Acts 4: 23 – 37 NLT
The Believers Pray for Courage
23 As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said.24 When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – 25 you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying,
‘Why were the nations so angry?
Why did they waste their time with futile plans?
The kings of the earth prepared for battle;
the rulers gathered together
against the Lord
and against his Messiah.’(Psalm 2: 1 – 2)
27 “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. 28 But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.
The Believers Share Their Possessions
32 All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. 33 The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. 34 There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.
36 For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. 37 He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.”
When I read this account of the early church, I am ashamed of how timid I am in sharing my faith. They prayed for God to give them “great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (v.29 – 30) I know it was the beginning of the church, and God was giving them special powers to validate what they were saying. But even if we were nervous about asking for miraculous signs, what about asking for boldness?
And the sense of community? Incredible! Can you imagine what would happen if churches functioned like that today? It would certainly hit the news. Can you see the headlines? Church X Will Totally Take Care of You. In our possession driven culture, it’s something Christ followers need to think about. I realize that if in one church people decided to sell what they had to help others, scammers would likely show up on the doorstep. But just how generous are we? How quickly do we step up to help when we hear about someone in need? How willing would we be to forgo something we’d been saving for to help someone else? Just asking.
Read these verses and pray that God will help you and I will figure out what being generous is:
1 Timothy 6: 6 – 12; 17 – 18 NLT
“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
11 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses …
17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.”
Our song for today is Lifesong by Casting Crowns.