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On Your Mark, Get Set...GROW! Part 4-Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
December 11, 2021 2:00 am

On Your Mark, Get Set...GROW! Part 4-Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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December 11, 2021 2:00 am

The first church in Jerusalem had lots of things missing from it—charters, committees, strategies, financial resources and buildings—things that many today would deem as vital. But it had great power! Why? We can only surmise that it is because they tapped into the source of power through prayer. Prayer was part of the very fabric of the church. It was basic and foundational… and it was effective. What would happen to our church if we were all devoted to this discipline?

This teaching is from the series Church? Who Needs It.

Links:

Website: https://connectwithskip.com

Donate: https://connnectwithskip.com/donate

This week's DevoMail: https://connnectwithskip.com/devomail

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I suggest that the best way to start a prayer is to realize to whom you are talking.

Why? It will give you enough faith when you make your request. That's what Jeremiah did. Jeremiah 32, verse 17. Oh, sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.

Nothing is too hard for you. Good perspective. And welcome to Connect with Skip Weekend Division as we continue our series about the church and urging us to have the right perspective on prayer. You know, not too long ago, Philip Yancey released a book on prayer that asked the question, Does it make a difference? The book is an honest and at times challenging examination of prayer.

Seeing as how prayer is so essential to the Christian life, it's a good idea to ask some hard questions about it from time to time. In today's study, Pastor Skip does just that as we examine this daily routine of the Christian life. But before we get started today, we want to share what we have for you this month in our Connect with Skip resource center.

2022 is almost here. Plan now for your spiritual menu starting in January. This month, we're offering Skip's daily God book devotional containing strong thoughts for each day of the year.

Here's a sample from January 1st. Martin Luther once said, The Bible is alive. It speaks to me. It has feet.

It runs after me. As you read each day, listen each day and prepare for the greatest adventure of your life. That's an excerpt of the direction found in Skip's daily God book that you'll receive in hard cover when you give $35 or more today to help keep this Bible teaching ministry growing. We'll also include playlist, eight messages by Skip on key Psalms delivered on CD as our thank you. Here's a sample of the wisdom you'll hear in the playlist series.

If you're going to spend energy in life, and we all do, make sure it's about people that you're building up, not just projects that you're building up. To give and receive this month's resource package, visit connectwithskip.com or call 800-922-1888. From our series Church Who Needs It, we're in Acts chapter 12 for our study today. So if you'll mark your Bibles there, we'll join Skip Hitez. Now about that time, Herod the King stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. And then he killed James, the brother of John with a sword.

It's one of the apostles. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the days of unleavened bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. Please notice that that's how Christians responded to being hassled.

It doesn't say Peter was put in prison and they started a letter writing campaign against the government, or they picketed in front of Herod's house, or they filed a class action lawsuit. No, they wanted real power. They wanted real results.

And they talked to God and they prayed. That was what they did. That's the first thing they did. That's the response. Now that's the first thing we should do.

Why is it that it is so often our last resort? And it's sort of like, there's nothing left to do but pray. I've heard that. Listen to that. There's nothing left to do except pray. Oh, you should have started with that. And it's almost like, I've tried everything. I've exhausted my resources. And now I have to trust God.

You see how weird that sounds? And typically, it's only when it's really a big issue. Oh, God, I'm giving this one to you, is if you can handle the little stuff. I suggest you bring the little stuff to God before it turns into the big stuff.

There's a widow that came to G. Campbell Morgan. I've always loved this story. And she said, Dr. Morgan, do you think God would be a good thing if we brought to him the little things in our life in prayer? And he smiled and said, Madam, can you think of anything that's big to God?

Isn't that a great perspective? Now, to you it's big. To me it's big. But is it really big to God? Does God ever go, uh-oh, I wish you wouldn't have asked me for that. Does God ever bite his finger in the nose? Does God ever bite his fingernails? Is cancer any more difficult for God to heal than a cold?

Nope. It's all little stuff to him. So this was the church. Nothing more, nothing less. Apostles' doctrine, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayers. If you wanted to see their mission statement, if you were to ask the leaders, hey, what are you guys into, they would say, we're into this stuff.

These four, we're into this. And they prayed. They depended.

I love it. They didn't have a manual on how to start a church. They didn't have anybody telling them you've got to do a 501c3 for the government if you want to be a religious organization.

They didn't have any kind of organized plan on how to start a singles ministry or pastors conferences or schools of ministry. They just relied on God and this is what God was doing. So this is a description of their prayer life generally. Now would you turn with me to chapter four of the book of Acts and we go from general now to specific. I want to show you now a depiction of their prayer life specifically.

