I am not a particularly brave person. Are you?
I feel that I should intervene when I see people littering but don’t.
I have on occasions spoken out about injustice in the workplace. When I have it hasn’t gone well. It can make you think twice about doing the same again. It doesn’t help to make me courageous.
Maybe you have had similar experiences where you step out and get knocked back so you back off because of fear.
Fear keeps us from intervening and sometimes that is wise because it is dangerous.
Jesus friends were like us. They saw their good friend Jesus arrested, beaten and killed. It frightened them. They were justifiably afraid that the same might happen to them. They lived in fear not faith.
They stayed together partly because they were frightened and partly because they were told by Jesus to wait until the Holy Spirit came.
So they did as Jesus asked.
Then while they were together the Holy Spirit fell on them. You can read about this by clicking here.
They started to boldly tell people about Jesus. The Holy Spirit had given them bravery and also the ability to be able to tell people about Jesus in a way that they could all understand no matter what language they spoke.
Now they were living in faith not fear. That was the difference that the Holy Spirit Power made. We need that same Spirit fire to live in faith not fear.
A few days later Peter and John healed a beggar. It caused quite a stir and attracted a crowd. So Paul tells the onlookers about Jesus. Yet more people became Christians. Last time we talked about the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives. One of them is healing. This is the gift that Peter exercises here. He also uses the gift of teaching where his words have the power to change lives.
The priests and Sadducees didn’t like this so they are seized by the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees. They are put in jail overnight. The next day they were asked what power had enabled them to heal the beggar. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit tells them that it is because of Jesus. Peter and John were then told that they were not to speak about Jesus again. But Peter and John replied that they needed to judge who it is better to obey God, or them
They are threatened again and released.
Since they were filled with the Spirit they are living in faith not fear.
When they get back to their friends they tell them wat has happened.
Then then pray together.
If that were you or me what would we pray for: perhaps protection? But not them: read the prayer and what happened afterwards. You can read about this by clicking here
In this powerful faith filled prayer, they remind themselves that God is Lord of everything and in complete control. They pray in faith recognising that everything that has happened to Jesus was foretold. God is sovereign. They don’t pray for protection, they pray for boldness. They ask for more signs and wonders and ask for more boldness. As they pray the Spirit falls again and they are refilled and their prayer is answered. They want to live in faith not fear.
It is interesting that they actually didn’t pray to be filled by the Spirit they pray to be effective in serving God and the Spirit comes to empower them. I believe that we should ask ever day to be filled with the Holy Spirit and have experienced the amazing life change that comes from doing that. But maybe it is even more effective to pray to be bold and courageous in sharing our faith. Whatever way round it is done it is only as we are filled with the Holy Spirit that we have the power to live in faith not fear.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. Read the passages through a couple of times.
What words or phrases jump out at you? Why do you think that is?
2. Try to put yourself in Peter and John’s position as they walked past the beggar? What would you have done? Be honest.
3. Try to put yourself in Peter and John’s position. How would you feel, in the prison overnight? What would you think that God was up to? How would you feel if you were threatened as they were?
4. When it comes to living in fear or faith what is it that has the biggest effect on your life and decisions?
5. Having read the prayer, how does it make you feel? Compare it with the way that you pray or the way that you hear others pray? What are the features and differences?
6. As a result of looking at this passage is there anything that you would like to change in yourself. What are you going to do about it?