ACTS: HERE // NOW
After the resurrection everything changed. Jesus spent 40 days with His disciples and then ascended into heaven leaving them with instruction to wait in Jerusalem. Over the next several weeks we’re going to look at what we can learn from the early church and how to continue to walk like Jesus walked.
Date: September 23
Key Passages: Acts 4:23-31
Writer: David Chun
Big Idea: “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” We have all heard this, and some of us have even been ridiculed for saying this. But what if we believed that prayer changes things? The Early Church prayed a lot and they prayed expectantly. What can we learn from them and how can we foster a life of prayer? What would it look like to pray, fully trusting God to answer in one way or another?
Discipleship Focus: Spending time with God. Transforming the Bay starts by inviting God to transform our hearts. When God’s people prayed, something happened. Let’s see what God does boldly.
Invitation to Action: Prayer + Worship Night
When I was studying law in school, I was intrigued by the concept of “detrimental reliance”, the idea that someone who relies on a promise and suffers harm for that reliance may recover even when the promise was not enforceable in the first place (i.e., promising a gift is not normally enforceable).
This caught my attention because it made me realize that by worrying about so many things in life at the time, including finding a job, whom I would marry, where I would live, etc., I was not trusting God’s promises to me.
Philippians 4:6–7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Although I knew of God’s promises, the problem was that there was little evidence that I had actually been relying on them. I had assumed that I was wise by living by the rule “hope for the best, but expect the worst”. I avoided what I perceived was the “risk” of trusting God’s promises and assumed I was being safe by depending on myself and my own abilities as much as possible rather than on God’s promises and His power. This resulted in me worrying about everything. But after doing all I could, I found myself anxious about everything and lacking peace. By not relying on God’s promises, I was showing God that I did not really trust Him or His promises and was treating Him as if He does not deserve to be trusted.
To truly rely on God’s promises, I had to actually do — or not do — things that depend on God following through with His promises. I wanted my life to have evidence of my trust in Him, that I was risking a “detriment” if God did not keep His promise. Specifically, after praying, I had to actively work to not worry, which was hard but not impossible. By spending time worshipping God and thanking Him for things He has done, I could take my mind off what was worrying me. God provided me the peace promised and I was able to sleep.
Even after life became more complicated after marriage and having two children, God has continued to provide me with the promised peace and has saved me from my worries when I have trusted Him through prayer.
As the Early Church faced persecution, instead of responding by withdrawing and responding in fear, the believers prayed expectantly and boldly to God based on His promises to them. He answered them in miraculous ways. How would our lives be different today if we remembered God’s promises and prayed to Him while actually relying on His promises?
Spend some time reading God’s promises in His Word. Expect the Holy Spirit to identify God’s promises that He wants you to focus on at this time in your life. Then, come to the Prayer and Worship Night expecting to hear from God as to specific ways that He wants you to trust Him.
Read: John 14:12-14, Acts 4:23-31
Read Acts 4:1-22. What happened to Peter and John?
- Read Acts 4:29-30. What did the believers pray for? What did the believers risk by praying how they did?
- Read John 14:12-14. What reason did the believers have to be confident that God would answer their prayer? What did Jesus promise?
- If the believers did not know what Jesus promised in John 14 or had forgotten about what was promised, do you think it would have made a difference in how the believers prayed?
- Search for Bible verses on God’s promises. Is it easy to forget God’s promises? Why or why not? What helps you remember God’s promises to you?
- Compared to the believers in Early Church, do you think we have more, less, or the same reason to be confident when we pray to God?
September 24– Acts 4:32-37 (pg 26-28)
September 25– Acts 5:1-11 (pg 28-30)
September 26– Acts 5:12-42 (pg 30-34)
September 27– Acts 6:1-7 (pg 34)
September 28– Acts 6:8-15 (pg 36)
September 29-30– Acts 4:32-5:11 (pg 26-30)
Weekly Prayer Focus:
Pray that our next lead pastor would be a man of prayer and would speak the Word boldly.
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