You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.
Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org. Keep praying. Jesus said, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking, pray with persistence, don't give up. This is the day, the day when life begins. Some people seem to dabble at prayer. The Lord bless everybody everywhere. Amen. Others get on their knees and pray earnestly, wholeheartedly, passionately. Prayer can actually energize our faith, and faith can energize our prayers. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us move to a more immersive, more rewarding experience in talking with God. We'll learn some important principles that will take us there.
It's a good time to take notes. This is the day, the day when life begins. Okay, let's grab our Bibles and turn to Acts chapter 12. Acts chapter 12, we're in our series, Upside Down Living in the Book of Acts. And here's a real key into how this early church turned their world upside down.
Acts 12, verse 1. Now about that time, Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some of the church. He killed James, the brother of John, with the sword because he saw that it pleased the Jews. He proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now this was during the days of unleavened bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him into prison and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him to the people at Passover.
But I love verse 5, underline the whole verse. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. Constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. Now here's some vital insights into how to pray effectively. The title of my message is, What Happens When Christians Pray Together? What happens when Christians pray together?
A lot, as shown in this story. Here's point number one, the prayer that has power is the one that is offered to God. The prayer that has power is the one that is offered to God. Verse 5 again, constant prayer was offered to God.
You say, what? Isn't all prayer offered to God? Well not necessarily. Jesus told the story of a Pharisee who prayed thus with himself, which is a King James way of saying, his prayer wasn't heard by God. It was sort of a performance. And sometimes prayers can be a performance. Look at how eloquently I pray.
Look at me. That's not what prayer is about. Here's a real objective of prayer. It's not to get God to do what I want him to do.
It's to get my will in alignment with him. Right? So in alignment with God. Jesus said in John 15, if you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done for you.
Right? So principle number two, they prayed with passion and persistence. They prayed with passion and persistence. Constant prayer, underline those two words, constant prayer was offered to God.
This phrase constant prayer can be translated earnest prayer. This is not a flippant, oh Lord, help old Peter out. This is, oh Lord, deliver Peter.
Oh Lord, don't let Peter die. Lord we are calling on you with passion, with persistence. We need your help Lord. You know much of our prayer has no power in it because there is no heart in it.
And if we put so little heart in our prayers we should not expect God to put much heart in answering them. Jesus said knock and the door will be opened. Seeking you shall find. Ask and it shall be given. And in the original language it's keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking, pray with persistence, don't give up. God answers prayer three ways, yes, no, and wait. Well we don't like wait and we don't like no, we just want to hear yes. Here it comes down to this, sometimes God says go, sometimes God says slow, and sometimes God says grow. Let me say that again, sometimes God says go, yes, sometimes God says wait, slow down, and sometimes God says no, grow.
Let me illustrate. There was a time when the apostle Paul came to the Lord and asked for him to heal him. Now we don't know what Paul needed to be healed of but I am sure he had a lot of injuries.
He was beaten with rods, he was shipwrecked, he was stoned, not that kind of stone. He took a lot of physical abuse so he said, Lord I am asking you to heal me. And the Lord said, my grace is sufficient for you.
In other words, no Paul I am not going to heal you, but my grace is going to carry you through this. So in effect God said no. But then there is Moses, he wanted to deliver the children of Israel because he himself was a Hebrew and he was in an elevated position as probably the Pharaoh in waiting. Because he was adopted into the family of the Pharaoh. But he got tired of waiting on God. One day he took things into his own hands and he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Jewish man. And he was sent into exile for 40 years. He had the right idea but he needed to wait on the Lord. Same thing is true of Jacob.
He was given the birthright by God but he didn't want to wait for it to come his way so he took matters into his own hands and made a mess of his life. Listen to me. Wait on the Lord for his timing. And here is a specific word to you who are young and single. How many of you are single? Raise your hand up. Alright, how many of you who are single? It seems like I am right in this section here.
Among those who are single, how many of you who are single want to get married? Raise your hand up. Not all of you.
Interesting. Again that is not bad though. Here is what I would say to you guys. Don't do it.
