What’s Your Power Source, Part 3

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Acts chapter four.

Photo by Ismael Paramo on Unsplash

I have a workshop outside my home, one that I love to go and tinker in. I love woodworking. I love taking raw wood, and turning it into attractive and useful things. There’s a pleasure in working with your hands and your mind. Anyway, I have three basic types of tools in my shop.

  • I have tools that require no external power source, things like chisels, hammers, screwdrivers, hand crank drills, hand saws, etc. These tools are ME powered. It takes MY energy to drive them, and they stop working when I myself get tired.
  • I have tools that are battery operated. I love these things, because they have no power cord to get in my way. They run off of lithium batteries, which store a charge for a long time, and are able to deliver a lot of power to my tools. When the battery dies, that is, runs out of charge, it stops quickly. When this happens I have to put in another battery that is charged, or let this battery charge before I can continue my work.
  • I have tools that are power cord operated. Though the cord limits my freedom of movement, the tool will keep on running as long as I have it plugged into the wall AND pay my electric bill.

What does any of this have to do with the Christian way of life? Our God has given us resources to enable us to live in this world, but empowered by His Kingdom. Sometimes we want to live out our lives in our own power. We use our strength, just as I use hand tools in my shop. Sometimes this is effective – but after a while we just run out of energy. The Lord said:

Jeremiah 17:5-6 (ESV) Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

There are times in our lives when our own strength is enough. But if you habitually live out your life this way, after a while, life will just be miserable. You won’t see the good all around you. You’ll wear yourself out.

Then there are times when we are on battery power. We get charged up. We come to Church, and get a blessing, and move into Monday with a positive outlook. But you can only carry a charge so long. Some only read their Bible or pray on Sundays, charging themselves up. But it won’t last. You have more freedom of movement, but suddenly when life happens you’ll find yourself out of power, dead in the water!

But then, others live their lives plugged into God. This limits your freedom, of course, because you can’t go but so far from God before you pull the plug out. But being plugged in to God – this is what gave the early Christian POWER and the Church POWER.

Staying Plugged In Means Uniting In Prayer

Peter and John preached the Gospel at the 3 pm prayer meeting last week, having the audacity to preach on Solomon’s Porch. Brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Ruling Council, we read:

Acts 4:17-20 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straightly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. 18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

The Council said let us straightly threaten them. This is the same word in the Greek, apeilē apeileō, which could be translated “threatening, let us threaten them, or menacing, let us menace them. What they are saying is very dark, very stark, very fearful. These men were preaching Christ on Solomon’s Porch, a place in the Temple. The Council tells them to not speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and John replied without hesitation, saying, we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. We have no choice. We must preach Jesus resurrected from the dead. We must preach salvation through the name of Jesus. The Council let Peter and John go. We read:

Acts 4:23 And being let go, they {Peter and John} went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.

Peter and John went back to their own company to other Christians, and shared what they had been told, fearful as it was. The Church is at a crucial cross road. Will they give in to FEAR, and allow the Council to dictate their actions, or will they plug into God.

They plugged into God. Or rather, they stayed plugged into God. They began to pray. This prayer tells us much about the early Church and it’s power.

Acts 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Word Study: Please note that they DID NOT start their prayer complaining about their abuse at the hands of the Council. We are told with one accord they started praying by recognizing the GREATNESS of God. Lord, thou art God. This is the Greek despotēs sy Theos, which means “Master of everything, You are God”. Our God is SOVEREIGN. He is over all things, for He is the Maker of all things. The Bible says that God is …

Ephesians 1:11 … Him Who works all things according to the counsel of His will …

The Jewish Council locked up Peter and John, and held them over night in a jail cell. The Jewish Council menacing, they menaced them; threatening, they threatened them. And yet, our God is SOVEREIGN. He is in control of all things. God said through Isaiah:

Isaiah 46:9-10 (ESV) … I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

We pull the plug out of the wall when we begin to think God has lost control. He hasn’t. It is human to sometimes wonder what God is doing. As the Church prayed, they stayed plugged into God by praying the Scripture.

Acts 4:25-26 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

As they pray they are quoting Psalm 2:1-2 where King David noted that the darkness and the evil always arrays itself against the Lord, and against his Christ. The heathen will always rage. Those who do not know the Lord will always imagine vain things. Yet, this does not mean that the darkness is in control. God is in control. God is always in control. Though Peter and John in their prayer did not quote the rest of Psalm 2, I want to quote what is just beyond our text.

Psalm 2:4-6 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.

God “laughs” at the futile attempts of man
to thwart His purpose.

God holds them in derision. God will triumph! As Peter and John quote Psalm 2 in their prayer, noting that David foresaw (through God) that the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ, they say:

Acts 4:27-28 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

They acknowledge it happened exactly as David prophesied. That the rulers, Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together in one accord against Jesus. And yet, as they pray this, they acknowledge that this was all according to God’s plan. God allowed the evil to flare and seem to be in charge, that He would be able to perform a greater thing.

The Apostles and the Church stayed plugged into God by rejecting fear, and embracing the sovereignty of God through prayer and united love. If it happened, God caused it or allowed it. God is at the helm,
not Satan!

Continuing their prayer …

Acts 4:29-30 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

The Church acknowledge the threatening menace against them, but rather than pray it go away, prayed that with all boldness they may speak thy word. They asked that God do a supernatural work through them for the glory of Jesus Christ. Did God bless them? Yes!

