Sermon: "Riotous Behavior"

        Another cycle of the Christian year has been completed once again, that is for those who participate in Christmas and Easter. Yes, there are many other days in the Christians Year / Liturgical calendar, but Christmas and Easter are the big ones. This cycle between the two has been repeating for generations, yet nothing changes and the church gets further and further form the truth. Another unchanging yearly event except, on the Jewish Calendar, has also just come to completion. Just like the liturgical calendar, events like Passover (April 15-23, 2022) are repeated year after year. We are told Exodus 12:14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. 24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.” The Jews are still doing this as they refuse to accept that everything changed with the coming of Jesus, our Messiah the Lamb of God who takes away their sins. 2 Corinthians 3:12 “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” To this day the veil is still there as Jews refuse to accept Jesus as their Savior.

        The Jewish bible has everything written about Jesus right before their eyes. After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to two disciples who had left town. Luke 24:25 “He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” We even saw Philip do this. Acts 8:30 “Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” The New Testament is filled with the Old even though this was now the new covenant. Jeremiah 31:31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.” 1 Corinthians 11:25 “In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Hebrews 8:13 “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” When they taught, they did not have what you and I have, they had the Old Testament. Today we have no excuse as we have both the old and the new. John 5:36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” 

        I went on, a Jewish website and looked at the scriptures. The Jewish bible is made up of the Torah – first 5 books, then all the Prophets, then the scriptures -Psalm Proverbs… You can then even go to each book and read them. So for example I was using these verses from Jeremiah and I then read them from this site; they were the same. Jeremiah 23:1 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. 4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord. 5 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior. 7 “So then, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 8 but they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.” And then the same withZechariah 12:2 “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. 3 On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. 4 On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,” declares the Lord. “I will keep a watchful eye over Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations. 5 Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God.’ 6 “On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume all the surrounding peoples right and left, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place. 7 “The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah. 8 On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. 9 On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:8 “On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. 9 The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.” Jesus said John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Paul said Ephesians 4:4 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

        Today, a day after Passover ends, the Jews still do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. They still even reject their own scriptures that told them about Jesus. Jeremiah was sent to prophecy to the people. Jeremiah 23:10 “When you tell these people all this and they ask you, ‘Why has the Lord decreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the Lord our God?’ 11 then say to them, ‘It is because your ancestors forsook me,’ declares the Lord, ‘and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They forsook me and did not keep my law. 12 But you have behaved more wickedly than your ancestors. See how all of you are following the stubbornness of your evil hearts instead of obeying me. 13 So I will throw you out of this land into a land neither you nor your ancestors have known, and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.’14 “However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 15 but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.” The Jews still refuse to obey. They still have a veil over their eyes, but it doesn’t mean they can’t repent and believe. Paul talks about this in Romans 11:1 “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day. 11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.” This was a warning Gentiles did not pay attention to.

        Jesus is the Lamb of God that was sacrificed for our sins. John 1:29 “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel. 32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” Jesus is the living water Zechariah spoke of. John 7:38 “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Revelation 7:17 “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” Luke 22:7 “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7 “Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 

        You may be thinking what do the Jews and Passover have to do with Christians and Easter. Sadly, the answer is that Christians have done just as the Jews have done. They both celebrate a meaningless ritual that is void of power because of rebellion. Just as the Jews were given a spirit of stupor, so have the Gentiles. Mark 4:11 “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!” 2 Thessalonians 2:10 “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” They both refuse to believe what their own scriptures are telling them. The Jews rejected the word of God, even when Jesus stood among them. John 6:35 “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.” John 3:18 “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 5:44 “How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

        This has been a long introduction to this topic of riotous behavior. This really is not about the Jews, but it involves the Jews because the church has followed in their wicked ways with the same results. Amos 5:3 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Israel: “Your city that marches out a thousand strong will have only a hundred left; your town that marches out a hundred strong will have only ten left.” The church has fallen just as Israel did. These powerless rituals that both the church and the Jews follow, is just that; powerless. Matthew 15:9 “They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’” Since the church has chosen to follow their own ways, everything they do is completely useless. As Jeremiah said about a belt he buried and then later dug up, Jeremiah 13:10 “These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless!” 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” Jesus said John 8:31 “To the Jews who had believed him, if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” If you don’t hold firmly, you will not be free and satan will rule over you. Not only will he rule, you will hear from Jesus Matthew 25:41 “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” The resurrection of Jesus is not powerless but the ritual is. Paul wants us to understand the power of Easter and the available power to all who would believe. Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The lack of power happens when the church refuses to believe the very words of Jesus who died for us. That leaves us powerless, in captivity and desolation and our freedom in Christ is gone. Paul said Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Colossians 2:20 “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Matthew 15:7 “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” The church then has absolutely no effect on those around them.

