Upon the crucifixion of Jesus, the rulers, elders, and scribes of Jerusalem were so relieved expecting that the movement He began would now die out. Yet, it wasn't long after His death that they were forced to meet together to discuss what to do about the disciples of Jesus who were continuing to perform miracles in His name.
Peter and John were confronted and thrown in jail by the commander of the temple police and the Sadducees because they were proclaiming the resurrection of the dead. Pharisees and Sadducees were greatly divided regarding the resurrection of the dead, so many of the Pharisees were actually now believing in Jesus after the report of His resurrection.
Right after the scripture reporting that Peter and John were thrown in jail, the next scripture says 5000 men had come to believe in Jesus. The Lord turns the devil's works back on his head. The result of persecution is always many souls coming into the kingdom. In only a three month time believers in Jesus grew from 3000 to 5000 men. In those times it included only men because the decision the head of the household made would include women and children. So this number was more like 15,000 just in Jerusalem, as it is too complex to know the numbers in other lands from those who converted at Pentecost. This was approximately 10-20% of Jews living in Jerusalem.
This was a huge threat to the religious elite who wanted to hold onto their social status. When we keep our religion to ourselves where it doesn't have much effect on the condition of our land we will experience very little opposition. The moment it does is when all hell breaks out. Satan is fine with us as long as we stay quiet but when we bring the good news out and walk in Holy Spirit power that is when he will try to take us down.
Peter confronted with the who's who of the high priests responds, filled with the Holy Spirit and instead of him being on trial puts them on trial as those who were responsible for Christ crucifixion.
Wasn't Peter already filled with the Holy Spirit? In certain situations, our humanity can feel overwhelmed where fear cripples us, so we need to be renewed with the baptism of the Holy Spirit day to day, issue after issue. It is like drinking water, we have one drink, but it isn't long before we are thirsty again, and the hotter it is the more often we need to drink.
When they observed Peter and John they were amazed because these were unlearned and untrained men so they knew they had been with Jesus. They had not gone through the same training as them but they walked with even greater authority and knew the scriptures. Bible School is a good environment to grow but with or without it we have Holy Spirit who is our teacher, counselor, and comforter. He empowers us it is not a work of our own intellect and experience. As long as we empty out of ourselves to God, we will be filled up and that is the greatest witness. It proves more than anything else that Jesus is alive!
These leaders were threatened they did not know now what to do, they thought they could stop the movement by crucifying its leader but His power was now distributed through the Holy Spirit upon all who believed in Him and that had now gone to 15,000 and was growing daily. They told Peter and John to stop preaching but they responded we are unable to stop for we must listen to God, not you. This got them so angry but there was nothing they could do for if they imprisoned them the effect would be a riot.
Where we run too after being released from threatening situations is the key to how well we recover. Peter and John ran to there "own people," meaning their close friends in the faith. They reported to them what they went through and together instead of complaining and becoming fearful, they "raised their voices to God," reminding themselves what Holy Spirit spoke through David regarding what they went through and then asking the Lord to grant them boldness to continue despite the threats to speak His message with boldness, with healings, signs, and wonders being performed through the name of Jesus.
When going through challenges we got to remember that Christ said that all those that follow Him will suffer. Therefore we should not run from our problems but face them boldly and continue to do the work of the Lord no matter the opposition. As the disciples prayed together they had another Pentecost like experience. The combined energy of like-minded believers through prayer is an explosion.
The enemy is doing all he can to hinder us and so we desperately need group support if we are going to continue to remain on fire. The enemy hinders us by trying to keep us isolated and divided from the dynamics of group participation. An engine cannot run without all its parts placed together and neither can we unless we are are in continual fellowship with other believers. We can be part of groups but are they the right groups? Acts 4:32 says that this large group was of one heart and mind. That is the correct group, and naturally, they are hard to find, but if we are led by the Spirit, we will be connected to such ones.
A group becomes dynamic when it puts the needs of one another above themselves like a strong family. It gets to the point that what each one owns is now shared as each one has a need. When people are no longer distracted by their needs they can focus on the work of the Kingdom. When we are possessed by the Holy Spirit our possessions are no longer our own, they are just resources to be used for Kingdom purposes. This spiritual harmony created a great manifestation of the resurrection power of Yeshua and great grace was on all of them.
Group fellowship and prayer is absolutely necessary for growth and Kingdom activity. If you are struggling in your Christian walk it is because you are not getting enough support. Being part of a group is a sacrifice, it takes your time, money, and talent, yet without it, those items will not be properly utilized in the Kingdom of God. It will be like the parable of talents where punishment came to the servant who hid his talent and therefore became unprofitable.
THE CHALLENGE FROM THIS DEVOTION:
1.) Repent for allowing the enemy to keep you isolated and divided.
2.) Ask Holy Spirit what fellowship group are you supposed to be actively involved in.
3.) Make up your mind that you will remain faithful to whom Holy Spirit has placed before you until He sends you elsewhere.