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Acts 4:23-5:42 - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
July 10, 2024 6:00 am

Acts 4:23-5:42 - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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July 10, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Skip continues his teaching on the power of prayer for the Christian.

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What I want you to see is that when you pray, the first thing you and I must do is recognize to whom we're speaking. We're not speaking to somebody who is weak.

We're not talking into the air. We're not talking to somebody with even earthly authority. We're talking to the sovereign God of whom nothing, nothing is too hard. Nothing is too hard. Prayer is powerful.

It's been that way throughout history. And today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Pastor Skip continues his teaching on the power of prayer for the Christian. Now, here's how you can help connect more listeners around the world with God's Word through broadcasts like this one today so they can grow closer to Christ.

When you support this ministry, you keep these teachings available to you and to so many others around the world so they too can grow and connect with God. Just call 800-922-1888 to give a gift today. That's 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate.

That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Thank you. Okay, let's listen in now for what Skip has for us today. We'll be in Acts 4. As we pick back up in chapter 4 of the book of Acts, there's just a couple of incidences in my life I wanted to tell you about. When I think of understanding as a young believer that not everybody liked what I believed in and, you know, I was so excited, I'm thinking I'm going to tell everybody about Jesus. They're going to be so happy that their sins can be forgiven and they can go to heaven.

People are just going to get so excited with this and I couldn't be more wrong. People really weren't excited about getting their sins forgiven or having a new life. They didn't really want anything to do with what I believed in and it was a rude awakening when I was a new believer and I was a bass player in a Christian band and we were doing an opening concert of evangelism in the city that I grew up in and there were a group of kids who hated what we were standing for and they hated it so much they thought it would be a good idea to set the building we were meeting in that concert on fire that night.

So they decided to go take a motorcycle out in the parking lot, put a t-shirt in the gas tank, light it on fire, put the motorcycle against the wall of the building, the motorcycle blew up and the wall started catching on fire. Now to make matters worse, not only was I in the band but that was my motorcycle that they blew up in trying to start it on fire. So that was like the first time I realized there's people out there who don't like us. Then another incident that sort of drove this home to me is a few years later I was in the country of India.

We were down in southern India. I was out with some brothers and sisters, Christian brothers and sisters out in the field doing street evangelism and we were surrounded by a group. Our group was surrounded by a group and the group surrounding us, our group was like this. Their group was like this and they just had those foreboding looks and angry intense countenances and they moved closer and closer to us and I started getting nervous. So I said to one of our brothers smiling from India, I said what's happening?

He goes I think we are going to get beat up and I'm thinking this is not good. So here's my reaction to those two incidences. My reaction to incident number one is understanding for the first time that the world doesn't like the Christian, doesn't like the message of the Christian and I was really bummed out because it was a great 450 Honda double overhead cam and that just went up in flames.

But the second incident, my reaction was I'm going to get physically hurt perhaps and it didn't happen because if I don't say that you're going to say well what happened? We prayed and the Lord dispersed that angry crowd. But it doesn't always happen. There's a lot of our brothers and sisters in the world who suffered tremendously for the cause of Christ. So with that in mind, what is the Christian to do when threatened, hassled, treated poorly, billed too much, whatever it might be, what are we to do? Well when we come to verse 23 of chapter four, we get some insight. And being let go, this is after they were threatened, after they were treated poorly, after they were persecuted, being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said, Lord, you are God who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, 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 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. And now, Lord, look on their threats and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word by stretching out your hand to heal and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus. 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. Notice that verse 23 does not say, then being let go, they gathered together, rallied together, stormed the Antonia fortress, wrote a letter to the editor of the Jerusalem Post. They didn't protest, they prayed. They gathered together and they appealed to God. They immediately went to prayer. Their reaction against the world was to pray for the world. Now that to me is striking because that would not be in my natural makeup, that would not be my first reaction. I would think of retaliation. How can I get back at them or how can I put a stop to them?

