People who are emotionally driven scare me. They just scare me. And I scare myself. When something happens you can feel your emotions well up. You're trying to keep calm. And it's not always easy.
But it's worth trying. Being watchful to this end with all perseverance. Perseverance means no matter how many times you were shot, so long as you can still move forward, keep moving forward. And he repeats, and supplication for all the saints.
Don't forget others. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of Acts.
Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. Today, Pastor Rick will continue his message called A Prophetic Gift in Acts chapter 12. To belong to Christ and his church, it costs something. Whether it is prayer, maybe you're at a stage in your life, maybe it's your health, maybe for whatever reason, you really can't serve in a lot of places, but you can pray. And prayer is work. All work comes by the sweat of the brow.
There's not a job on earth that is smooth sailing the entire time. You will meet with something that will make it difficult. And it costs either prayer or service, which is time, which attacks you, and maybe you're on the schedule to serve in the ushers ministry, and you don't feel like it, but you go anyway, because it is your duty to be there on post, because you're serving Christ and his people.
Maybe as you serve, it's costing you time or hurt. Many of you know, if you belong to a church a long period of time, and you make friends, and some of those people decide to move on and leave the church, it can hurt. It costs to belong to Christ. The tiny souls try to dodge through life unscathed.
You can't do it. The bigger ones, they take the hits. If belonging to a church costs you nothing, then what is that church worth? That's only a question an individual can answer.
What's it worth to you? A cheap church membership. It satisfies neither God, nor man, nor the beholder of that membership. If you want a good church, then you got to be ready to fight for it. There's just no other way. And not by having a say-so, but by being on post, demonstrating the loyalty. I'm not talking about in the face of heresy. I say this often because it needs to be said.
Where else are you not going to hear it when you're shopping out at Target somewhere, or wherever you go to shop? You have to come to the church to hear it from somebody else. The Word of God is living and powerful, to convict, to rebuke, to exhort. This is the role of the pastor given to him by Christ. The pillars that the Bible speaks about in the New Testament, and it does in several places, it draws our attention to a pillar, a column. It is a post that holds things up, and it does it quietly. Quietly it bears its load, and if it should not bear its load, everything comes down. We as individuals should be pillars in the church.
The church is supposed to be the pillar and ground of truth, and we are to uphold these things. And it's going to cost you to do it effectively. It will cost you. And if it doesn't, and over time you've got to ask yourself, why not? Well, that was a chance to get that in because I felt led to do so. You know, when you come to these things, these bullet points, before you speak them, you've gone over them in your head with the Lord. Lord, do I keep this in? Do I cut this out?
Is this what needs to be said? It's not uncommon to cut something out and to feel the Lord say, put that back in. And this is true of any time we are sharing God's word, and maybe things that are unpleasant, but they need to be said, and hopefully we do not say them in a malicious way. Verse 3, and because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to further seize Peter also. Now it was during the days of unleavened bread. So while Peter is grieving the loss of James, and we can bet he grieved, but also understood James was in heaven now, went out as a martyr. While Peter and the church were grieving the loss of James, Satan hit him again.
Couldn't catch their breath. These lowly fishermen had no right to be up in their face telling them who Jesus is. That's how their persecutors viewed it.
This was in law enforcement. James broke no law. Peter broke no law. This wasn't like Barabbas, a man who was an outlaw. These were upstanding citizens whom they arrested and whom one they killed, the other they sought to kill.
So this was murder. And from the politician, this politician Herod, from his perspective, this was good because they wanted to keep Rome happy, and the way to keep Rome happy is to keep the taxes flowing and keep down wars and suppress any uprisings. But here, for the Christian, we look at this and we say, well, we expect this from a man like Herod to be concerned to be concerned with what the people liked and because he saw that it pleased the Jews. A pastor has to look at that and say, what am I doing that pleases Christ? And he doesn't do that hopefully with an obnoxious attitude. I don't care about you. What does God say?
