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Summary: IN OUR TIME THIS MORNING, LETS TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE LEADERS OF THE CHURCH, WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THE, ….. “FAITH IN GOD DOES NOT MAKE TROUBLES DISAPPEAR, BUT DOES MAKE THEM LESS FRIGHTENING!”

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PERSECUTION AND PRIORITIES

ACTS 5:17-42”WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING.” NOWHERE IN SCRIPTURE IS THIS SO EVIDENT THAN RIGHT HERE. FACE WITH A TOUGH SITUATION, A TOUGH COUNSEL, AND A TOUGH TREATMENT, THE APOSTLE OF CHRIST RESPOND WITH A RESOUND UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES.

I. THE PROMPTING OF PERSECUTION – 5:17

Acts 5:17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.

a. PERSECUTION IS PROMPTED BY THE EXCELLENCE OF THE CHURCH

i. “THEN” – REFERS US BACK TO THE ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH

ii. MEETING NEEDS

iii. REACHING PEOPLE

iv. ACTING IN UNITY

b. PERSECUTION IS PROMPTED BY THE ENVY OF THE CHURCH

i. “JEALOUSY” – THERE WAS A ZEAL TO REMOVE CHRISTIANITY FROM JERUSALEM

ii. THE CHURCH WAS AFFECTING THE INFLUENCE THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS HAD ON THE PEOPLE

iii. THE LEADERS DID NOT LIKE WHAT THE CHURCH WAS DOING, SO THEY SOUGHT TO PUT A STOP TO IT.

In early February (OF THIS YEAR), a cockpit atheist in Kadena Airbase in Japan contacted MAAF to ask why there was a Bible posted in Air Force lodging. Because the Air Force is a government agency, there should be neutrality toward religion rather than a special privilege for Christianity. After inquiries from the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers and a legal review, Air Force Services (Agency) Operations has promised to end their Bible requirement.

THE REASON THE CHURCH FACES PERSECUTION TODAY IS BECAUSE A CHURCH ON FIRE FOR CHRIST MAKES A POSITIVE EFFECT IN THE LIVES OF THOSE IT TOUCHES!

SIMPLY PUT, THERE IS NO MORE EFFECTIVE LIFE THAN ONE AFFECTED BY CHRIST!

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF THE DAY DEMANDED RESPECT FROM THE PEOPLE, THE APOSTLES SOUGHT TO BRING RESPECT AND REVERENCE TO GOD!

II. THE PRACTICE OF PERSECUTION – 5:18

Acts 5:18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.

Acts 5:18 (KJV) And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

a. THERE IS MEANNESS IN THIS PERSECUTION – THEY LAID HANDS ON THEM WITH THE PURPOSE OF INJUSTICE AND OPPRESSION.

i. NOTHING THEY DID HERE WAS LEGAL. IT WAS ALL FOR THE PURPOSE OF STOPPING THE ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH.

b. THERE IS A METHOD IN THEIR PERSECUTION.

i. THEY WENT AFTER THE LEADERS OF THE CHURCH.

ii. VERY AFFECTIVE STRATEGY. STOP THE LEADERS AND YOU STOP THE MOVEMENT.

iii. WE NEED TO PRAY FOR THOSE IN LEADERSHIP IN OUR CHURCHES, MISSION ORGANIZATIONS, AND MISSION FIELDS.

iv. WE NEED TO BE MORE CONCERNED WITH SERVING GOD, NOT REACTING TO OTHERS!

III. THE POWERLESSNESS OF PERSECUTION – 5:19-20

Acts 5:19-20 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 "Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life."

a. GOD IS IN THE DELIVERANCE BUSINESS. OPPOSITION WAS NOT EXPECTED, BUT GOD’S PROVISION WAS DEFINITELY NOT EXPECTED!

b. NOTICE THE POWER OF DELIVERANCE.

i. JESUS CAME THROUGH LOCKED DOORS.

ii. THERE IS NO DOOR TO WHICH GOD DOES NOT HAVE A KEY.

iii. THIS WAS A WAY GOD RE-ENFORCED HIS PROTECTION, PRESENCE, AND POWER.

SOMETIMES WE SIMPLY NEED TO STEP BACK A BIT AND BECOME SENSITIVE ENOUGH TO SEE HOW MUCH GOD ACTUALLY DOES WORK IN OUR LIVES. GOD’S INVOLVEMENT IS EVIDENT AND EXTENSIVE.

c. NOTICE THE PURPOSE FOR DELIVERANCE

i. GO, AND TELL THE PEOPLE THE FULL MESSAGE OF THE NEW LIFE.

ii. WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, YOU AND I WERE FREED FROM THE POWER OF SIN TO TELL OTHERS ABOUT FREEDOM FROM SIN.

iii. OUR SALVATION IS A DELIVERANCE OF GOD.

Every great person has learned how to obey, whom to obey and when to obey.

William Ward

IV. THE PERPLEXITY OF THE PERSECUTORS – 5:21-25

Acts 5:21-25 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin--the full assembly of the elders of Israel--and sent to the jail for the apostles.

22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported,

23 "We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside." 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. 25 Then someone came and said, "Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people."

a. WOULDN’T YOU BE – THERE WAS NO WAY THEY COULD GET OUT OF THAT PRISON.

b. BUT THEY DID!

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