The holistic ministry of His church – Acts 04:07

Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

What were the leaders referring to, when they questioned Peter and John?

There were three items on the agenda.  One was the healing of the lame man, the second was the teaching and preaching in the name of Jesus, and the third, many people had come to faith in Jesus. 

These three matters are to be kept in mind as we fulfil our task as His church here on earth. 

One side of the ministry of His church is to meet the people’s physical, mental, social, and economic needs. Acts 3:6-7 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (7) And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

The second side is to present Christ to people and for people to repent and submit to the lordship of Christ, by faith in Him. Acts 3:19-20 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, (20) and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, / Acts 3:25-26 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ (26) To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

The third side of the ministry of His church is to work with those who receive Jesus as their Lord.  This is the discipleship function of His church.  Acts 4:4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

These three sides of the ministry of His church are inseparable.  This was how the Lord did His ministry. 

Jesus explained His ministry to John the Baptist. Matthew11:4-6 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: (5) The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. (6) And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

This holistic ministry of our Lord is the Gospel of His kingdom.  Luke 4:40-44 When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. (41) And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ. (42) Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; (43) but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” (44) And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee. 

Sadly, we have confused ourselves by separating these three aspects of the ministry of His church and we have given emphasis on one side over the other. 

Do we not see oppression, corruption, injustice, lying and cheating? As the church will we only ask people to repent of their sins and surrender their lives to Christ?  As we do so, are we not also building and equipping the body of Christ to be conformed to Christ, who is our head?  Are we not bringing people and nations into the kingdom of Jesus, as Jesus had done?

Ephesians 4:11-13 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (12) for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, (13) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

It was for this holistic ministry that they had done that Peter and John were being questioned. 

We must ensure that our ministry is holistic.  When we are questioned, for the ministry that we do, we must consider their questioning as a beautiful opportunity for the growth of the Gospel.

Let us, with great joy, fulfil the ministry to which the Lord has called His church.  If we are questioned and persecuted for the work that we do, let us not be discouraged, for so they did to those who have gone ahead of us.

The elect will be saved – Acts 04:07

Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

We will now, consider this matter of authority about which the leaders of this world are deeply anxious. 

In Acts chapter 4, we see that the leaders commanded the disciples not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. This was a total ban on taking the name of Jesus.  Acts 4:18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

In Acts chapter five, the command not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus was reiterated with greater intensity. Acts 5:28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

In between Acts chapters four and five, did the teaching and preaching in the name of Jesus, stop?  No, it did not.  The disciples decided to clearly and openly disobey the command placed on them.

After imprisoning and beating the Apostles they were once again threatened with further punishment and told not to speak in the name of Jesus.  Acts 5:40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

What began with the early church, has continued across cultures over centuries and has become even shriller and harsher by the day.  Has all the authorities of different nations and governments and all their commands and edicts, over time, been able to stop the teaching and preaching of the name of Jesus?

Authority is all about the power and position to rule over people.  John 11:47-48 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. (48) If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”

This remark made by the leaders gives us an insight into the heart of man.  We want people to have a good opinion of us.  We, therefore, seek to gain the favour of people.  Man also wants position and the power that flows from the position over people.  This is deep inside every man. 

The Lord taught His disciples how to deal with this issue of authority.  Luke 22:25-26 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ (26) But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.

The Lord taught us not to be worried about winning the favour of people or seeking for position and power that comes with the position.  The method to counter this itch for authority is by becoming a servant.  The Lord served His disciples and demonstrated that we too must each serve our respective communities.   

Leaders desire to create an impression on their people.  Matthew 6:1-2 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. (2) Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

Whereas, the Lord taught us to do our good deeds in secret.  Matthew 6:3-4 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (4) that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

Jesus demonstrated this life of meekness, which is not weakness. He called us as His church to be meek and thereby inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

Jesus was a serious threat to the leaders since He was deflating their ultimate goal in life.  Jesus, therefore, had to be eliminated.  The leaders were able to take Jesus to the cross, and have Him killed and buried.  This was in their power to execute.  They were even worried about His resurrection and so they did what they could to prevent even a notion of His resurrection to spread. 

Yet, the Lord rose from the dead. The disciples, who earlier were so full of fear, were now bold and were not afraid to teach and preach in the name of Jesus. 

As we face fierce opposition to the name of Jesus, let us be encouraged that we are part of history. Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. (12) Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Let us be assured that whatever the courts or governments may command, the name of Jesus will be taught and preached and the elect will be saved.

Our authority – Acts 04:07

Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

Authority is a big and fundamental issue.  A person who knows his authority will also know his identity, and his purpose and consequently will be secure. 

