Praying For Boldness (Prayer series #5)
In Acts 4, we see how the Holy Spirit led the early church to pray for boldness in the face of persecution. Instead of praying for ease, they prayed for boldness. Rather than trying to control things by their own power, they went to God in prayer. Join us as we learn about praying for boldness.
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*This transcript was auto-generated by a transcription service and may differ from the originally spoken content*
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I apologize upfront about my voice. I got sick in the middle of the week. And it's just kind of drug on and on. And I started to lose my voice a little bit yesterday. And it didn't help probably that I did seven different devotionals at halftime for different basketball games from upwards yesterday. So I feel like we're just barely hanging on by a thread this morning. But by the grace of God, I woke up and do still at least have a voice for right now. So I'm counting on you. I mean, we're in a message series on prayer, I'm counting on you to be praying that God will enable me to continue to preach and hold on at least for 30 more minutes or so. And if it goes out, I mean, it's all your fault. I'm blaming you. You weren't paying attention. For the four weeks we've been in our prayer series. Now it's it's been a good four weeks to be able to dive into God's Word together and to look at these different new covenant prayers that we've been studying. You know, if you've been here, for example, that we looked at a New Covenant prayer that Jesus himself prayed in John chapter 17, where he prayed that we would be one, as he and the Father are one. Still even saying that after diving into it just blows my mind that Jesus would pray that you and I would have the opportunity to be one, in the same way that he and the Father are One, unity and intimacy. And, of course, that prayer was answered through the death and resurrection of Jesus in the sending of the Holy Spirit. And because of that, the apostle Paul could write the prayers that he wrote to several different New Testament New Covenant churches that we looked at for about three weeks. One of those prayers that Paul wrote was to the church at Ephesus. And you may remember we saw in that prayer in Ephesians, chapter three, that since that Union did occur, that Jesus prayed about that oneness did occur in their lives, that he can pray, since we've been united to God through Jesus, since that happened in since we've been rooted and established in his love. Paul prays that we would begin to grasp how wide, long, high and deep his love really is for us. I mean, out of all the things that Paul could pray for, he prays that we would grasp how much God really does love us think Paul knew and understood this, because of course, it was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, how much we needed to know that God really does love us the fullness of that, because otherwise, we would spend the majority of our time and our activity chasing after love that we already had, and that we were already rooted in and established in. But if we begin to know, in grasp how loved and how fully loved we really are, then we're just free. We don't have to go trying to impress him or impress anyone else to receive the love that we feel like we have, because we know we already have it in him, and we're already experiencing it in him. So then that just frees us up to do what Paul prayed for the Philippians. In Philippians, Paul prayed, hey, since you've been filled with God's agape love, since you have it, you know, and I've already prayed in other places that you would grasp how long and why and hide and high and deep it is the now I'm praying that this love that you already have in our field with with would abound more and more in the relationships that you have with each other, you're full, you don't have to go searching for it anymore from other people and take from them, you can just give freely of the love I've already filled you up with in your relationships with others. And Paul prayed that this would happen that God would do that work of their love of bounding more and more and more from within, and the love that he had already routed established them in. And then finally we looked at a prayer that Paul prayed for the Colossians in chapter one where he kind of encompasses all all of the things that we see in the new covenant and that we, we have because of this union, Paul prayed there for us to be able to bear fruit in every good work, not to produce the fruit, but that we would bear fruit in every good work. Again, Jesus would do the fruit producing as the vine and as the branches we would be the ones to Just bear it so he prays that would happen. He prays also that the Holy Spirit would grow our knowledge of God as we live in union with Him. He prayed In that same prayer that we would be strengthened with his power that is within us that we wouldn't work on our own power out of our own flesh, but it would be Spirit empowered activity that would guide all of our lives because we have the Spirit dwelling in us. And then finally, in that prayer, he prayed that we would give joyful thanks to God the Father. And here's why. He said, I'm praying that you'll give joyful thanks to God the Father, because he's qualified you to share in his inheritance already. And you've already been removed from the kingdom of darkness, and placed into the kingdom of light. So since that's already happened, and you're able to walk in that light, and experience the union that Jesus prayed for, and you're filled with His love already, you don't have to go search for it any more than walk in joyful thinks with all that you have, and all the blessings that you have, because of what Jesus accomplished for you, and has given to you freely right. So these prayers that we see, and we've studied are these beautiful blessings of grace that have been poured out into our lives. And we've been learning how well we can model much of our prayers in the same way that these kinds of prayers were written. And we spent time praying those together. And hopefully, you've