching us. 

Solemn purging, the Lord will do some of that.  The Lord will reveal some hypocrisy.  The Lord will uncover sin, and we have to be involved in that.  If your brother sins – what?  Go to him, take two or three witnesses, tell the church, pursue purity in the church.  Did it destroy the church?  No.  Verse 12, “At the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders were taking place among the people.”  Then parenthetically, we read this: “And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico.”  There they are back in that place that we saw Peter with them in chapter 3 and back in the very place in John 10. They’re all back in one accord.   

Somebody said this is where Hondas are first mentioned in the Bible, but that is not accurate.  If you don’t know what I mean by that, you’ll figure it out.  They were all in one accord.  It is a moan.  It’s worthy of a moan.  I understand, yeah. 

But I just want you to know that they all went back to the same unity that they had back in verse 32.  After the sin was dealt with, the corruption was removed, the hypocrites were dead; they were back to where they were before.  The signs and wonders take place.  They’re all unified again.  Verse 13, “But none of the rest dated to associate with them.”  Is that good?  That’s kind of contrary to church growth strategy isn’t it? 

The whole idea was that the Lord was designing a church that non-believers would not want to belong to.  I don’t know how to say that more clearly.  The Lord had designed a church that non-believers would not want to belong to because it’s so pursuing purity.  It’s a place of judgment on sin.  It’s a place of confrontation of sin that we all desire because we have holy affections and divine aspirations, and we want to honor the Christ we love and glorify Him.  But it can’t be a place where non-believers are comfortable.  None of the rest dared to associate with them.  They didn’t have a church growth strategy.  They didn’t have any model to follow.  The pastoral epistles hadn’t been written yet. 

God was designing the church His way and His way was to frighten non-believers as well as to frighten believers.  However, the people held them in high esteem.  Ah, now that does matter.  The people held them in high esteem.  They had immense respect for their purity and their morality and their virtue.  That’s what we want.  We want the world to see our unity.  We want the world to see our purity.  We want the world to see that we are a group of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who confess Him as Lord and Master, and we are His loving, devoted slaves.  He calls us to holiness, and we pursue that holiness.  We want heaven to come down in the church, and heaven is a place of holiness and purity.

So we want to confront sin and judge sin and remove sin and corruption and hypocrisy.  But at the same time, when the world looks at that, they don’t want to be a part of that because they don’t want the exposure.  Jesus clarified that in John 3 when He said, “Men don’t want to be exposed by the light.”  Okay?  So we understand that, but at the same time, they will respect our unity and our purity.  That’s the Lord’s design for a church, and it worked.  Verse 14, “All the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women were constantly added to their number.”  Who adds to the church?  Who does that?  The Lord.

So what do we think?  We’re going to do it by developing our own strategy.  Confronting sin, purifying the church will drive away and frighten those who love their sin.  It will make them uncomfortable, but it will attract those who hate sin, and that’s necessary to become a believer. 

This is so far away from the interest of the contemporary church of our day.  Uncalled, unfaithful pastors who try to build their churches on tolerance.  Tolerance for sin, making unbelievers feel welcome.  This is totally contrary to the very action of God Himself in the Book of Acts. 

Look at 2 Corinthians 12 for a minute.  I’ll wrap this up.  Verse 20, 2 Corinthians 12:20 Paul says, “I’m afraid that perhaps when I come – ” come back to Corinth, “ – I may find you to be not what I wish.  I may find you to be not what I wish.  Perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances.  I’m actually afraid – ” verse 21 “ – that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality, sensuality.” 

He says, “I’m afraid to come back to the church and find strife, jealousy, anger, disputes, slander, gossip, arrogance, disturbances, impurity, immorality, sensuality.”  That’s what I’m afraid of.  Verse 1 of chapter 13, “This is the third time I’m coming to you – ” and I’ll tell you this, “ – every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”  What does that mean?  When I get there, if I find this, I’m going to confront it, and I’m going to do what Matthew 18 says.  I’m going to speak, and if you don’t repent, I’m going to get two or three witnesses.  We’re going to do it by the book.  “I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well that if I come, I will not spare anyone.”

