HOPE IN ACTION
Hope is Released When the Huddle Responds!
This week we asked you to identify your huddle, your tribe, your people. Who is it that you “do life” with and what kind of an impact are you making for the Gospel? It all starts with a huddle. When that huddle puts the principles in place given today hope will be released as the huddle responds.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (Acts 4:23-31)
1. Who was your group, your tribe, your people when you were younger? What kind of things did you do together?
2. What kind of things do you see as beneficial when you’re in a huddle now?
3. Who do you go to when you experience difficulty? What is significant about the people to whom Peter and John went after their release?
4. What is typically your first response to a crisis situation? Is your response similar to the one described in the Scripture passage or would it be different? Why?
5.The believers acknowledged in their prayer that Jesus knew what it meant to experience every possible form of opposition that could be experienced. How does knowing that encourage you today?
6. How can this understanding impact your prayer life?
7. Read verse 29. What does complete boldness look like? Who do you know that most closely fits this description? How do you think they became that way?
Having embraced God’s plan in their prayer, the believers now requested God to perform a great and visible work. They asked that God would consider the threats from their opposition, give them boldness in witnessing, and show miracles in answer to their prayer. God’s will might not remove us from difficult situations; but when we pray, God will strengthen us and make us more effective for Him in those situations.
8. Besides sharing our faith with others, in what situations might we act boldly for God?
How can you plan for opportunities to share God’s message? How does a person witness with complete boldness? What practical step can you take today?
How can praying together as a group of believers, such as our group, transform our church?
The beginning of Acts 4 recalls Peter and John’s imprisonment for boldly proclaiming the gospel. After their release, Peter and John went to their own people and reported everything that had happened to them. The Sanhedrin had threatened them, but they had refused to stop preaching and teaching in Jesus’ name.
The news of Peter and John’s experience moved the church to pray. This growing but struggling church embraced God’s plan for them in spreading the gospel in a hostile environment. God’s authority is absolute. The argument of these believers is sound and uses a greater to lesser principle: If God created everything in this vast universe, then He certainly has authority over the circumstances we face as believers.
The connection between God as Creator and His control of His world is made in the quotation of Psalm 2:1-2. David, the author of this psalm, faced opposition to his reign from pagan rulers and his own countrymen. Similarly, Jesus, the greater Son of David, also faced opposition from people in authority. This Messianic psalm refers to the fact that those faithful to King Jesus can expect the same opposition.
The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers assembled together against the Lord and against His Messiah. Their rejection of the gospel means that eternal punishment awaits them. Peter and John told the Sanhedrin the truth; the Jewish leaders rejected their message to their own peril. Despite the guilt of these men in putting Jesus to death, it was God’s sovereign plan for the redemption of people. God’s people today have a part in that plan as we share the gospel and watch God continue to grow His church.
Christ’s followers called on God to use them to advance His kingdom in the midst of this opposition. Christians in many countries are familiar with hostile governments, and this was the case for the early church from the very outset. The believers did not ask God to remove persecution but to empower them to proclaim the gospel boldly despite persecution. They were more concerned about advancing the gospel and God’s kingdom than they were about avoiding persecution.
Through this prayer, these believers serve as a reminder for us that God does not call us to lives of ease, prosperity, and comfort. One of the most dangerous ideas propagated in modern churches today is that God’s plan is for His people to be happy and prosperous. The Scriptures do not support this claim. The believers in the early church already knew this and prayed accordingly. They wanted God to use them to spread the gospel in the face of persecution, even if it led to their martyrdom.
After the church had finished praying, the Holy Spirit moved in a powerful way. God had a specific plan for the church at that time, and the Holy Spirit gave them the power to accomplish that plan. God never demands of us what He doesn’t empower us to do. The church had been praying that God would continue to use them, and we should expect God to move when we pray according to His will. The church’s prayer was answered—they had asked for boldness (v. 29) and now they had the boldness they needed to be effective witnesses (v. 31). The early church was willing to boldly go where no Christians had gone before—because they had the power of the Spirit in them and a powerful message to share with others.