384. The Wrong Way

wrong-way-sign-1477308368hguJude 1:23 NKJV  but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

Jude 1:23 NLT  Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

As Believers we have been commissioned to share the glorious good news that Jesus is alive and has provided a way to have an abundant and eternal life with Him.  Certainly not everyone will embrace the hope that is in Him, but we are to as the Message paraphrase says, “Go after those who take the wrong way.”

In doing so we find ourselves talking to people both believers and certainly non-believers that have ideas, habits, and practices that may be very foreign to us.  These can often cause one to feel unsure about how to react, anxious, or even fearful.  Many times I’ve sat and had conversations with people whose lifestyles, beliefs and practices were outrageously abhorrent to me.  Some people’s sin really seem to bother other, but just because their sin is unthinkable to you remember that your sin was unthinkable to God too.  Our goal is to be tender to sinners.  To do so we certainly don’t embrace sin or are soft on sin, but we don’t fear the sin that people engage in.  Our job is to reverence God and watch out for spiritual pride.  If we don’t we’ll fall head first into our own mess.

Elisabeth Elliot, an author and Christian speaker, said, “Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.”  Part of the fear in these situations stems from the idea that somehow we must change a person’s behavior, feeling incompetent to talk to them, or even believing that somehow we’ll be contaminated if we interact with the “wrong” people.  This is selfish and only focused on our comfort.  I certainly don’t advocate living every moment of your life around non-believers, but Jesus said, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.”  Our mission is to try to reach them and this means you’ll have to put yourself out there sometimes.  However, that also doesn’t mean that everything depends on us.

Jesus is present and it is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction to the hearts of men (John 16:8).  Our job is to share the letter that He has written on our hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3).  So don’t fear the fire of sin that someone is in and watch out for spiritual pride which is just as bad.  Instead, reverence God and love people.  If you must fear; instead of fearing someone or their sin, fear for them and work all the more to share His glorious grace and love to those who take the wrong way.

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346. Supernatural Boldness

Acts 2:43 NKJV  Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

A great reverence and awe fell upon this entire community as 3,000 people gladly received Jesus as their Lord, were baptized, and devoutly continued to follow the teachings of the Apostles.  It was just a few weeks before that many of these same people had been shouting “crucify Him” and now they have believed on Him as Messiah.  The verse records that a great many wonders and signs were now also being done through the Apostles of Jesus.  Now notice the first word in this verse. It says “then”.

Before this great reverential fear took hold of the community, before these many signs and wonders were done, before these 3,000 people were saved and baptized, Peter overcame fear.  On the day of Pentecost Peter, who 7 weeks prior had denied even knowing Jesus when inquired by a lowly servant girl (Luke 22:54), stands up with the other apostles and addresses a large crowd that had gathered after hearing the sound of a rushing mighty wind (Acts 2:2,6) and then hears the disciples off Jesus who were in the upper room all speaking and praising God in many different languages not previously known to them.  Something happened to Peter.  A few things actually.

The first thing to note is that Peter had been born-again.  Peter had seen and spent 40 days with Jesus after His death, burial, and subsequent resurrection.  Peter knew Jesus was alive from the dead and determined to follow the risen Lord (John 21:1-10, Romans 10:9-10, Acts 1:3).

Peter also received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).  This new encounter and relationship with the Spirit of God not only empowered Peter and the others for the supernatural ministry that would follow, but also brought an increased confidence & boldness through this encounter that Jesus he would, “receive power” through to “be witnesses to Me (Jesus)” throughout the world (Acts 1:8).

Thirdly, Peter wasn’t standing alone.  Although there would be times he might be physically alone in the future, this day he had 119 of his closest friends and supporters nearby.  Acts 2:14 says that as he stood to address the crowd and explain to them what they were seeing and hearing the other 11 apostles (original 10 and Matthias chosen to replace Judas) stood up with him.  It is easier to be courageous when you have support.

All these things added to the boldness of Peter as he ministered to the multitudes that day.  He had received the fearless nature of Christ through the New Birth.  He had received supernatural power and boldness through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  And he had a core group of people that were standing with and supporting him.  He fearlessly stepped out to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and explain the move of the Spirit, “THEN” a holy fear came upon everyone in Jerusalem.  You too can be bold and live fearless.  Be born-again giving your life to Christ.  Pray for and receive the baptism in the Spirit (Luke 11:9-13).  Congregate with other like-minded Believers that will encourage you to step out in faith and be the light you are.  Then stand up and be bold for Christ, who knows… maybe a holy fear will fall on your community too.