International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday September 6, 2015
Purpose: To affirm that prayer can increase confidence in times of stress
Bible Lesson: Acts 4:23-31
Background Scripture: Acts 4:1-31
Key Verse: After they prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking God’s word with confidence. (Acts 4:31)
Acts 4:23-31 (CEB)
(23) After their release, Peter and John returned to the brothers and sisters and reported everything the chief priests and elders had said. (24) They listened, then lifted their voices in unison to God, “Master, you are the one who created the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. (25) You are the one who spoke by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant: Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? (26) The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers gathered together as one against the Lord and against his Christ. (27) Indeed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with Gentiles and Israelites, did gather in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. (28) They did what your power and plan had already determined would happen. (29) Now, Lord, take note of their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with complete confidence. (30) Stretch out your hand to bring healing and enable signs and wonders to be performed through the name of Jesus, your holy servant.” (31) After they prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking God’s word with confidence.
My Thoughts By Burgess Walter
This fall quarter we will be studying the Book of Acts. The Book of Acts along with the Gospel of Luke is generally accredited to Luke, the physician that traveled with Paul on some of his journeys. Luke addresses each book to Theophilus, whose name means “dear to God” or “friend of God.” The name may have been a symbolic reference to anyone devoted to God or, more likely, Luke’s wealthy patron or friend. Both books were probably written in the middle part of the first century. The scroll on which the Book of Acts was written measured about 32 feet in length. Today most of us have access on our smartphone of the entire bible along with many references.
The Book of Acts follows primarily two of the early leaders of Christianity, Peter and Paul. But it also introduces us to several more, like Barnabas, Philip, and Stephen. Peter dominates the first part of the book while Paul dominates the second part.
Sometime after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost celebration, Peter and John are on their way to afternoon prayer, when they encounter a crippled man that has been set at the “Beautiful Gate” so he can beg for change. Peter declares he has no money but he is able to give him something more, healing. The man begins to jump around and continues into the temple with Peter and John. This attracted a lot of attention from the crowd and also from the rulers of the temple.
Peter’s message was so strong that 5,000 people or somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of the population of Jerusalem came to an understanding of who Jesus was and accepted him as the Messiah.
This new teaching had to be dealt with by the rulers, so Peter and John were arrested and kept in prison overnight. It is after this event that our lesson text for today takes place.
What happens next is a model for worship. They met with the other believers and there was not discord or grumbling. They met in an attitude of worship, defining who God was and why He should be worshipped. I have read that until we get a sense of God’s power and majesty we cannot really worship Him. Worship begins with that knowledge and leads to us communicating in prayer our understanding and our weakness.
The stretching out of hands and the earth shaking were all part of past encounters with God. Whether it was Moses stretching out his hands, or the mountain shaking when God descended on it. All of this contributed to giving all of the followers of Jesus a new boldness and confidence.
Today, we too can pray, worship and preach with the same confidence. Everything that was true then is still true today. We can be taught by the Holy Spirit and speak boldly for our God. Our strength comes from the Holy Spirit in our lives, not from our degrees. As Jesus ascended into heaven we were all commissioned to “Go tell it on the Mountains.”