prayer

Extraordinary - Acts 12:1-19

1.      Has there been a time when you felt persecuted or marginalized for your faith?

2.      How did you respond?

3.      What did you learn about yourself and about God?

4.      Have you ever been down to your last hope?

5.      How would you describe your feelings at that time? (Sometimes we come to a point where we realize we’re powerless to change a situation. God’s demonstration of His extraordinary power is most apparent when we reach the end of our own ability.)

Today we will study about a situation that the Apostle Peter experienced to which I do not believe any of us can fully relate. Peter, the one who answered Jesus’ question when asked “Who do you say that I am?” answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!” This same Apostle denied His Lord three times when the test at Jesus’ trial came to him. But now he is the leader of the Christian church in Jerusalem and standing for Christ in the face of death! Peter had come a long way in the past few years.

 

To set the context of our focal passage read Acts 12:1-6.

1.      What do you suppose was the focus of the prayers the church was offering up on Peter’s behalf?

2.      What was Peter doing? How could this be?

3.      What does it say to you about Peter’s faith that he slept so soundly on the night before his scheduled execution?

(Describe the guard situation to keep Peter in prison.)

4.      In what ways did Peter’s situation seem hopeless from a human standpoint?

Deliverance! Read Acts 12:7-10

 

1.      How did Peter respond to the angel’s prodding and command to get up?

2.      What did Peter think was happening?

3.      The chains literally fell off of Peter’s wrists, they walked past two guard posts, and the outer gate opened by itself. How does this encourage you that God can deliver you from whatever binds you?

4.      Why was James “killed by the sword” and Peter delivered from the very jaws of death?

There are Christians around the world today who are being persecuted for their faith. There is a man that we call Tang who is from India. One of our scholarship funds helped him to attend and complete his Seminary degree at Southwestern in Fort Worth. After completing his degree he and his family returned to India and began to pastor a church. A few months ago he went to another state in India to share the gospel. The officials there are very hostile to the gospel and as a result he was arrested when he refused to deny that he was a Christian and beaten for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes. He was finally rescued and allowed to go back home after some time in prison. His life was spared this time but he is determined to share the gospel with these people as God gives opportunity.

There are some people who would have you believe that if your faith is strong enough God will always deliver you. That simply is not true! There are scores of examples in Scripture. All we have to do is read Hebrews 11. God in His sovereignty decides whether to extend a person’s physical life through divine intervention or whether to bring that believer home with the affirmation, “Well done.”  The point is that God has different plans for different lives. The death of James and the deliverance of Peter both accomplished God’s purpose for their lives. (Ps 23)

5.      How does Peter’s release demonstrate the care God has for us, even in suffering? (God is aware of our situations and will provide all that is necessary to accomplish His will for our lives at the time it is needed.)

 

Delight! Read Acts 12:11-12

 

1.      How did Peter respond when he realized God had rescued him? (He acknowledged God’s work in his life and expressed praise. He made his way to a house occupied by believers who were praying.)

2.      What does it say about the character of the church that Peter knew exactly where to find them once he was released?

3.      When we pause and look back on our lives, there can be times when we see God’s movement at strategic moments to accomplish His purposes. When you reflect on your life, when have you seen God move in such a way?

4.      How does our church practice fervent prayer? (There are several of our Sunday School Departmentsand individual classes that have a special time of prayer on a monthly or weekly basis. We have a monthly Deacon’s prayer meeting. We have the prayer room. There are also special called times of prayer when specific needs arise. We have seen God do miraculous things!)

5.      When have you been blessed by God’s extraordinary work in your life and how did you express your thankfulness to God?

There are times when miracles happen and we attribute it to something else. Look for miracles every day.

 

Read Acts 12:13-15.

We don’t know the specifics about their prayers for Peter, but if they were praying for his release they refused to believe it when it happened. But they were most likely praying for Peter to be strong in the face of this certain death sentence.

 

Determined! Read Acts 12:16-17

 

1.      Has there been a time in your life when you were persistent in asking God for something, and when He answered the prayer, you were skeptical of the response? (Many times when we pray fervently about something, we have preconceived ideas about how God is going to answer our prayer and when it doesn’t happen the way we thought it would we think it was a coincidence and not God at all.)