That’s a real pastor.  That’s a true shepherd.  I will not spare anyone.  I will do it by the book, by the plan that God has ordained.  So, verse 5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.  Examine yourselves or do you not recognize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail the test?”  You’d better take a look at your life.  You’d better examine whether you’re a true believer or not because when I come, it’s going to be a no-nonsense approach.  I’m going to be looking to see if any of those sins are there, and if they’re there, they’re going to be confronted, and I won’t spare anybody.  I don’t care who you are.

There’s an, “I don’t care who you are” in the Ananias story because they were wealthy, just the kind of people that leaders don’t want to offend.  This is the strategy for church growth and the church grew.  Back to the book of Acts.  “The Word of God – ” verse 7, chapter 6, “ – kept spreading; and the number of the disciples – ” chapter 6, verse 7, “ – continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem and even a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”  Chapter 8, “The crowds as one accord were given attention to what was said by Philip as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.  More crowds, more crowds.  This in the ministry of Philip. 

Chapter 9, verse 31, “The church throughout all Judea now and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up, going on in the fear of the Lord.”  There it is.  They were going on in the fear of the Lord, the kind of fear that gripped them on that very Sunday when Ananias and Sapphira were killed.  That fear of the Lord, “And as well in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.”  This is the biblical plan for church growth.  Chapter 11, “The hand of the Lord was with them – ” verse 21, “ – and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.”  A large number.  The end of verse 24, “Considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.” 

The church just exploding and exploding and exploding off this base of purity and unity, unity and purity.  The apostle gives us a summary I think that’s really helpful.  In 2 Corinthians 11, “I wish that you would bear with me – ” verse 1 “ – in a little foolishness.  Indeed, you are bearing with me for I am jealous for you with a godly jealously.  I betrothed you to one husband so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.”  He sees this church like a pure virgin that he has sought and found to give to Christ.  “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”  This is a real pastor.  This is a sanctifying shepherd who is concerned about the purity of his people.

You can read Revelation 2 and 3 on your own and you can read the letters to the churches, and you will notice how the Lord Himself says that when a church is impure, He may come and fight against that church with the sword out of His mouth.  Where there is an impure church, judgment is hanging like Damocles sword over its head, and the Judge will come.

This is a great message for every church in every age to know and to learn, and the motivation from this is that we would be unified in our pursuit of holiness and purity and confronting sin.  At the same time, generously and graciously forgiving others as we have been forgiven by Christ.  It’s a place of the confrontation of sin, forgiveness, grace, and restoration.  That’s for another message. 

Lord, we are grateful that we are not lost in any confusion about what you desire, what you require.  You made it crystal clear how important your holiness, your character is to be upheld by the church.  You were doing this in your church through your Spirit.  This sets the standard for us.  May we never be so brash as to lower that standard.  Keep us faithful.  Keep us one.  Keep us pure.  Keep us joyful we pray in Christ’s name.  Amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/44-20

Victory In Christ

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

by Godinterest

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

1 John 5:4

The Meaning of the Victory of God

We need to draw near to our Helper, the One who is infinite in wisdom, Jesus. He is our Minister and our great Medical Missionary, and He knows that trials through which His believers on this earth will pass. He has been tempted like we are tempted. Let us not forget that Christ Jesus had came face to face with Satan, and that when He met him, He, our Saviour, was bearing the likeness of humanity.

Jesus is our Restorer, the Perfecter of His covenant with the human agencies who depend upon Him as their Prince and their Redeemer.

Christ conquered as a sinless, unfallen, perfect Man. As the Messiah He has won the victory over the temptations of the enemy, making it possible for us to overcome as He overcame.

We are to overcome in every encounter with the enemy, Satan. We are to be victors by becoming partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Each victory that Jesus gained in His humanity makes it possible for us, through receiving and believing in Him, to gain the victory as well. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).

Each victory that He gained in humanity secures for us its genuine fruits. Each assault of Satan overcome marks the occasion of a victory for humanity as a-whole

The deliverance of the people of God and His mercies to them in past trials are to be called to mind as an assurance of that which, if we trust in God, He will do for us in present and future emergencies.

