“‘Go stand in the temple courts’ he said, ‘and tell the people about this new life.'”Acts 5:20, NIV
I suppose nothing in that verse stands out as exceptional. Of course God wanted believers to share what they knew about Jesus and the new life they had in Him. Nothing surprising there . . .
Unless you consider the context. Peter and John had recently been imprisoned by the religious leaders. They were released after one night in the jail, but not before the leaders warned them, commanded them, “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18, NIV).
Now we again find some of the apostles arrested and put in jail (Acts 5:17-21). There’s so much that could be said about these events, but let’s focus on just the apostles and their actions. They’re in jail. They’ve been doing just what they’d been warned not to do. They were
probably wondering what would come next. What would be the consequences this time of disobeying the commands of the high priest and others?
They didn’t find that out right away, did they? An angel of the Lord appeared and let them out of jail. Phew! Saved from punishment. For now, at least. They can now go home and hunker down. Keep a low profile. Right?
The angel tells them, “Go stand in the temple courts . . . and tell the people all about this new life” (Acts 5:20, NIV).
Wait! What?! You want us to go back to where Peter and John had been arrested? And you want us to do the things we were warned not to do? The things we were doing that led to their arrest? The things that led to our arrest?
That’s not how they responded though. They didn’t try to argue with the angel (and, thus, with God). They didn’t say, “Umm . . . do you really think that’s a wise move?
They simply obeyed: “At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people” (Acts 5:21, NIV).
Wow! They simply obeyed. In spite of the potential consequences. What would have been my response to the angel’s directions? What is my response now when God is guiding me through His Word and through the Holy Spirit? Do I argue? Question God’s wisdom? Come up with excuses why I can’t do what He’s leading me to do?
Or do I simply obey?
What about you?
Soul Refreshers for your week:
- Read through the whole story Luke is telling her in Acts 5:17-42. You may even want to go back and read about Peter and John’s encounter with the religious leaders, which sets the stage for this one (Acts 4:1-31). What stands out to you about how the believers react to the circumstances they find themselves in? How might that affect your own life? Should it affect your own life?
- Is there something you feel God has been telling you to do? Have you found yourself ignoring His leading? Questioning His wisdom on the matter? Pray about whether you should be simply obeying and trusting Him for the results.
- More food for thought: “Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching'” (John 14:23, NIV).
- Obedience is all about trust, isn’t it? “If you know God’s hand is in everything, you can leave everything in God’s hands” (Source unknown). Are you trusting God in everything?
- Psalm 11 is another great source for encouragement: “In the Lord I take refuge. How can you say to me: ‘Flee like a bird to your mountain'” (Psalm 11:1, NIV). Read the whole psalm to see how David responded to difficult times.
- In your journey to trust God more, you may be encouraged by the old hymn, “Trust and Obey.” Here is one rendition to listen to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oV8wfr1GK2Y