|The Place was Shaken|
Have you tried to think of all the things you shake on a daily basis? If you think about it, we shake things all the time. We shake things to mix them up, rattle them loose and to force them to come out. We shake things when we are preparing meals, when we are getting ready in the morning, when we are on the job and when we are working around the house. In most cases, shaking things is necessary for positive results. Here are just a few examples. We shake salt, pepper and spice containers. We shake the liquid soap bottle. We shake our salad dressing bottle. We shake ketchup and mustard bottles. We shake the paint spray can. But, what if we didn’t shake these things up? Well, of course, the substances would become chemically separated, diluted and stuck in the container.
As you read through Acts 3 & 4, you will see a lame beggar healed in the name of Jesus, Peter preaching the gospel in a public area, Peter and John arrested by Jewish religious leaders and put on trial, Peter and John ordered “not to speak or teach about the name of Jesus” and a response to the order saying they “cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Well, that isn’t all that happened. Let’s not forget about a very significant, unscheduled prayer meeting. God tends to shake things too you know. So then, how is this prayer meeting described?
AC 4:23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. 31 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.”
You might say that this prayer meeting is described by its unity, praise & worship and the request. Unity: “Lifted up their voices together . . .” They were together and focused on boldness to carrying out the mission of Christ. Praise and Worship: “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them . . .” All in all, the prayer began in praise and worship exalting God in the context of creation, revelation, incarnation and volition. Creation – God is creator of the universe. Revelation – Jesus is the one whom David’s prophecy describes in Psalm 2. Incarnation – Jesus came to earth in the flesh to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Volition – God is sovereign meaning there is absolutely nothing that happens in the universe that is outside of God’s influence and authority. Thus, His overall will is destined to be accomplished. “to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place . . . “ Request: “Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness” These men were already bold and yet they prayed to continue to speak with all boldness. These men were already carrying out the command of Jesus to witness (Acts 1:8) and yet they prayed to continue to speak with all boldness. These men were already doing great signs and wonders in the name of Jesus and yet they prayed to continue to speak with all boldness. Isn’t this incredible? Isn’t there a lot for us to learn? In short, we should pray together and unified by the mission of Christ, praising and worshipping God acknowledging who God is and what He is done and voicing our requests according to His will. How would you describe your prayer meetings?
With all of that said, the significance of a prayer meeting isn’t restricted to what was said but it also includes what happens as a result. As I said, this prayer meeting is described by its unity, praise & worship and the request. But, let’s add “the result” to that list. We can’t leave out the result if we want a complete picture of this prayer meeting. So, what happened? “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.”
First, in this case, the place was shaken in affirmation. It was a tangible sign of God’s presence, power and approval. I want to be in a prayer meeting someday when I can sense God’s affirmation as He shakes the place. Don’t you? However, I’m wondering if we’re not getting a shaking by God (COVID19, civil unrest, etc.) to wake us up. Just wondering. How about you?
Second, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? If I am filled with the Spirit, I am abiding or remaining in Christ. I am walking in the light as He is the light. I am controlled by Christ. I also bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5). Now remember, these Christians were already indwelled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came upon them on the Day of Pentecost. We should be reminded that we are not always filled with the Spirit even though we as believers in Jesus Christ are indwelled with the Spirit. When we have unconfessed sin or when we allow a strong hold to entangle us in sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit or we quench the Holy Spirit. We must ask for forgiveness, repent and get focused on God’s will for a fresh filling of the Spirit. And that’s not all. Jesus said, recorded in John 14, 15 & 16, that He will send a Helper for us who follow Him. In case you didn’t know, the Helper that He refers to is the Holy Spirit. However, it is a misconception and a lie to believe the Helper was sent to help us do what we want to do like a waiter or a butler. Instead, the Helper helps us understand the truth about Jesus and empowers us to carry out the mission of Jesus.
Third, God answered their prayer. Oh, thank God for answered prayer. This passage says, “continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” Think about it. Their prayer request was answered because it was consistent with the command and will of God. “1 JN 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
Have you tried to think of all the things God shakes? Have you tried to think of all the reasons why He shakes them? We shake bottles, cans and various containers but He “shakes the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land.” (Haggai 2:6) We shake things to mix them up, rattle them loose and to force them to come out but He shakes things to affirm and to remind us who is in charge. He also shakes things when He pours out His wrath. But, what if He didn’t shake things up? Well, of course, we would miss the sense of His presence and affirmation and we would be left with division, weakness and being stuck. In any case, I’m looking forward to a prayer meeting that ends with “the place was shaken.” How about you?
A Work in Progress,