How to Have Boldness- Acts 4:1-22

Weekly Devotional- May 22, 2017

Tertullian, the early church father, stated that “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” What did he mean by this? Essentially he was stating that rather than hurting the church, persecution actually helps to spread the church. Throughout history, when the church has been persecuted, it has expanded and its impact has been enhanced. Persecution furthers God’s kingdom.

In Acts 4 we catch our first glimpse of Peter and John facing persecution. In chapter 3 they had just healed a man who had been lame from birth. They had been preaching the gospel to the crowds who had gathered to learn more about this miracle. Their preaching caught the attention of the Temple leaders. Acts 4:2 says that these leaders were troubled by what they heard.

What was their response? They arrested Peter and John. In the verses that follow we see the boldness of Peter and John. We need to understand that proclaiming the gospel will always require boldness. The question is, “How can we have this boldness?” While there is much in this passage from which we can learn, I specifically want to focus on 3 ways we can gain boldness.

1- Time with Jesus leads to boldness.

Verse 13 is an amazing verse.

“When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they wereuneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

What enabled these men to have boldness was not a seminary degree. It was not a special class they had taken. What contributed to their boldness was time with Jesus. And the time they had spent with Jesus was apparent to others.

The first requirement needed for your life to have an eternal impact is time spent with Jesus. If you want more boldness, spend more time with Jesus.

2- Seeing lives changed leads to boldness.

The man who had been healed was standing with them before the Temple leaders. These leaders could not deny the fact that a life had been changed.

You may have had your life dramatically changed by the power of the gospel. You can honestly say that you are not the same as you used to be and it is because of your relationship with God. God changed your life. Perhaps you have seen the power of the gospel transform the lives of other people.

Witnessing the life-changing power of the gospel will give you boldness. It will give you boldness unless you have forgotten about the transformation that has taken place. Take some time and remember how God has changed your life.

3- A desire to obey God leads to boldness.

Verses 19 & 20 are challenging verses.

But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide;  for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.

It is clear that the top priority for Peter and John was obedience to God. Some people lack boldness because their desire to please others and be accepted by others is greater than their desire to obey God.

Boldness will be lacking in your life until your main goal is obedience to God.

Strive this week to spend time with Jesus. Remember how God has changed your life and the lives of others. Cultivate a desire to be obedient to God above all else. Do these things and your boldness will increase.

Weekly Devotional: May 15, 2017

Acts 3

I recently heard about a missionary in Africa who experienced something amazing. He was called to the house of one of the village elders who was sick and on the verge of death. The village had done all they could. They had called the village witch-doctor, they had tried all their medicinal herbs, and they had prayed to their idols — but the village elder was becoming more and more weak.

They knew the missionary was a religious man who often prayed. As a last resort, they asked him to travel to their village and pray for their elder. The missionary explained that his God did not normally provide healing like this, but he agreed to go. They made the journey, walked into the small mud hut that was filled with smoke. He laid his hands on the village elder and prayed for him — and then he left.

A couple of weeks later the missionary traveled back to this same village. As he arrived, the village people approached him with singing and dancing. Leading them was the village elder who had been on the verge of death. God had answered the missionary’s prayer and healed this man. Many in the village turned to the true God as a result.

In Acts 3 we find a similar story, but the question is: how does it fit into the whole of the book? How does it help us understand the formation of the church and the mission God has given us?

The focus of this chapter is trusting in the power of Jesus. When we do trust that power we will make him the center of all we do.

There are several questions we can ask that can help us determine if we really have Jesus at the center of all we do.

1- Do I have faith in the power of God?

In verses 1-8 God works through Peter and John to perform an amazing miracle. The point of this is that Peter and John had faith in the power of God. Verse 6 states “But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Later in verse 16 Peter says that, “by faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.”

They trusted in the power of God to do what only God could do. We should live and minister in a way that demonstrates that we trust in the power of God.

2- Am I filled with amazement when God works?

Far too many Christians are filled more with cynicism and skepticism than amazement. We listen to stories of God working and are skeptical.