2.      What makes us skeptical of God working in an unexpected way?

3.      How does seeing the outcome of a miracle move us away from our skepticism?

Some may ask why Peter went somewhere else instead of stayingand continuing his ministry there. Peter was still in imminent danger. We must rely upon the Holy Spirit to give us guidance and direction, then be willing to follow just as Peter did.

 

Disturbance! Read Acts 12:18-19

 

1.      How would you characterize the response to Peter’s escape?

2.      How did the king respond?

3.      How does Peter’s miraculous deliverance illustrate the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility? (We must follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit and leave the rest up to God.)

God’s work was going to be accomplished. By God’s plan, Peter was critical in the gospel’s expansion.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What can we learn from Peter’s experience of being jailed for sharing the gospel message and being delivered by God?

·         God’s work is beyond our comprehension and ability to explain.

·         God is faithful to those who serve Him, even when they experience difficulty for His sake.

·         God honors the prayers of the faithful.

2.      Think of some recent times when you have prayed for others. How would you rate the strength of your faith in the Lord to do marvelous, even miraculous, things in response to your prayers?

3.      How can we show trust in the Lord’s grace even when His answers aren’t what we hoped for or expected?

 

What happened to Herod in the next few verses?

Close with payer praising God for all He does for us and through us!

 

Empowered - Acts 2:1-15

Memory Verse:

John 16:13  

13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. NIV

 

In last week’s lesson we read about Jesus Great Commission in Acts 1: 8

 

 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  NIV

 

What caught my attention was YOU WILL!   WHEN

 

(Not you may be but you will receive power and you will be my witnesses, WHEN the Holy Spirit comes)

 

I liked what one teacher said last week about Jerusalem being right where you are.

 

What is a witness?

 

(Someone who has seen or heard or felt an event that he has witnessed)

 

Remember scripture interprets scripture!

 

John the Apostle was such a witness.  In (I John 1:1) John makes a declaration.

 

1 John 1:1-3

1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, NIV

 

John gave an eyewitness account!

 

Your testimony is personal.  It is unique only to you.

  • What your life was before Christ.
  • What happened when Christ came into your live
  • How my life has been change since Christ came into your life.

 

YOU WILL WHEN and we see the disciples of Jesus waiting for 10 days after the ascension of Jesus in the upper room.  Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait.

 

 

 

Acts 1:9-11

 

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." NIV

 

 

 

 

1-    The Spirit Given

 

Read Acts 2:1-4

 

2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. NIV

 

1-      What does Pentecost mean?

 

a)      (Pentecost means 50. Fifty Days after the Sabbath of Passover.)

 

(When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples it had been 50 days since Jesus Resurrection and 10 days since His ascension in Acts 1:8)

 

b)      Pentecost is the fulfillment of two promises

 

Joel 2:28

            28'And afterward,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your old men will dream dreams,

your young men will see visions. NIV

 

John 16:5-15

 

5 "Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

 

12 "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. NIV

 

c)      Some say that Pentecost was the birth of the church when Peter preached on the day of Pentecost and 3000 souls were added to the church.

 

It is believed that 200,000 people Jewish people from Palestine and the Mediterranean world might have been present. God’s timing is always perfect.

 

Reread verse 2:

 

2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. NIV

 

2-What were the disciples doing and how many of them where there in the upper room before the Holy Spirit came upon them?

 

(They were praying and there were 120 men and women present)

 

Acts 1:14-16

14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

 

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) NIV

 

Look at verse 4 of Acts 2: ALL OF THEM were filled and began to speak in other tongues as the spirit enabled them.

 

On page 25 of the personal study guide we find an insight on Fire.

 

1-      Fire indicated the purifying presence of God.

2-      The Lord had appeared to Moses in a bush that burned with fire yet was not consumed Ex 3:2

3-      The Lord guided the Israelites through the wilderness in the form of a pillar of fire at night. Ex. 13:21

4-      The Lord confirmed His covenant with Israel on Mount Sinai. He sent fire from Heaven Ex. 19:18

5-      The fire that rested with believers on the Day of Pentecost pointed to the ABIDING PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

 

For the first time in history, the Holy Spirit came to live in believers.  In the old testament we find records of the Holy Spirit coming upon a person for a specific purpose ( Judges 14:6; 1 Samuel 10:10), but these were only temporary visits.