        Easter really is a strange ritual. The church celebrates much like the Jews celebrate Passover because at one time in history they were saved and every year they remember the story but at the same time they refuse to believe all that is written. The church is the same. Every year the church celebrates the resurrection of Jesus yet refuse to believe all that is written. They greet each other with words. He is risen, He is risen indeed alleluia! Songs are sung like “I serve a risen Savior.” The chorus says “He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.” This is a song about Jesus but not His available power. The problem is that most people in the church don’t know what having Jesus in their heart means. Most people who call themselves Christians don’t know their bibles well enough to know if Jesus is walking and talking with them or not. Don’t assume but work out your salvation Philippians 2:15 “so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Knowing what your denomination teaches is not the same as knowing scripture. Most times scripture is rejected to follow the ways of man. Many who go to church said a little pray and asked Jesus into their heart, but what does that mean. Most don’t really know, other than it means they now go to the church they said the prayer in or to the church of the person who led them in that prayer. If they prayed to the wrong Jesus, the prayer is meaningless. If they did know what having Jesus in your heart meant, they would be seeking His power because it means God himself will dwell in you but most don’t. Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” Ephesians 2:22 “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” When God dwells in us, that means His power does too, but most Christians have no idea that power is even available nor are they seeking it. For many they were taught power is no longer possible as it was only for the few disciples at the beginning. Others think power is from satan so they do not seek it. Still others think the powerless church is just how it is and are content. But for the very small amount of people who are actively seeking God’s power to return, hold firmly to God’s word and wait. 

        This is why Easter celebration misses the church’s available power. Jesus died, then He rose so He is still alive and is no different than He was before He died. That means the same power He had when alive is the same power that raised Him from the dead and the same power He gave to the church by giving us the Holy Spirit, the power He still gives the church if we return to Him. Matthew 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” This is what that power and authority looked like. Matthew 8:16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Matthew 9:35 “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Those workers went out as we saw in Acts 5:5 “As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” Acts 8:6 “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.” Jesus still can heal our infirmities and He will still send out workers clothed with power into His harvest. That is what the church was to continue to do. Jesus said John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” 

        We were given power and authority but the church refuses to believe the words of Jesus and instead of believing that Jesus is risen, the stories of Jesus have turned into myths and fables. That is what Easter has become where the old, old stories people love to hear are told over and over again. Do these stories apply today? Most people if they were honest would have to say not really, but every year we celebrate the risen Savior. It really is pathetic. Yes, some can really put on an Easter service, in fact many churches excel in their performance but there is no power present. A powerful performance is not the available power to all who believe. In the news I saw a couple of surveys’ taken that caught my attention. This first was just after Christmas. They said that Christianity is in “sharp decline” while Muslims Sikhs, Buddhists and Hindu are increasing. Religion was less important.” Another one is from Stats Canada. “In 2019, just over two-thirds (68%) of the Canadian population reported having a religious affiliation, and over half (54%) said their religious or spiritual beliefs were somewhat or very important to how they live their lives. Additionally, about one-quarter (23%) of Canadians had participated in a group religious activity at least once a month in the year prior to the survey (including attending religious meetings or services, but excluding special occasions such as weddings or funerals). Lastly, more than one-third (37%) had engaged in religious or spiritual activities on their own at least once a month during the same year (e.g., prayer, meditation, or other forms of devotion at home or elsewhere).” It is important to understand that religion and Christianity are not the same. Christianity is not just one of the options out there, it is the only option. You will not go to heaven based on your religious affiliation! The truth is the stats are way worse than these above. The church has been in decline for over 2000 years, so much so there is only a remnant left. The many denominations you still see are relics and whitewashed sepulchers. They have been dead probably since they started. The truth is the numbers are so bad there is only a remnant left in the church and the remnant is also in captivity. People may say that God is in their heart, but He is not because there is no power and by following other gods / other gospels God has had to turn His face from the church. That means satan has been allowed to decimate the church. The result has been devastating as the abomination that causes desolation has ravaged the church. So, every Easter comes and goes, and the church celebrates its own demise and lack of power. Meanwhile satan is winning as the church makes absolutely no impact. You may say but so and so was saved or maybe even healed but were they? What were they saved into? Who did the saving? Who did the healing? Many people who thought they were saved will only hear depart from me. Why? Because they followed false teachers and other gospels. Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” If you are not following the truth of God’s word, you are worshipping in vain.

