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Friday, December 30 2011

Introduction

In last week's study titled "The First Gentile Church (Embodiment of Love)" we saw some dramatic changes pre-planned by the Almighty God Himself for the sake of the propagation of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ

We saw selflessness of Barnabas - the Encourager and we also saw that in the first gentile church, their love was a verb!

 

In as much as there are interesting occurrences in this chapter that would make interesting reading and present several learning points, we would focus only on the "acts" of the apostles and the early church. We will in the study of the following verses treat some Dos and Don'ts

 

THE DOS

  1. Pray when in difficult situations

Verse 5 - "So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent prayer for him was persistently made to God by the church (assembly)."

What they could have done and what we sometimes do

  • Carry placards and burn candles outside the prison and chant and protest against the wrongdoing; this however is not entirely wrong but not for a maniac looking to increase his popularity rating with the Jews. He would have arrested everyone one of them and most probably killed them! Eccl 3:1-8 (Emphasis on 7b)
  • Nothing! Simply give up and prepare for his burial. The Bible does not record that when James was taken to be killed the church prayed - You lose nothing when you pray but you could lose a lot of you don't!

2.      Trust God; even when the world is crumbling around you (Isa 50:10, Job 13:15 )

 

Verse 6 - "The very night before Herod was about to bring him forth, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison"

 

Ps 121: 4 - "Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps" [NLT]

 

Peter must have thought to himself "it is pointless for two people to lose sleep on the same matter" His trust for God was of the highest form!

 

3.      Fear Not!

Peter was not afraid of dying. Fear and sleep don't go together! He made himself comfortable and slept (see verse 8)

Matt 10: 28 - "And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell."

 

What he could have done and what we sometimes do

Stay up all night worrying, panicking and creating a foul atmosphere that may hinder God's plans.

However, God cannot be boxed in our little minds; neither can we undermine the Holy Spirit's move. How else can you explain these two similar situations?

         Paul and Silas prayed because they trusted

         Peter slept because he trusted

 

They did as they were led!

 

THE DON'TS

 

1.      Insensitivity - they were praying but not watching (Luke 21:36a)

Verses 14 & 15: "And recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she failed to open the gate, but ran in and told the people that Peter was standing before the porch gate. They said to her, you are crazy! But she persistently and strongly and confidently affirmed that it was the truth. They said, it is his angel!"

 

2.      Faithless prayers - they were not praying in Faith (Matt.21:22, James 1:5-8, Hebrews 11:6)

They clearly didn't believe God could do what they were asking for. Although they were fervently and persistently praying - they were simply going through the motions

 

3.      Praying without expectations

Unlike the father of the prodigal son who was expecting his son to return (Luke 15:20) they were not expecting an answer to their prayers - see verse 15

 

"I call to You, God, because I'm sure of an answer." Psalms 17:6 (MSG)

 

CONCLUSION

So what have we learnt? We can safely say that God showed Peter mercy on the basis of his faith and trust in Him. It is possible that we can sometimes follow the motions when we pray without putting our hearts to it; we could be insensitive, faithless and not expectant. However, there still remains one possibility that we should objectively consider - "their expectation of how God will answer their prayers" They could have been expecting God to answer in a different way! So it is therefore vital that when we pray, (and as the 4th DO):

"We should be open to receive from God in any way He chooses!"

Having learnt all these we will now touch on the other learning points and useful prayers we can adopt from this chapter

1.      That God will not allow us to be used as pawns in the Devil's chess game [James and the soldiers]

2.      Always give God the glory - He gave us His only begotten Son and everything else with Him but He will not share His glory with man Acts 12: 23

3.      God's work will continue to advance - no one can hinder it! Better to be a part of it than be against it. Verse 24

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 04:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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