I mean, that would be wrong. But he wants to take his orders from God and be sensitive to the people at the same time because therein God speaks also. Galatians chapter 1, Paul put it this way, for I do not, for do I now persuade men or God?
Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bond servant of Christ. Now he was in this position to say this to the church at Galatia.
I'm not trying to win your affections by flattery. I'm telling you the truth because I am a servant of Jesus Christ, whereas others were coming into those churches in the region of Galatia and they were trying to flatter them and win them over to their views. Paul is saying, I'm just giving you like and telling you like it is.
And he does a magnificent job also in that Galatian letter. Anyway, here in verse 3, now it was during the days of unleavened bread. So we're right around Passover season when Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims coming in for the Passover for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They'll be back, many of them, for Pentecost.
Others will stay. The men were mandated to be there for the Passover and for Pentecost. This was supposed to be a respectable Passover spectacle of having Peter executed just after the holiday season. Well, they executed Christ during the holidays.
They said that they wouldn't, but they did because it was prophetic and they could, just the will of God will be done. Verse 4, so when he had arrested him, he put him in prison and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover. This is Peter's third arrest. He's been arrested twice before, chapter 4 and chapter 5. This time, he's placed under maximum security because one of those times, the second time he's arrested, the first time he's arrested, he gets out of jail.
He's miraculously delivered. The gate opens up, the angel opens the gate, and Peter gets out. Sixteen men to guard one, Peter. And that, as it tells us here, he's chained to these guards, both of his wrists chained to a guard on each side, and then there would be two more outside the cell, standing, watch over Peter, chains, guards. He's got an iron gate that he has to get through. He's going to do that.
We'll get that next session. All this because he loved and served Jesus Christ. He could have avoided this if he just played the game of the world.
Cost to belong, and here he is. It says here in verse 4, that Herod was intending to bring him before the people after the Passover. So this was the delay in Peter's execution. Had it not been for the holiday season, they would have already beheaded him, and there's a lot to say about this, I think. Maybe I'll be concise, maybe not.
We'll see. Again, the crowds are here. The enemies of Christ always imagine that they're in control.
They always think they are. Matthew 25, 26, verse 5. Matthew 26, verse 5.
They said, not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people. But Christ was the Passover lamb, and he had to be crucified during the Passover, and that is what had happened. And so they failed then at Christ, at the time of Christ, and they're going to fail here because Peter is going to escape. Verse 5. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.
Well, most commentators like to stress that word constant, and I think they're right. The execution of James, not only did it rattle the church, but it rallied the church. That's good preaching, isn't it? Anyway, this was fervent prayer. That's what that word constant, translated constant in the New King James.
In the Greek, it means fervent. It shows up one other place in the New Testament, and that should account for something. And it's used by Peter in 1 Peter 22. Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit and sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart. Peter had been around Christians long enough to know this had to take place. There had to be fervent love to face all the things people throw at us if we're going to be effective for Christ. There must be love. Well, it's interesting that there's no mention of anybody fasting here.
They're gathered and they are fervently praying. Not that it's wrong to fast, but it's not mandatory, not always mandatory. And a lot of people say, you know, Jesus didn't say, you know, if you fast, when you fast. Well, you can't read too much into that because some people cannot fast. I mean, there are health reasons. They're just not able to do it. And well, in another sense, you can always eliminate something you like a lot for a little bit.
Abstain. Anyway, a praying church, it is a stronger church. That's true.
I believe that. It doesn't mean that that church will be delivered from everything it faces. If James wasn't delivered, why should we expect we're going to be delivered?
But we have to still come, we have a lot still to go here. Paul the apostle, convinced of the value of prayer, in all of his letters to the churches, except one, he asked for prayer for himself and for the work that was going on. The exception was the backslidden church in Galatia. And Galatia, as those churches, it wasn't, Galatia was a region. And there were several churches there and they were sliding into back to Judaism and legalism and that's what the Galatian letter deals with. And to that church, he did not ask them to pray for him because they had other things they had to fix before he wanted their prayers.
