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Fortified by Prayer (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
June 30, 2022 6:00 am

Fortified by Prayer (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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June 30, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
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J.D. Greear
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It won't always be this way.

This time, they avoided a beat down. It will not always be this way. Maybe that's the case with you. Maybe you've had a beat down. Well, it might not be that way next time. Maybe you avoided one.

Well, maybe you won't avoid it next time. God is no less God. He is no less gracious. He's no less good. His word is no less trustworthy. Regardless of what you experience, God is no less good. God is God, and He's not applying for the job.

It's already established. 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 had heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said, And all that is in them, who by the mouth of your servant David 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 Yahweh and against His Messiah.

For truly, against your holy servant Jesus, whom you appointed, 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. Now, Lord, look on their threats and grant 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.

Fortified by prayer, that is the title of this morning's message. There are three things I want to point out about this ongoing story that started in chapter three in the first verse. Peter and John going into the temple, they were met by this lame beggar whom they healed and converted also. And then they were arrested, the apostles, because Peter went on to preach, and he went on to preach Christ and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And the authorities threatened them, telling them not to preach anymore in the name of Jesus, and Peter said, Well, we're going to do what God tells us.

You've got to figure out what you've got to do. And they were released. Well, once released, they go to where the brethren are. So the three things I want to point out going into this that I hope is beneficial to all of us is that with the believers assembled together, they are fortifying themselves with prayer. The dictionary says that the word fortify means to provide with defensive works as a protection against attack.

But Christianity has to do more than fortify itself. It's not enough to be ready for an attack. We have to be ready for attacks for sure, but that's just not enough.

It's not enough to be ready. We must break enemy fortifications. We must go against what Satan has done, his achievements. We must attack them. They don't mind attacking us. You didn't bake a cake for me. You didn't take pictures of my wedding for me.

You didn't make the pizza that I wanted, whatever. We see the enemy just attacking these petty attacks that turn into these great victories for them. Well, we do believe we need to be fortified in prayer. And emphasizing again it's not enough just to be ready for the enemy's attacks is not easy, but it is worth it. If we remain only on defense, Satan gets to keep everything. We don't take anything from him.

What is implied when Jesus said the gates of hell should not prevail? We are supposed to engage the enemy. Otherwise, we will be besieged. The enemy will just surround our fortifications. Napoleon, in his Maxims of War, he said the side that stays within its fortifications is beaten.

Well, that's true of physical war, and it is true of spiritual war. The apostles are getting ready for conflict. Having been arrested, having been threatened, they go to the believers to fortify themselves in prayer for what? Because they are getting ready to launch an offensive. They are going to go on the attack. Prayer is an assault weapon if used properly.

Oh, it's a defensive weapon too, but it is also an assault weapon. Jesus said, do you think that I came to bring peace on earth? I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. There's going to be conflict, and as I mentioned, it's worth it.

As a matter of fact, to try to shy away from it is worse, not only for others, but for the individual also. Fortified by prayer to advance forward to engage the interests of the enemy. That's what Jesus told his disciples to do. We are the disciples too. We are no less disciples than the apostles and those who were the first Christians. Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, said Jesus. Well, wherever I am is part of all the world, and wherever I am, I need to be ready to struggle without hatred.

Not easy to do. In fact, without the Spirit of God, we get very carnal and hatred comes very easy to us because Satan makes it so. Resistance without compromise. I mean, there are essential things about our faith that we're just not going to give up ever. I know people who try to get us to compromise think that they're entitled to our surrender.

They think that we should give and take, but that might be true with, you know, picking out what restaurant to go to, but it is not true when it comes to the doctrine and to the leading of the Lord as guided by the Word. To have triumph without bitterness. To gain the victory and not look back and say, yeah, but it would have been better just to go forward in the victories that God has given us. These are things that belong to going into all the world.

Keep away from hatred, compromise, and bitterness. There are other things, but these are the ones on the surface this morning. It's not the miracle of Peter and John on the lame man that put Satan on defense. It was the preaching that put Satan on defense because they got very defensive.

We don't want your preaching in this name. The miracle was secondary. It was used. It was important.

It doesn't diminish its value. It's just not as valuable as the preaching of the word. Otherwise, preaching would be pointless without miracles. But as a matter of fact, preaching is very powerful without miracles, as I said.

You're going to have to get used to, if you attend here, you're going to have to get used to the fact that my errors are correct. That's the first point, to fortify themselves in prayer so they could attack. The second part of this section is Peter himself. I know he's with John, but Peter is the one that is outstanding in this story. Peter once greatly failed his Lord. This type of failure did not stop Jesus Christ from using him nonetheless and in a positive way. Well, God can use you in a negative way. That's the case of all of the villains in the Bible. God is sovereign. He still controls them. God also uses those who come to him, of course.

We understand that. And it's good that we're reminded that Peter was a failure, but used also greatly by the Lord. And he would never have served had he remained under the imprisonment or in the imprisonment of his guilt. If he just said, I just can't, you know, I tried serving Christ. I failed him. I denied him three times. Yeah, well, Christ has forgiven you.