This was the same question that the leaders asked Jesus.  Matthew 21:23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”

Since the leaders questioned the authority of Jesus, they did not believe in Him and since they did not believe in Him, they remained in death. John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

The Jews questioned the authority of Jesus in cleansing the temple, by asking Him for a sign.  John 2:18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”

If Jesus were to have obliged them with a sign, then they could confine Jesus to being a miracle worker and would consider His cleansing of the temple as only an aberration.  Whereas, if He was the Messiah, then they would need to surrender and submit to Him. 

The world does not want to submit to the lordship of Christ.  Therefore, they question our authority to teach and preach in the name of Jesus. 

Whereas, the Lord has given us His authority to teach and preach Jesus, to the people of the world and bring them to faith in Jesus. Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (19) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Man was given authority to have dominion and rule over all of God’s creation in the image of God. Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

When we sinned against God, we came under the control of the devil to do his will.  II Timothy 2:25-26 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, (26) and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

The devil tempted Jesus, to acknowledge that he, the devil, had the authority over all the earth, by bowing to him. Jesus refused.  Luke 4:5-8 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. (6) And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. (7) Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours*.” (8) And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE.’ “

The devil was never given authority over God’s creation.  It is to man that authority was given, in creation, and to His church under the New Covenant.  Romans 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

We were prisoners of the devil but Jesus delivered us. Hebrews 2:14-15 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Not only has Jesus delivered us from the clutches of the devil, but He has also put the devil to open shame. Colossians 2:14-15 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (15) Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

The Lord has raised His church to be the ones who have authority over the evil one and bring about the wisdom of God. Ephesians 3:9-11 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; (10) to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, (11) according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,

When we are questioned by our leaders, we must know our authority.

Let us be strong in the Lord – Acts 04:05-07

Acts 4:5-7 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, (6) as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. (7) And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

The next day, a great amount of activity took place to put an end to the teaching and preaching of the Apostles.  A galaxy of leaders was brought together in a very quick time.  The then entire leadership body of the Jews was brought together.  This was not easy.  This tells us that the leaders of the Jews were serious to put a stop to the work of His Gospel and His church. 

We have already said that the state and ‘church’, in the Jewish dispensation, were inseparable.  As we take a close look at the list of leaders, who gathered to crush the work of His disciples, we see that none of the groups within the Jewish community was left out.  All these leaders saw the ministry of the early church, as a threat that must be squashed.

Is this not familiar to us, in our present context too?  Every group, that has its own portfolios and differences have congregated to stamp out His church. 

Micah 2:1 Woe to those who devise iniquity, And work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, Because it is in the power of their hand. 

God is angry with those who trouble His church.  II Thessalonians 1:5-10 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; (6) since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, (7) and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, (8) in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (10) when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

The Bible tells us that it is a reality that the nations will rage against His church.  The kings of the earth set themselves and they counsel together against the Lord and against His anointed.  Psalms 2:1-6 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? (2) The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, (3) “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” (4) He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision. (5) Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: (6) “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.”

When even the smallest group of Christ’s disciples, is attacked by those who are furious against His church, they are attacking Christ, who lives and reigns forever.

Acts 22:4-8 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, (5) as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished. (6) “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. (7) And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ (8) So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’

As the early church prayed, they brought all of these matters into focus.  Their prayer was not a survival prayer rather it was a prayer that came from a place of strength and power. 

Acts 4:25-30 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘WHY DID THE NATIONS RAGE, AND THE PEOPLE PLOT VAIN THINGS? (26) THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.’ (27) “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together (28) to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. (29) Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, (30) by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

Let us be strong in the Lord.

Tribulations permitted by God for the growth of the Gospel – Acts 04:04

Acts 4:4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand._*

The leaders of the temple came and arrested Peter and John. They were arrested because they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. We have already seen that what Peter and John taught was what the prophets had said. This was the heritage of the Jews.    

Though their arrest, seemed to be against God, we see that the Gospel was not restricted. 

Apostle Paul says that all that happened to him, referring to his imprisonment, had actually turned out for the furtherance of the Gospel. Philippians 1:12-14 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, (13) so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; (14) and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

What we see happening currently, as we enter 2023, is precisely a repetition of all that happened with the early church. We must take heart. The Lord is permitting these violent attacks against His church and His Gospel to take place, for they actually result in the growth of the Gospel.

We must, therefore, not be ashamed of the Gospel or be apologetic before those who oppose the Gospel. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

We see here that about 5000 people came to faith in Jesus. These were the elect of God, whom God had chosen. As His church, we are responsible for those who are the elect of God in every context. We do not know who they are but as we present Jesus, as Lord and King, the elect will be saved.  

