Scripture Reading: Acts 4:23-31
“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak Your word with boldness, while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:29,30)
After their encounter with the Sanhedrin, Peter and John returned to their friends and reported what the chief priests and elders had said to them (v. 23). When the people heard the report, they immediately went to prayer. These early Christians believed in the sovereignty of God. Thus they began their prayer with these words: “Sovereign Lord, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea everything in them…” (v. 24). They knew from the Scriptures that the opposition directed toward Jesus was part of God’s sovereign plan (vs. 25,26). They also knew that the followers of Christ would face opposition and threats as well (v. 29). Because they knew these things, they prayed for boldness and courage.
I have just returned from a trip to Taiwan where I attended the board meeting of Christ’s College. I met with a Chinese Christian leader who told me about the amazing growth and witness of the church in mainland China. God is at work among the Chinese people. In spite of opposition and threats, the Christians there continue to speak boldly in the name of Jesus Christ. Some face severe opposition and even prison, but they do not remain silent. It is predicted that within the next 10 to 15 years there will be well over 200 million Christians in China. I am sure these Chinese Christians can relate to our passage which tells of the opposition the early Christians faced.
When I hear of these things, I look at the lack of boldness among most Christians in our churches today. We fail to speak of Christ and yet we have so little opposition compared to many of our brothers and sisters around the wold. The evangelical church in the West is in decline. We are loosing our influence on the culture. One day Christians in our country may face greater opposition. How long will we keep our guilty silence? When will we take the Great Commission seriously in our own land? All we have to do is to reach out to unbelievers and tell them about the love, mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus. We easily can befriend our neighbors, colleagues at work, fellow students and others. As we purposefully develop friendships with them, we can then share what God has done for us in Jesus. It is so simple and we face so little opposition.
God is sovereign. He rules and He over-rules. He has a plan and nothing can thwart His perfect will. We can trust Him to give us courage and boldness to share the love of Jesus with others. We have His Spirit who empowers us, and we have nothing to fear.
Lord Jesus, You are sovereign over all things. You are the Creator of the heavens and the earth. No matter what opposition or threats we face, we can trust You to protect us and empower us to live out our faith before this unbelieving world. We pray for our brothers and sisters in the world who do face serious opposition. Grant them boldness to continue in their witness.
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