Acts 4: 23-31
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 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?
The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed one."
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. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’
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.
Look at this prayer that the disciples pray.
It’s not: 'Lord, protect us from those who want to harm us, help them to change their minds.'
It’s not: 'Keep us safe Lord, help us to not offend anyone.'
It’s 'Lord, give us boldness, give us courage, make us audacious, help us not to shrink back in fear, help us not to be cowards, help us to keep doing what we’re doing, even though we may get put in prison or killed – God help us to overcome our fear and stay bold and courageous.'
You can tell how big someone’s God is by the size of the prayers they pray. People with a small God pray small prayers.People with a big God, pray big, bold, courageous, audacious prayers.
There’s something about courageous boldness that inspires us. Think about some of the greatest movies:
Braveheart: “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our FREEDOM!!”
Gladiator: “Every man dies, not every man really lives.”
Then there's Indiana Jones, Rocky, James Bond. Men want to be like them – women want to be with them – the bravehearts, the bold, the courageous, the ones who face great opposition head on.
Now think of those on TV who represent the church: Ashleigh in Emmerdale, The Vicar of Dibley, Father Ted, Reverend Farthing in Dad’s Army, Billy in Coronation Street, Reverend Lovejoy in the Simpsons.
Not exactly men who inspire us with their boldness and courage.
If we are to be men and women on fire for Jesus we need to ask God to make us bravehearts – that he would give us a holy boldness to live for Him passionately and courageously in a world where the most excitement and danger men get is in front of their Playstation or X Box.
The world needs to see a generation of men and women who care more about God and His Kingdom than about their own comfort and safety; who face whatever obstacles stand in front of them and with boldness and courage press through them to win the world for Jesus.
Holy boldness doesn’t mean we’ll all be outgoing, loud and extroverted. Often the loudest and most in your face people are actually the most insecure and use noise to try and cover up their insecurity.
Some of the most courageous, bold people I know are quiet and introverted – but they possess a depth of character, a quiet confidence which makes others sit up and take notice.
So, where does this holy boldness and courage come from?:
Verse 31: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
It comes from the Holy Spirit. When we are filled again and again with the Holy Spirit we receive power to do things which we could never do on our own.
Think about these first disciples, Peter and the guys we read about in the Gospels – they weren’t exactly the most dynamic, courageous, promising bunch of men.
Yet after Pentecost they are totally transformed. They’re completely different. Why? Because they are filled with the power of God. The dynamite power of the Holy Spirit is inside them.
One of my favourite verses in the bible is 2 Tim 1:7 which says:
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.”
Timothy was a young church leader in the Bible who by personality and nature was fairly timid and shy. So Paul writes to remind him that the Spirit within him can give him what he needs to get the job done.
When I’m facing a situation where I’m nervous or fearful I often say this verse to myself.
“For God did not give me a spirit of timidity (fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.”
Boldness and courage don’t mean we’ll never be afraid.
There will always be situations that cause us to be terrified. But it’s about not letting these fears control us, pressing on in spite of the fears, pressing through the fear because there is a power within us which is greater than any fear.
Our playing small does not serve the world. The world is crying out for people who are on fire with a HOLY BOLDNESS – passionate, courageous men and women who have faith in a huge God and serve others with a huge love.