Apostle Paul was sure of one thing in his life, which was chains and tribulations. Chains and tribulations did not bother him in any way. This is how it ought to be for us as His church in the 21st century. Acts 20:23-24 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. (24) But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul did not count his life dear to himself. As His church, we are still operating in the safety and security mode, in our relationship with God. We are praying for the Lord to protect us and save us from those who treat us violently. This is understandable as this was how the early church too measured their situation. 

Yet, the apostles, set the pace for the church that the focus ought to be on the growth of the Gospel, not for our safety. II Timothy 2:9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. ‘The word of God not being chained’, was the focus of Paul.  

Even his imprisonment, Paul saw as being arranged by God for the fulfilment of the ministry that the Lord had entrusted to him, which was to minister to the Gentiles. Ephesians 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—

So, friends, let us take heart that God is in control and we must be faithful to Him.  

Paul did ask for the church to pray for him, while he was in chains. As we look at his prayer request, we see that he is not asking the church to pray for his early release but that utterance may be given to him, to make known the mysteries of the Gospel with boldness. Ephesians 6:19-20 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, (20) for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

This was how the church prayed, while they were being mistreated. Acts 4:29-31 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, (30) by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” (31) And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Will we as His church, enter 2023 asking the Lord to give us boldness to face the hardship that awaits us, knowing that these are permitted by God for the extension of the Gospel?

Commitment to walk by faith – Acts 04:01-03

Acts 4:1-3 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, (2) being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. (3) And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.

We just concluded the study of the powerful message of Peter and John to a Jewish audience.  This was a wake-up call for the Jews.  This message had deep applications for them as a people and as a nation. Let us always keep in mind that under the Jewish dispensation, “church” and state were identical. No one could be a member of one without also being a member of the other.

The message of Peter and John was a spiritual message calling for repentance, return and restoration with God.  At the same time, it was also a political message for the nation.  God calls us to be both kings and priests. 

Considering the significance of the message, the leaders should have been glad that they were now warned and that people were turning to God.  Instead, they were indignant and arrested Peter and John, placing them in custody.

This is a phenomenon that has existed from the very beginning of time when Cain killed Abel.  What is the root of this reality?  It is the problem of faith. This is what the Lord warned His disciples against.  Matthew 16:11 How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?— but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.“_

What is the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees?  The Lord reprimanded His disciples for their lack of faith. It was this matter of lack of faith that Jesus referred to as the leaven of Pharisees and Sadducees.  Matthew 16:8 But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? The sin of unbelief is the leaven of the leaders.

The Lord was put to death on the cross by the leaders because of their unbelief.  Matthew 26:3-4 Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, (4) and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him.

Throughout His teaching, the Lord had prepared His disciples that the leaders would do them much harm, because of their unbelief.  Matthew 10:16-17 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (17) But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.

He had prayed for them, as He sent them into the world.  John 17:15-18 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. (16) They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (17) Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (18) As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

The Lord Jesus is praying for us that we will remain true to our faith in Him.

Apostle Paul, before his conversion and as a leader of the Jews, did much harm to the church of Jesus Christ. Paul, who was Saul, had not yet come to faith in Jesus.  Acts 8:3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

Paul and his co-workers were hauled before the leaders, several times.  On each of these occasions, they testified to Christ and to His resurrection from the dead.  Acts 24:14-15 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. (15) I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.

The Lord had also told us that on these occasions when we as His disciples are dragged before the leaders, the Holy Spirit will give us the words to testify to Christ.  Luke 21:12-15 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. (13) But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. (14) Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; (15) for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.

Let us be prepared that in 2023, we can expect that we as His church will be pulled up before leaders because of their unbelief.  Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

Let us continue in the faith.

Giving glory to Jesus

Acts 4:21-22 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. (22) For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

The people were glorifying God for what had happened.  The Lord used His disciples and through them, a miraculous work had taken place.  It resulted in the people giving glory to God.

Giving glory to God is acknowledging God, which leads to submission to Him.  This is what the devil does not want to happen. 

In all that we do as His church, our focus is to give God glory.  When we give God the glory, we are going against the devil.  When we resist the devil, he must flee.  James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Submission to God, glorifying Him is the place where we tell the devil that he has no authority to rule.  We are resisting him. 

Our battle is in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Jesus has been glorified because this is the place where the ruler of this world is cast out.  John 12:31-32 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. (32) And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

This position of Jesus and its cascading effect is given to His church.  Jesus has been raised from the dead to be above every rule and authority. I Peter 3:22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him._*

We, as His church, must know that we stand with Jesus, basking in His authority over all the rulers of darkness. When we give glory to God, the devil trembles and he must vacate that place. 

