The Devil's Tactics Against the Church

Devil's 3 Tactics against the Church are persecution, lies, and division. See how they can be overcome. 
Reflections on Sunday Chinese Sermon of Ps John Liu of Petra Church on 24 July 2016.
I often wonder how do people see more things, or more revelations as believers like to put them, in the very same Bible passage that we read. One way of course is by studying hard and listening widely and accumulate through years of learning. Another way is to study it, read it, and reflect it in conversation with God. Another way is to have a fresh perspective such ashttp://christianity-rediscovered.blogspot.sg/…/the-branding…. The simplest way is to just enjoy the exposition of others.
The title is "The Tactics that the Devil Uses Against the Church" base on Acts 4-6. The passage itself has no mention of the devil and it is not too obvious to me to relate it to the activities of the devil. Ps presented a good overview of the content of Acts. But the keys are the three tactics that the devel employed against the church and how the church overcome them.
1. Devil uses persecutions to soften up or weaken the church.
Act 4:1-14, 29-31.
The miraculous healing of the lame beggar caused an uproar for the people and the religious leaders. Religious leaders put Peter and John into prison, threatened them not to speak of Jesus anymore. However, instead of being scared to silence, they spoke up boldly and they prayed to God to give greater boldness. Overcome persecutions with testimonies of patience and boldness with the power of Holy Spirit within.
2. Devil uses lies to pollute the church.
Act 5:1-11 We have the stories of Ananias and wife who sold their property and reported to Peter only 1/2 of the actual price sold. They were killed instantly when Peter exposed their lies. If you heard Ps Joseph Prince sermon on this. He said Ananias was not a believer because the text was "a man named Ananias". "Disciple" was used, instead of 'man', to describe a true believer as in Acts 9:10 that described another Ananais.
To counter devil's pollution of lies, we must worship and serve God truthfully. Authencity and truth overcome lies. (See how some of our local churches failed on this.)
3. Devil creates problems to cause separation in churches.
Acts 6:1-7. Here there were two groups of believers, the local Hebrew Jews speaking and the Greek speaking Jews who were converted. The complains arised because the Greek speaking 'foreingers' widows were not treated fairly vs the Hebrew speaking ones. This is very much like Churches with multiple languages where one group will be given priorities over another. Notice the wisdom shown by the apostles here.
  1. The problem must had been investigated and confirmed and so duly addressed. That explained why changes were made to solve this problem. Often, in the name of peace, real problems were swept under the carpets instead of being addressed upfront. Hiding problems does not make problem go away. Hidden unhandled problem accumulates to blow up later ... resulting in church split etc. 
  2. Be not distracted. The focus on preaching the gospels was not diverted to handle this problem. A separate group of leaders were ejected to handle this administrative issue. 
  3. Show of Wisdom, Trust and Love. The new leaders , deacons, elected were of Greek Names showing that they were purposely chosen among the Greek speaking congregations to address their problems. It is not a 50%-50% Committee of Hebrew and Greek. It is all Greek. It shows:
    1. the ones who can identify with the problems are chosen to fix the issue.
    2. the trust the Hebrew Leadership had for the Greek speaking leaders. 
    3. the Love the key Hebrew speaking dominant group has for the weaker Greek speaking group. More should be given to the weaker that the weak may also grow up.

While Ps Liu summarized the overcoming of the problem with "Not Afriad of Death" testimony, 不怕死的见证. I would like to summarize it differently as 愿牺牲的见证 Willing to sacrifice testimony or better, 勇敢,智慧与爱的见证 - Testimony of Boldness, Wisdom and Love. Only by bolding facing a problem, with a wisdom to find a solution, and implementing a solution with love, can we successfully overcome the divisive work of the devils.
For more on the devil's tricks. see Sun Zi's Art of War and the Bible.
Lim Liat (c) 27 July 2016


Fear of the Lord and the Real Fear - Knowing the Difference makes all the Difference

The Fear of God kind of fear is different from the Fright kind of Fear. The fright kind of fear causes one to take a flight. The Fear of God kind, in awe of, causes one to be obedient and to stay away from evil because we do not want to hurt the God that love us. The secret lies in the original Hebrew and Greek words of of fear. 
Fear of the Lord
The Hebrew words used for the Fear of the Lord are H3372, H3373, H3374 according to the Strong's Concordance. Let's look a one of them, H3374 Yirah.

Fear (of God) H3374 יִרְאָה yir'âh yir-aw'
Feminine of H3373;
  • fear (also used as infinitive); 
  • morally reverence: -  X dreadful, X exceedingly, fear (-fulness).
Gen 20:11  And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.  The Chinese words for the Fear of God is "敬畏" respect fearfully which captures the Hebrew H3372,3373,3374 afraid and revere at the same time.

Looking at the ancient Hebrew pictures that form the word tell us even more. The ancient Hebrew alphabets are pictures, or icons in today term, and they are combined to form meaningful words. This is very much like the Chinese words which are picture based and combination of pictures. 