And so it should be. We Christians do not want unbelievers praying for us. Who are they praying to? Well, we know who they're praying to and we don't want nothing to do with that. Paul brings that out in in the Corinthian letter.
I don't want you to have fellowship with demons. Well, to guard against fatalism that will show up in time. If you pray, if you're involved as a Christian in the fights that go on in our personal life and in the in ministry and in your church, you're going to see many prayers go ungranted. And this is not justification to stop praying or to not believe in prayer.
And there are several reasons why. I'll give you one now, one at the end of the message. To guard against fatalism, I would suggest Luke's gospel chapter 18 verse 1.
It's been a big help for me. And there Luke says, gives a little commentary on the parable Jesus is about to give and he says he's giving us this parable. Luke 18 1, quote, men ought always to pray and not lose heart. Believers are to always pray without ceasing, Paul said. All the beatings Paul took, he's still praying. You would think he'd say, you know what, I ask these churches to pray for me. This is what I get.
I'm done with it. That is just what Satan wants you to do because prayer is not about getting from God except getting God, to get with God, to be with God and he holds on to these things. And so let's, we'll get back to that at the end about prayer and its value. These Christians that are praying fervently for Peter, did they lose sight of the fact that Peter could not die until he was old? That was prophetic. Jesus said, John 21, most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wish, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish. He's speaking of how Peter is going to die in serving the Lord, but he's also guaranteeing within it that Peter, you're going to be old.
You're going to do a lot of ministry before I'm done with you. And the first Christians, they may have lost sight of the Lord's promise to Peter about dying when he was old. After all, we are susceptible to losing sight of Bible verses, of teachings, there are things that we, I forgot all about that. And it is somewhat encouraging to hear that, okay, the first Christians that were just in love with the Lord on the battlefield, they too lost sight of things, or perhaps they knew he would not die and prayed fervently for his release and that he would not be abused.
That is a possibility too. I mean, dying is not the only bad thing that can happen to a person. They could have tortured him, abused him like I mentioned, and so they're praying for his relief, release from jail.
Regardless, they want Peter free. The outcome of spiritual war settled for us as Christians, but the conflict is serious nonetheless. We are not supposed to be as it has been said so heavenly-minded that we're no value on earth, of no earthly use. There are big fights here, there are scores to settle, there are souls to save, and the only way we're going to be a part of it is to be able to join the fight and not withdraw unto ourselves. James, he's in heaven now, James, he's in heaven now, but the prayers aren't wasted.
In fact, I just get to this now. Revelation chapter 8, there we see, well, in the Old Testament at the incense altar, when the priest offered up incense on the golden altar to the Lord, it symbolized the prayers of the people ascending to heaven. It was a visual thing, and when we get to the book of Revelation, it shows up again, and it's connected to the prayers of the saints, especially those that are being persecuted.
And we read in Revelation 8 verse 4, the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints ascended before God from the angel's hand. We pray because Jesus said, men ought always pray and not lose heart. We pray because our prayers are retained by God. He does not dismiss them.
You might feel that way. You may say, he doesn't care, he doesn't love me, he just, he doesn't answer my prayers. God says, I hear every single one of them, and I keep them on file because they're that important to me. But there are things that have to get done, and if you say, I am sovereign God, let me be sovereign God, you will be here one day, and all these things will be left behind.
But until then, you ought always pray and not lose heart. Alexander McLaren, great Scottish preacher, they used to say, you had to be Scottish to be a good preacher, so I became Scottish. Listen, I didn't, you know, I didn't realize how old I was. I looked at my birth certificate, not the dates, but the whole thing's written in Latin.
