Pray for More Boldness – 2-15-22

But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Acts chapter 4 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Peter and John Arrested

Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

Addressing the Sanhedrin

And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

The Name of Jesus Forbidden

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a [a]notable miracle has been done through them is evident[b] to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

Prayer for Boldness

23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who [c]by the mouth of Your servant David have said:

‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’

27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Sharing in All Things

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

36 And [d]Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of [e]Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Footnotes

  1. Acts 4:16 remarkable sign
  2. Acts 4:16 well known
  3. Acts 4:25 NU through the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father, Your servant David,
  4. Acts 4:36 NU Joseph
  5. Acts 4:36 Or Consolation

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL

So, these disciples have been in the same place for a little while – teaching and preaching.  We saw they had peace and they were growing. God was moving and it was GOOD!  Peter was married, so I am sure he was thrilled with the ability to settle down in one place with her and build a church.

But there was a problem. Maybe a couple problems. 
One was that Peter was seen as a leader. And here he is settling down in one place – naturally everyone followed his lead. Why was this a problem? Well let’s rewind to Matthew chapter 28 – to a couple verses I personally take very seriously.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV

Look again at the first word: “Go”. Not stay and get secure and comfortable. We all get comfortable if we stay in one place too long – Go!
So in today’s reading we see God start to stir the pot to begin to make motion that should encourage these men to “Go”. Eventually, after a few deaths – they do “Go”.

Let’s take a moment to discuss this comfort zone – the place where you have been and you have adjusted to it and it is fine for you if you stay here. What will happen is growth will slow and eventually halt. 
When God said “Go” – it means something different to each of us. Some will travel the world. Some will blog from their living room. Some will ‘Go’ into their workplace, their community, their schools and make a change one person at a time. This last one (going into their community, etc.) is what MOST of the members of the early church did – reaching one person at a time and bringing them into the fold. But “Go” does have one similar meaning – move out of your comfort zone. The show The Chosen summed it up with “Get used to different”. God wants to change it up, keep it fresh and new and real. We cannot become comfortable or we will become complacent – so the GO is just as much for us and our growth as it is for the spreading of the gospel. You can grow in your own community. You can grow without going on a missions trip. And you can grow by being tossed in jail as well as grow by never being tossed in jail.

Jail – That is where we start our reading. But at the same time, Pastor Artur in Canada was thrown in jail – they implied it had something to do with the truck convoy. Last I read he wasn’t charged yet – but he is still being detained. I admit, I do not know Canadian law. But this seems wrong.  He was thrown in Jail before for refusing to shut down and not hold church in 2020. He was thrown in jail another time for refusing to comply and enforce the mask mandates and social distancing and low numbers in His church. And now this.
How does this relate? Each time he is jailed…. About him, his church and his strong faith is broadcast in the news.  Each time, he (by way of the news) can go farther and farther. It reached me and I am sharing and now it reached you!! As we pray for him and God’s intervention, we can also see a powerful testimony of a living God being spread globally because of it. If we are unable or unwilling to GO – God will intervene and help us reach more people.

Now, Peter and John were arrested. 5000 were just saved! But the tent meeting was cut off by Peter and John being detained without cause overnight. These two were bold!
So the next day the counsel assembled and had to figure out what to do with these two. They thought if they gave them a good beating. They would be an example and they and their followers would be scared – so the name of Jesus was forbidden. And the beaten disciples were free to go home.

In hind sight, beating to very bold men may not cause fear in them. But it may cause fear in the followers. So what they did next was critical for that moment in time. AND it is critical for ANY moment in time when a ruling organization tries to oppress with fear (like our current world). They prayed for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit (and new filling for anyone without) AND THEY PRAYED FOR BOLDNESS!!! My Bible actually has the header of this section as: “Prayer for Boldness”. Let’s read it again:

“So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’
“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” Acts 4:24-30

When was the last time you prayed this over yourself? They’ve come against us with hopes of fear, are you fighting back with more boldness? When was the last time you prayed this over your church and pastor?
Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” Verses 29 & 30
When was the last time we prayed this for Pastor Artur and His congregation? For the truckers? For the Mom’s getting arrested at school board meetings and labeled terrorists? For all the churches in our cities, in our regions, in our countries?! 
With the world posed at the brink of war – why are we not praying this?! Signs and wonders are how we win! This is spiritual NOT of this world!! This world is just seeing symptom of the spirit world.

Do me a favor – pray it. Pray it over everyone. Pray it over me and you and everyone reading, in agreement, in one accord with us – outside of time and space but in the spirit. Let us see a move!

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Verse 31

Sharing in All Things – I have to address this. NOT EVERYTHING IN THE BIBLE IS IN THERE FOR INSTRUCTION. Lots of things are in there for historical information. So let’s discuss the early church and them sharing. They were poor at first, coming from living in camps following Jesus – they had nothing. The new converts were being kicked out of the temple and the temple ran the social security system. They took care of the poor, the widows, the orphans, the elderly, etc. But the early church was poor as well and could not care for each other. In camp with Jesus they shared everything – so they thought, this might work. This time of socialism only works for the short run, when it is voluntary and everyone is in one accord, like the disciples following Jesus. At first it worked.
But as they grew and had new believers mixed in with seasoned believers and everyone was no longer on the same page it started to fall apart. They needed people to give according to what they were told to by God and some people’s gifting is to support the ministries. So after the finances got bad, there was never the exceeding abundant that God promised, they had to switch to the system God set up. The church began accepting tithes and offerings.

Here is an interesting thing. The persecution from the Romans did not really start until they found out the church was accepting money – Rome had rules against anyone collecting money except them (and the temple – but they destroyed the temple).  Before that there was Roman favoritism of the Pharisees for votes and political gain – it benefited the officials to rule against the church and keep them happy. But that did not escalate to full persecution. It was the money issue that escalated things. So Rome came for them, but they were operating in a loop hole. Which only made the Roman government angrier. And God blessed them and this made them mad too. That is how the Roman Government got involved in persecuting the church.

So – if you hear anyone talking about how the early church was socialist, and therefore socialism is good. Remind them that the early church went bankrupt and switched to the current system of accepting tithes and offerings.

It is important to understand they tried something and it did not work. So they had to do something else and that this is NOT instruction to live in a commune or become a socialist. In their small numbers and with pure intentions, it was easy to switch the system – but in a government /national situation once those rights are forfeited and a corrupt leader in place – there is no coming back. We must understand and not give away what rights we still have, especially in this world were socialistic ideals are spreading among the youth more than ever.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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