How can I get a law passed? And those, especially that last one, may have its place in the right context. But what I want you to see is that first and foremost, the early church were a group of spiritual activists. Spiritual activists. No, they were active. They were activists, but they were spiritual activists. They got together and they prayed to the Lord for the world that had persecuted them. And we're going to examine this prayer. We're eavesdropping on it.

We started looking at it last time and then we closed it off. But if you've never read any of the writings of R.A. Torrey, Ruben Torrey, I just commend them to you. R.A. Torrey has a great quote.

He has many great quotes. But R.A. Torrey said, pray for great things, expect great things, work for great things, but first and foremost, pray. And so that's what they did. They prayed. And we looked just briefly last time and now we want to look a little more deeply as we finish off this chapter at their prayer. First of all, their prayer had backing. They're appealing to God and they're not just throwing up words. They're not just spouting out words.

They're not just talking into the air. They have the backing of heaven. It says that they raised their voice and said, Lord, you are God.

You are God. And last time I told you the word Lord is the Greek word despota or despot, the autocrat of the universe, the ruler of everything. And I may have even mentioned the prayer of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 32. And he said, ah, Lord God, you made the heavens and the earth with your great strength and your outstretched arm.

And there's nothing too hard for you. And what I want you to see is that when you prayed, the first thing you and I must do is recognize to whom we're speaking. We're not speaking to somebody who is weak. We're not talking into the air. We're not talking to somebody with even earthly authority. We're talking to the sovereign God of whom nothing, nothing is too hard.

Nothing is too hard. So when you elevate your prayer by recognizing to whom you're praying, it inspires faith. If you go, God, I don't know if you're up there or not, you're not going to really be praying with faith when it's like, Lord, you made the heaven, the earth, the sea and everything in them.

Oh, okay. Now I just framed it with the framework of faith. I put God in the right perspective, and it's important to do that because too often you and I, we carry our limitations over onto God. What is hard and impossible for us is so easy, breezy for God. We have faith when it's a cold. Our faith diminishes when the sea is a cancer, not a cold.

Oh Lord, this person has inoperable cancer. Well, I can tell you that to God, he would look at both and go, so? I can fix a cold or cancer. I created the human body.

I made everything on earth. So it's first of all important to have backing in your prayer. Second, they had basis. Notice that they quote Psalm 2, who by verse 25, the mouth of your servant, David has said, now it's a direct quote out of Psalm 2, but I'm going to show you a little difference. They say, they quote, 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 the Lord and against his Christ. If you were to look at the actual translation in your Bible, in Psalm 2, it says, they've gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed. Here they use the word Christ because it's the same word. The Hebrew word in the second Psalm for anointed is Mashiach or Messiah. And Christ is the English equivalent of Christos in the Greek, which is the equivalent of the Hebrew, Mashiach.

So anointed, Messiah, Christos, Christ, it's all the same. They quote a Messianic Psalm, the first of the Psalms that is considered Messianic. So they have a basis now for what they're praying. They're praying, realizing that God is the autocrat of the universe, controls everything, made everything, and even predicted that what is happening in Jerusalem that day was predicted in the Scripture. They've gathered together like the Psalmist said they would gather together against the Lord and against his anointed like the Psalmist said would happen. Even though that Psalm will have its ultimate fulfillment in the kingdom age at the second coming of Jesus Christ, Revelation 19, when he takes all the kings of the earth that really were against him, will be against him at the end of the great tribulation period, judge them and usher in the millennial kingdom.

It also has a in the meantime application, and that is what was happening in Jerusalem that day was predicted. So it elevates prayer. Prayer is being elevated. They're coming to God with a request. Before they get there, they realize who they're talking to, so it has backing.

They're quoting the Scripture so it has a basis for what they're asking. The third thing about their prayer is it has balance. Notice how they begin their prayer and they move from adoration, worship, ascribing things to God, to their petition. The prayer moves from adoration to petition.