The word Yirah Fear contains worship (& work of worship), first(top priority), strong(power), and looking and receiving of revelation (of God - breath of God?).  We can clearly see what does Fear Yirah of the Lord means -- the why purpose and the what action! The Fear of God is acknowledgement and worship of the Powerful God of All creations and to understand His will and to obey Him in our action. Putting God first in everything that we do as our worship that He rightfully deserve from us, His creatures.  This is seen in the following verse with even the Egyptians of the Moses day. The result of their Fear of God is the believe and the obedient action to move their cattle into houses to avoid the hails that will killed all outside. Fear of God causes us to be obedient and not to run away as the terror kind of fear.

Exo 9:20  He that feared-H3372  the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 

The Fear of God makes us NOT afraid instead of afraid!
Exo 14:10  And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraidH3372: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.

Their fear caused them to cry out to God to save them. God opened up the red sea to allow them to escape, removing their fear.

In fact, this Yirah Fear is frequently used together with not, Fear Not.

Fear Not because of the Fear of God

Gen 26:24  And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fearH3372 not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake.

Gen_50:19  And Joseph said unto them, FearH3372 not: for am I in the place of God?

The implication is clear, our Fear of God removes the afraid fear that we may fear-not. Because we are aware of the greater power God, and his presence for us, we fear not.

The really afraid or terror Fear in Hebrew are:
H4172 môrâ'  /  môrâ'  /  môrâh
  • fear, 6 Gen_9:2 (2), Psa_9:20, Isa_8:12-13 (2), Mal_1:6, Mal_2:5
    Gen 9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered
  • terror, 2 Deu_34:12, Jer_32:21
  • dread, 1 Deu_11:25
  • feared, 1 Psa_76:11
  • terribleness, 1 Deu_26:8
  • terrors, 1 Deu_4:34
H6343 pachad pakh'-ad
From H6342; a (sudden) alarm (properly the object feared, by implication the feeling): - dread (-ful), fear, (thing) great [fear, -ly feared], terror.
  • Exo 15:16  Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.
The afraid kind of fear causes us to run away or stay away. Whereas the awe kind of fear causes us to want to worship and stay close to the object of our fear.

The Greek Words for Fear

Awe Fear of God G5399 φοβέω phobeō fob-eh'-o
From G5401; to frighten, that is, (passively) to be alarmed;
by analogy to be in awe of, that is, revere: - be (+ sore) afraid, fear (exceedingly), reverence.

as in the following verses. Notice fear-not is used frequently with the awe-fear. Because we have revered a higher power, God, we can fear not any other.
  • Mat 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 
  • Luk 12:32  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Afraid Fear G5401 φόβος phobos fob'-os
From a primary φέβομαι phebomai (to be put in fear); alarm or fright: - be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.

However, the Greek words are not as meaningful as the Ancient Hebrew as we have noted upfront.

Where the Two Fears Meet 1 John 4:18

1Jn 4:18  There is no fearG5401 in love; but perfect love casteth out fearG5401 because fearG5401 hath torment. He that fearethG5399 is not made perfect in love.

The best translation of this verse is found in Amplified Bible

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].
Even then, it has not fully cover the teaching. It started with afraid is not in love. It ended with perfect love even takes away the awe-fear. The closeness is unimaginable. It is complete oneness as Jesus prayed in John 17:20-26 Father in Christ, Christ in Us, and Us in Christ and in the Father.

John 17:20-26 English Standard Version (ESV)

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for thosewho will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may bewith me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Conclusion: Awe Fear chases with Afraid Fear because of His Love for us.
The Awe-Fear of God causes to want to be with God, to be obedient and do His will. It causes us to move closer. If we awe-fear God, we will fear-not any other things or beings on earth. The afraid-fear just causes us to run away. The devil uses lies and accusation to cause the afraid-fear in us to cause us to run away from God. But, God's love causes God to reach out to us through Jesus Christ His Son and to implant His love in us so that we afraid-fear Him not, that we may revere Him and even more to love Him totally without any awe-fear as we are all ONE in Christ and in the Father God. If you want to afraid-fear not, you must receive Jesus and awe-fear God to start and progresses up closer with Him.

Lim Liat  25 July 2016


Peter & John And the Mustard Seed - New Insights

Two new things that I learned from today Chinese sermon by Ps John Liu on Acts 3:
1. Love for the Repentant.

John was likely the one who extended his friendship to accept Peter after Peter's denial of Jesus. We find Peter and John often mentioned together after the event of the crucification. An addition point is about how we can and should help people with realize their wrong doings. It is not more criticisms but an extension of love.

For more see Understanding the "Radical" Grace Message of Joseph Prince.

One more thing, John, the one who repeatedly focus on the love of Jesus for him was able to stay with Jesus at the cross whereas Peter, the one who claimed of his love for Jesus, denied Jesus three times.  Focus not our love but on the love of Jesus for us. We will have greater peace and appreciation.

2. Mustard Seed Faith. 

When Jesus said this, there are two key meanings. One is the smallness of the seed. We don't need great faith to move mountain. We begins with the little that we have. Second is about the growth of the seed to the great mustard tree. Our little faith needs to grow and to grow out faith is the very simple thing on acting out or living out, starting from the little that we have. Else, our faith is not living but dead - that is the teaching of the letter of James.