It started with a miracle (Acts 3: 1-11). Something astonishing and inexplicable happened. This guy was totally healed, and everyone started to ask questions. So Peter seized the opportunity to relate this new event to one that had happened a few weeks previously – to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (3:12-26).
The speech alerted the authorities who grabbed Peter and John and hauled them before the council (4:1-15). It’s important to remember that this is the same council that had connived and conspired at the death of Jesus. Peter and John must have known that the same fate was hanging over them.
And yet they speak with amazing self-possession, and breezy confidence.
Then the council arrive at their decision (4:16-22): Just keep it down, fellas. Don’t speak in the name of Jesus and we’ll let things be.
P & J’s response is like an explosion of joy: It’s an expression of how not to win friends and influence people. Given that their awareness of impending execution must have been pretty high, they smile back (4:19-20): “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
The council are flummoxed. They release them, and the disciples go back to the fellowship group and pray.
They know that persecution is coming. But they also know that the Holy Spirit is upon them, and they just cannot be silent. In this world you will have trouble (on the one hand) but take heart, I have overcome the world (on the other).
Which hand are you going to emphasise?
Take a look at the prayer in 4:23-31 for a picture of what happens when the church prays.
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.
When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.
You 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? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.
Indeed 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. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
After 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.
Think about who they prayed to…
They filled their minds with who God was…
He is “Sovereign Lord” Despotes The word literally means “Slave-owner.” God is the absolute Lord. Don’t you fret yourself with what the middle-management come up with!
And they trace the power of the Sovereign Lord in three important verbs:
MAKER: “You made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.
REVEALER: “You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David”
DECIDER: “They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”
You can either tell your God how big your problem is or tell your problem how big your God is. Your choice.
Second, think about what they prayed for themselves
“Consider their threats”
“Enable your servants to speak”
“Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders”
“Through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Look at the size of the problem!
Empower us to tackle it!
God! Work through us mightily!
So what happens when the church prays?
“The place where they were meeting was shaken.” The more you are “shaken” by the power of the Holy Spirit, the more unshaken you will be in the face of adversity.
“ And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” There is absolutely nothing that we can accomplish without the Holy Spirit. Nothing at all.
But with Him, there is nothing that cannot be done.
“They spoke the word of God boldly. “
The very thing that they were warned not to do was what they asked God to enable them to do. When the authorities bully you into silence, you have to decide what to do and who to obey. The disciples were clear: Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.
Lord, let it be so in our day, and in our Church.
- What We Know and Believe!!! (ireport.cnn.com)
- A Prayer for Boldness (christianitymatters.com)
- God Is Talking To You (6) (vanguardngr.com)
- Boldness (abundantgraceandlove.wordpress.com)
- 100 verses for facing any situation you can imagine (pastormikesays.wordpress.com)
- The Holy Spirit as a person (jmdansville.wordpress.com)