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As One Voice                        Acts 4:23-31

 

Review of Acts up to 4:22

 

         Jesus instructed the apostles to wait for Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit

         The church, about 120 believers, gathered constantly in prayer        

         Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.”

         The Holy Spirit comes and fills them, they begin speaking in tongues

         Peter addresses the crowd, telling them that Jesus is the Messiah

         3000 men repent and believe the message

 

Acts 2:42   “They devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  Being together was a hallmark of this early church and at the center of all this fellowship was prayer.  

 

The church understood from the beginning the importance of praying together.

 

In Acts 3

         Peter and John go to the temple to pray

         Going in they meet a lame man and give him the gift of the Holy Spirit 

         Acts 3:6  “Then Peter said, 'Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.'”

         The lame man is healed and goes into the temple with them, he is walking and jumping around

 

Acts 3:12 “When Peter saw this, he said to them, 'Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?'”

 

Acts 3:16 ”'By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong.  It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through Him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.'” 

 

The ruling council, the Sanhedrin, arrest put Peter and John put in prison overnight

 

Acts 4:4  “But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.”

 

         The next day they are questioned before the Sanhedrin

 

Acts 4:8-12

“Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit said to them, 'Rulers and elders of the people!  If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands be for you healed.  'Jesus is the stone the builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.'  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.'”

 

         The healed man was there so they could not deny the miracle

         Sanhedrin tell them not to speak in Jesus' name anymore

         Peter says we must follow God and speak about Jesus

         The Sanhedrin warn them again and let them go

Let’s look at today's text

 

Act 4:23-31

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
against the Lord
    and against his anointed one.

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

 

Hallmarks of the new church-Faith in Jesus, Fellowship, Shared Community, Prayer

 

The four points of the people’s prayer:

1.    They acknowledged the Sovereign Lord

2.    They relied on the His Word

3.    They asked God to empower them to speak with boldness and for God to Act

4.    They prayed together

 

Today, we as believers should be following these same points in our prayers, especially in our prayer time together. 

 

They Acknowledged the Sovereign Lord

 

         Immediately acknowledge God's Sovereignty-Absolute, Total Control

         No doubt about who is in charge-The Lord is, not us

         Our will is not the subject, the subject is His perfect will

         God doesn't make mistakes like we do, He doesn't ask for a “do over”

         He is all knowing and all powerful

         How much power do we have?

 

With a light switch I can turn off or on the lights, but He spoke light into existence

 

Genesis 1:3  “And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.” 

. 

         God created all that we see and touch.

          All we are capable of doing is to rearrange what He has already made.

 

When we think we have it all together, that we have the power to do everything ourselves, remember that it is really God that has the power.  Let's stop trying to take it away from Him and instead acknowledge that He is the Almighty, the sovereign Lord.

 

         Peter and John were in trouble for healing the lame man but is was God who healed    

         Peter & John were simply the instruments that the Lord chose to use to reveal His glory

         His will was even being done through Pilate and Herod, whom God used to condemn Jesus and bring salvation to the world

 

In Acts 4 the people acknowledged God as Sovereign. 

 

They Relied on the Word

 

The verses that they spoke are from Psalm 2, one of the Messianic psalms.  Because they knew God's word they were able to remember Psalm 2 and recognize how the rulers Pilate and Herod were gathered against the Lord.  They could also take comfort from knowing the rest of the Psalm and understanding the warning that was to come. 

 

Psalm 2: 10-12, “Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.  Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate His rule with trembling.  Kiss His son, or He will be angry and your way will lead to destruction, for His wrath can flare up in a moment.  Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.

 

         New church told not to speak in the name of Jesus

         They had a choice follow God or follow man.  They chose to follow God

         Daniel 3- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose to follow God and ignore the the king of Babylon's order to worship the golden image. 

         Knew that God would either save them from the fire today or from the eternal fire.

         Either way, they would rely on God's word.

 

We must learn to do the same.  We must know God's word, treasure it and hide it in our hearts so when the time comes it will come back to us to strengthen us and guide us.  How many of us have memorized any Bible verses?

 

Here are some that I rely on:

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”

 

They asked God to Empower them to speak with boldness and for God to Act

 

         Believers didn't ask God to overthrow the council of the Sanhedrin or send angels to protect them. 

         They asked God to give them boldness

         What could we do if we asked for boldness?

         Many times we ask for what we think should happen, forgetting God is sovereign

         We are foolish enough to tell God what we want and to limit how is to He do it

 

The early church appears to have understood that what we really need to do is ask God to move and use us in the process. 

This is a dangerous prayer!  God may tell you to go and do the thing you fear most!

         Maybe it is talking with someone where you work about Jesus. 

         Maybe it is being called to volunteer at the homeless shelter. 

         Maybe a call to go on mission some where.

 

This Christian life is supposed to be about, listening to God, doing what He instructs you to do.  Trusting in Him

 

Acts 4:18-20  Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John replied, 'Which is right in God's eyes: to listen to you or to him?  You be the judges!  As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.'”

 

Peter and John knew the risk of that prayer and joyfully accepted it!

Do we have the boldness to do it?  This year we have been praying and asking God what the one thing is that He wants Crosspoint to be known for,  We haven't yet felt that God has answered us.  Maybe He is waiting for us to step up and commit to speaking in boldness, in allowing God to use as the tool in His hand.  I have a circular saw at home.  It can do a lot of things when I pick it up and use it.  But it does nothing most of the time but sit there waiting to be to plugged in and used.  The saw won't work unless it is plugged in so power if available to. Then when I choose to use the saw it is ready.  Are you plugged into God so His power is in you so you are ready when He chooses to use you?

 

Have you experienced the thrill of being the tool used by God? 

         If you have you know the joy that comes with it. 

         If you haven't then it is time to surrender to God's will and let Him act using you as the tool for His glory.

 

 They Prayed Together

 

In the book of Acts we repeatedly see the church meeting and praying together

         They knew the importance of praying together

         They knew the power that comes to a praying church.

          How important is it for us to be together in prayer?

 

 In Matthew 18:19-20 Jesus says,  “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, There I will be also.” 

 

Acts 4:24 “They raised their voices together in prayer to God.” 

 

         They knew they had to be together

         they had to raise up their prayers as one voice to the Lord.

         Being together and praying together are crucial for the church to survive and grow.

 

Individually we can do many things but it will wear us out and rob us not only of our strength but of the power behind it. 

 

         Last 10 days=3 hurricanes in Mexico and the US,  massive earthquake in southern Mexico

         We want to respond as individuals

         We can accomplish so much more together

         Harvey-They asked volunteers not to show up, instead connect with an agency so the effort is coordinated and farther reaching

         As Christians we should be leading the efforts to help

 

Sometime I wonder if that is why our congregation doesn't seem to grow.  Maybe we just aren't praying together enough.  We have a prayer meeting on Tuesday nights and on a good night there might be six people.  It seems we have not taken our responsibility to pray as seriously as we should.  Warren Wiersbe says “Prayer is not an escape from responsibility; it is our Response to God's Ability.”

 

As we close in prayer I want us to gather together in groups of three or four, praying together.  And the prayer I want us all to share is a declaration of God's sovereign authority over this world and our lives and to ask as a church for God to use us, Crosspoint Community Church, as His tool for reaching out to the world and revealing His glory.