3 Days of Prayer and Fasting (2021/04)

Acts 5:12-42 (ESV)
12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Day 1: Loving God
Gamaliel says that a plan that “of man … will fail,” but a plan that is “of God” will be unstoppable, and that it is futile to “[oppose] God.”  There is a recurring contrast in this passage between what God does and what men do. The Jewish leaders “put [the apostles] in … prison” (5:18), but God breaks them out of prison. The Jewish leaders “strictly [charge] [the apostles] not to teach in [Jesus’s] name” (5:28), but God commands them to continue to “speak to the people” about Jesus (5:20). The Jewish leaders killed [Jesus] by hanging him on a tree” (5:30), but God … raised Jesus … [and] exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior” (5:30). And in verse 29, Peter makes the climactic declaration, “We must obey God rather than men.” Are you obeying God or men in your life? Paul writes in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Are you preoccupied with pleasing man or God? Are you afraid to speak in the name of Jesus because you’re afraid of what your peers might think or say? Are you ashamed of the Word of God because it goes against the grain of our culture and you want to fit in? Are you living primarily to please yourself ? To do what you want in life? To have what you want in life? A comfortable retirement? Wealth and luxury? A successful career? A long life? A healthy family? If we are concerned with pleasing ourselves, if we are concerned with obeying men, we cannot obey God to the point of suffering.
The Apostles counted the “dishonor” that they suffered an honor, saying they were “counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (vv. 41-42). Instead of crying and complaining about being beaten and humiliated, they left rejoicing.” Because their highest aim—their deepest desire—was to please Jesus and bear witness to Him.
  • Confess your sins, especially the ways in which you have been “opposing God” (literally [fighting] God”)—ways in which you have sought to please/obey men, instead of God.
  • Thank God for all that He has done for you in Christ, who is our “Leader and Savior, to give repentance … and forgiveness of sins” (vv. 30-31).
  • Pray that God would give you faith and boldness to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
Recommended Song: “Jesus I My Cross Have Taken” by Indelible Grace

Day 2: Loving One Another
Many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico” (v. 12). The Book of Acts emphasizes the “togetherness” of the Church. Using the same word, it tells us that the Church “with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer” (1:14), “day by day, attending the temple together” (2:46), “lift[ing] their voices together to God” (4:24). Our effectiveness in mission depends on our togetherness.
  • Pray that God would increase your love for the church, and grow our interdependence with one another.
  • Pray that God would grow our church in the fear of God, so that we fear no man, but boldly bear witness to Jesus Christ.
  • Pray that we would “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” by walking “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2-3).
  • Pray for a long-term, suitable, affordable meeting space in East Cambridge, where we can worship together on Sunday mornings.
Recommended Song: “All To Us” by Chris Tomlin

Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors
The gathered believers earlier prayed in Acts 4:29-30, “Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” We continue to see God’s answer to that prayer in our passage. Many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles” (v. 12). Verse 16 tells us more specifically that these “signs and wonders” consisted of miraculous healings and exorcisms. Even to non-Christian onlookers, it was obvious that something supernatural and spiritual was afoot among the Christians, so “none of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.” People were awed by the Spirit-filled church. They took the Christians seriously and respected them. They didn’t treat the church with snarky condescension or casual dismissiveness. They couldn’t, because the hand of God worked so powerfully among the church.
  • Pray that God would send out more laborers into the harvest, both here and abroad, especially, this month, for Japan, a nation we have been praying for throughout April.
  • Pray by name for your unbelieving family members, friends, and neighbors. Pray that you might be filled with the Holy Spirit to bear bold witness to Jesus.
  • Pray for revival in Cambridge/Boston and New England, that the Spirit of God would move powerfully in our region, and that God would stretch out His hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of Jesus.
Recommended Song: “O Church Arise” by Keith and Kristyn Getty

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