And here we eavesdrop. Here we go into a prayer meeting and we learn what their pattern was. Verse 23, and being let go they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

So when they heard that they raised their voice to God with one accord and said, allow me to briefly paint the background. This is a time of crisis. This is a time of persecution. They had just been told by the Jewish temple leaders that it is now illegal. A law has been passed. You cannot do evangelism anymore in Jerusalem.

You can't do anything. They threatened them and then let them go. So they're experiencing a trial and if you discovered that trials produce prayer warriors.

You discovered that? That we might pray but when we're in trouble boy do we really pray. We really pray. We pray when we're in trouble. I mentioned that little Don Harris ABC survey at the beginning and he noted that the poor will pray more than the rich and then he asked this question at the end of his article. Does that mean with this economic downturn in America that we're going to see a lot more praying in our country than ever before? Perhaps and that would be a good thing wouldn't it?

That'd be a good thing. If America would be brought to its needs and humbled and not trust in its own power and own wealth but now trust the Lord and pray that could be a wonderful start. There was a sign in a principal's office at a local school that simply read in case of nuclear attack fire or earthquake the ban on prayer is temporarily lifted. Well of course they're acknowledging the obvious people will pray in times of distress.

Somebody once said as long as there are final exams to take there will always be prayer in school. Now let's discover the pattern of the early church might surprise you. Verse 24 this is a prayer with perspective.

They raised their voice to God with one accord and they said this is what they say, Lord you are God who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them. I circled the word Lord in verse 24 because it is not the typical Greek word. Typical Greek word is kurios, not this is a very uncommon word. It's the word despata. It means despot which is an absolute ruler, dictator, autocrat, authoritarian, sovereign absolute.

You're the despata. Now why did they use this term? Because they wanted to remind themselves just to whom they were talking. They weren't talking to Herod or Caesar or Pilate.

They were talking to the ruler of the universe who made all those guys and that gave them the right perspective before they asked God for anything. I suggest the same. I suggest that the best way to start a prayer is to realize to whom you are talking.

Why? It will give you enough faith when you make your request. That's what Jeremiah did. Jeremiah 32 verse 17, oh sovereign Lord you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm nothing is too hard for you. Good perspective. We so often carry our limitations over onto God in prayer and it's almost like oh God this is this is this is a tough one.

Here goes. I hope you can handle this. Well you might not be able to handle it but again nothing's too big for him. Nothing's too hard for him.

Jeremiah recognized that and this church recognized it. Your God is big folks. He's big.

I want I want you to just think about this for a minute. Right now you individually are one of 6.7 billion people on this earth. This earth is pretty big. It's 8,000 miles in diameter. It's a big dirt clod going through space traveling at 240 250,000 miles per hour.

You're on this dirt clod. You're one of 6.7 billion people. A very tiny speck on this big globe but this earth in comparison to the rest of the universe is very small. We are 93 million miles away from the Sun our nearest star but the Sun is an 8,000 miles in diameter. It's 860,000 miles in diameter. You could fit 1 billion 200 million earths inside the Sun and that's just the nearest star.

You got a lot more stars out there. You're in a galaxy that's 10,000 light years by a hundred thousand light years and then there's billions of other galaxies and that God of yours made all that and holds it like that. So next time you have a problem that's so big just realize how big God is.

A little perspective here. I've got a problem. Yeah but but you're talking to that God about your problem. Well I've got some enemies against me but you're talking to that God about them. Hey God can do a lot better job of vengeance than you can and I use that word. Bible says vengeance is mine. Make room for wrath. That's a refreshing thought isn't it? Lord sic them. Leave it with him.

Leave it with him. The early church recognizes this God is in charge of the people who are threatening them. Now verse 25 through 28 is a direct quote out of the second psalm, a messianic psalm because they wanted to in prayer be reminded of the fact that God foresaw all of what is happening even in the old testament and that's why knowing scripture is so helpful when you pray.

The more you know the principles of the bible and you know God's power, God's majesty, God's sovereignty, God's control, God's love, it will heighten your perspective when you pray. Second, this prayer had balance. Let's read verse 25 through 28. Who by the mouth of your servant David have said why did the nations rage and the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers were gathered together against against the Lord and against his Christ for truly against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together to do whatever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done. Notice that it's not just a prayer with perspective but it's peppered with praise. I acknowledge that you're sovereign and they're doing what you want and Jesus is your holy servant. In fact, there's five verses of this. They don't even get to their request till verse 29.

It's a very balanced and respectful approach. It's filled with praise and adoration as well as a request. So they didn't begin their prayer like, God I need, I want, I must have, now or I'll die. But you are God. You made it all. You said this in the Bible and you can do anything.

And you can do anything. Oh, and by the way, Lord, here's my request. And isn't that exactly how Jesus taught us to pray? He said, when you pray, say, our Father in heaven, hallowed, blessed, holy, to be revered is your name. Your kingdom, let it come. Your will, may it be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Then give us this day our daily bread. The requests come much later in that prayer. I heard of a girl who went into her room and stayed there a while.