Yeah, I know that, but I just can't. Then we would not be reading about Peter in the book of Acts. Later, he is rearrested, again, for preaching Christ. He is chained in a jail, and then he is miraculously released from his chains. But before he could be free to serve, there was an iron gate in front of him. He had to get past that iron gate. It wasn't enough that he was unshackled. It was not enough that he was free from the chains.

There's more to be done. There was that iron gate. Maybe that's the way it is in your life. Maybe there's some iron gate barring your way out into freedom to preach, some guilt still on you. Even though you're not chained, you're saved, you're just not free. Acts chapter 12. This speaks about when the angel brought Peter out.

When they were past the first and second guard post, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord, and they went out. We come across these iron gates in our life, and our tears and our hands cannot open them. Peter's tears and his hands could not open this gate, but God can and God did. And if God did not, then it would have been a redirect of Peter's assignment. That's all it would have meant.

It would not have meant defeat. It would say, okay, this is what God is doing. He wants me here then. But again, the gate is opened. God has opened the iron gate that kept Peter locked in, and we either walk through it as free or remain bound behind the open gate.

I don't want to remain a prisoner behind an open gate. If God has opened something up for me, I want to go through. And what is the first thing that God has opened up for Peter? Forgiveness. He took away the guilt. If Peter wanted to keep his guilt, he could have kept it and stayed behind the open gate, but he does not. He goes through it. Peter walked through, unworthy but loved, forgiven, and one more thing, useful. There's a whole story of Onesimus and Philemon. He may not have been useful to you at one time, but he was useful to me. And now he's coming back to you. Every single believer.

All right, let's just say every single believer is useful to God. I want to finish that sentence. Now, next sentence. Maybe you don't assemble.

Maybe you're watching online, you don't come to church. Okay, you know you're supposed to, and I'm not going to browbeat you for that. Therefore, what are you going to do now? You can just say, well, I don't attend assembly, and that's pretty much it.

Or you can find ways to attack the enemy from your remote location, from your outpost. God doesn't love you any less. I think it is very important that we scan often our lives to see what God is doing, always knowing, you know, in my worst times, and I've always been mindful of the love of Jesus Christ on me through the cross. I've always been mindful of my failures too, but I've always been mindful that his grace is greater. Well, that's the second point.

Peter didn't let the guilt stay on him. The third point, is anyone here this morning trying to live for Christ beneath the rubble of guilt and failure? If you are, then you're always on defense. Not the fence, defense. You're always looking to just, where's the enemy going to come next? You don't know where you're going to be, you're not taking anything, you're just defending yourself all the time because of the guilt, unable to effectively damage enemy interest. And I do want to encourage you that God wants you through that iron gate. He says I've taken it away. God's grace has a very short memory.

This is how he has designed it. I couldn't say God's memory is defective because there's nothing defective about God, but I can say in his grace, his memory is very short for those who have come to him. I'm going to read the two Old Testament verses that the Hebrew writer Paul, as I believe, he quotes them, which means they are valid in the New Testament. Psalm 25 verse 7, do not remember, well this one Paul doesn't quote, I'm quoting it, but that's okay, Paul would not object. Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions according to your mercy, remember me, for your goodness sake, O Yahweh. Remember not the sins of my youth. You know, some of you are the younger ones, you haven't yet piled up enough guilt to get it. It's there, you just don't get it. I hope, you younger Christians, I hope you are not dumb enough, dumb enough to let Satan choose your friends. I rather have good friends that God has brought into my life than evil friends that the devil has chosen for me.

Who has to even say that? Well, I did, I had to say that, because our youth don't get it. You think now you're breaking free from home, breaking free from mom and dad, that you're smart enough, not so fast.

You might not be as smart as you, in fact you probably aren't as smart as you think, unless, as a Christian, you are adhering to Christ. You come to church, how many of you, adult and teenager alike, prepare yourself to come into the house of God? There are multiple steps that would enhance that experience. One is, of course, prayer, and to say, okay, I'm going into the assembly, yes. And it's better to listen than to speak, says the Bible when going into the house of God. Unless you're the speaker, of course, else it would be here like this.

You wouldn't get anything. But, the other thing is, why not read the section we're going to be in, so that you're not guessing where we are, trying to connect the dots until you just get bored and say that's it. Because you know, if I'm speaking to you from the scripture, and you're bored, it ain't me. It's you.

Now I can make boring, no I can't. No, never mind, strike that. See, errors are correct. Isaiah 43, so what we got first was the psalmist saying, do not remember the sins of my youth, thank you God, your mercy washes those sins away. We were just singing about God's mercy, and his removing our sins as far as east is from west. But God also says, I don't even remember, what are you talking about? Isaiah 43 verse 25, I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

So if you've got this guilt on you, you're doing all the remembering. You're the one, oh my sins, oh I denied the Lord three times, oh I just can't, oh yeah, you're behind the gate, you're free, the gate is open, but you won't come out, will you? And God says, you gotta take the first step. You gotta have to take the first full step. When I learned to walk high iron, high steel, there's two things. I had to take a step, and it had to be a full step, not one of those little baby steps. And it was liberating. I was told, when you walk, just take a full step, step out there. And you either step out and make it across or you die.