        So what about these riots. Last year we saw what is referred to as the January 6th insurrection where the mob tried to overthrow the government because they did not get what they wanted. In short, it was pure insanity and that insanity continues today. The problem was that much of this craziness came from people who call themselves Christians. One writer said “While Americans around the country watched an inflamed mob overrun the Capitol on January 6, the evangelical participants in that mob saw something else: a holy war. Insurgents carried signs that read “Jesus Saves,” “In God We Trust,” “Jesus 2020,” and “Jesus Is My Savior, Trump Is My President.” One man marched through the halls of Congress carrying a Christian flag, another a Bible. They chanted, “The blood of Jesus covering this place. They believe that the Bible demands that they go to war against the Antichrist and all of his minions. If Joe Biden and the other leaders of the U.S. government—now including even staunch Christian conservatives like Mike Pence—represent the forces of the Antichrist, the faithful have no choice but to organize against them. They need to stop the Antichrist by any means necessary. God demands no less than insurrection.” It is interesting that the so called good continue to lie to get what they want. Then even here in Canada, lunatics tried to overthrow the government because they didn’t get what they wanted. You even saw so-called Christians involved say “I take it one step at a time, In all honesty, God is my shield, and that is what I stand by. Faith led him to Ottawa, and faith is what keeps him there.” "God keeps telling me to, 'Stay where you are. Don't go anywhere. You are doing the right thing." Christian faith — with an overtly evangelical feel — flows likes an undercurrent through the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa. It's unclear how many of the roughly 4,000 people who gathered in the Parliament precinct this past weekend call themselves Christians, but the biblical references were everywhere.” These days evangelical is just another manmade designation like Baptist or Pentecostal.  One person said, “Evangelicals take the Bible seriously and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.” If that was the case, then why don’t they believe everything that was said.

        The problem is that God is not directing them to overthrow the government. They do not discern between the voice of satan and the voice of God and are deceived. God did not send them to riot and stir up trouble. More so in the states, the fight was good versus evil, with Trump being good and Biden evil. Republicans stand for God and Democrats for evil. Neither do but God raises up whom He desires to rule. Christian leaders were tearing down democracy all across the States even though we are told Romans 13:1 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Good or bad it is God who appoints leaders for His purposes. Daniel 2:19 “Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.” 1 Peter 2:13 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.” 1 Timothy 2:1 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

        This type of rebellion comes from many leaders today who teach those who will listen to oppose the government. This also comes from those who have gone before us. “Deitrick Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian known for his opposition to National Socialism. His ties to the July 20, 1944, conspiracy to overthrow the Nazi regime led to his execution in 1945. His theological writings are regarded as classics throughout the Christian world.” The problem here is that he was part of an assassination plot to kill Hitler. His call to radical faith and obedience should not include assassination. He himself cheapened the grace he talked about by trying to interfere with God’s plan. God places those in charge and he doesn’t call on Christians to overthrow them. Jesus is our example for that. Matthew 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” 55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” Jesus was killed because he did not overthrow the Romans as the Jews wanted. Even when Jesus was saying these amazing verses, right in the middle they still wanted to know when Jesus was going to restore the kingdom of Israel. Acts 1:4 “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” Like the Jews and many Gentiles they are still waiting for that Kingdom but that is not the kingdom that came near. The kingdom did come near but they rejected it. The kingdom was a kingdom that turned cities upside down and took power back from satan but did not start riots to oppose governments, even though rioting did happen because of the gospel.

        The riotous behavior I am talking about today is not standing against the government or against policies or whatever else people are protesting about, but standing on the word of God against the evil one and taking this world back by proclaiming the good news. When you stand on God’s word, you will then start the right kind of riot. Now wait a minute, you are talking about starting a riot. Yes, yes, I am. We are making a resolution to have a revolution, except this is not a revolution against man but against satan. Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm.” There are two passages, one about Stephen and the other about Paul that I want to look at that show riotous behavior without intentionally starting a riot. Before I get to that there was one other news article that talked about religion. “Nearly half of Canadians believe the presence of religion in Canada contributes both good and bad in equal parts, according to a new survey.” Now when they say half, they meant out of the 1300 surveyed. “According to the survey, the number of Canadians who believe that religion contributes more bad than good to society has grown in the past few years, up from 14 per cent in late 2017.” According to the study, one in five Canadians identify as "Non-Believers," while four-in-five respondents said they had some openness to God or spirituality. The largest group of Canadians identify as "Spiritually Uncertain," representing almost half of the population at 46 per cent.” When they say God, they often mean a higher power. Today in the news we have seen a lot of harm committed by the church and people are very upset. As far as good, you could take the church away and there really would not be that big of a void to fill but what if the church turned from their own wicked ways and returned to the word of God and actually believed what the bible said, repented so the kingdom of God came near and were clothed with power. This would lead to riotous behavior. As the gospel was preached in power, cities would be turned upside down. When talking about riotous, I am not talking about laughter or hilariously funny or revelry but the disturbance of peace or the status quo. 

