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Obedient Children

By Nancy Van Dyke
 
Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010

Scripture Verses
Acts 5:12-42

 12The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. 13No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil[a] spirits, and all of them were healed.

 17Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20"Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life."

 21At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

   When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23"We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside." 24On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this.

 25Then someone came and said, "Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people." 26At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

 27Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28"We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."

 29Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

 33When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35Then he addressed them: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

 40His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

 41The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.[b]

Devotion
Obedience without faith is possible, but not faith without obedience.-Source Unknown

As an adult, obedience is something we expect to receive in life.  I know that when something is asked of my children, I want them to obey. I expect them to demonstrate obedience to their teachers, coaches, and other adults.  Another example of this is obedience with my dog. I expect him to obey simple commands if they are given.  After all, the three live in my house and are all considered to be my children.  Sadly, what happens more often than not is utter disobedience and chaos. I can expect and want obedience, but in reality it just doesn’t happen.

I would imagine that God feels the same way about us.  As his followers we proclaim that we believe and accept his son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.  But are we really his obedient children? The apostles in the book of Acts, chapter five give us some inspiring examples of being exactly that.

After saving people and performing miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter and the apostles are found to be intimidating by the Jewish Council.  They are subsequently put in jail for their words and actions. In verses 19 and 20 as they experience divine intervention and are released by an angel, the angel tells them that they are to “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people the full message of this new life.”  Wow! That is powerful in more ways than one.  “This new life” that Jesus provides when people become his followers; “This new life” that Jesus experienced when he was crucified and triumphed over death; “This new life” that was experienced when the Holy Spirit descended and was bestowed on those who obey Him--The apostles are told to continue doing what landed them in jail in the first place!  They are to be obedient and “go tell”.  What daring people would go out, risk jail and even possible death, to give such a message?  An obedient follower of Jesus Christ would, and the apostles did. 

Of course, the apostles were then reported to the council.  When Peter and the apostles were questioned in 5:29 they respond “We must obey God rather than men.”  They subsequently receive a flogging and strict orders not to speak in or about the name of Jesus. At the end of the chapter we find that in spite of any threats or punishment they never stopped teaching in the temple area or at home and even rejoiced.  In the verses throughout chapter 5 we are shown some daring examples of obedience to God.  Are you willing to live such a life of obedience to God? Honestly, I am not there yet, but I am sure going to try.

Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the freewill that you have given us in our lives. We are thankful for the gift of making our own choices. Please help us to be obedient to you in every way. May we never stop rejoicing and sharing your message with others even if doing so causes us to experience earthly consequences. We know that the eternal effects of obedience mean so much more. We want to be pleasing to only you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.