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Acts 04_23-32 - Persecution Prayer Power - In Jesus Name

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Acts 4:23-32

PERSECUTION, PRAYER, AND POWER

Introduction:

1.       The name of Jesus

a.       The Apostles: Defending His Name (Acts 4:5–14)

b.      The Council: Opposing His Name (Acts 4:15–22)

c.       The Church: Calling on His Name (Acts 4:23–31)

2.       The apostles were locked onto their mission.

3.       The church was of one mind. Acts 2:42 "42And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

a.       One mind does mean that we don’t have different opinions

b.      One mind means that we know what matters and we are committed to it.

c.       Everything else is really that important

4.       The church experienced great joys, but also great opposition.

5.       This lost world rarely lets any good deed go unpunished.

a.       Peter & John: Prayer, Healing

b.      Preached Christ: Acts 4:10-12 "10Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."

c.       We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here.

6.       The corrupt counsel threatened them not to speak any more in the name of Jesus.

7.       Great prayer meeting is recorded here in the book of Acts.

To begin with,

  1. It was a prayer that was born out of witness and service for the Lord.
    1. Peter and John had just come in “from the trenches,”
    2. The church met to pray in order to defeat the enemy.
    3. Little sense of urgency and danger because most of us are comfortable in our Christian walk.
    4. If more of God’s people were witnessing for Christ in daily life, there would be more urgency and blessing when the church meets for prayer.
    5. God give us vision!
  2. It was a united prayer meeting as they “lifted up their voice to God with one accord”
    Acts 4:24 "24And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:"
    1. One heart and mind, and God was pleased to answer their requests.
    2. Division in the church always hinders prayer
    3. Division robs the church of spiritual power
    4. Too often today, the things of God have become holy.

                                                               i.      These believers were serious about God, His church and His work

                                                             ii.      With Christian radio, TV, books, etc. I fear that the church of our day has become too accustom to the things of God

1.       A sense of apathy permeates attitudes towards God’s word and God’s person.

2.       God’s house has lost its value. These saints were committed to the local fellowship of believers.

                                                            iii.      Three to thrive!The mission was compromised because someone decided that he had his own objectives

    1. Our goals are clear: Reach the lost, baptism them into the fellowship of believers and edify the saints.
  1. Their praying was based solidly on the Word of God, in this case, Psalm 2.
    1. The Word of God and prayer must always go together                                                                i.      John 15:7 "7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.").

                                                             ii.      In His Word, God speaks to us and tells us what He wants to do.

    1. In prayer, we speak to Him and make ourselves available to accomplish His will.

                                                               i.      ***True prayer is not telling God what to do, but asking God to do His will in us and through us

                                                             ii.      1 John 5:14-15 "14And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."

                                                            iii.      *It means getting God’s will done on earth, not man’s will done in heaven.

                                                           iv.      Acts 4:28 "28For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done."

                                                             v.      Our goal must be right

                                                           vi.      Phillips Brooks “Do not pray for easy lives,” “Pray to be stronger men and women. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.”

                                                          vii.      That is the way the early Christians prayed, and that is the way God’s people should pray today.

    1. Psalm 2 describes the rebellion of the nations against the Lord and His Christ. a.       Acts 4:25-27 "25Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,"

b.      The early believers applied the message of this psalm to their own situation and identified their adversaries as Herod, Pilate, the Romans, and the Jews.

c.       These enemies had “ganged up” against Jesus Christ and even crucified Him, yet God raised Him from the dead and enthroned Him in heaven.

d.      All of this was a part of God’s perfect plan, so there was no need to fear.

a.       Acts 2:23 "23Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"

                                                               i.      Acts 3:18 "18But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled."

  1. They prayed to the Creator
    Acts 4:24 "24And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:"
    1. Nehemiah approached God on this same basis (Nehemiah 9:6 "6Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.")                                                                i.      So did the psalmist (see Ps. 145) and the Prophet Isaiah (Isa. 42).
    2. Years later, when he wrote his first epistle, Peter encouraged suffering saints to yield themselves to the faithful Creator

                                                               i.      1 Peter 4:19 "19Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.").

    1. If your Father is “Lord of heaven and earth,” what have you to fear?                                                                i.      He created the great host of heaven, the earth and everything in it.
    2. That ought to put these puny men in under the right focus. If they seem big, it is because you’re looking through a microscope. #. They recognized their responsibility
    3. The early church strongly believed in God’s sovereignty and His perfect plan for His people. #. But note that they were faithful to witness and pray.

                                                               i.      They did not ask for protection; they asked for power.

                                                             ii.      Acts 4:29-30 “29And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.”

    1. They did not ask for fire from heaven to destroy the enemy (see Luke 9:51–56)

                                                               i.      but for power from heaven to preach the Word and heal the sick (see Matt. 5:10–12, 43–48).

    1. Their great desire was for boldness in the face of opposition (see Acts 4:17). #. Emphasis is on the hand of God at work in the life of the church,
      not the hand of man at work for God.

                                                               i.      Acts 4:28 "28For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done."

                                                             ii.      Acts 4:30 "30By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus."

  1. They wanted to glorify God’s Child Jesus Christ (Acts 4:27, 30).
    Acts 4:27 "27For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,"
    Acts 4:30 "30By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus."
    1. It was His name that gave them power to minister the Word and to perform miracles, and His name alone deserved the glory. #. The glory of God, not the needs of men, is the highest purpose of answered prayer.

The Results

1.       Fresh filling of the Spirit of God
Acts 4:31 "31And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness."

a.       Spake the word of God

b.      With boldness

2.       Deeper unity
Acts 4:32-33 "32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. "

a.       One heart…one soul

                                                               i.      Jesus prayer: that they may be one (John 17:22)

                                                             ii.      Greater desire to sacrifice and share (sharing is not part of the old nature)

b.      They enjoyed “great power”

c.       They enjoyed “great grace”

3.       This led to a great harvest of souls.

a.       “Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God.”

b.       The early church prayed, and God answered in mighty power.

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