spent some time praying those things on your own. But today, as we finish up this prayer series, we are going to look at one final prayer that the disciples prayed in Acts chapter four. So if you have your Bibles or a device with a Bible app on it, you can be turning there Acts chapter four, we're going to start in verse 23, in just a moment, but of course, we've got to be familiar and aware before we dive into this, that the New Covenant had started, that this prayer that the disciples are about to pray, or they are praying is going to be a New Covenant prayer, that they weren't living under the New Covenant when they were walking with Jesus, because remember, the New Covenant hadn't started. They were living still under the old covenant with Jesus throughout the three year ministry, the New Covenant started after his death, his resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit, because now the spirit would be in them. And they would be experiencing all of these things that we just highlighted in all of these other prayers, that we talked about that oneness, Jesus was with them, but now he was in them, right. And so this happened in Acts chapter two, the Spirit does come they're experiencing this union. They see his love, we see His grace, we see His power, we see His salvation being poured out through them, as the book of Acts continues. And by the time we get to Acts, chapter three, one of those x is the Lord healing a guy through Peter at this gate called Beautiful, and this guy had been lame since birth. And we're told that Jesus heals him through Peter, and he does what most of us would do, if we couldn't have if we wouldn't have been able to walk from birth. Now he's able to walk, he starts walking, and jumping, and running and praising the Lord because He could walk after all those years of not being able to what you see that kind of thing happened. And all of a sudden, the guy that they're used to seeing, sitting around and not able to walk, jumping, and running and yelling and screaming and praising God, that's going to do what? get everybody's attention. Right. So now that Peter has everyone's attention, after Jesus healed this guy through Him, the Holy Spirit uses Peter now to share the gospel with all of these people to tell them about how this guy was healed and how salvation could be found in and through Jesus alone. And we're told that about 1000 people, in this moment did receive salvation in that moment. But also, what happened here was, again, this was causing a scene among the Jewish leaders and the Romans who are in charge of keeping the peace. And they didn't like that this was causing a disturbance. And so the Jewish leaders had Peter and John arrested in Acts chapter three, they threatened them they said, Don't you dare go telling other people about this Jesus anymore? You better stop teaching these people about Jesus or else. And remember, these guys had power. When they threatened people, they meant business. This was not to be taken lightly. They could inflict pain on them. They can make their lives miserable. They can inflict suffering upon them that no one would want to be a part of.Had to be a scary moment. it. So let's see how they respond beginning in verse 23, Chapter four of X says on their release, Peter and John went back to their own people. Okay, so I know it didn't really get very far. But we've got to stop there. Because that's really interesting to me. And I think there's something that we even see here that applies to us today. We don't necessarily see it. But Luke, when he's writing x here, is using an idiom here to describe the church to describe this group of people that Peter and John go back to, it's kind of similar to us today saying, I went back to my people, or I went back to my tribe, right? It's an idiom, an expression that captures the fact that they had a group of people that they belonged to, which is really what church is a group of people that we belong to, and that they belong to us since similar to what Jesus prayed about in John 17, that we would be one as they are one that we would be united to Jesus, and then through that union with Him, we would all be united together, and we would belong to each other. And because they belonged to each other, once they experienced this persecution and these threads, they went back to the people that they belonged to. I highlight this, because I do see a number of times when people who have been in church and they belong to the church, and they begin to have situations and circumstances in their lives that present themselves that that are less than best, right, that are less than good in their lives. And they disappear. They isolate themselves from the church, they run from those in the church, they try to handle things in their on their own terms, or they go to people out in the world to solve those problems. And this is not the way the Lord intended that to be. Don't go to the world, when things get difficult. Don't isolate yourself from the people that you belong to. When life gets difficult, this should be the time that we run to the church that we run to the people that we belong to, to receive support, and encouragement and point us back to Jesus who Our ultimate hope is. And this is what Peter and John did. In that moment. They didn't flee, they went back to their people that they belonged to, as the verse goes on, that says that they went back to their people, and reported all that the chief priest and the elders had said to them, and so they told everyone about how the Jewish leaders threatened them, they warn them, hey, it's gonna be really, really bad for you, if you keep this up. So they made sure to let everyone else know what would happen to them, and any of them if they continued to teach and talk about Jesus. So how do they respond, verse 24, when they heard this news, they raised their voices together in prayer to God several things to note about just that little statement right there. Number one, their response to persecution, to being threatened to life situations and circumstances not going their way was to pray.This is what they were led to do. They got on their knees to