When Christianity is Threatened

Do you ever feel like the odds are against Christians?  Or that we’re being ganged up on?  It seems like any view or practice can be promoted except biblical ones.  How long will preachers be able to share the Truth freely?  Will there come a day when the gospel is threatened, perhaps banned?  If so, it won’t be the first time.

God has given us a game plan and that comforts me.  Today’s post is one that we must share with our children, our Bible classes, our friends, and our youth groups.  It will bolster our courage.  It will help us get ready for whatever comes.

Text:  Acts 4

The setting:  Peter and John had been preaching about Jesus.  Some influential people were “greatly disturbed” enough to put them in custody.  Then, in front of a large crowd, the two outspoken Christians were put on the spot.  They were asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”  I can envision Peter lifting his chin and raising his voice as he named Jesus Christ and said, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved!”  That was all it took.  Let’s see what we can learn from the dramatic events that unfolded.

The Catalyst (v. 13,14)

  • -The people “saw the boldness” of Christians (v. 13).
  • -The people “realized that they had been with Jesus” (v. 13).
  • -The people “could say nothing against it” (v. 14).

The Reaction (v. 17-21)

  • -The influential people planned. “Let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”  Their goal was to make sure that the name of Jesus would “spread no further among the people” (v. 17).
  • -The people “commanded [the Christians] not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (v. 18).
  • -The people “further threatened them” (v. 21).

The Solution (v. 19-31)

  • -Determine to listen to God instead of the people (v. 19).
  • -Keep speaking (v. 20).
  • -Glorify God (v. 21).
  • -Talk to God as a united group (v. 24).
  • -PRAY.  Ask God for continued boldness to speak His Word in light of threats (v. 29, 31).
  • -Then ACT by speaking the word of God with all boldness (v. 31).

The Outcome (v. 32-37)

  • -The Christians were united (v. 32).
  • -They had “great power” and “great grace” (v. 33).
  • -The Christians took care of each other (v. 34, 35).
  • -It spurred other Christians to act (v. 37).

When the Christians were threatened, they must’ve been intimidated.  Surely they felt fear. But instead of simply lamenting the fact that those in authority were anti-Jesus, they turned to God, prayed for boldness, and then continued to speak up for Christ.  May Christians today do the same!

“Why did the nations rage,

and the people plot vain things?

The kings of the earth took their stand, 

and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord

and against His Christ.”

(Acts 4:25,26)

Image credit:  Michael Hite

Image credit: Michael Hite

Pretty Side Up

Most of my tablecloths have a pretty side and a not so pretty side.  If I sit down to eat with my family and notice that I put the tablecloth on wrong side up, I think, “Oops.  Oh well, it’s just my family.”  I’m a lot more careful when we have guests.  I make sure they only see the pretty side.  Shame on me.  Of course I’m not really talking about tablecloths.  I’m talking about those times when I act prettier for others than I do for my own dear family.

Shame on me when I snap in irritation at my husband or children.  I would never dream of snapping at a neighbor or church member lest they think I’m unpleasant to be around.

Shame on me when I make my impatience obvious to my family but with everyone else I cover it up with a smile.

Shame on me when I use harsher words with my family to make a point but choose my words more carefully and tenderly with friends.

Shame on me when I roll my eyes when my husband asks me to do something for him but act all eager to please when others do the same.

My family deserves my prettier side.  I do have one and I know how to display it when I think it matters.  Why would I rob the ones who matter most of sweetness but go to great lengths to brighten up for everyone else?   I prove my love for my family when I care enough to give them the best side of me.

Prayer for Today:  May I daily cherish my family, Lord, by showing them the same grace and honor I extend to others.

 

A Nagging Woman is in the House

“Hen-pecked” is great imagery because it’s easy to picture that sharp-beaked chicken peck, peck, pecking an innocent bystander.  The Bible minces no words when describing the nagging woman.  No one wants to be around her (Prov. 21:9) and she is as annoying as a continual drip on a rainy day (Prov. 27:15).

