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58. Suffering for Jesus

The Life and ministry of Peter. (Acts 4:1-31)

Christians are not promised success in the eyes of the world. God does not say you will have a good reputation or plenty of friends or an easy life. In fact God promised the exact opposite. Paul suffered for his faith

(2 Timothy 2:8-9; 3:10-12). Peter wrote that Christians should expect to suffer (1 Peter 2:20-23; 4:12-13). Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that when we suffer for His sake, we are blessed (Matthew 5:11-12). Suffering can be God’s way of making us effective for Him. I want to

show you the circle of events in Peter’s life that illustrates this.

A crippled man had been healed. The crowd were amazed. Peter seized

the opportunity to bear witness to Jesus (Acts 3:15-16). The opposition

seized the opportunity to attack the Christian witnesses (4:1-3). They

called Peter and John to account for what they were saying, what they

were doing and how they were doing it. They threatened them, intimidated

them and punished them. When you dare to be different the world will go

for you.

Suffering brought opportunity

Acts 4:8-13 shows us that Peter did not fall into the trap of thinking that

his suffering was the end of events. When he was called to account for

what he had done he saw both the opposition and the opportunity. Since

we can all expect to suffer, we should work out how we will respond to it.

Jeremiah’s vision of God was not blocked by the pit he was in. Job knew

that even if he changed his view of God because of all the boils on his

body, God would not change in reality. Paul could have thought he had

mistaken God’s call when he ended up in a city jail, but instead of

entertaining any doubts he entertained the prisoners by singing hymns to

them at midnight! (Acts 16:19-28).

The opposition were astonished and began to be aware of God in Jesus

Christ as Peter and John turned suffering into opportunity (4:13).

Opportunity brought praise and prayer (vv.23-24)

When they were released from the jail, though not from the threats, the

believers immediately began to praise God. They reflected on His power

in creation, His power over world affairs, His power in their own land.

They did not concentrate on their own situation, but on God’s sovereign

power. They also petitioned God (vv.29-30), but again notice carefully

what they asked for. They did not ask for freedom from suffering, or

protection from the authorities, but instead they asked God to help them

proclaim Jesus Christ and to work miracles in His name.

Praise and prayer brought power (4:31)

God was pleased with what they were asking for so He granted their

request. He filled them afresh with His Holy Spirit. They had been filled

already on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), but now having used the Holy

Spirit’s power in both miracle and message they were refilled for future

use. Maybe you do not know the power you seek because you do not use

the power you have got. God cannot refill a man who has not become

empty through usage.

Power brought witnessing (4:31, 33)

Here is the full circle. God did not fill them for the sake of fullness

itself but for effectiveness. This was unction for usefulness, power for

preaching, dynamite for distribution. God was bringing all this about

through suffering.

There can be no doubt that suffering could be God’s way to make you and

me more effective in his service. Paul knew it and he said, ‘When I am

weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:10). Do you need to change your

view of success? Should you start praying for something different? Are

you blessed with suffering for Jesus?

Discussion guide for ‘Suffering for Jesus’

Bible reading Acts 4:1-31

1. Summarise in your own words, what Jesus, Paul and Peter taught

about the Christian and suffering.

Refer to Matthew 5:10-12

2 Timothy 2:8-10

2 Timothy 3:10-12

1 Peter 2:20-23

1 Peter 4:12-13

2. What does all of this tell you to be ready for?

3. What caused Peter and John’s imprisonment and Sanhedrin

appearance? Was this reaction good or bad for them? Why?

4. Explain Acts 4:13. How can this testimony be an inspiration to you

in your everyday life?

5. Make some time to listen to God by yourself. What do you believe

God is calling you to be and to do?


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