You had to go pretty far back when government records were kept in Latin. Okay, never mind. Slow crowd, Lord, you're people. Anyway, Alexander, get to the quote, pastor. Okay, I will in a minute, but did you hear the one about the guy that walked into, Alexander McLaren said, there can be no faith so feeble that Christ does not respond to it. Yes, a lot of thought goes into that, because Christ there, he was on the cross, suffering in the presence of the Father, and he took it like the Savior, and others have done the same thing. James, there's extra biblical writings about how James faced his execution.
I don't think we should repeat them, because they just can't substantiate them, but I would have no doubt that he would have no doubt that he went out as the believer he was. Psalm 141 verse 2, let my prayer be set before you as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. That's an emotional prayer. I mean, you know, you might lose that, but you know, to the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Anytime you have the word sacrifice, you have emotions. There's just, you know, it's a loss, but that's because there's something more valuable to gain.
You're giving up something valuable because there's something more valuable, and for us, it is our faith, the genuineness of our faith, to trust God no matter what. That kind of resolve has to be guarded all your life. You don't just get it when you're a Christian all excited about the Lord and not really facing too many things.
You don't get to keep it just because you've been serving for decades. The more time you spend on life, the more attacks you're going to endure. Don't be surprised. Just endure them. Prayer is a grand indication of two truths every time.
Number one, that we're still in the fight. If you're praying, you're still in the fight because Satan doesn't want you to pray. Hey, Satan hates when you pray. He does everything he can do to get you to stop.
And you know, I don't know. Sometimes when it's been good in my life, I found it very easy to pray. Sometimes when it's been good in life, I've been a little bit slack in my prayers. Sometimes when the pressure has been on, I've been very fervent in prayer. Sometimes when the pressure has been on, I haven't felt the heart to pray. I break through if I pray anyway. So this is, you want to talk about spiritual warfare, this is it.
Be caught praying. Second Corinthians proves that you're still in the fight if you're praying. Paul wrote, we are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed. We are perplexed, but not in despair. And he goes on to talk about always dying for Christ, giving himself to the Lord.
Every time Paul spoke, every sentence seemed to be a sermon when he spoke because the Holy Spirit had found in him the resources that he needed and because he put them there. The second indication about prayer that is very true is that not only are we still in the fight, but we're still in the fight because the Holy Spirit is moving within us. It's not because we have some resolve, we're tougher than the other guy.
The world can produce very tough people. Very brave men and women are in the world that know nothing of Christ. Many of them are anti-Christ. Something has to make the distinction between the world and the saint who is out of the world. And the Holy Spirit is one element. And if you are praying, you're being moved by the Holy Spirit regardless of the outcome. It's not prayer on terms.
Okay, I'll pray if. I pray because he is God and he is worthy. And that's what worship means. Worship means he is worthy. Ephesians 6 18. Again, Paul is in jail when he writes this.
He doesn't know what his future is going to be. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. Being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
Baked into that one verse, there's a lot of work. Always praying. All prayer with supplication. Asking for supplies.
Supplication. Supplies. I need bullets. I need artillery. I need bandages. I need food. I need rest. I need my enemy taken out of my life.
I mean, that doesn't mean a hit. We don't want to ask God, could you kill him? That's not what we do.
Those imprecatory psalms were in the days of the law, not the age of grace. And he says here in Ephesians, being watchful. You can't be watchful, not effectively, if you're so emotional that you're just not, your feelings are dictating everything. People who are emotionally driven scare me. They just scare me. And I scare myself when I, you know, when something happens, you can feel your emotions well up.
You're trying to keep calm. And it's not always easy, but it's worth trying. Being watchful to this end with all perseverance.
Perseverance means, no matter how many times you were shot, so long as you can still move forward, keep moving forward. And he repeats. And supplication for all the saints.
Don't forget others. You've been listening to Cross-Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. 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 crossreferenceradio.com 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 / 2023-01-09 07:08:37 / 2023-01-09 07:18:02 / 9