Acts 4:31-33 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy {Spirit}, and they spake the word of God with boldness. 32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

The evidence of God’s Power was that the Church’s members loved one another, and loved God. They took care of one another, and preached with further power the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The Apostle tells us:

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Jesus presented the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) in the Law as, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. God is to be preeminent in our love. But He also decreed, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). Because the Church and the Christian stayed plugged in to God, we read great grace was upon them all.

Staying Plugged In Requires Your Obedience To God

As the Church grows, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is spread, the Sanhedrin once more is aroused against it. We read:

Acts 5:17-18 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, 18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

Had the Apostles and the early Church backed away from the Name of Jesus, and compromised with the Council of the Sanhedrin, all would have died in obscurity. But praise God, the Church did not do this. They stayed plugged into God. They continued to stand up for the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, they got to spend another night in the common prison. In Acts 4:3 we see Peter and John put in hold until the next day. They are once more put in this temporary Sheriff’s Jail until they are tried by the Council. But things are different this time. We read:

Acts 5:19-20 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary notes, “There is no prison so dark, so strong, but God can visit his people in it, and, if he pleases, fetch them out. Recoveries from sickness, releases out of trouble, are granted, not that we may enjoy the comforts of life, but that God may be honored with the services of our life.”

The Angel of the Lord is mentioned 58 times in the Bible.

  • The Angel of the Lord went to Hagar when Sarai cast her out. God told Hagar through this Angel to return to Abram and Sarai, and promised to bless Hagar for being obedient (Genesis 16:7-10).
  • The Angel of the Lord stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22:11), and promised “in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:17-18).
  • The Angel of the Lord “appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush” (Exodus 3:2) and called Moses to be God’s representative to Israel and Egypt.
  • The Angel of the Lord stopped the prophet Balaam from cursing Israel (Numbers 22:32).
  • The Angel of the Lord told Joseph that Mary was carrying the Messiah (Matthew 1:20).
  • And the Angel of the Lord rolled back the stone of Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 28:2), not to let Jesus out, but to let the disciples in to see that “He has risen, just as He said”.

The Angel of the Lord is a Specialized Angel
that speaks for God.

The Psalmist said thatThe Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear God, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:7). The Angel of the Lord opens the prison doors, and tells the Apostles that God wants them to:“Go”, “stand”, and “speaK”.

The Apostles were to boldly Go back to the scene of their arrest. They were not to hide their light under a bushel, nor be afraid of men. God wants whosoever will to hear that Jesus has defeated death, that Jesus is risen, and promises eternal life to those who receive Christ as Lord and Savior.

The Apostles were to stand, to hold their ground, to “stand by faith” (Romans 11:20). God calls His people to stand up for Him, to “put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11-14). Standing is often not very easy, especially when you stand against the darkness with Jesus. David had to stand before Goliath, the prophet Job had to stand in faith though he lost all things. Jeremiah stood and preached, though none wished to hear. John the Baptist stood against Herod, though it cost him his head. Go and STAND.

God’s people are to speak in the Temple the Word of life. There is only one way to eternal life, and that is through Him Who defeated death, Jesus Christ our Lord. Go “holding forth the Word of life” (Philippians 2:16). Tell others about Jesus. What did they do? Exactly as they were told. This next section is very amusing, if you dwell on it.

Acts 5:21-24 And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned and told, 23 Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. 24 Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.

God’s people went back into the Temple and taught. They didn’t hide. They taught! Early in the morning. While they are teaching, the unbelieving Sanhedrin convenes, and sends soldiers to the prison to retrieve these troublemakers. But they aren’t there! They’re in the Temple teaching about Jesus! Finally someone comes into the judgment hall and tells them:

Acts 5:25-27 Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. 26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,

Peter and the Apostles are brought before the Council once more. The High Priest asks, “Did not we straightly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” (Acts 5:28). Peter and the Apostles respond:

Acts 5:29-33 … We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

Peter and the Apostles said We ought to obey God rather than men. The Church was growing because God’s people were obeying God. The Church was being preserved because they were obeying God. The power of the Church is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. As Christians we are to be obedient to God.

Are you? Or are you a fence sitter? Pastor Tim Burt tells us this parable:

Illustration: There was a large group of people gathered. On one side of the group stood Jesus. On the other side stood the fallen Archangel, Lucifer, also known as Satan or the Devil. Jesus was on one side of the fence calling out to people, Satan on the other side calling out to people. One by one, each person making up their own, went over the fence to either Jesus or Satan. A smaller crowd went to Jesus’ side, and about twice as many went to Satan’s side. One man who was called climbed the fence that was there and sat on it. In time, Jesus told His group, “Come now, My children, we must go home!” Jesus and His children went to glory, and with a dark puff Satan and his people blended into the darkness.

The man on the fence sat alone.

In a few moments Satan came back, wrinkled brow, searching for something he misplaced. The man asked, “Have you lost something?” Satan looked straight at him and replied, Oh, there you are. Come with me.The man protested. “I sat on the fence. I chose neither you nor him.” Satan said, “That’s true, but I own the fence.”

Matthew 12:30 (ESV)Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters.

Make your choice. Choose to obey and follow Jesus, or choose Satan, darkness, and damnation. The choice is entirely up to you. May God the Holy Spirit move you to Jesus through this, God’s Word. Amen and amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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