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The Church in Action

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Title: The Church in Action


1
The Church in Action
2
Lesson 8
3
Lesson TextActs 423-25
Acts 423-25 23 And being let go, they went to
their own company, and reported all that the
chief priests and elders had said unto them. 24
And when they heard that, they lifted up their
voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord,
thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth,
and the sea, and all that in them is
4
Lesson TextActs 423-25
25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast
said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people
imagine vain things?
5
Lesson TextActs 426-28
Acts 426-28 26 The kings of the earth stood up,
and the rulers were gathered together against the
Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth
against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast
anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with
the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were
gathered together,
6
Lesson TextActs 426-28
28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel
determined before to be done.
7
Lesson TextActs 429-31
Acts 429-31 29 And now, Lord, behold their
threatenings and grant unto thy servants, that
with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30 By
stretching forth thine hand to heal and that
signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy
holy child Jesus.
8
Lesson TextActs 429-31
31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken
where they were assembled together and they were
all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake
the word of God with boldness.
9
Focus VerseActs 246-47
Acts 246-47 46 And they, continuing daily with
one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from
house to house, did eat their meat with gladness
and singleness of heart,
10
Focus VerseActs 246-47
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the
people. And the Lord added to the church daily
such as should be saved.
11
Focus Thought
A glimpse of the early church sees it on its
knees prayer and praise stood central in its
daily, ongoing life.
12
I. Prayer in the Early Church
Introduction
When God created man, God gave him the
physical capacity to communicate his desires and
emotions to others, including his heavenly
Father. We call it prayer when humans exercise
their capacity for communicating with God. God
desires to fellowship with mankind, and prayer is
the avenue through which He conducts that
spiritual fellowship.
13
I. Prayer in the Early Church
The absence of sin before the Fall in Eden
provided mankind with access to God and the means
to enjoy sweet fellowship with Him. After sin
entered the human race, however, communication
and fellowship between God and man was blocked.
Only through animal sacrifices was mankind able
to achieve temporary relief from his sins and
reopen the door of communication with God through
prayer.

14
I. Prayer in the Early Church

The history of prayer is as old as mankind,
and in the Book of Genesis the patriarchs
expressed themselves to God through this venue.
Prayer is universal in its scope, and it is still
applicable in our modern age. If we desire to
approach God, prayer is the only way to create a
communication bridge between the finite and the
infinite.

15
I. Prayer in the Early Church
The disciples who followed the man Christ
Jesus observed the practice of prayer in His life
and recognized its paramount importance. They
requested, Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 111).
They witnessed miracles daily, and the anointing
and power of Christs words made them realize the
effect of prayer. Eleven of those men later
became the apostles of the church, and they
continued the practice of prayer Jesus had taught
them by word and example.



16
I. Prayer in the Early Church



The place of prayer was prominent in the
early church, and still it is vital to the church
today. The apostle Paul gave many references and
exhortations to prayer in his epistles to remind
the believers of its significance.
17
I. Prayer in the Early Church
Believers have never exhausted the power of
prayer because the resources of God are vast and
unlimited. Prayer is not an untried theory or
scheme concocted by the whims of man it is the
divine arrangement set forth by God as a means to
communicate with mankind and build him
spiritually. God is omnipotent and omnipresent
prayer can always reach Him and He can do
anything necessary to meet our needs. As children
of our heavenly Father, we can approach Him
confidently with our petitions and needs.



18
I. Prayer in the Early Church



The early church praised God in the good
times and during times of intense persecution.
They exalted Jesus in worship through every
circumstance, even when they were stoned, beaten,
and imprisoned. They did not consider their
surroundings or conditions as barometers to
measure the level of their praise and worship.

