Holy Spirit Boldness

You remember in the Bible where the Apostles Peter and John were arrested because the Jewish leaders were very disturbed by the Apostles’ teaching that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead.
(Acts 4:2)

The two Apostles were thrown in jail, and the next day, the guards brought them before the “council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest.” (Acts 4:5-6)

In Israel, Peter and John were facing the full force of the law. They were in serious trouble. What we may forget are the ages of these two Apostles. Peter was no more than thirty years old, and John was probably in his late teens or early twenties – some of Jesus’ disciples may have been as young as thirteen. Both had been raised in a small town and were fishermen. But now, these small-town boys faced the force of their society, culture, and law.

When Peter and John were taken from the jail and brought before these “important” men, they did not give in to fear. What appeared to be a nation against two “hicks” was actually the leaders against the Holy Spirit!

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people

Acts 4:8

The leaders were amazed at the boldness of Peter and John. The leaders did all they could to silence these two guys, but the Apostles didn’t accept the message.

But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.

Acts 4:19-20

Notice that the message to the leaders was not one of violence or revolution. Instead, it was a matter of free speech. We find in Romans 1:18 this same theme: “…who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

Once again, we are told in God’s Word that ungodly men use the suppression of free speech in their attempt to silence God’s message; of course, they fail. Suppressing any will of God is a fool’s errand.

Now, in our world, there are powerful forces that once again want to silence the message of Jesus Christ. They want to prevent this truly good news from being heard by ordinary people. They attempt to do the same thing that the Apostles faced. Likewise, we should reply the way Peter and John replied and trust that the Holy Spirit will do for us what He has done continually for two-thousand years.

Image by Tep Ro from Pixabay

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Even a Good Report Needs Prayer

Today I was reminded of the account of Hezekiah, the king of Judah. For me, it’s one of the most encouraging events in the Old Testament. 2 Kings 19

Being Told That You’re Junior Varsity

The Assyrians, led by Sennacherib, were preparing to attack Jerusalem. The enemy arrived at Jerusalem after having a winning season of attacks, having conquered Israel and many nations that were thought of as bigger and stronger than Jerusalem. However, none of them worshiped the one true God.

Now the Assyrians had a letter delivered to Hezekiah that told him all the reasons why Hezekiah and Jerusalem would be defeated. This was more than “trash-talk,” this was disrespecting All Mighty God. So, Hezekiah does what we all should do when paired against a top-ranked opponent; he sought help from God. For Hezekiah, he sent a message to Isaiah, the prophet, to hear from God.

Keeping it Personal

Isaiah tells Hezekiah’s servants to tell Hezekiah that God spoke, saying that God would send the Assyrians back from where they came; game over.

Here’s the critical part. After Hezekiah heard from Isaiah, Hezekiah took the letter from the Assyrians and laid it out for God to look at it. Then Hezekiah prayed, saying to God that the threat from the Assyrians was not against Hezekiah but against Almighty God! Hezekiah’s prayer came from a deep understanding of the relationship he personally had with God. So, the battle was not against him or Judah; the Assyrians were attacking God!

Why did Hezekiah pray after already hearing from God? Because, as Jesus taught during His earthly ministry, we are to ask. Hezekiah had been told; now, he needed to ask. Then God has Isaiah send a message to Hezekiah to say to the king that because Hezekiah had prayed, God would send Sennacherib and the Assyrians back to their home with, metaphorically, their tail between their legs.

Even a Good Report Needs Prayer

God saved Hezekiah and Judah. What we need to learn is that even when we are told that our enemy will be defeated, we still need to pray and ask God for victory. Maybe we are battling a medical problem, and our doctor tells us that we will be okay; we still need to pray and ask God for victory. Why? Because we need the victory that comes from God. It’s personal.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

Even when we are told that we will be okay, we need to ask, seek, and/or knock. This is the pattern that Jesus has set for us.

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I know my redeemer lives

Below is an article from Open Doors USA about Christian churches that remain in Syria. How can people stay in such an oppressive environment? And, even so, how can they dare to serve Jesus?

You know the answer. We find it in the oldest book of the Old Testament; the book of Job. Here’s what Job said. It’s what motivates our brothers and sisters in Syria and it is what motivates us, here in our ever increasingly oppressive environment.

Job 19:25-27 New International Version (NIV)
25 I know that my redeemer lives,     
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,     
yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him     
with my own eyes—I, and not another.     
How my heart yearns within me!

As Bombs Explode, Syrian Pastor Makes Dangerous Choice to Bring Hope – Open Doors USA

Throughout Syria, churches have stayed open and become Centers of Hope–led by men and women of deep faith.

While you may think that churches ceased to exist in the region, through your prayers and support throughout Syria, churches have stayed open since the war started. Led by men and women of deep faith like Father Abdallah and his wife, Aghna, several churches have even turned their buildings (or rented new spaces) into Centers of Hope where they can feed the hungry, dress the needy, comfort the weeping and share the gospel. Below, Pastor Abdallah looks back at the last eight years and shares what’s happening now.Learn more here:

As Bombs Explode, Syrian Pastor Makes Dangerous Choice to Bring Hope – Open Doors USA April 2, 2019 byLindy Lowry in Middle EastStories of Persecution

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