“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness…” – Acts 4:29
The Scripture is real, and true, and authoritative. Upon meditating on a certain verse the last couple of weeks it is no wonder why David said of the Scriptures that they are a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It is no wonder at all that the writer of Hebrews said that the Scripture is powerful, quick, and sharper than any two-edged sword. And I was cut two weeks ago.
I’ve been reading the book of Acts and enjoying how reading a book of the Bible that I’ve read many times reads like it’s my very first time. I am amazed at the apostles and the disciples—their stories read like the adventures of a comic book hero who actually did exist. Chapter 4 details the mounting persecution against these witnesses of Jesus. They’re brought before their nation’s leadership, reprimanded, and charged to speak of Jesus’ name no more. The threat of prison or death would unnerve me to say the least. But these men “lifted their voices together to God” understanding that, in the middle of persecution, they were RIGHT where they are supposed to be. They were at home with doing God’s will AND suffering the persecution that it brings. To be sure, if this were my situation, I’d pray for relief. I’d pray for help. I’d pray for rescue! Because that’s what you should pray for in that moment…right? Then verse 29 comes. And they ask God only for boldness. Wow. There they stand at risk of death and their only request from a God they KNOW to be capable of EVERYTHING?—more boldness. Again, the word of God is powerful, quick, and sharper than any two-edged sword.
So as I stand against this truth it has become my realization that my life needs a shift. Oh how it needs a shift! For my prayers are filled with pleas of relief and rescue. All day. Every day. I ask God for protection. And for provision. And for joy. And for peace. These prayers are noble and warranted of course. The Scriptures are also filled with similar pleas. But my requests to God have been found incomplete—they are not wholly what they should be. Though I’ve prayed for wisdom more times than I can count, I don’t recall too many prayers for boldness to proclaim the name of Jesus in my speech and in my actions. And I want that to change—or shift.
We are blanketed with comfort in this country. We are blanketed with easiness. We are so blanketed that our entire understanding of suffering is often based on lacking something that we actually never even needed in the first place. We sold one of our cars a few weeks back. So we’ve been one-carring it ever since in search of an SUV that can tackle the Chicago ice and snow. And one of my steady prayers was, “God I pray you’d help us find a new (used) car because we…here it is…really need it. LOL! And then verse 29 comes back to scream at me and question whether my prayers need a shift. Nothing is wrong with what I’ve prayed. But something is wrong with the heart that has prayed those prayers. It might reveal a heart that is too fastened to me and too fastened to what I ‘think’ I need. My heart needs a shift. Perhaps yours might as well.
2015 is swiftly approaching. What sort of year will it be my friends? Will it be a year where we are so wrapped up in the blanket of comfort and self-centeredness that we’ll lose sight of the better life and the better prayers? A better life that is so burdened for lost souls that we’ll continually seek new opportunities for the gospel to be shared? A better prayer life that begs God for more determination, more boldness, more guts, more freaking courage to DO SOMETHING about changing someone’s life through the gospel? Oh Lord help me to shift. Help us to shift.
Here’s the burning question. How shall we get there? How shall we shift? Honestly I don’t have the whole answer. But I’m convinced that what got me thinking about this—the Word—is what will get me where I need to be. So may it be a year of commitment to the reading and meditating upon Scripture. Additionally, the Word got me talking about this. So may it also be a year where the Word doesn’t stop at being poured into us—but also being poured out of us. My guess is that this is the stuff, or at least the beginning stuff, of shifting.
“Lord Jesus I praise you for your Word. Shift my heart and my life and my prayers toward you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”