And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. However, many of those who heard the word believed. Acts 4:3-4
When Peter and John walked into the temple precincts one day at 3:00 p.m. to join in a time of prayer, they were met by a lame man asking alms. Peter replied, “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” (Acts 3:6). The healing of the lame man occasioned an impromptu sermon, but Peter’s message was interrupted when he and John were arrested by the temple priests and dragged off to a jail cell for the night.
But the Bible says, “However…”
“However, many of those who heard the word believed.” The disciples’ plight and their preaching spread the Gospel further than ever, resulting in more people hearing of Jesus.
Disruptive moments in our lives are upsetting, and none of us likes unwelcome surprises or sudden crises. But the Lord watches over His children and He has a purpose in every problem and a pathway through every pain.
Learn to add the word however to your vocabulary and watch to see how God is working.
God will never allow any action against you that is not in accord with His will for you. Jerry Bridges
Persecuted for Truth’s Sake, Part 1 (Acts 4:1–12)
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. Acts 2:5
Former Newsboys lead vocalist Peter Furler describes the performance of the band’s praise song “He Reigns.” The song paints a vivid picture of believers from every tribe and nation coming together to worship God in unity. Furler observed that whenever the Newsboys sang it he could sense the moving of the Holy Spirit in the gathering of believers.
Furler’s description of his experiences with “He Reigns” would likely have resonated with the crowds who converged on Jerusalem at Pentecost. When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4), things began to happen beyond anyone’s experience. As a result, Jews representing every nation came together in confusion, because each one heard their own language being spoken to make God’s wonders known (vv. 5–6, 11). Peter explained to the crowd that this was in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy in which God said, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (v. 17).
This all-inclusive display of God’s awesome power made the crowd receptive to Peter’s declaration of the gospel, leading to three thousand converts that day alone (v. 41). Following this spectacular kickoff, these new believers then returned to their corner of the world, taking the good news with them.
The good news still resounds today—God’s message of hope for all people. As we praise God together, His Spirit moves among us, bringing people of every nation together in wonderful unity. He reigns!
Reflect & Pray
In what ways do you see God’s image in other people? How can you view people from every tribe and nation through the lens of Jesus?
Dear heavenly Father, help me to reflect Your heart for all of Your people.
The world bombards us with messages that can trigger feelings of inferiority. Happiness and satisfaction are promised if we will only drive the latest car, wear the newest styles, or build up those muscles while shedding pounds. If we do not guard ourselves from commercialism, it will drive the truth of God from our mind, and we will pursue a fruitless search for adequacy and value.
So often we look at externals to prove to ourselves and others that we’re valuable. Or we think, If only I were better-looking, richer, or smarter, I would be accepted and esteemed. It’s not wise to let others’ opinions and standards determine our feelings about ourselves; the only accurate assessment of our worth comes from looking into the eyes of the One who loved us enough to die in our place.
Paul told his readers that true significance comes from knowing and understanding the full dimensions of God’s love for them. This knowledge is our anchor when feelings of worthlessness overwhelm or failures tempt us to berate ourselves and withdraw in defeat. Notice that the Lord doesn’t say He’ll give us all the qualities and possessions we think will overcome our sense of inferiority. Instead, He promises to strengthen us “in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16).
God is “able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think,” but His method is to work from the inside out, “according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20). If you struggle with feelings of inferiority, ask God to heal your soul by doing a great work within.
“Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” (Philippians 4:17)
The apostle Paul here was commending the Christians at Philippi as the only church that had sent an offering to help defray his expenses on his missionary trips. He calls such gifts “fruit” that would abound to their “account” (Greek logos, probably better rendered as “testimony”). Thus, God considers gifts of money to scriptural ministries to be like life-giving fruits on a healthy vine.
There are other types of fruits that a Christian life can produce. Paul regarded those he had helped lead to Christ as fruits. He wrote to the Christians at Rome: “I purposed to come unto you . . . that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles” (Romans 1:13).
Genuine traits of godly character are also called fruits. “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9). The classic passage, outlining the nine-fold fruit produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of a willing Christian, is Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” It is significant that all these attributes constitute one fruit, not nine fruits.
The tremendous importance of fruit-bearing in the Christian life was especially brought out by Christ in His famous discourse on the vine and the branches in John 15:1-16. In these verses, the word “fruit” occurs eight times. First, there is the warning: “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away” (John 15:2). If there is no fruit (or if the fruit is “corrupt fruit”) in the life, there is no assurance of any life at all.
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit” (John 15:8). To bring forth much fruit, we must abide (that is, “continue steadfastly”) in Christ (John 15:5). HMM
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Now we were made to worship, but the Scriptures tell us something else again. They tell us that man fell and kept not his first estate; that he forfeited the original glory of God and failed to fulfill the creative purpose, so that he is not worshiping now in the way that God meant him to worship. All else fulfills its design; flowers are still fragrant and lilies are still beautiful and the bees still search for nectar amongst the flowers; the birds still sing with their thousand-voice choir on a summer’s day, and the sun and the moon and the stars all move on their rounds doing the will of God.
And from what we can learn from the Scriptures we believe that the seraphim and cherubim and powers and dominions are still fulfilling their design—worshiping God who created them and breathed into them the breath of life. Man alone sulks in his cave. Man alone, with all of his brilliant intelligence, with all of his amazing, indescribable and wonderful equipment, still sulks in his cave. He is either silent, or if he opens his mouth at all, it is to boast and threaten and curse; or it’s nervous, ill-considered laughter, or it’s humor become big business, or it’s songs without joy. WMJ006-007
Oh loving God, bring us out of the cave! Amen.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me.—Psalm 138:7.
It is very helpful to make a habit of offering, morning by morning, the troubles of the day just beginning to our dear Lord, accepting His will in all things, especially in all little personal trials and vexations. Some persons have found great benefit from making, when first they wake, the act taught! To Madame de Chantal by St. Francis de Sales, accepting “all things tolerable and intolerable” for love of Christ; then at midday, a moment’s inward search to see whether there has been any voluntary slackening of submission, any deliberate opposition to God’s will, any hesitation in resisting the distaste or fretfulness, the impatience or discouragement we are tempted to feel when things go contrary to our own will and likings, making a fresh resolution to go on heartily; and, at night, a quick review of the day’s failures for which to ask pardon, and strength to go on better anew. Some such habit as this is a great check to that terrible hindrance of the spiritual life which, terrible though it be, is so apt to steal upon many good and earnest souls,—a complaining, grumbling, self-pitying spirit.
H.L. Sidney Lear.
“Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed.” Isa. 54:4
We shall not be ashamed of our faith. Carping critics may assail the Scriptures upon which we ground our belief, but every year the Lord will make it more and more clear that in His Book there is no error, no excess, and no omission. It is no discredit to be a simple believer; the faith which looks alone to Jesus is a crown of honor on any man’s head, and better than a star on his breast.
We shall not be ashamed of our hope. It shall be even as the Lord has said. We shall be fed, led, blest and rested. Our Lord will come, and then the days of our mourning shall be ended. How we shall glory in the Lord who first gave us lively hope, and then gave us that which we hoped for!
We shall not be ashamed of our love. Jesus is to us the altogether lovely, and never, never, shall we have to blush because we have yielded our hearts to Him. The sight of our glorious Well-beloved will justify the most enthusiastic attachment to Him. None will blame the martyrs for dying for Him. When the enemies of Christ are clothed with everlasting contempt, the lovers of Jesus shall find themselves honored by all holy beings, because they chose the reproach of Christ rather than the treasures of Egypt.