Peter went from timidly backing down from a servant girl (Matt 26:72), to boldly preaching even when threatened with prison (Acts 4:21). Then again, when strictly told to stop preaching, the reply was this:
“But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29
And they proceeded to boldly preach the gospel straight after that!
For Peter this turnaround was like going from Bashful the dwarf to Conor McGregor (well, a Christian version!). And it happened in a very short space of time – a matter of weeks from Jesus’ death to the early chapters of Acts. How did it happen?
He didn’t psyche himself up, or practice public speaking, or use any conventional means to gain confidence. Rather we see that two things took place. Firstly, Peter received the Holy Spirit. Note that he had been a believer in Jesus before that, but had not yet received the Holy Spirit. It was at Pentecost in Acts 2 that this first happened, where Peter understood and believed God’s promise from the book of Joel (see yesterday’s devotional!), and embraced a relationship with the Holy Spirit. The result was dramatic – he was able to preach confidently to the amazed crowd that had gathered.
Secondly, the believers had intentionally prayed for the boldness to be able to do the work of the Lord. Reading Acts 4:29-31, they grabbed their mission with both hands, running at it with zeal while asking God for special boldness. God replied by filling Peter and all the disciples again with the Holy Spirit!
“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
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