Acts 4:29-30 “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
There are all sorts of things in this brief passage. In the first place, there is the very obvious point that when the believers were threatened and told to shut up about Jesus, they asked God to enable them to speak even more boldly. That’s in marked contrast to the way most of us act! Christians today in the US are facing a real challenge in precisely this area, where a small minority of people antagonistic to Christianity are trying to put a muzzle on all Christians. American Christians are so unused to this sort of thing that they are essentially accepting the muzzle, rather than asking God for more boldness. There are thankfully exceptions, but what I have said is all too common. Another thing that stands out to me in this passage is that the believers referred to themselves as God’s servants, and then to Jesus as God’s holy servant. They weren’t placing themselves on the same plane as Jesus, but they were acknowledging that they were as much God’s servants as He was. That too is an attitude and understanding that is far too rare in the Church today. Paul stated that we are God’s purchased property, (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and as such we are to serve Him alone. A third thing that strikes me is that the believers had every expectation of God doing miraculous things through them to confirm His word. That is certainly lacking in most churches today! However, I was talking recently with a Japanese pastor who says that 70% of the members of his church are there because of experiencing some sort of miracle, either directly or to someone close to them. Until now, Japan has been strikingly low on miracles. This man’s church is heavily international, and many of the miracles have occurred in relation to non-Japanese, but that has created a rising expectation of God’s works of power among the Japanese members as well. What a blessing!
I am enormously challenged by this. From the time I came to Omura over 30 years ago I desired, and really expected, God to confirm His Word through me through “signs following.” (Mark 16:20) However, I have seen very little of that, and what I have seen has mostly been when I was away from home. With all that God has been saying to us recently, from this year’s Scripture on, I believe that is going to change. I am not to be bound by what has or hasn’t happened in the past, but know that nothing is impossible for God, and expect Him to act for His glory and the salvation of many.
Father, I know that I can no more make this happen myself today than I could 30 years ago, but I also know that it is no difficulty for You. I ask You to lift us up out of our morass of humanism and enable us to look to You and really believe and trust You to act. I ask for a spirit of repentance and obedience to fall on the Body of Christ in Omura, in this church and in all the others as well, so that we may be fully hungry for You and the things of Your kingdom, and allow You to use even us for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!