If we turn our attention to the current state of happenings, we get to hear of persecution all around – nuns being assaulted, burnt, many killed, thousands of Christians fleeing homes & hiding in forests, houses and church buildings being destroyed, pastors in Central prison, threats to lives by anti Christian elements etc. The scenario may sound extreme to a point of being unreal, but undeniably these are examples of widespread persecution for the past one month in India. Well! Didn’t we know it would come, weren’t we warned? We knew it was part of the Christian life we chose but what do are we to do now? Flee? Cry? Fight back?
Since my earliest days in the charismatic movement I was always taught that the Bible is our guidebook for doctrine and practice, and that the early church’s experience in the Book of Acts should be a pattern for us. No matter what situation we face at whatever stages in our life, we must go back to the Word of God because that’s where we find solutions, comfort and answers to all our problems. After all the Bible is the manual for human life authored by the Creator of human life.
Persecution was not new for the New Testament Church, their Master, Our Lord was persecuted and Jesus reminded His disciples that they were not above Him. He warned them that they would be treated even more badly than how the world treated Him. Jesus said the world hates you because you do not belong to the world. [John 15: 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you (AMP) ]
So what did the early Christians do? How did they face the persecution?
In less than 10 days after the great day of Pentecost, (where with sounds like the blowing of a violent wind coming from heaven and the mighty burst of the fire ball that split into individual heads as if custom from heaven for each of them gathered in the upper room and after the great number of 3000 being saved and the Lord adding daily to that number), there was something they still had to face- persecution and threats!
And proving again that they are as human as we are, under the threat, even with all that power demonstration a week ago, they still needed another outpouring, another dose of power, another touch from the Master of the Harvest and so they turned to the Holy Spirit!
Yes, that’s exactly what we need to do today. This is the time that the church wakes up to pray, not crib, complain, resent or ignore the things happening around. It is time to seek God, to seek His strength.
Acts 4:24: And when they heard it, lifted their voices together with one united mind to God…This is what they prayed: Acts 4:24-30 [29 And now, Lord, observe their threats and grant to Your bond servants [full freedom] to declare Your message fearlessly– AMP]
In the midst of the threats they prayed for:
1. The Lord to examine or consider their threats against His children. This prayer can only be made by someone who truly trusts God! In other words they did not demand for fire from heaven, but instead asked God to do what He wants. We, His children must primarily understand that God turns all things for good for them that love Him. Romans 8: 28. And therefore in our instance, Let God be God!
2. They asked God for empowerment. Isn’t that interesting? A week ago they had received the greatest outpour of all times and now these very people were asking God for a renewal, or what we today call REVIVAL!! Re-generating of what was done before. We cannot live on yesterday’s anointing or last week’s bread, we need to ask God for a fresh empowerment for this time. Is the Church up for it?
3. They asked for boldness – [29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word– NLT.] They had the power but now their opportunity to share the gospel has been threatened. Fear of death, insecurity, instability was now at their doorsteps. They understood that all this persecution was because the devil wanted to stop the word of God, the Message of Salvation from being propagated. That is why they wanted the boldness to preach the Word! That was their primary motive, it was not to prove that they are fearless or that they were better than any opposition. That is exactly what we ought to realize. God desires that ALL men be saved; the devil is keen on just the opposite! Come lets ask God to fill us with boldness to continue share the word of God more fervently.
4. They asked for infallible proofs- [30 “Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” NLT]. All throughout the life of Jesus and after His resurrection (Acts 1: 3), He continued with His style of carrying infallible proofs of who He was. Many times in the scriptures we find Jesus praying that the people may know that He was the Son of God. At this precious hour, the Church must rise with fasting and prayer asking God to take us to the next level.
Jesus promised us that miracles will follow those who believe. Let us ask God to stretch our His hands to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders in the name of Jesus Christ.
To confirm this prayer to be in the will of God the Scripture says the place they met shook and the Holy Spirit REVIVED them or we could say the first documentation of a REVIVAL![31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. –KJV]
Friends, this is no sad hour, this is not a time of mourning. We are standing at the crossroad of persecution, where do we turn from here, what path will we Christians choose to take?
Let me ask you this- Are you going to look away in total apathy (this does not concern me attitude) or will you sit down and complain or will we consider this as a sign for a greater outpour! A greater rejuvenation of the Spirit’s power & pray now? The choice is yours.
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