Ephesians 1:21-23 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (22) And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, (23) which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

As His church, we have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and we have been moved to the kingdom of the light of Jesus.  Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

The Lord is taking the fight into the enemy camp to chase out the devil in territories that he is occupying by deception.  This task has been given to His church as we give Jesus the glory. Ephesians 3:10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,

We must therefore glorify God all the time for this is the spiritual battle against the enemy.  It is in God’s glory that we rest. I Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

The ministry that we do must bring glory to God. I Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

We must glorify God in our body and in our spirit which is God’s.  I Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (20) For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

We as His church, in oneness, must participate with Jesus in His glory.  John 17:22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:

The Lord longs to share His glory with His church.  In doing so we are lifting Jesus and the devil will have to flee.  Jesus is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think so that He may be glorified in His church.  Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, (21) to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

May we as His church glorify God.  The devil will flee.

Do not give the devil a foothold

Acts 4:21-22 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. (22) For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

Though the leaders threatened, beat, imprisoned, and punished the disciples, they could go no further, because of the people.  The people were glorifying God for the miraculous healing that had taken place.

This was what took place with Jesus, repeatedly. Matthew 21:46 But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.  This was the reason why they arrested Jesus stealthily, and tried Him in the early hours when most people would be asleep. 

As the Gospel is shared and miraculous signs and wonders take place, it results in a people movement.  Large numbers of people are drawn to Christ and they worship God. 

The healing of blind Bartimaeus caused the people to give praise to God. Luke 18:42-43 Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” (43) And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

We see this taking place again and again.  Matthew 9:32-33 As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. (33) And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!”

Great multitudes came to Jesus and they glorified the God of Israel. Matthew 15:30-31 Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them. (31) So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

What was the Lord doing?  He was drawing people to Himself.  He came to seek and save the lost.  He saw people in their true state of weariness and confusion. The Lord desires that people will turn to Him and find rest for their souls. 

Matthew 9:35-38 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (36) But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (37) Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. (38) Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

This is what happened with Jesus and now was beginning to happen through His disciples.  The leaders did not want this to take place and so they were threatening, beating, and imprisoning the disciples so that a ‘people movement’ toward Jesus should not take place. 

What took place then is what is happening today.  The leaders of our world, do not want people to turn to Christ and find peace, joy, and fulfilment in life.  Isn’t this strange?

The world talks of giving people a good life but when Christ gives man, the fullness of life, we see such strong resistance from the leaders.  Luke 19:47-48 And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, (48) and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.

Why do leaders want to destroy what is good for everyone?  This is because the god of this age has blinded their minds.  II Corinthians 4:3-4 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, (4) whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

The Lord did not spare the leaders but He came down heavily on them.  Matthew 23:33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? How did the devil have such a grip on leaders?  It is because they gave a foothold to the devil and he has come in and taken control of their lives. John 12:43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

When we give room to ourselves or the appetites of the flesh then the devil will take control of us and he will cause us to go against the things of God.  Let us ensure not to give a foothold to the devil in any area of our lives.  Let us be yielded fully to the Lord for Him to have complete authority over us.

Sharing Jesus unequivocally to the world

Acts 4:21-22 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. (22) For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed._

The Apostles were threatened, beaten, and imprisoned for speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus.  Acts 5:40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

All of these trying encounters are the norm for a child of God, who is witnessing Christ.  This is what our Lord told us would happen in the end times.  Mark 13:9 “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them.

Since this is to be expected at the end of the age, we must also be warned of deception during these times. Mark 13:5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you.

The deception will be that we will be saved from these threats, beatings, and imprisonments.  Matthew 10:17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. (18) You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.

The Lord is permitting these experiences to His church because the Lord is causing us to be His witnesses to the nations.  The task of being His witness was given to His church as His commission.  

Luke 24:46-49 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, (47) and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (48) And you are witnesses of these things. (49) Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

When His church becomes lackadaisical and lukewarm, the Lord will allow these difficulties to take place in order that the message of Jesus be given to the nations and those who are His elect will be saved. II Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

The Lord desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  I Timothy 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, (4) who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  God does not want anyone to perish. II Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Though the message of Jesus is ringing out across the earth, we know that many will still reject the love of God. Romans 1:18-19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (19) because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

Persecution against His church is on the rise, worldwide.  The Lord will hear the prayer of His elect and He will avenge but the Lord wants us as His people to continue in faith till the very end and not be troubled by these trials that we go through.  Luke 18:7-8 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? (8) I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?

The Lord is building us up in the faith through these trials.  I Peter 1:6-9 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, (7) that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (8) whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, (9) receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls._*

Knowing all these things, let us not be dismayed but be more determined, in Christ, to share the message of Jesus unequivocally with the world.–JWooWxbQ6TdUGqhAAH6yoP8n1j5/view?usp=share_link