Pastor Brian Homan’s Devotion for June 27, 2019

Our read­ing for Thurs­day, June 27, 2019 is Acts 4: 23–31.

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own peo­ple and report­ed all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voic­es togeth­er in prayer to God. “Sov­er­eign Lord,” they said, “you made the heav­en and the earth and the sea, and every­thing in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spir­it through the mouth of your ser­vant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peo­ples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gath­er togeth­er against the Lord and against his Anoint­ed One.’ 27 Indeed Herod and Pon­tius Pilate met togeth­er with the Gen­tiles and the peo­ple of Israel in this city to con­spire against your holy ser­vant Jesus, whom you anoint­ed. 28 They did what your pow­er and will had decid­ed before­hand should hap­pen. 29 Now, Lord, con­sid­er their threats and enable your ser­vants to speak your word with great bold­ness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and per­form mirac­u­lous signs and won­ders through the name of your holy ser­vant Jesus.” 31 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.  -NIV

When we believe God has act­ed in our cir­cum­stance we should always be brought to praise and thanks­giv­ing for what we have seen God has done. At times I have kept a jour­nal of prayer and not­ed with­in it when I have believed God has answered prayer. I am not con­sis­tent with this as I should because it is so ben­e­fi­cial. I can eas­i­ly pass from one sit­u­a­tion and con­cern to anoth­er and for­get what God has done. To peri­od­i­cal­ly review and remem­ber the inter­sec­tions of God with our lives only serves to strength­en our faith and con­fi­dence in God when in con­cern we call upon God’s help through prayer.

After observ­ing a response by God to a sit­u­a­tion you face do you stop to give thanks to God even if the answer was not the one you expect­ed and asked for? Some­times the response we receive may be only a par­tial answer or giv­en in a way we did not expect, yet God revealed his con­cern and pres­ence in our cir­cum­stance. There are times I believe we ignore the inter­ven­tion of God because it was not as we asked. Nev­er­the­less, God has made him­self and will be known to us if we only are sen­si­tive enough to see it. Tun­ing our spir­i­tu­al sen­si­tiv­i­ty is a ben­e­fit for us to real­ize God’s part­ner­ship with us.

After being released, Peter and John, along with the oth­er dis­ci­ples they were with, were brought to remem­brance in prayer to the promise made in scrip­ture. Luke records that the dis­ci­ples quot­ed from Psalm 118, verse 22 in their prayer. God speaks to us through the writ­ten Word revealed in scrip­ture. The more we read the greater we can rec­og­nize God’s will for us in any giv­en sit­u­a­tion. This will only serve to con­firm God’s will and deep­en our con­fi­dence that what­ev­er we face God can and will use for some greater pur­pose than we antic­i­pate in the moment. 

In our study of God’s Word we need to pray the scrip­tures. We can lift out from what we read a prin­ci­ple that speaks to a cir­cum­stance in con­tem­po­rary news we hear and see, or a sit­u­a­tion we face or that some­one else faces. The Word we are giv­en may be used in com­fort­ing and direct­ing anoth­er per­son strug­gling over some­thing in their life at the time. The per­ti­nence of the Word may be a source of assur­ance and com­fort for them or pro­vide direc­tion. The fact that we were able to find the con­nec­tion reas­sures the person(s) of our con­cern that they are not alone. Not only do they have God but also a spir­i­tu­al sis­ter or broth­er in their cor­ner. 

Now while what I have been dis­cussing is advo­cat­ing for a per­son­al spir­i­tu­al prac­tice this same dis­ci­pline can strength­en and deep­en the spir­i­tu­al life of a con­gre­ga­tion. Peter and John were gath­ered togeth­er with oth­er dis­ci­ples, giv­ing thanks to God for secur­ing the release of the two apos­tles. It was not an indi­vid­ual exer­cise, but a cor­po­rate one, one that would bind the fel­low­ship togeth­er as a con­gre­ga­tion.

I fear that too often con­gre­ga­tions come togeth­er only on a sur­face lev­el with­out con­nect­ing to the pow­er of God. There is need to pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ty to share the bless­ings of answered prayer with one anoth­er and pray con­cert­ed­ly for con­cerns of one anoth­er. How this can be done and what set­ting is up to debate. Most often this is best expe­ri­enced in a small­er group, but the rewards of encour­ag­ing oth­ers who are wait­ing for direc­tion or evi­dence of God’s pres­ence can­not be overem­pha­sized. We gain strength from see­ing what God is doing in the lives of oth­ers.

There is the dan­ger of suc­cumb­ing to the temp­ta­tion of cov­etous­ness where we envy what God has done for oth­ers yet has not done for us. How­ev­er, with trans­paren­cy with oth­ers I have seen those wait­ing for God to act sup­port­ed and encour­aged by the embrace of oth­ers. God answers all prayer, some by ways we expect, some in ways that are dif­fi­cult to see. God answers prayer at dif­fer­ent tim­ing and at oth­er times not at all because God desires that we learn as did the apos­tle Paul that God’s grace is suf­fi­cient for us, for when we are weak it is then we are strong. Only in weak­ness will we depend upon God to get us through.

I am amazed how God answers some prayers while oth­ers he remains silent. I am sure at the ston­ing of Stephen also men­tioned in Acts there were dis­ci­ples pray­ing for Stephen’s deliv­er­ance. It was not God’s will while it was for the release of Peter and John. God be praised for God worked a pur­pose of bless­ing for both cir­cum­stances. Our prayer is to be thank­ful for what we receive and com­fort­ed from know­ing God is work­ing a greater pur­pose through what we go through when we are ful­ly sub­mit­ted to God’s will.