Godly wives try to avoid nagging.  We don’t want to make our husbands miserable and we know God expects us to respect and honor them (Eph. 5:33).  But I don’t think the home is the only place where nagging women can be found.  Nagging involves persistent fault-finding, criticizing, grumbling, and harassing.  If we’re not careful, we can become the constant dripping in the church.  The shrew on the pew:

  • Watches members with a critical eye.  You can see her lift her eyebrows when she spies a teen with an odd hairstyle or a youth minister laughing too loudly.
  • Knows what’s best for everyone.  She tsk-tsks at the antics of young couples or the decisions made by the elders.  She doubts most people really know what they’re doing.
  • Stirs up trouble.  She can’t seem to help dropping a whispered word here and there questioning the character of unsuspecting brothers and sisters.
  • Is never satisfied.  In her mind, no one calls enough, visits enough, or cares enough.
  • Doubts the sincerity of others.  When others offer a kind word or gesture, she questions their motives or assumes they’re only duty-driven.

Harpies in the house of the Lord create an unwelcome, harsh environment.  Women truly play a big role in the overall tone of the church.  Am I compassionate and encouraging?  Or am I quick to peck God’s family to death?

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for women who demonstrate Your love to all the saints.

 

Perhaps the Most Important Thing We Must Teach Our Children

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the knowledge that Neal and I are responsible for the three precious souls with which God has blessed us.  Their physical care, their emotional well-being, and their spiritual training are daily being molded by our guidance and example.  Even after 20 years of parenting, I still shake my head with the sheer import of that truth.  But really, I think there is one significant thing that our children must know, must believe, must do in order to be set for life and for eternal life.  They must always turn to the Word of God.  No matter where my children end up or what circumstances they find themselves facing, I pray their knee-jerk reaction will be to open the Bible.  Here are a few reasons why I think dependence on the Bible is the most important thing to instill in our children:

  • The Bible, and only the Bible, gives them the plan of salvation.  It ultimately doesn’t matter what any professor, religious leader, parent or grandparent says…God is the only One who does the saving and so He is the only One who gets to tell us how that happens.  And He has done that for us in His Word (Mark 16:16).  The Bible teaches our children how to have a relationship with God, how to pray, how to be a genuine Christian (Matt. 7:21).
  • The Bible provides answers for their questions.  Where did we come from?  Why are we here?  What is our purpose?  Lots of people have lots of interesting ideas about these areas, but our Creator knows us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 33:13-15).  Any who seek answers to life’s questions will be satisfied if they turn to the Bible  (2 Peter 1:3).
  • The Bible helps them weather the storms.  My children may one day face job loss, health problems, disappointments, powerful temptations, painful experiences, or marital strife.  They will probably receive advice from well-meaning friends and loved ones or professionals, but only the Bible will enable them to survive.  It will comfort them when distraught (Psalm 119:107), arm them for spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10ff), and help them remain faithful till death (Heb. 10:23).
  • The Bible determines what is right and what is wrong.  Doesn’t that seem like an especially huge deal right now with social media, news anchors, outspoken celebrities and politicians all telling us what to believe and what to accept?  Many people are embracing their feelings as their guide instead of what’s right and logical.  If our children hear such convincing messages often enough from multiple avenues, they might question how so many could be so wrong.  The Bible will warn our children about that (Matt. 7:13,14).  If our children know to turn a deaf ear to the world and listen only to God, they will be able to discern the difference between Satan’s lies and God’s Truth (John 8:31,32).

Truly, there are many other reasons why it is so important for our children to feel dependent on the Bible.  Job success, physical health, and becoming an upstanding citizen are all good and important.  But the single most important thing I desire for my children is that they go to Heaven.  How can we teach them to rely on the Bible?  They must see us always turning to God’s Word in every situation.  They must hear us answer their questions with, “Let’s see what the Bible says about that.”  They must experience for themselves the genuine faith that comes from daily Bible study (Rom. 10:17).  And after it’s all said and done, and they face Christ on their own, they will be judged by His Word.

He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

Prayer for Today:  Lord, I beg You, help me instill complete trust in Your Word in the hearts of my children.

*This post can also be found at:  http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2014/04/special-news-and-wise-woman-linkup.html