Whatever may have been our experience, if we people surrender to God with full purpose of heart, with humility and contrition, He will receive us. To all who by faith receive Christ as their personal Saviour, He will give power to become overcomers—sons and daughters of God. We will become partakers of the divine nature, and fully realize the father God’s mercy and the grace of His Holy Spirit.

Let our prayers ascend to God in all humility. Let us through the grace Christ came to the world to impart confess and forsake our sins, with humble, contrite hearts. The Lord understands, for all secret things are known to Him. Not one mean action can be performed without God understanding every phase of temptation.

Throughout the gospels, Christ made frequent reference to the great conflict that He had with Satan at the beginning of His ministry. He makes constant reference to Satan’s kingdom as opposed to the kingdom of God. Let us be sure that we are on the Lord’s side.

Bible Verses about Victory In Christ

Christians can have victory over sin when they are living for Christ, and there are many Scriptures which detail this topic.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Hebrews 7:25-27

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.

2 Corinthians 4:8

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;

Romans 8:14

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

John 8:36

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Luke 10:17-20

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Luke 1:47-49

And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Colossians 2:15

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Ephesians 3:6

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

John 6:50-71

This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. …

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Zechariah 4:6

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

Ephesians 6:17

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

Romans 8:23

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

https://godinterest.com/2019/09/09/victory-in-christ/

7 Inspiring Habits for Christians with Anxiety Disorders

Cortni Marrazzo
Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer Sept 12, 2019

7 Inspiring Habits for Christians with Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can be a hard topic to talk about in many churches and Christian circles. Some people equate chronic anxiety with a lack of faith and trust in God. However, many Christians who have a close relationship with God—and trust Him deeply—still experience high anxiety.

If you are someone who loves and trusts God, yet still regularly face anxiety, I want to encourage you that you are not alone. Hope is not lost. It’s possible to experience the freedom of Christ in your life, even when anxiety is persistently knocking at your door. I want to share with you, based on my experience with anxiety, seven habits for living well in the midst of struggling with anxiety:

1. Focus on the true freedom of Christ.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. – Romans 8:1-2

To experience true freedom in Christ, it helps to recognize what that freedom really entails. The freedom we have in Christ is freedom from condemnation and freedom from the separation from God. If you struggle with anxiety, it’s likely you face a lot of guilt and shame from not doing enough or not being enough (or both). While this guilt and shame can easily overwhelm you, it’s important to remember that this is not how God sees you.

Experiencing freedom in Christ doesn’t necessarily mean you will ever be free from all the symptoms of anxiety on this side of heaven, but you can be free from being in bondage to that anxiety. Despite how you may feel and what you physically experience, you can always stand on the truth of God’s word that promises that God never condemns you and that you are always loved and accepted by Him.

2. Keep coming to God for help with your anxious feelings.

Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help. – Hebrews 4:15-16

My own experience with anxiety has caused me to run to God a lot, because I find myself in desperate need of His peace to overcome anxious feelings. I used to try to numb my anxious thoughts with shopping, food, tv, social media…whatever I could do to temporarily drown it out. This was mostly because I felt shame about my struggles, and didn’t want to take it to God for fear of judgement.

I know in my mind that God doesn’t judge me in my weaknesses, but anxiety tries to convince you of things that aren’t true. Jesus was human and experienced anxiety Himself, so not only does He accept and love us no matter what, He can actually relate to our struggles! He was so anxious before dying on the cross that he actually sweated drops like blood (Luke 22:44).

When you are anxious, you are in need of God’s peace, and God tells you to come bravely to Him when you are in need. He promises that you will be treated with undeserved kindness and that He will help you.

Anxiety can cause us to feel ashamed when we are in need, but God actually created us to need Him!

back view of diverse group of adults linking arms around waists, walking forward together

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages

3. Embrace outside help in dealing with your anxiety.

Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. – Proverbs 11:14 MSG

It is very important to seek God’s help when struggling with anxiety, and sometimes part of that help may come from outside sources like a professional counselor. When my son was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, I found myself struggling with my own anxiety in trying to navigate how to help my son.

I sought out a Christian counselor who has since helped point me back to God’s Word, while also equipping me with tools and actions to help me physically train my brain to do what God had actually made it to do.