No I am kidding. I would say take your time and wait. And look for a godly man or a godly girl. Try to find someone who is more godly than you are. And wait on the Lord's timing. Don't rush it. Because as Benjamin Franklin once said, Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterwards.
Right? But here is what happens. We say no my eyes are half shut before I get married. I am in love with this guy. I am going to fix him. Girls you are not going to fix him.
He is probably going to get worse. Wait on the Lord. And he will get to these things in his timing.
You will be glad you did. So sometimes God says nope. Sometimes God says slow. Sometimes God says go.
Have you ever had a prayer answered so quickly it blew your mind? This is what is going to happen in our story now. So they are praying Lord deliver Peter.
That brings me to point number three. They prayed together. They prayed together. Again the title of my message is what happens when Christians pray together.
Verse five constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. There is power in united prayer. Jesus said in Matthew 18 if any two of you shall agree on earth touching anything they shall ask it will be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. Now that doesn't just mean two Christians can get together and say hey you know what I would really like to have a Ferrari. Let's agree together in prayer.
Do you want a Ferrari? It could be ours. Ok. Yeah let's pray.
Lord. Now that is not what it means. It means two people that have been prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray in accordance with the will of God it will be heard of your Father in answer.
But this is really important. Because when you have a burden share your burdens with other Christians. Get a bunch of people praying. I think it is a great thing when we can bring these needs before the church and we can all pray together.
Ok so let's see what happens. Acts 12 verse 6. Now I am reading from the New Living Translation. The night before Peter was to be placed on trial he was asleep. Fastened with two chains between two soldiers.
Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly a bright light is in the cell and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to wake him up.
He must have been a deep sleeper. The angel had to kind of whack him. Get up.
And the chains fell off his wrists and the angel said get dressed and put on your sandals. Sounds like a parent trying to get their kids ready for school. Come on get up. Get out of bed. Wake up. Put your clothes on.
Let's go. And the chains fell off his wrists. And now the angel says put on your coat and follow me. And Peter left the cell and followed the angel. He thought this was a vision.
He didn't realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard post. They came to the iron gate leading to the city. And this opened for them all by itself.
This is cool. Because this comes from a Greek word that we get the word automatic from. So the big iron gate opens on its own.
You know like at the supermarket. So he walks through the big iron gate not really believing this is actually happening. They walk down the street and the angel suddenly leaves him.
Peter finally comes to his senses and says it's really true. The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do. When did this prayer get answered?
It says the night before Peter was to be placed on trial. It was late. Why didn't God answer sooner?
I don't know. But here's what's interesting. Sometimes God will wait until the last minute so you will see it's God. Right?
Because sometimes they'll say oh coincidentally oh I was lucky. No no no. It was the Lord. Remember when the disciples were out in the Sea of Galilee fighting a huge storm. They were exhausted.
They didn't know what to do. And here comes Jesus. And when did Jesus come? The Bible says on the fourth watch. Do you know when the fourth watch is? There's four watches to the night in Bible times.
And the fourth watch was that time where it's still dark but the sun is about to rise. So it was the very end which means that they had been in trouble for hours and hours. So the church is praying. This is the night before Peter is going to go on trial.
And he would have been summarily found guilty and executed in this kangaroo court of injustice. So it was teaching the church perseverance. It was teaching Peter faith and reminding us all that prayer is warfare. The battle is not won through human strength.
It's won on the knees. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. You know there's nothing like hearing the word of God and worshipping the Lord together. I want to encourage you to join us for something we call Harvest at Home. It happens every Saturday and Sunday at Harvest.org. You can join Christians literally from around the world as we worship and we study the word of God together.
So join us for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. And now Pastor Greg continues his message called What Happens When Christians Pray Together? I love this fourth point. I love what happens next because this shows how human these people were and how honest the Bible is and how honest the book of Acts is about this story. So here's all the believers. They're praying together. They're praying with passion. God has intervened and sent an angel to deliver Peter.
What happens next? Go to Acts 12 verse 12. When he realized this, that is Peter realized he had been delivered from prison, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. He knocked at the door of the gate and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed. Instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, Peter is standing at the door.
