Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Acts 4:13-31

13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16"What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name."
18Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. 20For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
21After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.
23On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You 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?
26The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the Lord
and against his Anointed One. 27Indeed 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. 28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
31After 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.

Questions to consider:

• Why do the men of the council say nothing publicly in opposition to Peter and John? Why
are they concerned about them?
• If you were in this situation, how would you respond?
• List the different parts of the disciples’ prayer. What is significant about its order?
• Describe the God in whom the disciples believe as revealed by their prayer.
• How does God answer their prayer?
• Do you usually pray for deliverance from difficult circumstances or for boldness in them?
Does this passage challenge the way you usually respond?

Possibilities for prayer:

Sometimes we are faced with situations that are frightening or uncomfortable. It’s often our natural response to ask God to remove us from the trying situation--who really wants to be uncomfortable? But today let’s try to imitate the example that Peter and John set in this passage. Instead of asking God to take away the hard stuff, let’s ask Him to walk with us through it, and to have the courage and boldness necessary to face it with His Spirit.