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Praying for a Bold Voice in a Lost World | SO BE IT

Praying for a Bold Voice in a Lost World | SO BE IT

Monday They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were…proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. (v 2)

“I’m offended! My race is offended! My culture is offended! My gender is offended! I don’t like the way you think! Change it!” Thou shalt not offend is the clarion call of the 2020’s. Some biblical illiterates try to hijack Jesus as though He inspired this mobthink. (They forget that He was murdered for offending the wrong people). The apostles followed His lead and became equal-opportunity offenders as well. They ticked off the same people and reaped the same results. “Greatly disturbed” is a Bible way of saying “fuming mad and ready to lynch.” Why were they so mad? Because truth offends when sin is preferred.

People are usually fuming mad and ready to lynch when they slam against a truth they don’t like. So they bully and their bullying causes many Christians to shrink into silence. But Jesus didn’t give us that option. He commanded those who know Him to be unstoppable in spreading His message to a lost word. He was. The apostles were. Millions of martyrs kept speaking a message that offends. They needed boldness. It’s easier to please everyone and fly under the radar in this hotbed of offense. God’s truth makes people “greatly disturbed.” But their eternity is at stake, so we pray to have a bold voice in a lost world.

Challenge: It takes bold voices to lift above culture’s hostility. Not angry, arrogant, or unkind voices. But bold like Jesus was.

Prayer: Father, I’ve got to stop shrinking back and staying silent as my world goes to hell. It’s scary out there, Lord, but I ask for boldness. May I stand for the truths of your word and show people how to apply them to their lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Tuesday— There is salvation in none else, for there is no other name under heaven…by which we must be saved. (v 12) 

God is very popular—as long as you don’t define Him. You can make “God” any way you want Him/ Her/It to be. “MY God would never send anyone to hell,” some claim. “Well, MY God wants everyone to be happy no matter how they express it,” say others. “All paths lead to God and no one has the right to claim exclusivity,” sniffs the woke crowd. God’s goodness draws applause on Oprah, His name is invoked at inaugurations, and His help sought in disasters—as long as we get to define Him any way we choose. We like God if we can keep the traits we want and toss the others. But that’s only self-worship.

Yahweh’s definition of Himself is divisive and exclusionary—swear words in a woke world. “No other name…” He says.  “Salvation in no one else…” What could be more elitist? How dare He? Those words got the first Christians jailed, beaten, and killed. Imagine watching your brother being burned at the stake for claiming Jesus was the only way to God. Then the angry mob turns to you. It took great boldness to continue proclaiming a truth that those in power didn’t want to hear. It does now too. If we intend to stand up for Jesus when the mobs come, we have to start now. We can pray for boldness when friends insist we join their raunchy weekend, when our Mormon neighbor wants to argue theology, when our hearts yearn for that which God has said NO. There is no one else, other name under heaven, that can forgive sin and make us holy enough for the real God.

Challenge: Any “Jesus” that loves and accepts you without requiring change is not really Jesus. It’s only self-worship.

Prayer: Lord, examine my heart. Am I basing my faith on a distorted, culture-approved version of who you are? I repent and turn my heart back to your word. Grant me boldness to represent what it says, no matter how unpopular it may be.  Amen.

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Wednesday Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. (v 18)

Cancel culture started long before the 21st century. Actually, religion invented the idea. The woke religious leaders were a little nervous when they arrested Peter and John. They’d seen these guys heal someone in the name of a dead rabbi. Healing was nice and all, but that name Jesus was still causing problems. They remembered Him: judgmental, harsh, and unwilling to go woke while He was alive. They’d been patient, told Him to stop being divisive, but He only got worse until they finally executed Him. That should have been the end of it, but His radical followers wouldn’t shut up. No kidding, they claimed the guy rose from the dead and still had power! Power was fine, charity work was fine, whatever…but just stop using that NAME!

