September 27, 2023
Prayer is a spiritual discipline that requires the Holy Spirit’s enabling. It will be challenged and attacked by the forces of darkness since it is the most powerful weapon a believer has. It requires vigilance on our part (Colossians 4:2).
The book of Acts is absolutely thrilling! It is the divine history book of the New Testament that recounts the start of the church and God’s advancing kingdom. The Lord Jesus had gloriously risen from the dead and ascended to His Father in heaven, giving Holy Spirit power to His followers to move forward.
Jesus stated, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
There were qualities that set this divine initiative apart from normal start-ups. There are 7 that we will consider today.
First, there was oneness in purpose. This oneness was not uniformity, but rather hearts fully surrendered to the one true King and a willingness to be led by the indwelling Holy Spirit. There were different nationalities, different personalities, and different abilities, but they worked together. It was the Spirit of God within the believer that brought about the unity.
God used Peter to bring the gospel to the Jews, and Paul to bring it to the Gentiles. He used Dorcas differently than He used Philip the evangelist. He created diversity with unity of intention to bring about prosperity.
Second, there was fervency in prayer. This fact can be traced throughout the book from beginning to end. The narrative starts by saying, “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1:14).
It wasn’t just prayer, but devotion to prayer.
When a crisis arose, after James was killed and Peter was imprisoned, the church prayed. “So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church” (Acts 12:5).
It wasn't just prayer, it was earnest prayer.
When shepherds needed to be found to lead God’s people, they prayed. “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).
It wasn’t just prayer, but prayer and fasting.
When the gospel first came to Philippi, women were gathered to pray. “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together” (Acts 16:13). There is a special place of prayer.
Next, there was reality in worship. People were getting saved. Christians were devoted to the Lord, and praise was ascending to God. “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).
True authentic worship is the result of hearts fully focused on Christ.
Third, there was wisdom in preaching. Paul gave a simple, clear message to a desperate jailor in Acts 16. As he confronted the prestigious Areopagus in Athens, his message was suited to their needs. When Philip the evangelist went to the desert to speak to the man from Ethiopia, he started right where the man was reading. He met him on his own ground.
The good news message at its core has never changed, but depending on who is listening, it needs to fit their experience and understanding. Wisdom is needed.
Then there was intensity in opposition. God was active through His servants, and so the enemy too was very busy. There was hardship and persecution from the religious leaders. There were the internal problems of lying and greed, as seen in Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. There was overt demonic activity as was witnessed in Ephesus in Acts 19.
Sixth, there was joy in suffering. While no one would normally choose suffering, it accompanies those who are serious about the things of God. The attitude of God’s people as they suffered for the gospel made all the difference.
As Peter and the rest were leaving prison on account of the gospel, it says, “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41). In Acts 13, in the city of Antioch of Pisidia, despite the persecution, the disciples were filled with joy, because many of the Gentiles believed.
And last, there was action in love. While the word love is not found in the book of Acts, it was the motivating factor that enabled the believers to do what they did. These believers loved the Lord Jesus and consequently loved each other and their world of lost sinners.
May it be so in all of our lives. Thank you for praying for our prodigals and for revival among us.
Warmly in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel