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Challenges, Struggles, Solutions, Priorities, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
April 22, 2022 7:05 am

Challenges, Struggles, Solutions, Priorities, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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April 22, 2022 7:05 am

The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal

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Today from Chuck Swindoll. We're the big deal on earth thinking we operate in our own way when we forget that there is a sovereign God who hovers over our times. You have nothing to fear serving your sovereign God.

He never slumbers or sleeps. He is our master, our creator God. Chuck Swindoll invites us to follow along in the book of Acts.

As we look at the infancy of the early church, we'll discover the factors that contribute to a healthy church in our generation. And we begin with prayer. You are our king of heaven, and without your vision we have none.

Without your son, we have no hope. Without your forgiveness, we have no relief. And Lord, life lived without hope and without relief is a futile and miserable way to exist.

So our souls praise you, king of heaven, and we lift our hearts to you. Some hurt so deeply they can hardly sing. Their mind can hardly focus. Some come today with burdens so heavy they cannot get free of them. I pray that you will very graciously relieve them of that heaviness, that sense of depression and discouragement. Watch over those whose arms ache for their loved ones wearing our uniform. Oh God, hold him close to you. Protect him. Protect us from terrorism. Protect us from the adversary who would love to weaken and disrupt the ministry. Steal the joy of our lives. Father, we are yours and therefore the gifts we give are not really our gifts. They are gifts for you, provided by your grace. And we thank you for the privilege of giving, the pleasure of praying to you. We do both in the name of Jesus our Savior. And everyone said amen. You're listening to Insight for Living.

To search the scriptures with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insightworld.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck called challenges, struggles, solutions, priorities. When the church is doing what it has been called to do, we will become the most attractive and contagious body of people in a community. Not when we mimic what is around us, but when we reveal a life marked by values and purpose and meaning and definition. Now, let's go from today's church back to the first century.

It's not a perfect setting, but it is certainly more pristine than ours today. These were people who understood persecution. Martyrdom was commonplace.

The fear of God was a regular experience. The hand of God on their lives was palpable. And they began to grow and they grew rapidly. The end of chapter 2 tells us that their number was being added to day by day as the Lord blessed them.

So they were growing. Chapter 4 verse 4 picks up where that leaves off. Many of those who had heard the message believed and the number of the men came to be about 5,000.

It began at over 3,000 and now it's 5,000. And if we were to go on through the book of Acts, as Bruce calls it, the spreading flame just increases. The spreading flame of the church grows. Nothing wrong with rapid growth. But if things aren't handled correctly, you begin to disintegrate.

I made a list of some things that can occur as a result of growth that's rapid. Uncertainty of purpose. Blurred vision. Fuzzy and compromised priorities. The tendency away from volunteerism and toward professionalism.

That's a big one. The church can get slick. Its ministers can become perfunctory in their tasks. Brothers and sisters, we're not running a professional organization.

We'll let the world do that. This isn't a building with a cross stuck on top. This is a ministry.

We do not look to the government or the state to guide us. This is a ministry. Now, you can expect, as the first church experienced, there will be strong resistance.

That's always true. In fact, we just read of it earlier. Look at chapter 4 again, verse 1, after the man is healed. In chapter 3, as Peter and John are speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the guard, and the Sadducees, these are all the professionals. They came up to them and they were greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. How dare you do that? We just nailed him to a cross. How dare you tell people that he's been raised from the dead? We put him in a grave. Somebody stole the body. By the way, they've never been able to produce the skeleton.

They've never found the body. But that's beside the point. These men are trying to silence these spokesmen for Christ. And so they laid their hands on them. Verse 3, they put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening. But lest you think that Peter is intimidated, I want you to see his response. Verse 8, he's in jail.

These men have the power to make his life pretty miserable, certainly to torture him. And he's filled with the spirit. Verse 8, he said to them, rulers and elders are the people. If we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead by this name, this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders in which became the chief cornerstone. There is salvation in no other. For there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. He is unintimidated.

You have to love it. As they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men. Before we go any further, see the word uneducated. The Greek word means unlettered.

I'm going to let you guess the next one. Untrained is the Greek word idioti. Unlettered idiots. They were amazed. They were just amazed. They began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. I love it. Look at the courage of these two men.

Do they not realize we can make their lives dead? When you are filled with the Spirit and speaking for Christ, you're invincible. You're not filled with fright over what men will say or do. I loved it when Kent Hughes admitted in one of his books that there were times in his preaching, he is so lost in the message that he's simply a vehicle of communication. I've had the experience.

There are times I couldn't give you my name. There are times that there's a sense of invincibility in the declaration of the message that nothing is more important on earth than that. That's what Peter and John are going through. Verse 18, when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

You think that's going to stop those guys? Look at the next verse. But Peter and John answered and said to them, whether it's right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge. For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.

How good is that? And when they had threatened them further, they let them go, finding no basis on which to punish them. Watch closely on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened.

For the man was more than 40 years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed. And when they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported that all the chief priests and the elders said what they had all said to them. And when they heard this, they said, we better shut her down.

It's getting to be hard stuff. No, they didn't do that. They lifted their voices to God. And with one accord, they said, Oh, Lord, it is you who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that in that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of our father, David, your servant, said this. Then they quote from the scriptures. Verse 29, And now, Lord, take note of their threats and grant that your bondservants may speak your word with all confidence. In the verse 33, abundant grace was upon them all.

How wonderful. Strong resistance occurred, met by a courageous response. They didn't stand their mute.

They stood their ground. We can't explain to you all of the rules and regulations that you come up with, but please know this. We answer to one higher and greater than you. They were implying your puny little rules and threats mean nothing to us. There is a greater power and he will honor his word.

Thought of that when I was the recipient of a wonderful story sent to me by a federal judge, a friend of mine who lives up in Washington, D.C. area. Two California Highway Patrol officers were conducting speeding enforcement on I-15 just north of the Marine Corps air station at Miramar. One of the officers was using a handheld radar device to check speeding vehicles approaching the crest of a hill. The officers were suddenly surprised when the radar gun began reading 500 miles per hour. The officer attempted to reset the radar gun.

It would not only not reset, it shut down. Just then a deafening roar over the treetops revealed that the radar had in fact locked on to a United States Marine Corps F-18 Hornet, which was engaged in low-flying exercise near the location. All over their head comes this aircraft. Back at the CHP headquarters, the patrol captain fired off a complaint to the Marine Corps base commander. The reply came back in true Marine Corps style.

You're going to love it. Thank you for your letter. We can now complete the file on this incident. You may be interested to know that the tactical computer in the F-18 had detected the presence of and subsequently locked on to your hostile radar equipment. And automatically sent a jamming signal back to it, which is why it was shut down. Furthermore, an air-to-ground missile aboard the aircraft had also automatically locked on to your hostile equipment location. Fortunately, the Marine pilot flying the Hornet recognized the situation for what it was, quickly responded to the missile system alert, and was able to override the automated defense system before the missile was launched to destroy the hostile radar position. Our pilot also suggests you cover your mouths when cussing at them, since the video systems in these jets are very high resolution. Sergeant Johnson, the officer holding the radar gun, should get his dentist to check his left rear molar. It appears the filling is loose.

Also, the snap is broken on his handgun holster. Thank you for your concern. Semper Fi. We're the big deal on Earth thinking we operate in our own way when we forget that there is a sovereign God who hovers over our times and our seasons.

You have nothing to fear serving your sovereign God. He never slumbers or sleeps. He never says sir to anyone.

He never asks permission of anybody, nor should he. He is our master, our creator God. And we as a church answer to him and exalt him and please him and thank him for the cross and for his son. That's what gives these people this sense of invincibility. Well as that dies down, there's a little internal problem that crops up. You see, it's an early church, it's a first century church, but depravity is alive and well within it. So what we find in Chapter 5 is a husband-wife team who hypocritically act like they are giving all of the profits in the sale of the land to the work of God, when in fact they held some back for themselves. Nothing wrong with having property, nothing wrong with selling property, and may I add there's nothing wrong with holding back some of the profit for yourself. Something's wrong when you act like you're giving all the profit. That's called hypocrisy. That's called a lack of integrity.

Watch how it is exposed. In verse 1 Chapter 5, 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. What we can't read is in between the lines there is clearly the statement made or some kind of evidence that we're giving you all as a result of our selling this. It says to Ananias, verse 3, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?

Now folks, before we go any further, that's what I call a confrontation. Can you imagine a one man saying to another man, why has Satan filled your heart so that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and in fact to the people of this assembly? 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've not lied to men, but to God. You see, to Peter, the most significant presence was the Lord's presence. That's the way it is in the church. It is the Lord we magnify. It is the Lord we exalt. It is the Lord we serve. It's the Lord to whom we answer. You've not lied to men, but to God.

How dare you do that? Look further. As he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last and great fear came over all who heard of it. Young men got up and covered him up and after carrying him out, buried him.