Counselors are trained in methods of dealing with anxiety that make changes at a physical level. They can teach us how we can help our brain recover from the fight or flight reactions that kick into overdrive when anxiety shows up.

Healthy habits like journaling, deep breathing, practicing mindfulness, and many others have personally helped (and continue to help) me when I struggle to get past anxious thoughts and feelings in my life.

4. Take care of your body.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Exercise and diet are huge factors in helping anxiety. Running is something that has personally helped me immensely. I actually didn’t realize just how much until recently when my running partner went on vacation and I took a week off from running and found that I struggled with a lot more anxiety that week than I did when I was regularly running.

For me, when I run or do some other form of exercise consistently, it helps me eat less junk and eat more nutrient-dense foods. Exercise and nutrition have a big impact on your brain and can contribute to the levels of anxiety you experience in your day to day life.

5. Follow God’s leading on how best to tend to your unique anxiety needs.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” – Psalm 32:8

There is a wealth of information out there and a lot of people advising those struggling with anxiety. While research, knowledge, and advice are valuable, it’s important to listen to what God is specifically telling you to do. 

Prescription medicines for anxiety disorders can be a controversial choice for some people, but I believe each person should follow God’s leading on this decision. Because an anxiety disorder is a medical diagnosis that stems from the way your brain is wired—and can be genetic—it is highly possible that you may benefit from a medication to help you. This is especially applicable if you’ve found that counseling, diet, exercise, and even prayer just don’t seem to be relieving your anxiety.

If you feel like you could possibly benefit from the help of medication, pray for God’s guidance in this matter, and don’t let fear stop you from at least talking to a counselor and/or your doctor about your options. God may lead to you this resource as a way to help you.

There have been a few times in my life where I’ve taken medication to help me through some particularly rough seasons. Before making that decision, I prayed about it and when I sensed His peace about it, I continued to trust that God would help the medication work in my brain.

I continued to seek God and use other strategies to help myself while taking medication, but I believe God used the medication to help me quiet my brain down enough to make those positive choices every day. More importantly, it helped me connect with Him on a daily basis. My hope wasn’t in the medication, but my hope was in God using it for good in my life.

a woman with her eyes closed and a grateful expression

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages

6. Give yourself grace when you feel anxiety.

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. – Colossians 1:22

One of the worst things about anxiety is the guilt and shame that often accompany it. It’s easy to blame yourself for how you feel or feel guilty about it, yet experiencing anxiety about your anxiety is very easy to slip into. Have you ever struggled with any of these thoughts?

“If I trusted God enough, I wouldn’t be anxious.”

“Why do I keep struggling with this?”

“I’m just not good enough to get past this.”

Anxiety isn’t something anyone chooses, but it is something many struggle with. There are many different reasons someone may experience more anxiety than the next person: genetics, how your brain is wired, previous trauma, perfectionism, and many others.

The point is, it’s not your fault. You are not less than others, or less than God wants you to be because you struggle with this.

You are human and your struggle is part of your humanity.

7. See the good in your struggle with anxiety.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Even though we don’t know for sure what Paul’s particular thorn was, we know it was something he struggled with. I don’t know about you, but anxiety sure feels like a thorn in the flesh to me because it’s definitely a struggle! But when I struggle, I run to God because I know He is the only one who can ultimately help me. This keeps me coming to God a lot, and as a result, I am growing closer to Him and growing in my faith.

Dealing with anxiety isn’t easy or fun, but it keeps you aware of your need for God and helps you continue to see just how much His power works through your weaknesses. And when you experience God and His strength more powerfully, you are able to share your experiences with and encourage others who are also struggling.

Truth is, even when you have to consistently face the monster of anxiety, you can still freely live out the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave: to love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)


Cortni Marrazzo is the Communication Director at ONE* Church in Spokane, WA.  She and her husband Jason have two elementary-age sons, one of which has special needs. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. You can contact her at Cortni.Marrazzo@gmail.com or on her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CortniMarrazzo)

https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/depression-suicide/inspiring-habits-for-christians-with-anxiety-disorders.html