Summary: This sermon contrasts what the first church did and what the modern church did when thier governments told them not to speak at all in the name of Jesus. It also demonstrates what we need to do now.

How It Should Be

Acts 4:23-31

March 3, 2002


A. I clipped this article out of The Banner-Graphic [Greencastle, IN] in August of 1999, and saved it just for this sermon today…[This really is a true story!]

Gator halts couple’s midnight dip

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP)—A woman was nearly dragged underwater by a 7-foot alligator before her boyfriend kicked the gator and managed to pull her out of a pond.

Deirdre Dozois, and her boyfriend, Stuart chandler, were cooling themselves off in their favorite pond behind the Jolly Time Bar early Tuesday.

"We were sitting in about 2 feet of water being real quiet, and then I felt her body jerk," said Chandler, 41.

Ms. Dozois, 45, tried to leap into the air with the gator’s jaws lock on her right calf.

"It felt like a Rottweiler had grabbed me and wouldn’t let go," she said. "It started to twist me into the water."

Chandler began kicking it, and the gator released its grip. He pulled her out and tied a shirt around her thigh to slow the bleeding.

[Listen to this response to the incident…]

"We had been siting near the water talking before it got dark and saw the gator stick its head out of the water a couple of times," she said.

B. What a response!

1. That women is lucky to be alive in more ways than one!

2. There are all kinds of responses that can be made to different situations!

3. Today, we’re going to look at the first church’s response to Peter and John’s imprisonment in Acts 4:23-31. (It is certainly better than that woman’s! J)

I. What they did.

Acts 4:23-31, On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "’Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ 27 Indeed Herod and 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. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." 31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

A. Peter and John reported (23).

1. This is what I have been calling the never-ending story.

2. It is one of the longest stories in the book of Acts.

3. Of course the whole book of Acts can be considered a continuous story.

4. But this part of the story of Acts, began back in chapter 3 with the healing of the unlovely crippled beggar.

5. Peter then preached a sermon about the incident telling the people that Jesus was alive and that Jesus had healed this crippled beggar and was driving towards the invitation hymn when the Sanhedrin showed up a the beginning of chapter 4 and threw Peter and John into prison over night.

6. They questioned Peter and John, but couldn’t find any way to punish them because they knew that the people were sympathetic to Peter and John.

7. They knew there would be problems if they people heard that they had done anything to Peter and John.

8. So the Sanhedrin decided to just threaten them about doing this again, (Acts 4:18) Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

9. Acts 4:19-20, But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

10. Acts 4:21, After further threats they let them go…

11. Acts 4:23, On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

12. So what do you think they did about this? Did they quit speaking about Jesus?

13. Did they run away to another city or another country? What do you think they did?

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