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The Scriptorium

Once More, with Emphasis

Faith and obedience - the only way. Acts 5.21-28

Sin, Surge, Suffering, Rejoicing: Acts 5 (5)

Pray Psalm 86.1-3.

Bow down Your ear, O LORD, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!
Be merciful to me, O Lord,
For I cry to You all day long.

Sing Psalm 86.1-3.
(Andrews: Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven)
Bow down Your ear, O Lord and hear me; I am afflicted and much in need!
Rescue my godly soul, be near me; save me, O God, all my crying heed!
Lord, be gracious to me, Lord, be gracious to me, all day long I pray and plead.

Read Acts 5.1-28; meditate on verses 21-28.

Preparation
1. Why were the religious leaders angry at the apostles?

2. What were the apostles doing when they found them?

Meditation
Talk about the blinding power of sin! Didn’t they just try this a short while ago? And did it work then? So why should they think all this pomp and pressure, this huffing and puffing and bullying, would have any effect this time around?

These religious leaders could not explain what they were seeing, and they – as ever – feared inciting the people against themselves. So all their nefarious work was done very hush-hush and on the sly (v. 26). No wonder they were scratching their heads, wondering what this would come to (v. 24). They had indeed rendered a judgment and instructed the disciples not to preach or teach in the name of Jesus. There it is: an imposition on the disciples’ religious freedom! This time they would add a little emphasis to make their point.

But the apostles had already insisted they must obey God and not men. So they did. And they disobeyed knowing full well that they’d probably be right back there again, and maybe this time with a little more than a threat imposed against them (v. 40). But by their disobedience, the Good News of Jesus spread throughout the city ((v. 28).

Believers will always be opposed as we pursue the ongoing work of Christ. People won’t care how many good works we do, how clear and loving our presentation of the Gospel might be, or how determined we show ourselves. Some people simply hate the idea of not being their own god; they will not bow to the Lord for any reason, and they will resist His Kingdom as it unfolds right in front of their eyes.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Once More Again, with Emphasis”, because I need to hear it. And maybe you do too?

These disciples were being persecuted for their obedience to God and for their faith in Him. But their prayer request is not for relief. It is for courage: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word…” (Acts 4.29).

And when they were rescued from jail, the angel didn’t tell them to go home and hide. No. He tells them to “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5.20).

So without complaint, or another thought, “when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught” (Acts 5.21). There was no vacation time, or rest and relaxation after a rough night.
No. They were up early and back at being extremely obedient.

It's almost as if they were taking God’s Word seriously!
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me;  Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps. 23.4).
“Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you’” (Is. 35.4).
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1.7).

All of these profound promises are for us, as well. They are not just words. They are our life! (Deut. 32.47). And by them, we can live our lives as confidently and courageously as the disciples did.

We just need to be as obedient and trusting as they were; not waiting for some governmental intervention, whilst whining about our religious freedoms being impinged upon.

Realizing my shortcomings, I can repent, and begin praying, pleading for courage and confidence. Looking only to our Savior for help. Rejoicing in the gift and power of the Holy Spirit.

Now, once more, with emphasis, we can boldly say:
“The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13.6)

For reflection
1. Why did the apostles disobey the religious authorities? Why were they right in doing so?

2. How can we find the courage we need to be faithful and obedient witnesses for Jesus?

3. How can believers encourage one another in this high and holy calling?

Had Christ been exalted to give dominion to Israel, the chief priests would have welcomed him. But repentance and remission of sins are blessings they neither valued nor saw their need of; therefore they, by no means, admitted his doctrine. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 5.26-33

Pray Psalm 86.10-17.
Call on the Lord for strength, that you might be faithful in following and serving Him throughout this day.

Sing Psalm 86.10-17.
(Andrews: Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven)
For You are great, You wondrous deeds do; You are the only and sovereign Lord.
Teach me Your way, let me give heed to, with all my heart, Savior, all Your Word!
Lord, be gracious to me, Lord, be gracious to me, praise Your Name forever, Lord!

Great is Your mercy, Lord, toward me; You have delivered my soul from hell.
Though dreadful foes and threats arrayed be, You will Your grace and Your mercy tell!
Lord, be gracious to me, Lord, be gracious to me, slow to anger, loving well!

Turn to me, Lord; be gracious to me; grant me Your strength; save Your servant, Lord!
Let me a sign of something good see; shame all who hate me beneath Your Word.
Lord, be gracious to me, Lord, be gracious to me, for You help me, sovereign Lord!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Check out our newest feature, Readings from the Celtic Revival (click here).

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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