19
I. Prayer in the Early Church




The church today may face different
circumstances in life, but we must not allow the
cares of life, affluence, or poverty to dictate
the level of our praise and worship to God.
20
I. Prayer in the Early Church
Prayer in the Early Church
We observe several ways in which prayer
guided, strengthened, and empowered the early
church, and each of them finds practical
application in the lives of believers today.
21
A. Prayers Possibilities
A. Prayers Possibilities
1. Opens Doors of Utterance. Through prayer,
we petition help from God to open doors of
opportunity to spread the gospel. We are involved
in a spiritual battle for the souls of mankind.
We do not live in fear, but neither are we
ignorant of the enemys devices that would hinder
our progress in evangelizing the world.
22
A. Prayers Possibilities
Jesus overcame the temptations and struggles of
this life, so we can take heart through Him we
also are victorious. (See John 1633 I John 44.)
23
Colossians 42-4
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with
thanksgiving withal praying also for us, that
God would open unto us a door of utterance, to
speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also
in bonds that I may make it manifest, as I ought
to speak (Colossians 42-4).
24
Colossians 42-4
There have been cities and countries that
have resisted the gospel, but when believers
interceded in prayer, doors of opportunity opened
so that missionaries were able to evangelize the
lost. Sometimes opposition comes from civil
authorities, other religious groups, or
individuals controlled by satanic powers.
However, the Scriptures assure us that the gates
of hell shall not prevail against the church.
25
Colossians 42-4
Intercessory prayer is like a battering ram that
breaks open the gates of opportunity so we may
enter with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Is
it possible that the lack of intercession
sometimes has allowed closed doors to remain
closed, preventing us from reaching some areas
with the message of truth?
26
Colossians 42-4
2. Facilitates the Preaching of Gods Word.
Paul was confident of the power of prayer when he
requested, Finally, brethren, pray for us, that
the word of the Lord may have free course, and be
glorified, even as it is with you (II
Thessalonians 31). (See also II Thessalonians
32.) He emphasized that he needed freedom to
preach without hindrance and he needed
deliverance from certain wicked and unreasonable
men. Consequently, he asked for their prayers.
27
Colossians 42-4
When we preach the gospel, the hearers often
measure and compare what they are hearing with
biased opinions and traditions they have held for
many years. Traditions are difficult to ignore,
and family pressures often add to the confusion.
Intercessory prayer can empower the speaker with
anointing, directing him to say the correct words
that will connect with the hearers and touch
their hearts. God can guide us to witness
effectively and preach His Word.
28
Colossians 42-4
3. Produces Spiritual Fruit. Intercessory
prayer is essential to bring forth a spiritual
harvest. Fruit is the product of sowing a seed
and nurturing it until harvest time. The Word of
God is the incorruptible seed, which is planted
in the soil of an individuals heart through
preaching and witnessing. However, it is
inadequate only to sow the seed of Gods Word we
must water the planted seeds of Gods Word with
prayer.
29
Psalm 1266
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing
precious seed, shall doubtless come again with
rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalm
1266).
30
Psalm 1266
The new birth of a believer happens quickly,
but the making of a mature Christian is a
lifetime task. When established believers
intercede in prayer for those who are less
established, whatever their particular stage of
progress, the church will bear fruit through the
spiritual growth of all who are involved.
Teaching is vital to plant truth in the fertile
ground of an individuals heart, but prayer also
is essential to produce the fruit of an
overcoming, victorious believer.
31
Psalm 1266
Prayer helps believers to overcome their
carnal nature and the works of the flesh. To
produce and bear the fruit of the Spirit requires
a dedicated, committed lifean individual
allowing Christ to reign in his mortal body. It
is impossible for a carnally minded individual to
bear spiritual fruit. Prayer will empower one to
conquer his fleshly tendencies, which are
contrary to the mind of Christ.
32
Psalm 1266
4. Brings about Miracles. Peter and John
went to the Temple at the hour of prayer, and a
lame man asked them for alms as they walked by.
They had been with Jesus during His earthly
ministry and had witnessed many miracles of
healing. Filled with faith and strengthened by
their personal communion with God in prayer, they
did not hesitate at the challenge before them.
They offered the lame man something better than
money, and God healed him instantly! (See Acts
34-7.)

