In the Good Ole Days of the Church – Acts 4:24,31

“When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God…After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.” Peter and John were taken into custody by the Temple guard and thrown into jail for healing a man at the Temple. Then they were taken to a hearing before the council of elders, which included the high priest and the priestly family. Peter and John testified before the council how and why the man was healed. Predictably, the council didn’t like their explanation and ordered them to quit teaching and preaching (and healing) in the name of Jesus. Peter and John’s response to the council’s order was predictable as well: “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard” (vs. 19-20). Peter and John were released by the council and went back to the other believers to report what had happened. The believers reacted to this persecution from the Jewish religious leaders by praying for God’s empowerment to help them accomplish His plans and purposes according to His Word in the Scriptures: “You spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the Lord and against his Messiah. In fact, this has happened here in this very city….And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (vs. 25-27, 29-30 quoting Psalm 2:1-2). In today’s church we would address persecution by devising a program or ministry. But the apostolic church didn’t form a persecution support group or organize a persecution outreach ministry. Back in those days they just prayed for God’s help. They prayed for God to help them confront the threat of persecution by empowering them to keep on preaching and healing in the name of Jesus. They prayed vehemently and with unity and they kept on praying until God answered them. They prayed until they were filled with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and, thus, enabled to preach the gospel with boldness and miraculous signs. Oh, how I long for the good ole days of the church!

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