We look back in awe at the courage and faith of the early church, the incredible miracles that surrounded them, and the overwhelming growth they experienced. Even when persecution arose from the religious and political authorities, the church did not so much as slow down. What was their secret? They were solidly connected with God, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We see, through their example, what a difference connection makes.
1) Connection gives us access to God's power.
“It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” -Acts 3:16
The Sanhedrin ran headfirst into a problem: you can't argue with a transformed life. Though the disagreed with the apostles' spiritual beliefs, they had nothing to say against the miracle standing before them. (Acts 4:14) Note that it was not the beggar's faith that healed him: it was Peter's. (Acts 3:6) Peter's faith allowed something to happen in another person's life that had never happened before. (Acts 3:2) And Peter doesn't even take credit for it! (Acts 3:12) Not for the miracle, and not even for his own faith. Without God's grace, there's nothing to put our faith in. Peter was ready to give up after his betrayal, but Jesus showed him grace, and restored him. Now, Peter is doing his part: taking that faith and putting it into action.
· Does our faith press the limits of the impossible?
If not, we have only to connect with God more, and deeper. He does not expect all of us to come upon that kind of faith suddenly; but He wants us to grow our connection to Him more and more.
2) Connection attunes us to God's heart.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. –Acts 4:13
Look at the choices Peter and John make. They see past the beggar's immediate problem to the deeper issue. They boldly address the crowd when it suddenly gathers. (Acts 3:12) When they are on trial, they answer even more boldly to the people that have authority to punish them. (Acts 4:13) And when they are released, they pray not for an end to the persecution facing them, but the courage to move forward despite it. (Acts 4:29) The Spirit in them not only guides them to capitalize on the opportunities around them, but is changing their hearts to look more and more like God's. They are in tune with His will, and His character.
· Are we becoming more like Him every day, or less?
Again, the answer is connection. By learning His character in the Word, praying to Him constantly, and using any other means of grace He gives us, we cultivate the connection between us.
When they were ordered to stop preaching Jesus, Peter and John said, "We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." They were on a God-given mission, and were accomplishing it by the power and leading of the Spirit. For them, as it should always be for us, connection was first.