        This is about preaching and living the gospel. Jesus said Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” But we know that Jesus did not lead a rebellion against the government, so what was He talking about? He went on to say 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Belief in Jesus shakes everything up and it becomes about who believes and follows God’s word wholeheartedly. Jesus said Matthew 12:50 “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus also said Matthew 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” There is going to be hatred both from the church and outside the church but mostly from inside the church as we see here. Matthew 12:14 “The Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” Luke 4:24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.” Later the chief priest and elders wound up the crowd and they shouted crucify Him, crucify Him!

        When you live by the gospel of Jesus Christ you will do as He did and people will respond as they did to Him, so we should not be surprised when it happens. The good news is Jesus said He would give whatever words we need in those situations. Matthew 10:17 “Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Luke 12:11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” We saw this with Stephen and Paul. As you read this, notice the power that was present, something the church does not have today. Acts 5 starts off with great power. Ananias and Sapphira both died because they lied to the Holy Spirit, Then the Apostles healed all those who were sick and tormented by impure spirits. Then persecution follows but again more power and the disciples are freed from prison to go preach. “41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” Other disciples were chosen and one was Stephen. Acts 6:8 “Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” Then Stephen preached a powerful sermon. Remember Jesus said words would be given. Now this cost Stephen His life but the life of another servant began. Acts 7:55 “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.” 

        Saul became Paul and God used him in a mighty way even though he approved of Stephen’s death. Acts 22:19 “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.” Acts 19 again shows us the power that was present. The Holy Spirit fell on some disciples Acts 19:6 “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” An evil spirit gave a bunch of men a beating and those who “practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly.” But then we see this key verse in the midst of all this power flowing. Paul did not go out to start a riot, he just went out to preach the gospel at any cost. Acts 19:23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way.” These disturbances should still be happening not because of the abuses in the church but because the power flowing from the church. Now this time we see not only the Jews but the city was rioting. Paul’s teaching was causing a problem with the idol makers. Acts 19:24 “A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. 25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty. 28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar.” Then later we see the Jews at work against Paul. He was even told it would happen. Acts 21:10 “After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” 27 When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” 29 (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.) 30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!” He then gave his testimony. 21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ 22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!” Acts 23:12 “The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. He was protected and then was on his way to stand trial. Charges were then brought against Paul. Acts 24:5 “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. 8 By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.” Paul responded Acts 24:14 “However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” Later Paul appealed to Caesar. Again, remember that God gave him all the words he needed to serve God’s purposes. He was not called to assassinate a Roman leader or to protect against the government. He was called to preach the gospel which created a disturbance of the peace. 

        Paul’s response about being a follower of the Way is key. Following Jesus will shake everything to its core and yes people will come against you. Your own life, those around you, family, people you work with, total strangers, and the city you live in will be turned upside down. Yes, people may not like you for many reasons, but the power of God will cause riots around you. You will have riotous behavior even though your intent is only to follow Jesus. You will disturb the peace, but it won’t be you causing the disturbance and the status quo will crumble. When we truly follow the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will be clothed with power and there will be much opposition to it just as we saw with Stephen and Paul. Even though Jesus healed all the sick and cast out demons, they still killed Him. Paul was filled with power but there was constant opposition to him like when he cast the demon out a female slave who was a money maker. Acts 16:16 “Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. 19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

            I do believe that most people don’t really like church people but for all the wrong reasons. I don’t even like church people and it is no wonder as the church looks nothing like the church Jesus intended it to be. Many have had horrible experiences in the church. Many have felt let down by the church they put their lives into. Many have been hurt and abused in one way or another by those they trusted. Many blame God for everything but it is not God’s fault because the problem is the church they see is not the true church. 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” The church has been brought into disrepute. 

        In order to have this riotous behavior, we don’t follow men and women who try to overthrow governments, we follow one man Jesus Christ who Isaiah 9:6 “will be (is) called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign (reigns) on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” Jesus is the Messiah and reigns on David’s throne. All authority and power have been given to Him and He gave us that same power and authority to go to the ends of the earth. If we truly are going to turn the world upside down and take it back from the power of satan, we need to return to God’s word. When that happens and the church does as it was supposed to do, power will flow, people will be healed, demons cast out and cities will be in an uproar and yes their will be riots against you. Those who do not follow the truth will resist and those who will lose money will respond just as they did to Paul, but we do not need to fear. Jesus said John 16:1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.” God’s purposes will prevail. Psalm 33:10 “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Joshua was told, Joshua 1:5 “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

        Don’t be satisfied with a nice Easter Service and then wait to do it again next year but look for a great disturbance because God’s power is flowing. Repent / turn from your wicked ways so that Kingdom of God comes near so that the world gets turned upside down! There will be opposition so 1 John 3:13 “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.” Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Isaiah 7:9 “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’” Luke 6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.”

        Trusting God means we have nothing to fear. Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. 4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. 6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord 7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. 8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. 9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. 10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. 11 Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. 12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. 13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”