Summary: Don’t ask God to change the situation, ask God to give you the courage to make it through the situation AND ask for the Holy Spirit to work through you.
I have a friend who started this church in the lower 48 that was so successful that they had a difficult time finding a place to meet for Sunday services. They had so many people showing up on Sunday they were literally standing in the parking lot waiting for a seat in the next service.
The church is located in an area where land prices are just out of sight and so it became increasingly difficult to find a place to either rent or buy for the church to meet in.
Finally the perfect piece of property came up for sale, in the perfect location (right next to a Costco) and for a price they could afford. When they approached the owner of the building to make an offer the owner told them, “There is no way in blankety blank that I will ever sell this property to a bunch of Christians.”
OK…..So the church moved on and kept on looking for property. Two months went by, then four months, and then six months - and there wasn’t anything on the market remotely viable for the church to meet in. There search was then hampered even more when the city that they were located in created a number of zoning codes that made it almost impossible to build a new church.
People were receiving parking tickets on Sunday, the city was not happy about the heavy traffic and the fire department came out on Sundays to make sure the building they were meeting in was not overcrowded.
In spite of all the obstacles against them - the church grew at a fast pace.
Still, as they grew, neighbors filed complaints against the church because of too much traffic and city officials continued to threatened to take action against the church. The very thing that created success in the church became its greatest liability, loads of people. The church leaders were at a loss of what to do next - so of course, they prayed.
Then came the phone call.
Remember the building next to the Costco? That’s who was on the line. “Circumstances had changed” for the building’s owner and the man who would never sell to a bunch of blankety blank Christians, was now offering the building to the church at a price reduced at over 40%. He even offered to help with the financing.
Who saw that coming?
Here in our Scripture this morning we have a similar situation. The Apostle’s are directing a new church plant in the city of Jerusalem, this church plant is wildly successful. In a short time span of a few weeks their numbers have risen from 120 to over 10,000 people. At that time the believers met at the Temple in Jerusalem. I would venture to say that there may have been times where there were more believers in Jesus Christ worshipping at the Temple than there were people who did not follow Jesus Christ. But, the success of the church becomes a liability, the public actions the church takes in the city create tremendous growth in the church, but the public actions the church takes also create problems for the church. We saw last week that Peter and John create an incident where they, by the power of the Holy Spirit, heal a man and a large number of people gather to hear the Gospel. Peter and John are arrested because they have caused the ancient equivalent of parking problems at the Temple.
So we see the officials in charge threaten the Apostles. The religious officials tell them to stop talking about Jesus - or else. (We saw that last week) It is kind of funny, but that is their threat - Stop talking about Jesus or, or….or else.
What do the Apostles do? They go talk to other believers about the situation. They talk to God about their troubles. They acknowledge that God is in control in spite of the current difficult circumstances. Then, they ask God to fix the situation.
Actually, I made up that last part, didn’t I? They don’t ask God to fix the situation do they?
I confess that, that is what I do many times when I pray about a situation that comes up I my life, I ask God to just fix it. Do you do this too? Whatever we say to God in our prayer, and however we say it, somehow as Americans, we always seem to end up asking God to fix the situation for us.
“Lord, please just fix this whole mess.”
Are we praying the wrong prayer?
Take a look at verses 29 and 30. What do they ask for? This certainly doesn’t sound like how we might pray, does it?
They ask God to enabled them, which means that they want the Holy Spirit to work through them. They ask for courage to listen to the Holy Spirit and then, they ask that God continues to do exactly what made the religious officials threaten them - to do more miracles and wonders.