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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 320: Turf Wars

Today's Reading: Acts 4-6

The disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, are going forth in the name of Jesus Christ. They preach the Word of God, just as Jesus had commanded them, and signs and wonders follow in their wake. The crowds notice that common, uneducated people are speaking with authority, boldness and power.

The priests, Sadducees and temple guards notice, too.

Turf, power and authority once held by the religious officials is being challenged by these "Jesus followers." The priests and Sadducees thought they had dealt sufficiently with Jesus, but now, instead of one miracle worker and challenger to the status quo, disciples of this "rebel" are flooding the streets. It is as if by killing the leader, they have multiplied the power.

Why are they upset?

Two reasons.

The disciples are teaching the people. The religious officials once held the monopoly on this power. These disciples of Jesus, considered rejects at one time, unintelligent, unschooled, common folk, not only have the audacity to teach the people, they are teaching with power and authority. The people are flocking to them. It is as if the pastors of the old system are jealous because all their people are leaving their churches and going after something new. Jesus' disciples are moving in on their turf.

The disciples are preaching about Jesus' resurrection. Not only did the Sadducees preach against the concept of resurrection, the very people in this story--Annas and Caiaphas--were the ones who gave Jesus over to Herod and Pilate to be crucified. They were the ones who plotted. They were the ones who accused. They were the ones who stirred up the crowds against Jesus. The resurrection trumps their ace. The resurrection reclaims the temple, the traditions and the people of God. The resurrection of Jesus Christ storms the gates of a corrupt system and plants God's standard of victory in the hearts of his people.

A spiritual war has begun.

The disciples, armed with the Holy Spirit, are the heralds of Christ. They are marching into the holy city, Jerusalem, and setting captives free. They are proclaiming the good news of salvation and freedom.

And the prince of darkness does not like it.

The prince of darkness pulls out his greatest weapons and fires them at the disciples. He tells them to be quiet. He threatens their lives. He wants to strike their hearts with the fiery arrow of fear.

At one time, the disciples cowered and ran when this Goliath prince of darkness taunted them. Now, like their ancestor David, they stand proclaiming only the fear of God.
“Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

“We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

The reclaiming of God's people and God's turf which began at the cross is now spreading like wild fire.

And the prince of darkness and his followers can do nothing to stop it!

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