talk to God about these events and the circumstances in their lives, which of course, is a great reminder to us, instead of trying to handle the things on our own quickly, instead of running and asking others how we should fix this problem or that problem. Maybe the first thing that we should do is also get on our hands and knees and bring it before the Lord who sits above it all. And the situation and circumstance we find ourselves in is really no surprise to him. So we address him about those things. The second thing to notice is this, how they pray, they pray together. And it's great to be able to go to the Lord and pray individually anytime that we want. But they prayed together as a group, there's something really powerful when we pray together. Of course, that doesn't diminish the fact that your time and prayer can't be powerful when you're alone with God. But I'm just saying I think most of you would agree that when you've been in situations where you've had the opportunity to pray with other people and hear the way the Holy Spirit is leading other people to pray, and when you're praying alongside of them, and they're affirming what it is that you're praying that there is just something moving about that there's something powerful about being able to pray together in this way. It's one of the reasons that we've made it a priority on Wednesday nights to pray together before we go into our classes. And I know many of you were here this last Wednesday night. I was so sad to miss the first Wednesday night because I had gotten sick of that day, but no doubt, it was a powerful time for us as a church to be able to pray about what's going on in our own lives and the lives of others and what the Lord's doing in and through us as a church during this time that we're out of our worship center in here and in all of the above. And so I hope and pray that you will continue to make that a priority, us praying together as a group. But there's something else a third thing to make sure that we don't miss here. Because this word that was originally used in Greek to be translated together doesn't just mean physically together, it means with one accord, it may even be translated that way. And whatever version of the Bible you are following along in this morning, they raised their voices with one accord. That means they were praying together in unity. They didn't have one person praying, well, I hope this happens. And these are my preferences over here. And this person praying something completely opposed to whatever this person was praying about. They were united together, of course, that's a work of the Holy Spirit, leading them to pray in unison, and together and with one accord and as you and as you and I come together, physically, and we're focused on the Holy Spirit in us to lead us in those times of group prayer, he will do the same thing, he will unite us together and lead us to pray with one accord. So these are their responses to the threats that they had received in their lives to pray, to pray physically together to pray with one accord. Now, let's see what they actually prayed beginning in verse 26, because verse 24, continues, Sovereign Lord, they said, You made the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and everything in them. Again, couple of things to notice as they start this prayer, the way that they address God, Sovereign Lord, this isn't the usual word that would have been translated Lord, or curios that they would use this as the word that we get our English word desperate from, that carries a little bit of a negative connotation, connotation, or a lot among us today, but it didn't back then. It's just their way of addressing God is with one with absolute power, one with authority or supremacy, they were referring to God as the ultimate authority. These guys who were just threatened and had power, had nothing on the one who is in ultimate authority even over them. In other words, so they addressed him as the Sovereign Lord. But basically, as they went on, you may have noticed that they also addressed him as the Lord of Creation, right? I mean, they said, You made the heavens, you made the earth, you made the seed, and you made everything in them. In other words, not only are you just the Sovereign Lord, but we see that in the way that you are the Lord of Creation. Of course, the question is why they just been threatened by all of these people, what's the big deal about them starting off their prayer with sovereign Lord and you're the you're the Lord of Creation? Well, again, these guys that they were threatened by had power. But if you can speak things into existence, if you can create things from nothing, then that shows once again, you are the Sovereign Lord, You are the one with ultimate authority. And so they are addressing him after being threatened by these guys with power as the one who has more power than they do. Now, let's see what he goes on to say because he doesn't just address them as sovereign Lord or address him as the Lord of Creation. Next, you're going to see him address them addressed him as the Lord of Revelation, the Lord who reveals things to us, verse 25, you referring back to God, right, you spoke, you revealed how, by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of Your servant, David, your father, David. So it may have been David, you've seen communicate, but make no mistake about it. It was God revealing this through David by the Holy Spirit. Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord, and against his anointed one. This is a direct quote from Psalm two. They're quoting Psalm two, which of course, is found in the Old Testament. And what the disciples are saying is, this prayer is that God was the one revealing through this song. He did it through David by the Holy Spirit about what was happening in their time, right there in that that moment, or that had just happened to Jesus right? The Holy Spirit was prophesying through David, that nations kings rulers and the peoples of the earth were going to band together against Jesus hundreds of years prior to it actually happening. And now in verse 27, as they continue to pray, they pray about how this actually did happen, that Jesus prophesied or God prophesied would happen hundreds of years earlier, verse 27, indeed, Herod, Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city, to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. So each person that's mentioned here in this verse represents one who was mentioned in Psalm two hundreds of years prior to these events actually happening. It's a reference to the things they had just mentioned in verse 25, and 26. The raging nations that was mentioned in Psalm two were the Gentile rulers that were mentioned in 27. And the soldiers who executed Jesus, the people who plotted in vain that was written in Psalm two were the people of Israel who were plotting against Jesus. And we see that all throughout the Gospels, and of course, it was done in vain because he rose from the dead and receive the victory. The kings of the earth, and the rulers who band together were Herod and Pontius Pilate. In other words, the disciples are praying about how God revealed as the Lord of Revelation, not just the Sovereign Lord, not just the Lord of Creation, but the Lord of Revelation, who reveals things to us even hundreds of years before they ever happen.What would happen, and it just happened with Jesus again, showing his sovereignty, his power, and authority. But there's a fourth way that they're going to address the Lord. And that is also the lord of history. Look at verse 28. As they go on in the prayer, it says, They, according to all those people that we just mentioned, did what your power God you and your power, and you and your will, had decided beforehand, should happen. Even though all of these people were scheming. Even though all of these people were plotting and trying to stop Jesus dead in his tracks. God was allowing all of it to happen as part of his plan to rescue the world from sin and bondage. It was all done in vain, because God is sovereign, therefore he is the God of history. Remember, history is nothing more than his story, right? He has a plan, he's moving it along. And he's working in and through even the bad things that happen, according to His sovereignty in the plan that he decided what happened ahead of time. So this is all part of a prayer where the disciples are acknowledging God as the all powerful, Sovereign LORD, and that is seen in the fact that he's the Lord of Creation, that he's the Lord of Revelation, and that He is the Lord of history. And all of this is building up to a request, all of this stuff that they're praying, is building up because he is the all powerful one that can fulfill the request that they are about to make. So they acknowledge all of things, these things upfront ahead of time, before they make the request, to make sure that they're acknowledging that he is the one that can do what it is that they are going to ask. And remember, they've just been threatened by powerful people. But now they're talking to the one who was way more powerful than them. And here's the request in verse 29. Now, Lord, consider their threats. And enable your servants to speak your word, with great boldness, Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant, Jesus. Wow, a little bit different, most likely, than the way you and I tend to pray that maybe I shouldn't put you in a little bit different than the way I would tend to pray. Right? Because listen, I'm just telling you, if this is me, if I'm in the situation that the disciples are in, and I'm the one who's being threatened, I'm the one who's going, Jesus. All I did was tell people about you and trying to make sure more people don't miss out on your grace and Your love and Your mercy. And this is the way I'm going to be treated. This is what you're going to let happen to me as a result of doing all of those things. You know what, Lord, I want revenge. You know what I want to make sure that my situation You shouldn't, in my circumstances get better. You know what, Lord, I hope that you will protect me from these things, since all I'm out there doing is telling people about Jesus, which is what you wanted me to do. But what do they pray? Lord, enable us. In other words, just empower us to continue doing what it is that we were doing, regardless of whatever it is that they're going to do to us as a result of that. Regardless of whatever happens to us, just give us the courage, give us the strength, the power, to just keep telling people about Jesus, even if that means we are going to suffer. That's not the way I tend to pray. Maybe that's the way you pray. But I'm just telling you, that's not the way that I would tend to pray these guys want to make sure that no one no one misses out on the grace of God, that no one misses out on his complete forgiveness that no one misses out on his agape love, that no one misses out on his eternal life, and the way that they had that in their own lives, and were experiencing it and filled up with it. So they were just free to go tell other people about it, regardless of whatever was going to happen because they still had the life of Jesus, they were still going to experience the abundant life with him. And if they kill them, you know what, I'll just experience the abundant life on the other side of these things. So they say Sovereign Lord, Lord of Creation, Lord of Revelation, and Lord of history, we know that those who threaten us can't stop you. Because you're just moving your plan forward. And we know that your plan is to continue to have more and more people hear the gospel, the good news. And since you live in Austin, enable us, empower us embolden us and just continue to use us in Your Kingdom work, no matter what. This is their prayer. And God answers their prayer, verse 31, after they pray, the place where they were meeting was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the word of God, boldly. And the Old Testament, the shaking of a place was known as a theophany, or a manifestation of God invisible form. In other words, this was God's way of showing them that he was present, that he was with them and in them and would answer their prayer. And of course, he did says they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly go read the rest of the book of Acts. And you'll see that they continued to speak the word of God boldly, and more and more people came to know Jesus, the church spread, the church continued. And 2000 years later, you and I are one of those churches who are gathering because they had been emboldened and empowered to go on, regardless of whatever was going to happen to them, and ultimately did happen to them as a result of those things. Now, I do want to clear something up here and make sure that we're not confused by this, it says that they were filled by the Holy Spirit that happened already in Acts chapter two, this was a way of saying that they were enabled to do what they had been asked already by an ever present spirit that was already inside of them to do. Here's the way Darrell Bock put it in his commentary on the book of Luke, the filling with the spirit means the enablement to proclaim the Word that follows. This is a separate act. He says from the indwelling, that appeared in Acts two, it's specific to the request for boldness, not a second blessing or a second Pentecost. In other words, they didn't receive the Holy Spirit a second time. In other words, they didn't hadn't lost the Holy Spirit from the first time and needed him to feel them again. In that moment, they had been filled, they were filled. This is a way of simply saying they were enabled, they were empowered by the Spirit who already dwelt in them to now go do what it is that they asked, speak the word of God, boldly. And this is the same way that you and I should be praying today as well. The same Holy Spirit lives in us. Whenever we pray for us to be emboldened and enabled by the Holy Spirit to do something. It's our way of saying Lord I can't do it. I cannot do this in my own flesh in my own power in my own strength. But since you dwell in me, your power lives in me, enable me in Bolden me, strengthen me through your power to carry out what it is that you are prompting and leading me to do. And God will always do thathe will always enable us to do what he prompts us to do through the Holy Spirit in the first place, he will not leave us hanging. So this is the way that you and I pray as well. And as we close out this series today, and as we get ready to hopefully, if the weather holds have hundreds, maybe 1000s of people walk onto our campus this afternoon, who may not know Jesus, let's be praying that he will enable us and embolden us and empower us to love them and to serve them and to share the Good News of Jesus with them. Today. Let's make this our prayer on Wednesday nights when we gather together and we pray physically together, and we pray with one accord that God would use us as His Church, the group of people that he's led us to belong to, to link arms and partner together to, to do what we can, as he prompts us and enables and empowers us to reach this community that he's placed us in with the gospel. Let's pray that He will send us out as the church each and every single Sunday after we've gathered together to worship Him, to use us and work through us in our neighborhoods, and in our schools and on our sports teams and in our jobs, and with our friends and with our family to share the Good News of Jesus so that no one, no one in the Tyler area or beyond, misses out on the grace of God and the Agape love and the complete forgiveness that he offers to all people. This is what we gathered together around. And as we experience all of those things that we've talked about the last four weeks, this incredible union and the blessings in the intimacy and the abundant life that we have in Christ, then our prayer becomes, I am so free Lord, because you've given me everything that I need. I am just free to be able to be used in your kingdom work, wherever it is that your spirit leads me. And however it is that you empower me to carry it out. And this is the way that we pray together. This is our hope that more and more people will come to know Jesus as He enables us. And emboldens us to share the gospel with them. Each and every single week, we have closed our time out after talking about prayer and diving into God's Word together by praying together. And quite honestly, I didn't prepare for this. None of these guys who are walking up here know that I'm going to ask you to do this because I'm just feeling like the Lord is leading us to do this and who knows how it's going to go and for how long it's going to go. But you know what, we're just going to do it anyway. I'm going to ask you to stand. And instead of even playing in the background or doing anything, right now you can go ahead and stand. I meant it when I said I'm gonna ask you to stand. Alright, so here's what we're gonna do, we're gonna, we're going to enter into a time of praying together. And we just read about how the disciples prayed physically together, and they prayed of one accord. And I think that also means that they prayed out loud together. And so in this moment, I'm going to open us up. And then if you feel led to pray, I'm going to ask you to just pray out loud, so that others can hear it in this room as the church physically together, and with one accord. Now, keep in mind, you don't have a mic. We're not prepared to do this. If you do it on this side, they can't hear you on this side of the room, you're gonna have to do it with all your mind and ask the Lord to empower you to carry your voice so that other people can hear it. But I feel like the Holy Spirit will lead us in this time and after we've had a time to be able to pray together in this way. I'll come back and close this out but you pray, if the Spirit leads you to pray together in this moment, Father God, we open our hearts and our minds to you right now. We've just learned and studied about how you and your spirit led the disciples to pray based on all of the new covenant blessings that they had and were experiencing in you, for you and your life to be expressed. through them and so Lord, we just invite your Holy Spirit who already dwells in us who's already here and always with us to lead us and embolden us to pray out loud together in this moment as you lead us and empower us to do so.