 

3-What are the evidences of the Holy Spirit indwelling a believer?

 

(Changed lives-Provides the power to live righteous lives, the power and boldness to witness of Christ love and mercy; etc etc)

 

 

2-   The Questions Asked

 

Read Acts 2:5-13

 

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs — we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

 

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine." NIV

 

On hearing the believers speaking in different languages, the people were amazed, causing some to ask or questions while a few others discredited the experience by saying “they have had too much wine.”

 

 I counted 14, maybe 15 different languages spoken that day in that one place.

 

The scriptures state that these men heard, each man in his own language.

 

Calvin Beach, a man I knew who was a part of “International Commission”. I have been with him several times on a mission trip.  He is a man of God, dedicated to sharing the gospel with others. Calvin once told the story of being on a mission trip to India, when at the last meeting they joined hands and  he prayed.  One of the men there said through the interpreter, “Oh Brother Calvin, you just prayed the most beautiful prayer in our language.”  Calvin said, “I just prayed in English as I usually pray, but they heard it in their language.  It was the Lord, not me.”

 

Peter filled with the Spirit began to preach boldly. Peter had been with Jesus and now he was filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

 

So when Peter preached and they all heard, does that perhaps mean that the Spirit gave each of them the understanding of what Peter was preaching.  However we must remember that 120 other men and women were filled with the Spirit and were testifying.

 

 

 

 

 

3-The Opportunity Seized

 

Acts 2:14-16

 

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: NIV

 

 

1-In the quick source the question was asked: How did Peter respond to the question; “What does this mean”?

 

·         (Peter spoke up. In fact Peter as we know had a reputation of being outspoken. (Matt. 16:22 17:4)

·         Peter explained what was happening. He took the initiative to give credit to God for the unusual work.

·         Peter used the opportunity to point people to Jesus.

·         When placed in situations where unbelievers are asking questions, believers must seize opportunities to share Jesus. We as believers must be ready to respond.

 

Think about the last time you had a opportunity to share the gospel or tell about God’s miraculous work.

 

2-Which best describes how you felt?

  •  I felt unqualified to speak, so I didn’t say anything.
  •  I downplayed God’s action, afraid of what people might think.
  •  I willingly seized the opportunity to share Jesus.
  •  Other response?

 

I and several others in this group are a part of the “Mission Task Force” that Aaron Lokey is heading up in our church.  We are divided up into 3 teams and the Jerusalem or “Love Ardmore” team is divided into 2 teams because there are so many missions available.

 

We have a Judea team.

 

I personally am a part of the “Uttermost Team”

 

 We have 6 members to each group and we have 4 groups or 24-25 people involved.

 

The Love Ardmore Team is looking at a ministry in the NE part of town.  It seems that a church that we owned, but was given to a group of people for a church, has fallen back into our hands.  We would like to establish a presence in that area so that when opportunity arises we may be able to witness.  There are signup sheets all around asking us to volunteer for a prayer walk.  Every believer can pray so there is one thing we should all be able to do.

 

The “Uttermost Team” of which I am a part has been given opportunity by the International Mission Board to possibly adopt an area in Mexico called the Tiacolula Valley Zapotec, which is a group of people of about 100,000 people.  We currently have no witness among these people.

We are praying and plans are being made for our first visit in October.  That was when our foreign mission spoke person can go and introduce our team.

 

Much is being done and we as a church can “go, pray or give” or perhaps all three.  You will be hearing of many opportunities.

 

 

 

Summary and Challenge

 

Thought questions:

 

    When you consider witnessing to other people, what concerns do you have?

    How has this study helped you to feel empowered to be a witness?

 

·         Believers are enabled by the Holy Spirit to fulfill their God-given mission.

·         We do not have to do it on our own.

·         God’s demonstration of Himself through believers can cause unbelievers to become curious about God and His power.

·         When placed in situations where unbelievers are asking questions, believers must seize opportunities to share Jesus.

·         Spend time in prayer, asking God to lead you to one person with whom you can witness through the Holy Spirit. Make sure we are ready to seize the opportunity.

·         Pray for the fellowship of believers around the world who are also studying ACTS.