So the temple courts is where the guards found the apostles preaching. The guards brought them back to the Jewish leaders without the use of force. The apostles did not resist. The full Sanhedrin was gathered (70 men) ready to pass judgment on the apostles. (The apostles in this account remain unnumbered and unnamed except for Peter.)
The trial is going against the apostles (the majority wanted to put the apostles to death) when Gamaliel urges caution. "In the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God" (Acts 5:38-39).
His speech was persuasive and the apostles were only flogged, not executed. And, of course, the Sanhedrin told them again to stop speaking in the name of Jesus.
The apostles' response? "The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ" (for the whole story see Acts 5:17-42).
Telling the disciples to stop preaching about Jesus had no effect. Throwing them in prison had no effect. Flogging them had no effect.
For reflection: Am I as determined as they were? Would what they went through stop me? Have I ever invited someone to my home to talk about Jesus?
Let us pray. Holy Spirit, I'm afraid these things would stop me. I need more of your strength to stand up to threats, imprisonment and violence. Also, help me to open my home and my heart to others who need to hear about you.
Delivered by an Angel
We are working our way through the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. Healings and miracles accompanied the apostles preaching and people began to follow them and believe in Jesus as the Messiah. This caused the Jewish leaders to be jealous so they had the apostles arrested and put in jail. But an angel set them free during the night without disturbing the guards (Acts 5:23), and told them to "Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life."
At daybreak they were back in the temple courts preaching again. Daybreak was a busy time in the temple because people stopped in at sunrise to worship.
For reflection: Has an angel ever brought me a message from God? Have I ever been miraculously delivered from a bad situation? How would I feel if I had been arrested and thrown in jail for witnessing about Jesus?
Let us pray. Holy Spirit, the apostles went from being fearful to being fearless. I want to do the same. I want to tell people about you with the same certainty, the same assurance, the same boldness that they had.
If we look to the early church for evidence of what it means to be a disciple or follower of Jesus, we see several things. They prayed daily in the temple and elsewhere. They fellowshipped and took communion together. They lived in common or at least saw to each other's needs as they grew into a larger group. They attracted new believers through preaching, healing and miracles.
The healings and miracles served to confirm the fact that the power of Jesus, who had been crucified and was risen from the dead, was now with his disciples. Healings and miracles were not for the sake of showing power, but so that people would be drawn to listen to the gospel. After hearing the good news, people were being baptized and their sins forgiven. Lives were changing.
The gospel still has the power to change lives today if we are not afraid or reluctant to share it with other people. If coming to have a personal relationship with Jesus is the best thing that ever happened to us, why do we hesitate to tell others about him? We don't want to be pushy about it, though, as Peter says, "Always be prepared to given an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).
For reflection: Do I have my answer ready if someone asks me?
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, you promised to give us all that we need and to give us words when we need them. I am trusting in your promises. I need boldness, gentleness, respect and the right words.
All Were Healed
Evidently Jesus healed all of the sick and disabled people who came to him because there is no record in the New Testament of his not healing someone who asked. Sometimes he even healed people because someone else asked (the Centurion's servant in Matthew 8:5-13). Often there is the mention of faith in these healings, but not always. People have searched for some common denominator in these accounts - some surefire method of healing or magic words to say. There are none.
This 100% record of healing continued with the early apostles. Following the story of Ananias and Sapphira there is another short summary of apostolic activity (Acts 5:12-16). So many people were being healed by the apostles that "people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed."
If healing was such a constitutive part of the ministry of Jesus and the apostles, why do we not see more healing today in the Christian churches? Some say that the gifts in the early church (healing, prophecy, tongues) were not intended to last long. They were simply to get the church started. I disagree. Jesus said we would do the things that he did (John 14:12-14). He was here among us to set the example and that example clearly included healing.
For reflection: What do I believe about healing? Have I/Could I pray with someone to be healed?
Let us pray. Jesus, you are the Lord of Healing, the Source of Healing. Heal my unbelief and help me to step boldly out in any areas of ministry to which you are calling me.
They Lied - They Died
One of the strangest stories in the New Testament is that of Ananias and Sapphira. We've already been told by Luke, the author of Acts, that the new group of believers was holding things in common (Acts 2:44-45). He mentions this again in 4:32-37 before he tells the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira.
Ananias and Sapphira decide to sell a piece of land and give some of the money to the community (5:1-11). Where they went wrong was that they told Peter they were giving all the money to the group. They lied. Peter, with knowledge from the Holy Spirit, knew immediately that Ananias was lying. Peter questions him and tells Ananias that by lying to Peter he has lied to the whole community and to the Holy Spirit. Ananias fell dead at his feet.
Three hours later, Sapphira comes to Peter, not knowing what has happened to her husband. Peter questions her also. She too lies. She too falls dead at Peter's feet.
This is an extreme consequence, don't you think? We might say, "Well, it was just a little lie." But the truth is it was an unnecessary lie that would have harmed the community greatly. Prior to this, the community was of "one heart and one mind". The couple didn't just lie, they were trying to look better in everyone's eyes than they really were. So they weren't just dishonest about the money, they were dishonest about their very selves. And in lying to Peter they lied to the entire community and to the Holy Spirit.