You're out of your mind, they said. When she insisted, they decided, maybe it's his angel. Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. He motioned for them to quiet down and told them how the Lord had led them out of prison.
Tell James and the other brothers what has happened, he said, and he went to another place. Now, you've got to see the humor in this story. Apparently, God could get Peter out of a prison, but he couldn't get him into a prayer meeting. No doubt, a prayer meeting for him.
So this is how my warped cartoonist mind sees the story. So they're praying, oh Lord, deliver Peter. Oh Lord, hear our prayer. Don't let Peter die. Lord, hear us right now. Oh Lord, now there's a knock on this gate.
What is that? Anyway, Lord, deliver Peter and then knock again. Hey Rhoda, would you go get the door? She opens the door, there stands Peter.
Boom, she shuts it, walks back in. Guess who's standing at the door? We don't know. It's Peter. It's not Peter. It's probably his angel. First of all, if an angel knocks at my door, I'm letting him in.
Right? And so now I love how it says they went to investigate this together. Verse 16, Peter continued knocking. They opened the door and they were amazed.
It makes me think that maybe they all kind of went over together, you know. Let's just check this thing out here. Open the door.
There is Peter. Like what are you guys doing? Let me in. I just got delivered from prison.
I would rather not get re-arrested again and thrown back in again. But why do I bring this up? Because it shows how though they prayed with passion, though they prayed together, they had their moment of doubt. And my fourth point is they prayed doubtingly.
And we've all done this. And I bring this up because sometimes people say, you must pray in faith. And if you prayed for God to heal you and you're not healed, it's because of your lack of faith.
Hold on now, buckaroo. We all lack faith at times. We all fall short at times. And they lack faith in this moment. But God heard and answered their prayer. God said, go. And sometimes you'll be praying for something and then boom it's answered. So quickly you can't even really measure the time. But again this just shows how things can change as a result of powerful prayer.
Let's pull the camera back and wrap this up. In the beginning of the story we see an all powerful King Herod wrecking havoc on the church. Herod had on his side the power of government, the power of the sword, and the threat of prison. The church had no political power, no military power, but they had the ultimate power. The power of God Almighty.
And that power was unleashed through prayer. So I don't know what you're dealing with right now. I don't know what you're grappling with.
I don't know what kind of problem you're being challenged with. But God is in control. But this is a reminder, death comes to every person. The famous and the unknown. The powerful and the weak. You may drive a Ferrari, you may drive a Prius.
You may drive a, ride a Harley or ride a Vespa. Doesn't really matter. Death will come to every person. And you don't know when this life is going to end.
No one does. Somehow we think we're entitled to live long lives. But then something happens and your life is shorter than you expected. You don't make that decision. But you have everything to say about that little dash in the middle. When you go to a cemetery you'll see the date of birth and the date of death. And then there's a dash.
The dash is all about what you do with it. How you live your life. And listen, you decide in this life where you will spend the afterlife. And so people don't know what's going to happen. The Bible tells us very clearly. And if we put our trust in Jesus Christ we don't have to fear death. That doesn't mean we look forward to it. It doesn't mean we as Christians have a death wish. But what it means is we know when that day comes we'll be ready to meet the Lord. As Paul said, I have a desire to stay here with you. But I have a desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better. Oh yeah.
Far better. Paul also said to live as Christ and to die as gain. So when that day comes, that day comes. And we as Christians go into the presence of God. But there's someone listening to me right now that is really frightened by this topic. You think about it all the time. You think about your mortality. You worry about it.
Listen, let's get it resolved right now. I am telling you on the authority of Scripture. If you put your faith in Jesus Christ you can have peace in the midst of the most difficult circumstances like Peter had when he was in prison.
If you put your faith in Jesus Christ you no longer have to fear death. Because Jesus said, I hold the keys of death. I am glad he holds them because if I had them they would have been lost by now. Because I always am losing keys.
Am I the only one? Right. Jesus has the keys.