Now watch closely. 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. She said, yes, that was the price. Peter said to her, why is it you've 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 will carry you out as well.

Immediately she fell at his feet, breathed her last. The young men came in, found her dead and they carried her out, buried her beside her husband. And great fear came over the whole church and over all who heard these things. Vance Havner, the old country preacher, once said, if things were handled today as they were in the first century, every new church should be built with a morgue in the basement. I've checked our new building.

No morgue. You know what the problem was? Lack of integrity.

You know why that's such a big problem? Because so many people were counting on so few to walk in integrity. You can't compromise your integrity without affecting the church. I can't play with the church's money fast and loose and expect it not affect the church. It's God's money. It's my money.

It's the elders' money. We can't play fast and loose with our morals. Our lives are in his hands.

How could we live a lie and stand and tell you to be holy? It's a serious business, folks. You can sleep around and be a physician. You can sleep around and be an attorney. You can sleep around and be an educator. You can't sleep around and get away with being a minister of the gospel.

It's a terrible price to pay. God holds his own seriously accountable. And it didn't divide the church when there was this divine discipline.

They operated under a heightened fear of God. How healthy is that? I'll tell you, that'll hold you pure. You pay, you play fast and loose with God. You can watch whatever channel you want to on a television set. You can go wherever you want to on the Internet. You can carry on however you like. But when you trust in a holy God with fear and trembling, you're very, very fragile.

As you think through your lifestyle and realize you're hanging very heavy weights on very thin wires. But you know, the council doesn't give up. They grab them again and put them into prison. And they threaten them with their life. And they say, stop doing this.

And we demand that you become silent. Verse 29, Peter and the apostles answered, chapter 5, 29, we must obey God rather than men. Verse 33, when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and they intended to kill them. Gamaliel steps in and says, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a minute.

Let's think this through. So they listened to Gamaliel and then verse 40, they took his advice. After calling the apostles in, they flogged them.

Don't go too quickly over that. It's a terrible torture. Remember when they scourged Jesus?

This is like unto that. Ever been flogged? Probably not. Or even caned? Probably not. Ever had blood come out of your skin because someone beat you because of your faith?

Probably not. They flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and then said, get out of here. So they went on their way from the presence of the council. Verse 41, what? What does it say? Rejoicing. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. What an honor to suffer for His name's sake. That's what verse 41 is all about. They considered themselves grateful, considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

What enormous stature. Every day in the temple from house to house. Don't you love it? They kept right on preaching, teaching that Jesus is the Christ. I'll tell you, I love this kind of preaching. I love this kind of story. I got to tell you, it reminds me of Shane Vernon McGee at one point. He's talking about Daniel.

He said the reason the lions didn't need him is he was three fourths backbone and the rest gristle. That's what Peter and John are. You're not going to intimidate them. You threaten them and beat them. But they're there.

You know why? Because they answer to the living God. And they're not afraid of men.

And they're not afraid of the authorities of the world system. This is message number two in Chuck Swindoll's nine part series called The Church Awakening. And there's much more teaching coming ahead as we close out another week of Bible studies on insight for living. We'll take a moment to thank those of you who share your comments with us. It's such an encouragement to hear how God is working in your life. Let me encourage you with a recent note that read, Chuck, I've been listening to you since the mid 1970s.

You led my husband and me out of legalism. We've since become part of a Bible based and grace focused church. Moments like these are made possible because loyal friends like you support insight for living. And if God is prompting you to give a contribution, give us a call.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Today, we're especially mindful of the countless people in Ukraine who are suffering with unwanted circumstances. As they do, I'll remind you that for many years, insight for living has been speaking into this part of the world. We've done so through Chuck's Bible teaching translated into languages such as Polish and Romanian. These ministries are part of our long range strategic plan to make disciples for Jesus Christ in all 195 countries of the world. Our office in the United States, along with our other international offices, are allocating funds as able to our Polish and Romanian offices to help ease what physical suffering we can and to help offer spiritual comfort in the love and power of Christ. To give a donation to insight for living's general ministry fund, go to insight.org slash donate.

One more thing as we step into another weekend. Remember, you can supplement your Sunday morning church attendance by joining us online for the live worship service at Stonebriar Community Church. In addition to hearing Chuck's sermon, you'll get to hear the sacred music by the choir and congregation as well. You'll find all the instructions for streaming at insight.org slash Sundays. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll continues to describe what he calls the church awakening Monday on insight for living. The preceding message challenges struggles solutions priorities was copyrighted in 2008 2010 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-29 00:26:20 / 2023-04-29 00:35:09 / 9

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