Redigging the Wells of Prayer #2 of 2:
THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH IN ACTS
There are three things that were foundational keys to the original church in Acts – the blueprint that God gave us. This is what I want to see us contend for. Let’s make these a reality in our midst.
1. The Presence of God.
In Matthew 28:20, when Jesus commissioned those first disciples, He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This speaks of the reality of the manifested presence of God. The early believers expected the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit to be with them each time they gathered. If we ever come to a place where we’re just singing songs and hearing stories about what God did yesterday, then it’s time to get on our knees and cry out, “Revive us again!” The revival preacher Leonard Ravenhill wrote, “There was a time when people came to church to meet with God. Now they come to sing songs about Him.” Whenever you go to church, have that expectancy to meet with God. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:19). When we gather together with other believers, He is there with us. If He is the same yesterday, today and forever, then let’s believe that He can touch our hearts and renew and refresh us today.
2. The Power of God.
The early believers expected the supernatural power of God to be expressed in their midst when they gathered. In Mark 16:15-20, when Jesus gave His disciples the great commission, He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature… And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons…they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” We need to see this in the church. People are hurting and broken in the world today and we’ve got the answer. The answer is Jesus, who heals the broken-hearted, comforts those who mourn, and sets at liberty those who are in bondage. That’s why we run the Overcomers Outreach 12 step program out of our church. When people come to Jesus and they are addicted to drugs and alcohol and anger, they can be set free from that.
3. Participation by all.
The early believers came to their gathering anticipating that each one would have something to contribute as the Holy Spirit led. In First Corinthians 14:26, Paul wrote: “How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” We need to change the mentality that says, “I’m coming to church to be a spectator.” We all have something to give. What’s your gift? What has God gifted YOU to do? Are you using your gifts for His glory? Whatever your gift is, use it to build thekingdomofGodand bless people. If you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are, find out! It’s not the pastor’s job to do the work of the ministry. Ephesians 4:12 says the job of the pastor is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Every member is a minister.
(Some of the concepts in this section were taken from Church at its Simplest by Tom Wymore at www.churchplanting.ca).
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE EARLY CHURCH
“Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them–walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed.” (Acts 3:1-11).
Here’s a man who was born crippled, and for over forty years of his life he could not walk. All of a sudden he had an encounter with Jesus, and through the power in the name of Jesus, he was healed. He didn’t just stand up and calmly say, “Oh that’s nice, I’m feeling much better now, thanks for that.” No, he started jumping up and down and shouting, leaping and praising God. He was so excited about the difference that Jesus had made in his life.
It’s time for us to get happy about our salvation! You might say, “But God hasn’t done anything for me. He never healed my physical body. He never delivered me from any kind of addictions.” Are you saved? Have you been adopted into the family of God? Once you were on the road to hell, but now you’re on the road to Heaven. Once you were a child of the devil, but now you’re a child of God, and you’re going to live forever with Him. That’s something to get excited about! If we’d just get a little happier about our salvation, we’d see more people coming to Jesus. The joy of the Lord needs to be our strength, and we receive this joy as we spend time in the presence of the Lord. That’s why I love going to church on Sunday mornings, because when we worship God and come into His presence together, there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
Our Bible story says that when this miracle happened the crowds of people were greatly amazed. It’s time for the church to amaze people again through the power of Jesus Christ working in and through our lives. When we see more miracles, signs and wonders happening in the church, the world will sit up and take notice.
This miracle took place when Peter and John were on their way to a prayer meeting. We need to make prayer our priority. It’s time to get serious about praying. When we pray, miracles will happen!
This lame man “gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.” He didn’t walk away and say, “No thanks, not interested.” He said, “If you’ve got something for me, I want it!” He expected to receive. We need to stir up our expectation for God to do something. You’ll get what you expect. If you come to church on Sunday morning and expect to sing some songs and learn some facts, that’s all you’re going to walk away with. Let’s have an expectancy in our spirit that says, “I’m going to church to meet with God and receive everything that He has for me.” We need to have an atmosphere of faith that says, “God, we believe that you’re going to move, and we’re going to see amazing things happen in your presence.” It will happen when we start expecting it.