He has control. And he said, I am the resurrection and the life and he that believes in me though he were dead. Yet shall he live and whosoever lives and believes in me, Jesus speaking, shall never die. Oh sure our bodies will go into the ground unless the Lord comes for us in the rapture before that.
And that can happen. But if not our bodies go into the ground but they will be resurrected again but our soul goes immediately into the presence of God. That is our hope we have as followers of Jesus Christ. So we are going to close now with a word of prayer and I want to extend an invitation to anybody here. If you are not sure that you are ready for the afterlife. If you are not certain that you will go to heaven when you die. Respond to this invitation and I will give as we pray.
Listen. Jesus died on the cross for your sin. That is why he came to this earth. He paid the price for every wrong you have ever done and he rose again from the dead. And now he stands at the door of your life and he knocks and he says if you will hear his voice and open the door he will come in.
Peter was knocking at the door of the house and they finally let him in. Jesus is knocking at the door of your life. Will you let him in? This is your moment to do so. Let's pray. Father I pray for any that may not know you. Let this be the day they believe in you. Let this be the day they ask Jesus into their life and have the hope and the certainty that they will go to heaven one day. And I ask this now in Jesus name. Amen. Well Pastor Greg we have a group of close friends of the ministry. They're unsung heroes behind the scenes.
That's right. And we want to sing about these unsung people for a minute don't we? Yes I have a special song I've written for all of you right now. And I'm going to sing it a cappella. So are you ready? Not really. But you wouldn't want me to do that.
You would turn the radio off immediately. Well no we do want to say thank you and we want you to know that your labor is not in vain. You know the Bible tells us that we should be faithful as we serve the Lord and your Father who sees you in secret will reward you openly. So first just let me say thank you to every Harvest Partner. And what is a Harvest Partner?
It's someone who stands with us every month and they support us with a regular financial gift. This enables us to respond to the great opportunities. We have new places to go with our broadcast. New people to reach with the gospel and with the teaching of the word of God. But I could use some more Harvest Partners.
So would you prayerfully consider that? And when you stand with us you help us to do more than we're doing even at this moment. And the need is so great in our nation. And there's so many people that have never heard the gospel.
And you know we have thousands of people except Christ listening to our radio broadcast alone. So become a Harvest Partner. And in advance let me say thank you. Yeah that's right and we'd invite you to find out more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org slash partner. Pastor Greg is inviting a thousand new Harvest Partners to team up with us. Given all the Lord has called us to do in the coming months.
And given all the places where these studies are heard that's really just a small handful of new friends in each community who agree to join us. So can we count on you? And we'll say thank you in some special ways. This month we're sending Pastor Greg's new book called Steve McQueen The Salvation of an American Icon. So let us invite you to get in touch to find out more.
Again go to harvest.org slash partner or call us at 1-800-821-3300. You can reach us anytime around the clock again at 1-800-821-3300. And then here's Pastor Greg once again. Let me close with this thought. Would you like Jesus Christ to come into your life? Would you like your sin forgiven?
Would you like to fill the hole in your soul? Would you like to go to heaven when you die? If so, just stop what you're doing and pray this prayer with me. You can pray it out loud if you like. You can pray it in the quietness of your heart if you choose. But pray this prayer. This is a prayer of asking Jesus Christ to come into your life.
Pray these words. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner. But I know that you're the savior who died on the cross for my sin.
And rose again from the dead. I turn from that sin now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus' name I pray.
Amen. Hey, did you just pray that prayer? If so, I want to congratulate you and be the first to say welcome to the family of God.
Yeah, that's right. You have a whole new life in front of you now. And to help you begin living this new life, Pastor Greg would like to send you some free follow-up resources called our New Believers' Growth Packet.
It'll help you get started in living your life for the Lord. So can we send it to you? Just ask for the New Believers' Growth Packet. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here to take your call around the clock.
That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write us at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well, next time we'll consider a man named Barnabas and learn the important role encouragement plays in the body of Christ. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life, share your story. Leave a review on your favorite podcast app and help others find hope.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-06 01:39:42 / 2023-03-06 01:49:55 / 10