“Then Peter and the other Apostles answered and said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’.”

Acts 5:29

If we’ll “settle it in our hearts” (Lk. 21:14a) before the battle begins, we’ll not have to wonder how we’ll respond when the fight heats up.

So often we falter under pressure because we’ve not “counted the cost” before entering the fray. We have good intentions, but lack firm resolve; consequently, we waver, wobble and wilt when the pressure’s on.

Today’s Manna reminds us of the importance of “obeying God rather than men.”

There’d been a time in their lives when they weren’t as “battle-tested.” Memories of their having abandoned their Master in the Garden of Gethsemane were still fresh in their minds (Mk. 14:50).

But, something happened to them that day on Pentecost when they were imbued with Power from on High (Acts 1:8; 2:1-3). And, from that point on for the rest of their lives they knew that they had but one allegiance (“to God”) and one purpose (“to obey Him”).

The three Hebrew teenagers—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—knew King Nebuchadnezzar had commanded that everyone would bow down to his 90’9” tall statue of himself when the music played (Dan. 3:1-5). And, they also knew that any who refused would “be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (v.6).

But, they refused to bend or bow.

And, when the angry king gave them an opportunity to “fall down and worship his image” (v.15), they told him they didn’t need to spend hours in prayer before making their decision (v.16). They said “Our God is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But, even if He doesn’t, be it known unto you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up” (vv.17-18). Glory!!

Yes, for them, the battle was won before it ever began!

And, the same was true for Peter and the other Apostles that day when the “high priest and those that were with him laid hands on them and put them in the common prison” (Acts 5:17-18). No amount of threatening could dissuade them (v.28). And, no amount of beatings could break them (v.40).

Instead, with an indomitable will and “the Spirit’s unction/anointing” (I Jn. 2:20) they “departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name” (v.41). And, instead of ducking and running for cover, “daily in the Temple and in every house they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (v.42).

Dear Pilgrim, the hour is too late for us to timidly shrink back from the Battle that is raging. We must take the battle to the Enemy (Eph. 6:10-18), knowing the Victory is already assured because of Jesus’ Resurrection. So, heed Joshua’s words that said “Choose you this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15). Then, exhort others to join you in the Fight—for many souls still hang in the balances of eternity.

June 27, 2011