Summary: This sermon is to allow the listener to know that prayer should be our first response, rather than our last resort.
A BAD SITUATION + PRAYER = DELIVERANCE
My brothers and sisters when it comes to bad situations the first thing that we should do is pray. In fact our church’s moto is “Prayer should be our your first response, rather than our last resort.” And even though we might read this in our program every Sunday, to some they are just shallow words. But I am here to encourage you that if you have a bad situation, just add prayer, and it will equal out to your deliverance. In thinking of this text, I am reminded of a story that was once published in a Daily Bread booklet some time ago. It told the story of the first converts to Christianity in Africa. They were diligent about praying. In fact, each of them had their own special place outside the village where they went to pray. They would reach their private prayer rooms by traveling their own specific trail each day thus wearing down the grass each time they went. When the grass began to grow over one of these trails, it was evident that the person it belonged to was not praying much.
Now because these new Christians were concerned about each others spiritual welfare a unique custom sprang up. Whenever they noticed that growth occurred on someone’s prayer path, they would say to that person so warmly and lovingly, “Friend, there is grass on your path!” [Our Daily Bread]
In today’s lesson we find the Christians in Jerusalem also being diligent in prayer. Many times they were found in bad situations and many times they banded themselves together to pray, and the eye opener is that many times the Lord delivered. They had a tried and proven technique that still work even to this day.
In last week’s lesson we saw how the Antioch church after hearing the prophetic word of a great famine, responded by giving exhaustively to the church in Jerusalem. They gave even though they too were in the midst of the famine. Oh, what a lesson we learned about giving in-spite of our hard times.
This lesson will take us back to the city of Jerusalem. The church was going through a double whammy. First they had to deal with the famine in the land, then they had to face persecution coming from a king named Herod. I noticed a connection between the 11th and 12th chapters. The 11th chapter ended with the disciples at Antioch collecting their gifts and giving them to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders in Jerusalem. Then in chapter 12 it said “Now about that time Herod, the king, stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.” I tell you the church was going through. In fact, Herod fed off of the Jewish resentment for the followers of Christ, he had become the religious leaders conquering hero just like Saul used to be. His acts against the church is found in the first four verses of the chapter. There we hear of James the brother of John being killed by Herod with a sword and we noticed that his actions pleased the Jews, then he proceeded to take Peter, putting four quaternion of soldiers over him because they intended to bring him to the people for trial after the Passover. Now many of us are familiar with the angel coming to free Peter and that is a very important part of the lesson. But I would like to draw your attention to how the angel was beckoned and that was through unceasing prayer that the church did unto God for the deliverance of Peter. So, let’s see how a bad situation, plus prayer, can equal our deliverance.
First of all we see . . .
1. RESENTMENT GROWING AGAINST THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. (Vv.1-3)
[That’s a Bad Situation]
“Now about that time Herod, the king, stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2. And he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. 3. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the day of unleavened bread.”
First of all we see resentment growing against the Christian church. There were some that figured that once they started persecuting the church, the followers of Jesus would stop spreading the news about the man that they called the Messiah. After all they crucified their Savior, executed one of their deacons in Stephen, during the famine they provided no relief to anyone that was associated with the people of the way, they killed James and now the apprehension of Peter. They figured that those things would have, if not stopped the movement, at least it would have broken its spirit. But instead, the movement grew, and worst of all according to the Jews, it had spread into the Gentile nations. I tell you there was a great resentment for those of the way. Even today there is a resentment that still lingers against the Christian Church. And we as a country in a time of political correctness cannot deny the fact that it is there. I wonder in all our political correctness where does 1 John 5:12 stand in the hearts of our politicians, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”