From Coward to Courage

I was glad to have a day that was free of appointments. The last few weeks have been pretty intense with being in full “campaign mode” for my city council race. I needed the time to get caught up on some office work and it was pretty focused day. But a cleaner desk, provided the visual gratification of my efforts.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…  “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 ESV

As we look at Peter and John it is important to pause and reflect on the most intimidating situations that you can imagine. For a student it may be “called to the principal’s office.” For an employee it is facing a superior when you know the business is laying off workers, or you know that you are facing accountability over some action.

What provides the courage to “stand up for yourself?” What allows an individual to face fierce opposition with boldness and confidence? As I read Psalm 35 this morning, I chuckled because it could be the “politicians plea.” Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!” (Psalm 35:1 ESV) (You can tell I’m getting ready for another election 🙂 )

While Peter’s failure in denying Jesus stands out in the gospel’s, it is important to remember the context. Night time is always a time to fear and caution. Peter had just cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant in the garden. While the other disciples scattered, he at least tried to observe what was happening to Jesus. As he waited near a fire, perhaps he feared as much being a “wanted” man, as well as his association with a man who has just been arrested.

Mark’s gospel, which is believed to be the oldest and the one for which Peter provided the details, still includes the account of Peter’s denial. If I were Peter, providing details for Mark, I think I would conveniently forget the most incriminating parts about myself!

But in the Book of Acts we see a different Peter and different disciples. They have a new confidence and boldness and are willing to speak out, even among the most respected and educated religious authorities of their day. As Peter responds to the question about the healing of the lame man at the Temple, Luke specifically mentions, “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…” (Acts 4:8 ESV) This was more than human courage and the brashness of personality. This was a fulfillment of Jesus’ assurance, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:11,12 NIV)

This is born out in the religious leaders “taking note that these men had been with Jesus.” In the end when commanded to stop their teaching and miracles, they didn’t back down. Their response was, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19,20 ESV)

In our lives we can be confident that the Holy Spirit is able to help us have boldness and to speak the words that are needed as we take a stand for Christ. When that happens may others, (like the religious leaders listening to Peter and John), take note of the impact of Jesus on our life.

Prayer for today…. Lord, thank You for the difference You make in our lives. When we serve You, we need to remember that we are not alone. We don’t function in our own authority or abilities, but in that which is empowered by Your Spirit.