33
Acts 34-7
And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with
John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto
them, expecting to receive something of them.
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none but
such as I have give I thee In the name of Jesus
Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took
him by the right hand, and lifted him up and
immediately his feet and ankle bones received
strength (Acts 34-7).
34
Acts 34-7
The news of this awesome miracle spread
rapidly, and God received glory and praise for
what had taken place. Moreover, it spawned faith
in many needy people throughout the land.
Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into
the streets, and laid them on beds and couches,
that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by
might overshadow some of them (Acts 515).
35
Acts 34-7
Persecution intensified and the authorities
killed James with the sword. When Herod saw that
it pleased the Jews, he also imprisoned Peter.
However, he failed to consider the power of
unified intercessory prayer. The believers were
praying continually over the persecution the
early church was experiencing.
36
Acts 34-7
Peter therefore was kept in prison but prayer
was made without ceasing of the church unto God
for him (Acts 125). Peters life was in
jeopardy and the church banded together to pray
for him. Numerous passages in the Scriptures cite
the power of unity and prayer.
37
Acts 34-7
The people were motivated by a burden for
this leader of the early apostolic church.
Clearly, many were in prayer for him when the
angel delivered Peter, awaking him from his sleep
and causing his chains to fall off. Because of
prayer he was set free by the power of God.
38
Acts 34-7

Numerous miracles still happen today when
the church unifies in prayer. Many believers
could testify of deliverance that came during
times of crisis. The power of God has not
diminished, and He is still ready to do the
miraculous when we pray earnestly.
39
Acts 34-7
The disciples witnessed a demon-possessed
man who was rought to Jesus. After Jesus
delivered the individual from the spirits that
tormented him, the disciples asked Jesus why they
were unable to cast out the evil spirit. He
reminded them that this comes only through prayer
and fasting (Matthew 1721).

40
Acts 34-7
5. Reveals Deceptive Motives. Spirits of
deception try to mimic the genuine, miraculous
power of God. The magicians in Egypt duplicated
some of Gods mighty works, but God exposed them
as imposters. There also were instances in the
Scriptures in which false prophets tried to fool
gullible people.

41
Acts 34-7
In Acts 138-12, Elymas the sorcerer tried
to draw away an innocent deputy from the faith,
but Paul exposed Elymas and God smote him with
blindness. Ultimately, the deputy believed and
was astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
Prayer is a discerner of evil spirits and through
a relationship with the Lord, believers can
expose the enemy and bring glory to God.

42
Acts 34-7
There are spirits of deception at work today
to beguile innocent souls. Some will even try to
do miracles or mimic the real power of God, but a
genuine spirit always aligns with the Word of
God. The Scriptures admonish us to try the
spirits and not to be deceived by winds of false
doctrine or claims of the miraculous by those
whose lives are ungodly.
43
B. Prayers Place
B. Prayers Place
1. Central in the Early Church. The early
church made prayer a priority because they
understood the magnitude of their responsibility
and knew they needed divine assistance to fulfill
the great commission. The church is not a manmade
association or a social club. It is the ecclesia,
the called-out ones, the body of believers who
have been born again of the water and of the
Spirit.
44
B. Prayers Place
The church is the body of Christ on this earth
commissioned to evangelize the world and carry
out the commands and directives of the Lord Jesus
Christ. This is a monumental task and calling for
which we need divine strength.
45
Transparency 2
I am the vine, ye are the branches He that
abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth
forth much fruit for without me ye can do
nothing (John 155).
46
B. Prayers Place
The early believers received strong
opposition from the Jews, the Roman Empire, and
the devil. To overcome those obstacles required
the constant renewing of the power of the Holy
Ghost, which is possible only through prayer.
Prayer was central in the early church and they
continually made it a priority.
47
B. Prayers Place
2. Central in Pauls Ministry. Paul,
formerly called Saul of Tarsus, was a zealous
believer of the law of Moses and persecuted the
Christians until God struck him down on the way
to Damascus. When God spoke to Ananias to go and
pray for Saul, the reluctant disciple obeyed
because the Lord assured him that Saul was a
changed man. It was said of him, Behold, he
prayeth (Acts 911).