Yes, it may be different now than it was in the New Testament, but God is still a miracle-working God, and when we see God doing amazing things in people’s lives, in their marriages, and in our churches, we should stop and be amazed at the power of God that is at work.

3- Do I reflect God’s glory?

Peter and John knew it was God who was working. They knew it was God who was saving. They knew it was God who was healing. They knew that it was not them and that they deserved none of the credit.

We must resist the temptation to absorb the glory that is due only to God.

4- Do I take advantage of opportunities  to communicate the Gospel?

This presentation of the gospel is seen in verses 13-26. It is interesting that the presentation is Christ-centered (vs. 13-16, 18, 20), clear on sin (vs. 13-15), calls for repentance (vs. 19a), and is certain of forgiveness (vs. 19b).

What is even more important is that Peter took advantage of the opportunity. He saw people following the man who had been healed, wondering what had happened. To Peter, this crowd meant an opportunity to proclaim Christ.

Are we that willing to speak to others about God’s power to save?

It is easy to trust in our abilities more than God’s power. When we do that we will also be guilty of failing to reflect glory back to God. In order to live a life on mission for God we must make Jesus the center of our lives. When we do, these points mentioned above will become more of a reality in our lives.

 

Weekly Devotional: May 8, 2017

Acts 1-2

I recently read the original mission statement for a well-known university. It read, “To be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of your life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ.”

This institution was founded in 1636 and originally employed exclusively Christian professors, emphasized character formation in its students above all else, and placed a strong emphasis on equipping ministers to share the good news. Every diploma read, “Truth for Christ and the Church.”

You’ve probably heard of this school. It’s called Harvard University.

When founded, Harvard had a Christian mission, but over the years they drifted from that mission to the point that they no longer resemble what was originally envisioned.

The reality is that churches can also experience ‘mission drift.’ Churches have been given a mission that they are to pursue. When churches experience mission drift, they lose sight of what they have been called to accomplish.

The way we fix mission drift in the church is by going back to the book of Acts and rediscovering our God-given mission. Here are a few of the highlights from Acts 1-2.

1- The church has a clearly defined mission.

Acts 1:8 clearly communicates the mission of the church. We are to be witnesses of Christ both locally and globally. This same mission is repeated in Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, and Luke 24:46-47, & John 20:21. This mission is why we exist. It must be our focus.

2- To accomplish the mission we must demonstrate unity through prayer.

In verse 14 of Acts 1 the disciples’ immediate response to the mission they had been given was to unite in prayer. Prayer is a theme we will see often in the book of Acts, but it isn’t just the prayer that is important. Unity is also stressed. One of the key ways Christians and churches can demonstrate unity (and further develop their unity) is by uniting together and praying for the same thing – primarily that the mission would be accomplished.

3- The mission is connected to a message.

Acts 2 contains Peter’s message at Pentecost. In this sermon we learn valuable truths. The primary truth, however, is that the mission we have been given cannot be separated from the message of Christ. Jesus is central to the message and to the mission.

If Jesus is central to the mission, and we are to accomplish the mission, it is only logical to conclude that Jesus must be central to our lives. Lives that ignore Jesus will never be able to communicate to others that they need Jesus.

4- A commitment to the mission will change our priorities.

Acts 2:42-47 is perhaps some of the most familiar verses in the book of Acts in relation to the church. In them we see what the early church was committed to. Their top priority was to glorify God, and they did this by being devoted to the right things. There are 7 things we find. They were devoted to biblical teaching, biblical fellowship, remembering Christ, biblical prayer, biblical generosity, biblical unity, and living a public faith.

When we have the priority of glorifying God by being devoted to the correct things, our lives and our churches will have a greater impact.

5- A change in priorities requires intentionality.

The beginning of Acts 2:42 contains a key word. That word is “devoted.” The disciples devoted themselves to the tasks mentioned above. This change in focus did not (nor will it ever) happen by accident. If we are to change our priorities, in any area of life, we must be intentional about it.

What’s the point? We must be about the mission – as churches and as individuals. So, here are some questions: Have you or your church experienced mission drift? Have you lost sight of what you have been called to do? Are you neglecting the message of Jesus in your life and in your church’s outreach?

Let Acts 1-2 help realign you and your focus.