Thursday, August 10, 2023
[The disciples fervently prayed,] "And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.
The early disciples were facing a grave test of religious and political persecution, including the threat of death from the group responsible for crucifying Jesus — priests, along with Caiaphas, Alexander, the captain of the Temple guard, Sadducees, rulers, elders, teachers of religious law, and the Jewish ruling council.  I believe that Luke lists all of these officials aligned against Jesus' followers to impress on us just how much the established power was against the early Jesus movement in Jerusalem. Peter and John were undeterred in their proclamation of Jesus.  They concluded their message with these emphatic words:
"Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard." 
When these two apostles returned to other believers after being threatened and released, the group gathered in fervent prayer. Their prayer meeting did not focus on the threats or danger the early Jesus movement faced but instead referred to Psalm 2 and ended with our verses for today. They didn't ask God to stop the opposition but prayed for boldness and power in the face of the threats. As these early believers joined their hearts in this bold prayer, God answered them with His presence and power! They experienced God's mighty power as they prayed. Their bold witness moving forward and their unity in the face of persecution and threat further demonstrated God's strength working in them.  Their boldness before, during, and after their gathered prayer time became an inspirational model for believers over the ages. The question for us in our relationship with each other as brothers and sisters is this: Do we gather together and pray this kind of prayer in the face of persecution, opposition, and growing governmental threats against us? Acts 4:1, 5-6.
 Acts 4:8-12.
 Acts 4:19-20.
 Acts 4:23-31.
 Acts 4:32-35.
Almighty God, Creator, and loving Father, please forgive us for whining about the challenges of living our faith in today's world. Embolden us with the power of Your Spirit as we seek to be powerful, respectful, and gentle yet passionate witnesses for Jesus. We pray this in His name. Amen.
Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.
'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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