48
B. Prayers Place
Saul became known as Paul, and he went on to
become a great missionary and writer of the New
Testament. Prayer occupied an integral part both
of his life and his teachings. I make mention
of you always in my prayers (Romans 19). The
Spirit itself maketh intercession for us (Romans
826).
49
B. Prayers Place
Praying always with all prayer and supplication
in the Spirit (Ephesians 618). In every
thing by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto
God (Philippians 46). Continue in prayer
(Colossians 42). Pray without ceasing (I
Thessalonians 517).
50
C. Prayers Power
C. Prayers Power
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one
for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual
fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much
(James 516).
51
James 516
1. Prayer can go anywhere God goes. Since
God is omnipresent, our prayers also encompass
that vast domain. It is encouraging to know that
we can pray in one location and our prayers are
answered in some distant place. The words
whatsoever and anything cover an enormous area
that is boundless and all-inclusive.
52
James 516
David asked, Whither shall I go from thy
spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy
presence? (Psalm 1397). Clearly, the idea of
his rhetorical question points out that it is
impossible to escape the omnipresent Spirit of
the Almighty!
53
James 516
God also is omnipotent, which means His
power is without bounds. No walls or barriers can
restrict His entrance or limit His power. Prayer
is not a small thing it is far-reaching in its
effectiveness. Further, whatever we ask of God in
prayer we know He can do, for nothing is
impossible with Him. We often need divine
intervention, and He can go wherever the need
exists when we ask of Him through faith-filled
prayer.
54
James 516

As believers, we would not want to go some
places because of the sinful atmosphere there,
but we can intercede for someone who is there.
The Spirit of God will convict them of their sins
wherever they may be. There is no place to hide
from the all-seeing eyes of God.
55
James 516

2. Prayer can do anything God does. Jesus
said, Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that
will I do (John 1413). We can ask anything as
long as we ask in His name, according to His
will. It is imperative that we submit to His will
at all times, but we can ask anything according
to His will. The promises of God are exceedingly
great and precious, but prayer makes His promises
reality. There is nothing impossible with God!
56
James 516

Gods promises are sure and certain, For he
is faithful that promised (Hebrews 1023). God
always finishes what He starts and He does not
lie. We may have to wait for a time before
receiving His promise, but it will happen in
Gods appointed time. Jesus admonished His
followers in the Scriptures, Have faith in God
(Mark 1122).
57
James 516

God puts no limitations on His ability to
meet our needs when we petition Him. We can be
confident that there are no hopeless situations
or circumstances. God is omnipresent and
omnipotent. His eyes are continually upon the
righteous and His ears are open to their cries.
58
James 516

Faith is the necessary ingredient that we
must combine with our asking to present our needs
to the Lord. Doubt and unbelief will
short-circuit and hinder answers to prayer. God
has established the possibilities of prayer
through His Word and promises. Further, our
testimonies give witness to Gods faithful
performance in answering past prayers. We can be
confident that He will continue to answer our
prayers.
59
James 516
God is our heavenly Father and we can be
certain He is interested in meeting our daily
needs. Just as earthly parents listen to their
childrens requests for necessary food and
clothing, so the Lord is interested in supplying
our earthly needs. The cares and concerns of
daily living often occupy our thoughts, but since
the Lord takes care of the lilies in the field,
we know He also will take care of us.


