Saturday, September 27, 2014

Praying for Boldness



 
“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.”  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.” – Acts 4:29-31

After reading some of the news this morning, it is increasingly evident that we are living in a time like that of the early disciples were loving God could cost you your life.  The disciples had only healed a man who had been crippled since birth.  Peter and John came by him at the gate called Beautiful and Peter said to him “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  And the man, who was over 40 years old, got up and walked.
Peter and John were taken into custody by the law of the day.  Now take note that it was not a crime to heal a man of a terrible disease.  That wasn’t why they were arrested.  They healed in the name of “Jesus Christ”, and the people that saw it surrounded them and were anxious to understand the power in which they performed this miracle.  Peter and John then preached salvation through Jesus Christ for restoration and justification of the very people who had screamed ‘crucify him!’ only days before. 

When the Sanhedrin, the Jewish legal counsel of the day, asked “By what power or by what name have you done this?” they boldly answered that it was Jesus who they had crucified, and even tried to preach salvation to them.  THAT is what got them arrested. 

The Sanhedrin threatened them not to say the name of Jesus in public, and yet, Peter and John pretty much snubbed their noses at it and said they’d choose to serve God instead of the Sanhedrin!  But instead of calling for their deaths, the Sanhedrin let them go! They released them without punishment!  Why?  Because those that believed were of such a great number and so present in the city! Acts 4:21 says that “because of the people” they knew they could not harm them.  Believers were in one accord, in agreement, a united force to be reckoned with.  So they released Peter and John.

Peter and John then went back to the other disciples and told them of what had happened, and they all prayed to God for boldness.  The prayer is in Acts 4:24-30, and says:

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.”

Could we not pray that same prayer today? Faced with the Muslim beheadings that are going on within our own nation (Oklahoma, just yesterday), faced with the threat of Isis killing thousands of Christians in Iraq, faced with the adversity within our own 50 states by which we are now told we cannot speak of Jesus in schools or public assemblies, would not these same words fit our prayers?

Allow me to beat a dead horse for a minute.  Acts 4:24 says “they raised their voice to God with one accord”.  When we the body of Christ are separated into multiple denominational barriers that all war against each other, we are not in “one accord”.  We are small cells of believers easily overtaken by the enemy – and that enemy is often our own brothers and sisters in Christ.  How that must sicken Jesus!  Read John 17:20-23 when Jesus prays for all believers immediately before His death.  He didn’t pray that we’d have nice churches, popular youth groups, large auditoriums, feed the poor, or even finance a bunch of mission trips! He prayed that we would “be one in Us [God, Jesus, Holy Spirit], that the world may believe that You sent Me”.  The reason we do not have more believers is not because we don’t have mission trips, don’t have the right ambiance in our church auditorium, or don’t have all the programs we need to bring non-believers to our doors.  It’s because we are not ONE.  Nothing is as opposite of the “love one another even as I have loved you” command Jesus gave than a bunch of so-called Christians arguing over what the proper way to take communion is, or what is true baptism, or what the box the tithes are to be put in should look like, or … ok, the horse is dead, and I’m done. 

Being non-denominational does not mean I don’t believe in anything.  It means I believe strongly what I believe, which is the Bible from front to back, and that we should not argue the smaller points of service. Read 2 Timothy 2:14-19 for yourself, and then ask how we got all these denominations anyhow.  Answer: sin.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we must pray for boldness for ourselves and the generations to come.  We must raise our children to be willing to fight for Christ, to fight to follow. 

Understandably, those that don’t believe in Christ will ask why it important that their children become Christians.  Good question.  In case you haven’t noticed, Christians don’t go around killing those that don’t believe in Jesus Christ.  We’re against murder as a whole.  As part of who we are, we accept that we are to love all people, regardless of what they believe.  We want those we love to be Christians, but we can love you even if you don’t through the love that Christ has placed in us. 

Ask yourself, what happens after Christians are gone?  What if the next thing Isis seeks out are those that believe in Buddha, Astrology, Scientology, or some other god?  Do you believe strong enough to be willing to die for your belief?  That’s what sets Christians apart from other religions.  We’ve been dying for what we believe for thousands of years because we have found that in Christ there is such joy and peace that we would never want to live without it.

Now the time has come for those of us who have been spared martyrdom to possibly risk our own lives for Christ.  It is only a matter of time, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, before the world does come to our doorstop with their hatred for Christians.   Pray for boldness.

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.”

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