She came out, her parents asked what she was doing. She said, I was just telling God that I love him and God was telling me that he loved me and we were just loving on each other. That's prayer. It's balance and prayer. And the early church with this horrible persecution against them gets the perspective, balances out their prayer with praise and adoration, loving God.

And third, it had direction. They had direction. Verse 29, here's the request. Now, Lord, look on their threats and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word.

What? They prayed for that? This is what got them in trouble. This is what got them arrested, their boldness.

Now they're asking for more of what got them in trouble in the first place. And I dare say there may come a time in our country in the not too distant future when you and I will need to pray that prayer. Give us boldness to represent Christ faithfully in a world and in a country that is not favorable toward that message.

By stretching out your hand to heal, that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus. What I want you to notice here is their prayer wasn't vague. It was specific.

It was very directed, very specific. It wasn't some vague, wispy prayer like, God bless every need, spoken and unspoken, just bless. Amen.

That doesn't do much. Would you walk into a restaurant and announce to the maitre d' or to the waiter or waitress, I have a general food need. Bless me.

You won't get any help until you go, I want number three on the menu. And when you are specific enough to tell them what you want, then you'll get it. Somebody once said to a group of preachers, I was there, never preach to be understood, but preach so it's impossible to be misunderstood. I would say, never pray to be understood, pray so it's impossible to be misunderstood. Not that God needs informing.

Not that God needs it. It's that you and I need it. The more specific you and I are in our prayers, when it happens, you can look back and then go, I prayed for that specifically. And your faith is bolstered for the next go around. Fourth, and finally, this prayer had results.

Verse 31 tells us the results, and when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the word of God with boldness. So the prayer that had perspective and balance and direction was the one that worked. It was the one that was powerful. It was the one that was powerful. Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscles of omnipotence.

It's that slender nerve. It might be even prayed in weakness, but when you pray with perspective and direction and balance, it is powerful. The fervent effective prayer of a righteous man, James said, avails much. So the whole idea in a nutshell is this.

One word, dependence. You know when you pray, you know what you're saying? You're confessing your dependence on God. And you know what you are saying when you don't pray. You're saying, I'm independent. Don't need any help.

I got it covered. And isn't that the root of all sin, even from the beginning with Adam and Eve? They were independent of God. Prayer is saying, God, I can't do life without you. I depend upon you.

Everything, I depend upon you. God created us to be dependent upon him and to be interdependent with each other. Notice the connection between they prayed in that verse, they assembled together and the power that resulted. You need the body of Christ and the body of Christ needs you. It doesn't need your spectatorship.

It doesn't need your peering from the bleachers. It needs your involvement, your prayers, your service together with the rest of us. I came across from wisdom, some wisdom from a father and a little book. The father, the author, was cooking breakfast one morning for his family and his little eight-year-old had a joke. Hey dad, how do you eat an egg without cracking the shell?

Dad thought about it, finally conceded he didn't know the answer. And the little boy said, by getting somebody else to crack it for you. And so he wrote, this reminded me of some church people. They want the benefits the church has to offer without sharing responsibilities. They want revival as long as someone else does the praying.

They want good programs as someone else, long as somebody else does the work. But if you want to eat eggs, you're gonna have to break some shells. Let me tell you how to break some shells.

Break this shell. Find somebody to pray with. Don't just pray in your life alone. If you're a husband, learn to pray with your family, your wife. You head that up. You take the initiative.

You break that shell. Pray with small groups. Church is open all during the week. You are more than welcome anytime you're in the area to stop in and to pray in the prayer room or in the sanctuary.

I'd love to see that happen. Well, we can enjoy a wonderfully intimate powerful and moving relationship with God or we can sit on the sidelines and enjoy what spills over from the relationship others have with God. The choice is up to you. How close do you want to get to God?

The only thing holding you back is, well, you. As you take some time to think about that and what Skip shared with us today, we want to let you know about how you can be on a trip to the Holy Land with Pastor Skip and his wife Lenya. Skip? Lenya and I are taking a group to Israel in 2022 and we want to invite you to join us. We'll visit places like Nazareth, the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and the Garden Tomb. And that's just a fly-by look at the itinerary.

Find out more about the trip at inspirationcruises.com slash c-a-b-q. Thanks, Skip. And we'd also be happy to send you a copy of today's message.

On your mark, get set, grow, part four on CD for just four dollars plus shipping. Simply call 1-800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com and be sure to join us next time for more from our series, Church Who Needs It, right here in Connect with Skip weekend edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection, connection, connection. Connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-10 02:07:34 / 2023-07-10 02:15:54 / 8

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