60
James 516


The early church moved boldly through
troubled times with confidence in God. The
apostles were eyewitnesses of Jesus and believed
what He had taught them. Moreover, they
transmitted their faith to other believers as
they preached the possibilities of prayer.
61
D. Prayers Purpose
D. Prayers Purpose
In the pattern of prayer commonly called the
Lords Prayer, the Lord instructed us to pray,
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done (Matthew
610 Luke 112). In this Jesus revealed to us
the purpose of prayer prayer aligns us with the
supreme and sovereign will of God.
62
D. Prayers Purpose
Prayer is not about reaching to receive what we
desire, but reaching to receive what the Lord
desires for His eternal kingdom. He certainly
desires to satisfy the desires of our heart, but
prayer aligns our heart with His eternal and holy
will and purpose.
63
A. Praise in Prosperous Times
Praise and Worship in the Early Church
A. Praise in Prosperous Times
Shortly after the Day of Pentecost, revival
filled the city of Jerusalem. Persecution had not
yet reared its ugly head, and believers had favor
with the people. During these prosperous times,
the disciples continually praised and worshiped
God.
64
A. Praise in Prosperous Times
They praised God in the Temple, and they praised
Him when they met in homes for times of
fellowship. Revival with praise and prayer
brought revolutionary change throughout the city.
The sound of pious Pharisees praying on street
corners contrasted significantly with the
enthusiastic and sincere praises and prayers of
the new believers.
65
A. Praise in Prosperous Times
We observe that it greatly impacted the city of
Jerusalem through the growing desire among many
people to receive this new-birth experience, and
the church was growing in numbers daily. The
sound of praise and worship was a resounding
symphony on earth and also in heaven where there
is joy when sinners repent of their sins.
66
B. Praise in Persecution
B. Praise in Persecution
The sounds of praise and worship continued
even in the face of persecution. Inward joy and
peace are not dependent on outward circumstances
they reflect the condition of the heart. Even
while being imprisoned, beaten, and martyred, the
early believers were triumphant and victorious.
While the Jewish leaders vented their hatred and
abuse, the radiant faces and forgiving spirits of
those being mistreated and killed brought praise
and worship to the Savior.
67
A. Praise in Prosperous Times
Paul and Silas were beaten and placed in
stocks and chains. Instead of bemoaning their
lacerated backs and chafed wrists and ankles,
they sang praises at the midnight hour. Instead
of a pity party, praises and worship ascended to
glory, and God sent an earthquake to the prison
house and salvation to the jailer.
68
A. Praise in Prosperous Times
In parts of the world today, Christian
believers are persecuted for their faith by
godless regimes, but their praise and worship for
Jesus Christ continues to ascend to glory, and
victory in Jesus is their anthem.
69
B. Praise in Persecution
Conclusion
The leaders of the early church were
eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ and had seen the
impact of prayer in His life. Though He was God
manifested in flesh, still He prayed and left a
wonderful example for the disciples. They had
seen Him pray in the night hours and before dawn,
and they were moved by what they witnessed.
When the Lord poured out the Holy Ghost on the
Day of Pentecost, the pattern of prayer continued
in the young church.
70
A. Praise in Prosperous Times
They saw the effects of prayer on Jerusalem as
the city was enjoying revival. The dead, boring
rituals of the Pharisees contrasted with the
exploding, vibrant power of God evident in the
praying believers. They had witnessed the
possibilities of prayer in the teachings and life
of Jesus Christ. Further, they saw the effects of
it in their own personal experiences with signs
and wonders throughout the city.
71
A. Praise in Prosperous Times
The Spirit of God opened doors of utterance,
and opportunities arose. Prayer impacted their
preaching and witnessing and produced a harvest
of spiritual fruit. They glorified God as
miracles and healings occurred and the church
continued to grow. As persecution intensified,
they witnessed the power of prayer when Peter was
delivered from prison and when Saul of Tarsus was
converted.
72
A. Praise in Prosperous Times
The place of prayer was prominent in the
church and the disciples gave it priority as they
recognized the essentiality of a relationship
with God through prayer. They continued to pray
regularly as they recognized it was their source
of power and contact with God. They realized He
was the vine and they were the branches. Without
Him, they could accomplish nothing but prayer
kept them in touch with God, and they became
conduits for the Lords work.
73
A. Praise in Prosperous Times

Prayer can go anywhere that God goes and do
anything that God does. The enemy trembles when a
child of God bends his knees in prayer. Prayer
brings the Almighty into our lives in a personal
way as we open our hearts to Him. The purpose of
prayer is to align our will with Gods eternal
will and purpose.
74
A. Praise in Prosperous Times

The early church praised Jesus Christ both
in the good times and during the hours of severe
persecution and martyrdom. Many believers have
given their lives for the cause of the gospel.
But they, along with us, will form a victorious
throng at the feet of our Savior in eternity.
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