VIDEO Fight or Flight!: Peter and John

For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. Acts 4:20

The Sanhedrin, a Jewish council simply didn’t know what to do with Peter, John, and the other disciples. These apostles, who had recently been cowardly and craven, were now as bold as lions. They were enflamed by the Resurrection of Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit. Fleeing was no longer an option. When the council commanded them to cease their teaching, Peter replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

Many forces are trying to silence Christians in the world. Though two thousand years have passed, the age long opposition to the Gospel still exists. In some lands, it takes the form of overt persecution. In others, secular forces seek to intimidate believers into silence.

But the Word of God cannot be silenced, and true Christians will always find ways of proclaiming the Good News. We are not retreaters who flee, but soldiers who fight. Our Gospel is unstoppable in this world.

Boldness is acting, by the power of the Holy Spirit, on an urgent conviction in the face of some threat. Jon Bloom


Persecuted for Truth’s Sake, Part 2 (Acts 4:13–31)

God’s Storybook

God blessed them. . . . God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:28, 31

Wanting to enjoy the beautiful day, I headed out for a walk and soon met a new neighbor. He stopped me and introduced himself: “My name is Genesis, and I’m six and a half years old.” 

“Genesis is a great name! It’s a book in the Bible,” I replied. 

“What’s the Bible?” he asked. 

“It’s God’s storybook about how He made the world and people and how He loves us.” 

His inquisitive response made me smile: “Why did He make the world and people and cars and houses? And is my picture in His book?” 

While there isn’t a literal picture of my new friend Genesis or the rest of us in the Scriptures, we’re a big part of God’s storybook. We see in Genesis 1 that “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God He created them” (v. 27). God walked with them in the garden, and then warned about giving in to the temptation to be their own god (ch. 3). Later in His book, God told about how, in love, His Son, Jesus, came to walk with us again and brought about a plan for our forgiveness and the restoration of His creation.

As we look at the Bible, we learn that our Creator wants us to know Him, talk with Him, and even ask Him our questions. He cares for us more than we can imagine.

By:  Anne Cetas

REFLECT & PRAY

Where do you see yourself in God’s story? In what ways are you experiencing His fellowship?

Loving God, thank You for making me a part of Your story. May I love You and others as You love me.

Read Understanding the Bible: The Gospels at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0414.

That All May Know Him

1 Timothy 2:1-7

A friend of mine recently told me about a cab driver who had religious symbols representing Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism displayed in his taxi. My friend asked why he had so many contrasting religions represented. The driver said they were for protection. When asked which one served that purpose, the man said, “I don’t know. But I want to be sure that one will work, so I have all of them.”

Here in America, it’s easy to think most people know about Jesus Christ, but there are men and women we see each day who have no knowledge of our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says, “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all.” That truth is the foundation for the Christian faith. Through the Son, we are forgiven and reconciled to the Father.

Don’t assume that everyone in your life is familiar with the good news of Jesus Christ. Whether it’s a coworker, a new friend, or your long-time neighbor, you may be the only person they know who can tell them about the one true God and Savior.

Promised Performance

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Our Lord gave this powerful promise to perform the good work that He began at and with the church at Philippi (the “you” is plural in the Greek text).

It is an earthly, temporal promise; that is, the promise is to “perfect” the good work “until the day of Jesus Christ.” The church at Philippi closed its earthly doors centuries ago. Something much more than mere continuation is pledged.

Surely our Lord has in mind His assurance that “the gates of hell” would not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18), but there were some churches to whom Christ spoke who were in danger of losing their “candlestick” or church-hood (Revelation 2:4; 3:16). What, then, can we be assured of by this marvelous promise?

Perhaps the basic “good work” that our Lord refers to is seen in the list of commendations given to the seven churches in the letters dictated to John at the beginning of Revelation. All except Laodicea had some strengths. Even troubled Sardis had a “few names” not yet sullied and “things which remain” that were still good and worth preserving (Revelation 3:1-4). Our Lord knows all His works “from the beginning” (Acts 15:18) and sees the eternal fruit of our ministry that ripples long beyond our short earthly life (Revelation 14:13).

There is also the mystery of our being “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22)—a “spiritual house” that produces “spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). All of this, perhaps, is what our Lord had in mind when He promised to perform the good work He had started in Philippi. HMM III

Supernatural Energies

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. —Isaiah 40:31

It is possible to work far beyond the normal strength of the human constitution and yet experience little or no fatigue because the energy for the work has been provided, not by the burning up of human tissue, but by the indwelling Spirit of power. This has been realized by a few unusual souls, and the pity is that they are unusual.

Attention has recently been focused upon the fact that ministers suffer a disproportionately high number of nervous breakdowns compared with other men. The reasons are many, and for the most part they reflect credit on the men of God. Still I wonder if it is all necessary. I wonder whether we who claim to be sons of the new creation are not allowing ourselves to be cheated out of our heritage. Surely it should not be necessary to do spiritual work in the strength of our natural talents. God has provided supernatural energies for supernatural tasks. The attempt to do the work of the Spirit without the Spirit’s enabling may explain the propensity to nervous collapse on the part of Christian ministers.   SIZ184-185

Lord, today I pray for that pastor who is about to give up and quit from sheer exhaustion. Give him that supernatural enabling. Amen.

Humility—Evidence of Godliness

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. —Psalm 115:1

Someone wrote to the godly Macarius of Optino that his spiritual counsel had been helpful. “This cannot be,” Macarius wrote in reply. “Only the mistakes are mine. All good advice is the advice of the Spirit of God, His advice that I happened to have heard rightly and to have passed on without distorting it.”

There is an excellent lesson here that we must not allow to go unregarded. It is the sweet humility of the man of God. “Only the mistakes are mine.” He was fully convinced that his own efforts could result only in mistakes, and that any good that came of his advice must be the work of the Holy Spirit operating within him.

Apparently this was more than a sudden impulse of self-depreciation, which the proudest of men may at times feel—it was rather a settled conviction with him, a conviction that gave direction to his enter life. TWP063

The spirit of humility is conclusive evidence of vital godliness. It enters into the essence of religion. Here the new nature eminently discovers itself. The humble spirit is that childlike, Christlike temper, which is exclusively the effect of the almighty power of God upon the heart. DTC130

Breaking the Power of Addiction

Romans 7:14-19

In Christ we have been released from what once kept us enslaved. People who have experienced this liberation testify with passion to the power of Christ that freed them from bondage. That which once enslaved them is now rendered powerless.

Addiction has been the curse of our age. In reality, however, the enslaving power of sin has always been part of the human predicament. It was in recognition of this that Paul wrote: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… the evil I do not want to do—this I keep doing” (Romans 7:15-19).

The addictive capacity that we each have is powerful. Recognizing our inability to suppress or escape the enslaving power of sin propels us with abandon to the grace of Jesus Christ.

Addiction is defined as any compulsive, habitual behavior that limits the freedom of human desire. We attach our desires to specific objects and become completely consumed by the habitual behavior. It controls us. We want to break away from the object of our craving desires, but we cannot. It rules us. It torments us.

The cruelest dimension to addictive behavior is found in those substances that cause personal physical destruction or injury to other people. For the lives of innocent people—so often children or spouse—to become shattered because of addiction is similarly wicked.

Abstaining from harmful substances and behaviors is not only a decision of principle, it is also sheer common sense. A lament of the addict is the regret that they experimented in the first place.

“I will abstain from alcoholic drink, tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.” In making this commitment, Salvation Army soldiers strengthen themselves in a very tangible way for spiritual warfare. They engage in the action unfettered and alert.

Richard Munn, The War Cry