Has there ever been a situation or a time where you’ve wanted to speak up, but just couldn’t do it? You just couldn’t get the words to actually come out of your mouth? You just didn’t have the oomph or the boldness. I know I have been there more than a few times.
I remember one instance when Presleah was a toddler and were living in Dallas, we had a membership to the Dallas Zoo and went just about every weekend. One Saturday we doing our usual stroll and I stopped to use the restroom. Now normally zoo bathrooms are something you want to avoid entirely, but I remember thinking how clean it was, I’m talking one of the cleanest public restrooms I have ever been in. As I step out I saw the custodian getting ready to do her hourly touch up and I felt the Holy Spirit quicken me to tell her thank you. I completely ignored it, washed my hands and left. We continued down to see the gorillas and my heart was pounding out of my chest and my gut was turning in circles it felt like. With every step I took in the opposite direction of the custodian, the feeling got stronger and stronger and I felt the Holy Spirit saying, “go tell her, tell HER!” Finally I stopped dead in my tracks and told Tim, “I’ll be right back, I have to go do something real quick.” I raced back to the bathroom and there she was (PHEW, I didn’t miss my chance). I greeted her with a smile and said, “I just wanted to say thank you for what you do, I know it is probably a thankless job, but you are a rockstar. These are the cleanest and I mean the cleanest public bathrooms I think I’ve ever been in and as a mom of a toddler, it means a lot to me!” As soon as I finished a weight was lifted from my gut. She smiled back and we exchanged few pleasantries and went on about our days. I think sometimes we get this idea in our head that when we feel the Holy Spirit asking us to do something that it’s going to be this big, powerful spiritual moment. When sometimes it’s just not. Sometimes it’s small seed planted that you don’t get to see grow.
Acts chapter 4 is a great example of the promise Jesus tells the disciples in Mark 13, verse 11, “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given to you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Just like my silly example of telling the custodial worker something as simple as a thank you, this verse rings true for every situation where we just don’t have the words. The promise is that Holy Spirit will speak through you. This happens for me all the time in ministry where I am talking or praying with someone about a situation and the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance a specific scripture verse that I’ve read but probably couldn’t even quote in this moment, but it will come to mind as clearly as the words I am speaking to you now.
So today we are picking up where we left off in Acts 3 with Peter and John, and all the miracles that they’ve been doing. Yesterday we read about them healing the lame man at the temple gates who had been lame for 40 years! So now, in Acts chapter 4, Peter and John are arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin where they give a beautiful and powerful speech full of the boldness of the Holy Spirit that should serve as an example of encouragement to all of us.
The Sanhedrin were disturbed by Peter and John because they had been teaching the people in the temple and proclaiming miracles in Jesus’ name. The temple guards grabbed Peter and John and threw them into jail for the night, but by the time they did this, there were already a great number of people who had heard them and believed. We see in the previous chapter that the following had grown to about 3,000 but here we are now up to about 5,000 believers. So the next day, we see that Peter and John were brought to trial before the Sanhedrin. It says in chapter 4, verse 7, “They began to question them, by what power or what name did you do this?”
And here’s my favorite verses of the chapter…
“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.”
WOW! I don’t know about you, but that gives me chills and makes something rise up inside of me! That is the kind of boldness the Holy Spirit can give us! I love what it says next too, in verses 13-15. “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.” Isn’t that just amazing? It’s my hope that the same thing can be said of me, for aren’t we all just ordinary men and women? But that’s what the power of the Holy Spirt can do. It was the anointing of the Holy Spirit that made it obvious that Peter and John had been with Jesus, even to these unbelieving religious leaders, it was undeniable. Scripture goes on to say, “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.”
The Sanhedrin are like what are we going to do with these men, everyone in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. Then they come to the conclusion in verse 17, “but to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in his name.” Verse 18, “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.” After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.” And just like Peter said, I think one of the greatest ways we can be a witness to other people is by telling them what God has done in our lives. What we have seen and heard Him do.
To quickly sum up the rest of the chapter, Peter and John go back to their own people and tell them what was said and they all pray together, the place where they were meeting was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly. Now some people may see this as an act of direct defiance to the authority of the Sanhedrin and wonder, is this wrong? Is it ever okay to directly disobey authority? The answer is yes. This Bible clearly states that it is okay to disobey authority, but only when is contradicts God’s Word and what He has commanded us to do. So, in this instance, Peter and John are doing what God has commanded them do and tell everyone what they have seen and heard. We will see Peter address this again tomorrow in Acts 5:29. But I want to wrap up today by encouraging you to speak up the next time you feel the Holy Spirit asking you to say something or do something that might normally make you uncomfortable. To let Him work in you and through you, to empower and give you a boldness like never before. Let’s commit to hold on to the promise in Mark 13:11.. “do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given to you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Through the power and boldness of the Holy Spirit, there’s no limit to what we can do for the kingdom of God.