You know, you'd have nobody to blame. But anyway, God uses saved sinners with their past failures, and that's what we're seeing in Peter this morning. Christ died to save sinners, law breakers, breakers of God's law.

We got that. But he rose, not only to demonstrate his power to save them, but to use them. And this is why the apostles keep preaching the resurrection everywhere they go, and we should too.

It's not outdated. Well, you know, we don't have to preach the resurrection so much. Why don't we?

You think the world understands it? The resurrection is an ultimatum. You believe he died and got up when he wasn't revived. Lazarus was revived. He was resurrected. He was not the same when he got up. Now we look at the 23rd verse, keeping in mind this is that Peter who got past his guilt, who is being used by God.

And in 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 this time they're released. It won't always be this way. This time they avoided a beat down. It will not always be this way. Maybe that's the case with you. Maybe you've had a beat down. Well, it might not be that way next time. Maybe you avoided one.

Well, maybe you won't avoid it next time. God is no less God. He is no less gracious.

He's no less good. His word is no less trustworthy. Regardless of what you experience, God is God, and he's not applying for the job.

It's already established. I'm going to cut to the last verse that I want to read this morning because it's appropriate now. The psalmist, Psalm 119, celebrating God's word, saying how magnificent God's word is, even though God's word is not a magic wand to take away all our problems. And the psalmist says, trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet your commandments are my delight. I still love your word, God. Trouble and anguish. Pain is in my life. But I still love you and I love your word.

This is the pattern we have from scripture. So these two apostles, Peter and John, are released from jail this time. They don't go straight home. I think I would have gone home. I would have gone home to get something to eat because jail food could not have been good.

And then I would have gone to sleep. Well, showered first because it's a jail, dungeon-like. But they go instead to church, to the assembly. These men were going to fortify themselves through prayer.

They were going to get with other believers, and that's what we're seeing them do. And the Holy Spirit has preserved this record for us to say, this is how it can be done. And there they delivered the praise report to the believers. We stood up in front of these guys. Look, the guys at Peter stood up and said, look, whether you're going to obey God or not, we're going to obey God. Peter knew who these guys were. They killed his Lord.

He witnessed this. It was not like, well, you know, these guys, they, you know, they might be good. They might know they were evil men. They were masterminds of the crucifixion.

And Peter's standing up to them. And they go and they tell, all of the believers that they're alive in Jerusalem at the time, they knew this. And so they share this amazing victory in spite of the opposition and the threats, verse 24. So when they heard that, that is the other disciples, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said, Lord, you are God who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them.

That Greek word for accord is a compound Greek word. It means that they had a shared passion. They were passionate about this. They didn't just say, wow, that's just wonderful news.

What time's the cafe open? No, they were into this emotionally as well as spiritually, raising their voices together, praising God. Again, they knew what those Christ hating men were capable of. They knew them as the masterminds of the cross, but they stood their ground nonetheless.

That's what we're looking at. Peter does not say, well, okay, look, they don't want us preaching anymore, so we better not do it. He goes the other direction. But to do this, he's got to get with God and he gets with God's people to get with God. Determine, determine to further the gospel, building themselves up in prayer with the assembly and said, this is what they were saying in their prayer, Lord, you are God who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them.

Straight to the first verse of the Bible is where they go. In the beginning, God created. God created. From nothing, God created. No one can do that. They boast about creating things in the laboratory.

Yeah, but they're using other created things to do it. None of them are going with the uncreated abilities, abilities to create from nothing. That belongs to God. The word of God and prayer, they always go together. Where is that in the Bible? John chapter 15 verse 7. If you abide in me and my word, my words, plural, abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you. If my word is in you, if you're sticking with my word, which has my will within it.

When you pray, when you ask, they're inseparable. What characterized these first Christians? Jesus' name, number one.

They're very clear about that. There was nothing, you know, well, I'm a Christian. What does it mean? What does it mean to be a Christian? It means I love Jesus Christ. He's my Lord and my Savior. He died for me. I am a sinner. I should go to hell for breaking his law, but he saved me from that judgment.

He was crucified on my behalf and he rose again. Prayer characterized them. The resurrection, they're preaching the resurrection. Scripture, we're going to come to that. They're all about the word, these people.

What is wrong with them? From hell's perspective, that's what's wrong with them. They're into the word of God. It's not this emotional Christianity. Well, I know the plan of salvation, therefore get out of my face. You can't tell me anything else.

That's not enough. God didn't just say, here's my plan of salvation, you don't need anything more. Over 30,000 chapters in this, verses in the scripture. That's We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at or simply search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of Acts, right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-28 16:45:03 / 2023-03-28 16:54:33 / 10

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