Any good prayer has balance. Sometimes we talk to God only as a person, as a person who is a Christian. Only, well, we talk to God, we come to God like we go to an emergency room. You know as you drive by a hospital that there's doctors in the emergency room, but you don't feel compelled to go in and talk to the doctors every time you drive by the hospital.

You know they're there. But you'll go to the emergency room if there's an emergency. Some people, they know God's up there, but why bother him? But if there's an emergency in my life, if I need an aspirin or medication or a prescription, I'll go to God.

So their communication to God is so often imbalanced almost like an emergency room physician. Wouldn't it be nice for you to call your emergency room physician out of the blue and just say, hey, doc, you saw me a year ago. I just wanted to see how you're doing. You're just awesome. I just want to let you know that. Now that probably never will happen.

It should, but it probably never will. But I wonder what God must think or feel like, and I don't even want to presume that, but when his children can find communication only to petition rather than adoration mixed with petition, how did Jesus teach us to pray? He says, when you pray, begin like this. Our Father in heaven hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. Adoration before petition. So this prayer has balance as well, not only basis, but it has balance.

Now verse 29, now therefore, Lord, look on their threats. Grant to your servants that with all boldness, they may speak your word by stretching out your hand to heal that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your holy servant, Jesus. Fourth characteristic about this prayer, it has bearing.

It has bearing. They're not just throwing out dusty, overused, ambiguous phrases like bless, lead, guide, and direct. They're very, very specific about what they're asking from God. Number one, they're asking God for boldness. By stretching out your hand to heal that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your servant, Jesus. Grant to your servants that with all boldness, they may speak your word.

Now I find this absolutely amazing. What got them into trouble to begin with? Their boldness. Going through the streets of Jerusalem being very bold about what they believe in, that got them arrested. Now they're asking God to fill them with more of what got them in trouble to begin with. Lord, we got in trouble for our boldness.

Give us more. That's very, very specific. Number two, they're asking God for changed lives, stretching out your hand to heal that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your holy servant, Jesus. Verse 31, and when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken. This has always intrigued me.

Don't know exactly what caused the shaking. Not going to even try to guess other than to say it was a physical manifestation for the apostles, probably to bolster the faith of the early church, just like there were accompanying signs on the day of Pentecost. So the place shook, and it says they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Notice that. And they spoke the word of God with boldness. He answered their prayer.

Notice the correspondence. Boldness comes when you are filled with the Holy Spirit. And I've told you plenty of times about my own first encounters with witnessing. I told the Lord I'm not a verbal person. I don't like to talk to people about what I believe in. Most people don't want to hear about what I believe in. And then I started reading the book of Acts, and I read this correlation. So I said, Lord, give me boldness. I don't know what to say, but give me boldness.

Make me unafraid. And so I remember talking to a guy that everybody thought was the coolest kid in high school. This is after I graduated. That's when I got saved that summer. I was about 18. And I remember walking up to him to talk to him, and I was, like, shaking. And I thought, man, I don't know where the fulfillment of that promise is, because I'm not bold.

I asked him for it, but I'm still scared. But as soon as I started talking, I took the step of faith to actually say a few words. That's when the boldness kicked in. That's when the words came. It was a little awkward at first, kind of a rough start, but then it got, like, really good. And then I started actually thinking, hey, that's good.

What I just said, that was good. And I knew it was the Lord. I asked Him to fill me with His Spirit and give me boldness, and He did. Now the multitude, verse 32, of those who believed were of one heart. Look at this beautiful description of the first Christians in Jerusalem. The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul. Neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common, similar to chapter two. And with great power, the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked for all who were possessors of lands or houses, sold them and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold and laid them at the apostles' feet, and they distributed to each one or to each as anyone had need.

Now I want to just reinforce something I told you a few weeks back. Some love to sort of to sort of wear rose-colored glasses when reading the Bible and look at this through the eyes of socialism and say, see, the early church, this was a pure form of communism. They couldn't be more wrong. This is not communism. This is common-ism, and there's a huge difference, a massive disparity between communism and common-ism. Common-ism is enforced. Common-ism is voluntary. Common-ism says what's yours is mine.

