With Jesus

Friday, August 29, 2014, 4:36 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 4 (quoting selected verses from the NIV). I will summarize some of this due to the passage length.

Author of Life

Peter and John had just been instrumental in the healing of a man who had been lame from birth. The people were astonished at this miracle of God in this man’s life. Peter then addressed his fellow Israelites. He informed them that they had handed God’s servant Jesus over to be killed, and that they had disowned the “Holy and Righteous One” before Pilate, and had asked that a murderer be released to them instead. He said, “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.” He also explained to them that it was not by the apostles’ own power or godliness that the man was healed. It was “Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see,” he said.

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” As well, he explained to them how Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the prophecies of scripture with regard to the Messiah who was to come. He said, “When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” Amen! [See Acts 3]

Called to Account

The priests, the Sadducees, and the captain of the temple guard were greatly disturbed by what the apostles were teaching the people about Jesus, so they seized them and put them in jail. The next day they brought Peter and John before the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law. They questioned them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Now Peter gave the same message to the rulers and elders of the people as he had given to the people. The man who had been lame from birth was healed by the name of Jesus Christ, whom they had crucified, but whom God had raised from the dead. Jesus was the fulfillment of this prophecy of scripture concerning the stone that they had rejected. He had become the central, foundational and most essential element in the building of the kingdom of God. It was through his death and the shedding of his blood that salvation from sin had come into the world. And, it was only through faith in Jesus Christ that they could be saved.

Been with Jesus

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

I know that, when it says here that they took note that these men had been with Jesus, they were saying that it was evident that these men did not have the education or the status in life that would account for the things that they did and that they said. They recognized that there had to have been some other influence in their lives that could account for what they had just witnessed in and through these men’s lives. It seemed apparent that the influence was Jesus Christ. At least, that is how I understand it.

I have always found great encouragement in this passage of scripture in that I believe it should be evident, by the things that we do and say, that we have also been with Jesus, which should also be beyond our natural abilities to do so, as well. Not everyone is going to see Jesus in our lives, though, largely because of their lack of faith in or lack of knowledge and understanding of him, and in how he reveals himself through his servants. Still, Jesus Christ should be evidenced in our lives by the things that we do and say, for we are to become like him, and we are to follow after him and his ways. We are his light to the world.

God or Man?

But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

I also love this passage! It is so encouraging!! Although we are commanded in scripture to be subject to our rulers and to obey those in authority over us, there are certain exceptions to that rule. We do not have to obey if we are asked to sin against God by disobeying his commands to us. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego serve as great Old Testament examples of how to obey God rather than man, and Jesus Christ and his apostles serve as wonderful examples in the New Testament in how to obey the authorities over us, except for when they ask us to disobey God. Then God and his Word trump human authority.

I love how Jesus gave these men such courage in the face of such persecution, too. We should never bow to intimidation of humans or to them trying to shame us into denying our Lord and his word. We must keep on telling others about Jesus even in the face of certain persecution and/or death for the sake of Christ and his gospel of salvation. Amen!

Prayer to God

On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.’

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Just as Jesus Christ was despised, hated, rejected, mistreated, mocked and killed because he told the people the truth about their sins and their need to have faith in him for salvation from sin, we, too, will be hated, persecuted and even killed for our testimonies for Jesus Christ and for his gospel when we tell people the truth of God’s Word. Kings, rulers, people of this world, and even church members and church leaders will rage and plot against us, and against the Lord, but they do so in vain, for the Word of the Lord endures forever, and humans will perish, as will their worldly wisdom, knowledge, wealth and power.

So, we should not be discouraged or disheartened when we face such opposition from sinful human beings, but we should praise the Lord that we are counted worthy to suffer for his name. As well, we should call upon the Lord in our suffering, and pray for his healing miracles. We should not allow ourselves to get weighed down or dragged down by the cares of this world, nor by the rejection or abandonment of humans, but we should always lift our eyes to the Lord, looking to him for our help, comfort, healing, and strength, as well as for the courage and boldness to continue speaking in his name without fear or retreat. Amen!

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012
Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.