It's hard enough for a married couple, just two people, to be honest with each other and hold everything in common. This group was trying to do it as a large community (thousands were beginning to believe in Jesus). It did not always go smoothly.
Satan continues to tempt us today as he did the early community. Beware the father of lies.
For reflection: Am I being honest with myself about the reasons for my actions? Who else is being hurt by what I am doing?
Let us pray. Jesus, you are the truth that sets us free. You are the giver of life. Holy Spirit, you are the giver of discernment. We need you to help us see ourselves as we truly are.
Shake the Walls
Peter and John got off with a warning from the Jewish leaders after the healing of the beggar at the temple. It was a warning they had no intention of heeding. Keeping quiet about Jesus was not an option (Acts 4:18-22).
They returned to where the disciples were gathered and reported what had happened. Immediately the entire group began to praise God and to ask him to continue helping them to preach about Jesus. They ended with, "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" (4:29-30). The result? "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".
Once when I was at a prayer meeting I happened to lean up against the wall while the whole group was praising God. The wall was shaking! I believe praise is a key ingredient for enabling us to speak the word of God boldly. Notice that the disciples asked for boldness and then received it -- they spoke the word of God boldly. Praise is still needed today. Boldness is still needed today.
For reflection: How much time do I spend praising God as opposed to asking him for things? Have I asked God to make me bold in speaking about him?
Let us pray. Father, we praise you for who you are, author of life, ancient of ages, prince of peace, creator of all that exists, sharer of your divine holiness, provider, sustainer, deliverer, healer, savior. "Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep" (Ps 36:5-6).
(In case you missed it, there was an extra post yesterday for Father's Day. It's a wonderful song of love from the Father's heart.)
From Father God for Father's Day
As a Father's Day gift to all, here is a very special song of appreciation from Father God.
Times of Refreshing
Since we've been looking at the healing of the beggar at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, let's spend a few moments with phrases from Peter's speeches following this act of healing kindness (Acts 3:12-4:20).
Surprise . . . author of life . . . name of Jesus . . . made strong . . . faith . . . healing . . . as you can see . . . acted in ignorance . . . foretold through the prophets . . . repent . . . times of refreshing may come . . . appointed for you . . . a prophet from among your own people . . . heirs . . . act of kindness . . . Jesus Christ . . . salvation is found in no one else . . no other name . . . what we have seen and heard.
For reflection: Read the passage again. What words or phrases stand out? Was I able to perform any acts of kindness this week? Was I able to speak to anyone about Jesus this week?
Let us pray. Author of Life, Healer of the Beggar, there are areas where I need healing. Bring times of refreshing to me, please, and help me to share healing and refreshing with others.
An Act of Kindness
The beggar who was healed by Peter and John at the temple gate (Acts 3:1-10) was not healed because he had faith in Jesus. He was healed "as an act of kindness" (4:9) because Peter and John had faith. His healing presented the opportunity for Peter to preach to the crowd that gathered. The crowd came to believe in Jesus, and now "the number of men (who believed) grew to about five thousand" (4:4). Because they were in the temple area when Peter was preaching, the priests and the Sadducees also heard what was being said. The Sadducees didn't like it that Peter was talking about the resurrection of the dead, which the Sadducees did not believe in. And they were growing jealous that so many people were beginning to follow this new teaching about Jesus.
The outcomes of the healing of the crippled beggar were that he, who was over 40 years old (4:22), was given a whole new life; Peter had the opportunity to preach in the temple area; many
people came to believe; the religious leaders grew uneasy. One act of kindness had several ramifications.
For reflection: Is there an act of kindness that I can do for someone today? Am I brave enough to tell someone about Jesus and speak a word of healing to them? What possible consequences keep me from acting?
Let us pray. Holy Spirit, we need your Holy Boldness today.
June 10th, 2013
In the Washington, DC area where I live I often pass people begging on the street corners. They have signs that say "unemployed" or "veteran" and then the sign usually has "God bless you." The social service agencies in this area tell us we should not give to the people on the street. Agencies would rather get them into the social service system so that they can help them more long term. Knowing that doesn't make it any easier to pass by the "street people" especially when it is obvious that they have some physical disability.
In Acts 3:1 - 4:13 we have the story of what happened when Peter and John decided not to pass by a crippled beggar. What did they do? "Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, 'Look at us!' So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them." No doubt Peter and John had passed by this man many times on their way into the temple to pray. But this time they stopped to actually look at him and for him to actually look them in the eye. Then Peter proclaimed the word of healing to the man by saying, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Peter gave him something much more precious than the money he was hoping to receive. Peter gave him a new life. And then Peter touched him. "Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God."
For reflection: Who do I pass by and not notice? Can I look them in the eye? How can I share God's love with them? Can I touch them? People are waiting for us to notice them, to touch their lives with healing.
Let us pray. Lord of Abundance, Lord of Healing, you have given me so much, help me to share your good news, your healing, your touch.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.