Cancel culture is still demanding we stop using that name. “Fund orphanages, feed the homeless, do your good deeds, but stop using that NAME!” they demand. It’s not Jesus, per say, it’s His lofty claims. As long as Jesus is nothing but a social reformer, He’s okay. His focus on the poor fits the cancel agenda. But don’t start quoting ALL of what He said: those negative vibes about hell, obedience, and cross-carrying. And by all means, don’t mention that wide road/narrow road stuff (Matt. 7:13-14). “Judge not” is their favorite Bible verse because they haven’t read the rest of the chapter. Cancel culture has hijacked Jesus and if we don’t know better, we think they’re right. Presenting the real Jesus to a cancel culture starts with bold prayers.

Challenge: Are you willing to be used by God to refute culture’s idea of Jesus and represent the real one? Pray for boldness.

Prayer: Father, it’s so much easier to just go along. But I hear claims by unbelievers about you that I know are wrong. Give me boldness to gently correct them and point them to the real Jesus and His offer to save them. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Thursday—   Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”  (v 29) 

Jail stench clung to their clothing. Wrists and ankles ached from shackles as Peter and John limped back to their friends’ home where other Christians were praying for them. Overjoyed, the friends welcomed them, shoved food at them, and offered water for their feet while simultaneously peppering them with questions: “Did they beat you?” “Are they coming for us?” “Should you leave town?” Then, in total unity, they joined hands and cried out to the Lord—but it wasn’t the kind of prayer we’d probably pray. They didn’t ask for safety, judgment on their captors, or protection from further arrests. They asked for greater boldness.

Would that be the first thing on your mind? “How dare those people!” we might think. “I’ll pray hellfire and brimstone down on their heads!” OR we might feel justified in praying, “Lord, you saw what they did to me. I’m getting out of here.” Our friends might agree, but not these friends. They all had their eyes on the same mission: proclaim the truth about Jesus. Life had ceased to be about them. Something greater was a stake. They had a job to do, a message to share, but it was becoming scarier. Costlier. Unsafe. They could have compromised or disappeared. But for them, greater opposition didn’t call for safety, it called for greater boldness. And because of that boldness, we heard the message too. We owe it to them to pass it on.

Challenge: Christians are facing increasing opposition. Will you compromise, disappear, or pray for greater boldness?

Prayer: Father, right now I’m not sure what I’ll do. I want to pray for protection, for peace in my world, for safety. But give me boldness to stand for truth in a sea of deception. May I never falter in declaring your word. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Friday 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.  (v 31) 

“Oh, Cool! I want that!” cried Terra when she read this verse. “Gives me chills! Why doesn’t that ever happen at our prayer meetings?” Note to Terra: Read the verse before it. Most of the time, we don’t experience God’s power in our prayers because they sound like a letter to Santa. “Dear God, gimme this, not that, more of those, make people like me, help my job be easier, help me lose weight, and help my bonus be enough to cover both Netflix AND Paramount+. Amen.” Imagine Almighty God on His throne, surrounded by lightning and legions of angels, sighing: “What am I supposed to do with that?”

Contrast that prayer with Penny’s: “Father, my professor mocks me and your word. Now I have to write a paper defending homosexuality. Graduation depends on it. Give me courage to do what’s right, boldness to keep speaking up even when they laugh. Give me courage as I go to class Monday. I think a few were listening, so help me declare your word with boldness.” Which prayer shakes heaven? Could it be that our prayers lack power because they’re mostly self-focused? While we obsess over RIGHT NOW, God agonizes over eternity and the millions headed away from Him. It’s not wrong to pray for safety or a way of escaping persecution. But when we pray for boldness, we shake heaven. God can’t wait to answer prayers like those.

Challenge: Do your prayers shake heaven?

Prayer: Father, my prayers have become so self-focused they are limiting me. I’m not praying big enough prayers. I want to pray for what you want to do in and through me. So grant me boldness to live honorably in a world of dishonor. Amen.