Today’s reading is from Acts 4:23-31. It is fairly long – and that’s ok! 23On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
Stop - wait a minute – “On their release?” What release? I need to go backwards and see what is going on before this. So, let’s take a look.
16”What are we going to do with these men?... 17To stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” 18Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.
23On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “You made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of Your servant, our father David:
‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One.’
27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against Your holy servant Jesus, Whom You anointed. 28They did what Your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”
31After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Wow! The words jumping off this page to me today from the “bad” guys are…
“We must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” …” “They commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus….” “They could not decide how to punish them…”
Have you ever been warned to not speak about Jesus? Have you ever been commanded to not speak or teach in His Name? Have you ever faced punishment from talking about Him? Please share!
Verse 19 “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” reminds me of Sunday’s reading in Matthew 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One Who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Why is the fear of what someone might say or think of me so much stronger than the fear of what God thinks of me? Ouch! Forgive me, God. Help me to get this straight!
The words jumping off the page to me today from the “good” guys are…
20”For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard…” 24They raised their voices together in prayer to God... 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness… 31And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Have you felt like this - where you could not help but speak about what you have seen and heard concerning God? Have you ever asked the Lord to enable you to speak with great boldness? Please share!
I think when I am facing a decision of speaking up for God or remaining silent, I find myself meekly asking for help – unsure - “God, please help me figure out what to say.” Not much boldness in that! Perhaps I should be praying with great confidence, with a strong, sure voice, “Lord, enable me to speak Your word with great boldness! Fill me with the Holy Spirit so I can speak your word Boldly.”
“Fear? Not!” has been the theme for this week. And today it seems the theme is Boldness!
Fear? - Boldness! Fear? - Boldness!
When I left for college, I roomed with a girl I had known since 4th Grade. We were best of friends. (BFF’s!) She became a little “wild” our freshman year and started partying. I became a hermit and would read my Bible at night and did not join in on all the “fun.” She was irritated with me, called me a “Jesus freak,” a “goody goody,” etc. I could hear the girls in the hallway, “Should we invite Dawn?” “Nah. She won’t come. She thinks she’s too ‘good’ for us. She’s no fun.” I wouldn’t say that I was “bold” for Christ. I mostly hunkered down under the covers, waited for her to leave the room, then let the tears flow. We quickly parted ways.
Fast forward 20 years. I get a phone call from her. “Dawn? This is Sheryl. I am calling to tell you I am so sorry for all times I made fun of you. I have become a Christian. I am so close to the Lord, now. I want to tell you thank you – even though I made fun of you – I noticed what you were doing – I noticed. And, I am so sorry. And I also wanted to call, to let you know that I have cancer. But that is ok, too – I am not afraid – I have Jesus Christ as my Savior!”
You just never know. Never underestimate the ways you stand up for Jesus – even what seems like a “little” witness has power. Even when you don’t feel “bold” --- it is Him Who is bold!
My friend only lived two more years. I went to see her and got to meet her 4 children and wonderful husband. It was a joyful reunion. I am so grateful that God let me see the work He had done in my friend. And I must admit – it feels good to know that I did something good for my Savior. Not in a conceited, “look at me” way. What really feels good is that some day, I will get to see Sheryl again in Heaven – that she did not die afraid and alone – now that is bold!
29Now, Lord consider their threats and enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness. 30”Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”