Common-ism says what's mine is yours. That was the early church. It was a temporary fix.

Why? Well, most of the jobs in Jerusalem were related to the temple. Who in Jerusalem ran the business of the temple? The Sadducees. The Sadducees are the enemies of the early church. Remember I told you that the Pharisees and the Sadducees were the two groups? The Sadducees are the ones that are hostile toward the apostles.

Why? Because the apostles say that Jesus rose from the dead. The Sadducees didn't believe in any spirits, didn't believe in heaven, didn't believe in hell, did not believe in a resurrection. So all of those temple-related jobs, all of those people who believed in Christ were no doubt fired from their jobs. It was difficult to live their lives having no income. So the church got together to support one another during this difficult time, and it gets so bad that Paul will even take an offering of Gentile churches that he visits on his first, second missionary journeys to take up a collection and bring the money to the poor saints who are struggling through this at the earliest church in Jerusalem.

So it was all purely voluntary as they shared what they had with one another. Now notice this, verse 36. In the light of that spirit of giving, and Joseph, and I have an asterisk in my Bible and it says, or Joseph, some of the newer translations say, his name was Joe. That was his name, Joseph. So we'll think of him as Joe. A guy named Joe in the early church who was also named Barnabas by the apostles. So his name is Joe, but the apostles decided to give him a nickname. Now, why did they do that? Why do you think that the disciples thought, hey, we have the right and the freedom to just sort of name people whatever we want?

Why do you figure? Well, here's my take on it, because Jesus did that. He said to Simon, hey, Simon, I'm giving you a new name. Your name means hearing, but you don't hear all that well. I'm going to call you Peter. Not as in a big mess of stone. You're not like Rocky, but you're like a little tiny pebble.

You're pebble boy. Little Rocky. So Jesus had the freedom to do that. He also did that with the Sons of Thunder, right? Named the James and James of Thunder.

He did that on a few different occasions. Matthew, he called Levi. So I think that sort of friendly nicknaming sort of caught on as a practice. You know, we're going to name Joe. So let's call Joe Barnabas, because Barnabas means the son of encouragement or one who encourages.

And wherever Joe went, you know, he would go up to people, hey, my name's Joe. What's your name? Hey, how can I help you? How can I further your faith?

How can I bolster your belief? That's Skip Hyten speaking on the power of prayer. It's a message from his series Expound Acts.

Find the full message as well as books, booklets and full teaching series at connectwithskipp.com. Now here's an opportunity for you to learn more about the martyrs of the Christian faith who came before you. We are witnessing an escalation in Christian persecution like we have rarely seen since the first century. Many people don't realize that today thousands of Christians are dying cruel deaths throughout much of the world. The New Book of Christian Martyrs commemorates these modern day heroes, highlighting key martyrs of past centuries and featuring stories of contemporary martyrs around the world. This compendium of heroes from the first century to the 21st century, from Europe to Africa and from Asia to the Americas, is sure to inspire you to courageously stand up for your Christian faith, just as they've done for countless Christians around the globe. The New Book of Christian Martyrs comes as our thanks for your gift of $50 or more to keep messages like this one today on the air for you and others, equipping you to know God's Word and follow His will with courage and conviction. So request your copy when you give today.

Call 800-922-1888 or give securely online at connectwithskipp.com offer. Join us again next time for Skip's teaching as he looks at the source of division in the church and the Lord does add and the Lord does multiply and the Lord does subtract. There's one thing the Lord never does, He never divides. He never divides a church. People do that. We're good enough at doing that. We're good enough at creating division and animosity. God never does. He'll add, He'll multiply, and yes, He will subtract. . Connect with Skip Hyton is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-07-10 06:08:46 / 2024-07-10 06:18:03 / 9

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