When Peter prayed for the man, he said, “What I do have I give you… the name of Jesus.” Peter knew that he had something. If he didn’t know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the power of God was in his life, he wouldn’t have grabbed this crippled man and stood him up on his feet. Peter knew that there was something inside of him that when he pulled that man to his feet that Jesus would heal him. Peter knew that Jesus had said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8). The key though is to receive first. We need to get the power of God so we can give the power of God.
The second part of this story takes place in Acts chapter four. Peter and John walked into the temple with this crippled man, a crowd gathered around, and Peter started preaching Jesus to them. He told them that they could encounter Jesus and their lives would be changed. Two thousand more people gave their lives to Jesus. The religious leaders got upset that they were stirring things up, so they threw Peter and John in prison and beat them up and said, “Stop preaching about Jesus!” Peter said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” When we start contending for a supernatural breakthrough in our midst, persecution is going to come. People, and maybe even other churches, will persecute us.
A POWERFUL PRAYER TO PRAY:
“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: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them… 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.” (Acts 4:23-24,29-31).
If you want to learn how to pray, study the prayers of the Bible. There are many prayers in the Bible that we can pray. When I pray for our church family, there is a list of prayers that I pray on a regular basis. These are great Scriptures to pray for yourself and your family:
- Ephesians 1:17-19
- Ephesians 3:14-21
- Philippians 1:9-11
- Colossians 1:9-11
- Psalm 23
- Psalm 91
- Psalm 103
- Isaiah 57
We need to pray together as a church. This story tells us “they raised their voice to God with one accord.” This Greek word homo-thumadon helps us understand the uniqueness of the Christian community. It is a compound of two words meaning to “rush along” and “in unison”. The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert-master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ’s church. (Strong’s Concordance). God’s wants the church to be like a musical symphony, and as each of us does the part that God has called us to play, we become a beautiful sounding expression of Jesus to the earth. Let’s seek the Lord together in prayer. Let’s contend for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our midst.
When they prayed, they said, “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth…” Why would they pray that? God knows who He is. They were reminding themselves of who God was for their own benefit, and we need to do the same. When we pray, we need to rehearse all the times that God has answered our prayers in the past. We need to share testimonies and stories of what God is doing in our lives to stir up our faith. If God did it yesterday, He can do it again today.
We need to ask God to give us boldness to speak His Word. We’re living in an ungodly society. If Peter and John needed to pray for more boldness after having just performed a mighty miracle in the name of the Lord, how much more do we? As you go into your workplaces and schools, say, “Lord, give me boldness. I need a fresh outpouring of your Holy Spirit in my life.”
We need to ask God to perform signs and wonders. The church prayed that God would stretch out His hand to heal, and that signs and wonders would be done through the name of Jesus. We need to see signs and wonders in the church today. A sign has one purpose – to point towards something. The purpose of a healing or a miracle is to point people to Jesus so that people can put their faith in Him. It’s not just for the sake of the supernatural experience. Miracles are also called wonders because when God moves in a miraculous way and He does something that is impossible, it causes people to wonder.
We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit anew. This story says that, “when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” They had already been filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter two, and a little while later, Peter was filled with the Spirit again. Here they were filled with the Spirit a third time. Human beings are like leaky containers. We get filled up with the Holy Spirit, but we need to be refilled every day. The Psalmist said, “I shall be anointed with fresh oil!” We need to cry out for a fresh anointing in our lives.
RETURN TO YOUR FIRST LOVE
In Revelation 2:4, Jesus said, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” God is calling us to begin to redig the wells of prayer, to return to our first love, and do the first things first. In the midst of all of the busyness of the work of the ministry, let’s not neglect to spend time at the feet of Jesus, getting into the secret place. Let’s get alone until we’re not alone anymore, and allow God to fill us up with His power, boldness, love and compassion, to have the heart of Jesus to reach our generation. Father I thank you for a new and fresh outpouring of your Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name, amen!
Pastor Chris Jordan
This is a sample chapter from The Beausejour Pulpit.
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