Acts 12:5, 14 (NIV) –So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him…When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.
“The word translated “earnestly” (ektenos) literally means “stretched out” and could thus mean continuous, in which case it carries a similar idea as it does in 1:14, which gave us the idea of prevailing prayer…This idea of earnestness comes from the idea of hands stretched out to God in fervent supplication. It gives the impression of wholehearted, urgent pleading to God. While Peter was fast asleep in prison in the middle of the night (the angel had to wake him—v. 7), the church was engaged in vigilant prayer for him.” [Fernando, Ajith. Acts (NIVAC) p. 314]
God’s love, bestowed in his miracles, is tangible when the church earnestly prays for its people and loved ones. Take this moment to pray asking the Lord to come and fill your heart with his supernatural love and Spirit-led earnest prayer this week. And then “stretch” your hands to the Lord and earnestly pray for our loved ones in our churches, missional groups or campus ministries that need God’s intervention or rescue in supernatural ways.
Let’s worship in singing to the song, “All Things New” by Hillsong. (Click Here)
Prayer: Lord, continue this earnest praying in my life and our church this week. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Let’s read aloud together from Philippians 3:7-11, 13-14 (NIV): 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead… 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Pray this prayer aloud: “Lord, increase my passion for you and your kingdom, and fill me with endurance to run this race. Help me to press on and desire nothing more than you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Let us worship to the song “Touch of Heaven” by Bethel. (Click Here)
NT Wright describes Saul’s encounter with Jesus this way:
“We call this event a ‘conversion’, but it was more like a volcanic eruption, thunderstorm and tidal wave all coming together. If the death and resurrection of Jesus is the hinge on which the great door of history swung open at last, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus was the moment when all the ancient promises of God gathered themselves up, rolled themselves into a ball, and came hurtling through that open door and out into the wide world beyond.” [New Testament for Everyone: Acts, 142]
What a vivid image of the power of salvation through a supernatural encounter with Jesus!
“Our task as witnesses is to lead people to Jesus so that they will encounter him as their Savior and Lord. We may discuss religion, argue for the truth of it, and seek to persuade people about its relevance and power. But the end that we aim at is to introduce people to Jesus… However we do it, our aim is to lead them [to an] encounter with Christ.” [Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary: Acts, 306]
Prayer: “Lord, may you increase your Spirit’s activity in and around me so that I, together with the church, can minister to others in supernatural power and love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Let us worship to the song “Fall Afresh” by The Belonging Co. (Click Here)
Acts 9:17-19 (NIV) – Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul… something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
“We never hear of Ananias again. We don’t know how he became a follower of Jesus. We know nothing about him except this passage, and it’s enough: that he was a believer, that he knew how to listen for the voice of Jesus, that he was prepared to obey it even though it seemed ridiculously dangerous, that he went where he was sent and did what he was told. And he did it with love and grace and wisdom. You can’t ask for more.” [NT Wright, New Testament for Everyone: Acts, 143-44]
God is constantly at work and he orchestrating things beyond your human comprehension. Visions and dreams give us a glimpse of what he sees and what he’s doing.
Prayer: “Lord, as we see visions and dream dreams, may your Spirit fill me with trusting obedience to follow your leading, even if it doesn’t make human sense. May I yield to and trust in your ways more than my own. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Let’s worship to “Fire Never Sleeps” by Martin Smith. (Click Here)
Psalm 34:3-4, 8-11 (NIV) Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Jesus appears to us in many ways. Truly and unequivocally, all believers experience him in our hearts when we accept him as Lord and Savior. And in Scripture and Christian history, we also see Jesus encountering people beyond just the confines of cognition and emotions and through visions, dreams, audible voice, or a tangible sense of his immediate presence. In fact, God invites us to “taste and see” his goodness because mere mental understanding is not enough.
Prayer: “Lord, open my heart to you. Help me to ‘taste and see’ your joy, hope, and life-giving goodness today. Stir up a greater passion for your name. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Let’s worship to “Consuming Fire” by Tim Hughes. (Click Here)
Let’s read aloud together from the Cape Town Commitment (Part 5): “The Spirit fills the Church with his gifts, which we ‘eagerly desire’ as the indispensable equipment for Christian service. The Spirit gives us power for mission and for the great variety of works of service. The Spirit enables us to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel, to discern the truth, to pray effectively and to prevail over the forces of darkness. The Spirit inspires and accompanies our worship. The Spirit strengthens and comforts disciples who are persecuted or on trial for their witness to Christ… Our engagement in mission, then, is pointless and fruitless without the presence, guidance and power of the Holy Spirit… All we do in the name of Christ must be led and empowered by the Holy Spirit… There is no true or whole gospel, and no authentic biblical mission, without the Person, work and power of the Holy Spirit.
Pray this prayer aloud: “Lord, open my heart to receive afresh the supernatural gifts of the Spirit. May your visions, dreams, audible voice, or real tangible presence come upon me as I pray, worship, and seek you today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household. (Acts 16.34 NIV)
“We are given a picture of a household that is filled with joy because they came to believe in God… [T]here is genuine joy in the whole family because they encountered God. God will do this!
“Trust in God’s goodness, his power, his timing, and his love for your family. The Lord wants to see them saved more than we do. Let us envision what God can do!”
“I also remember a couple of supernatural moments that encouraged my parents’ faith… [H]e had prayed to God, asking if he could be paid for his comics for a specific amount that they needed. Not too long after, someone had contacted him about publishing his comics in a local Korean newspaper for that specific amount. He was amazed that God answered his prayer. During the same season, my mom received physical healing for her thumb after the pastor prayed for healing…” (From the testimony video of Debra’s dad)
Pray for someone who needs the impossible to be done in their lives. Let’s pray: Lord, do what only you can do in __________ ’s life! I believe you can do the impossible in their lives. I trust in your goodness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. (Romans 10:17 NIV)
“[T]hough grace does not run in the blood, and regeneration is not of blood nor of birth, yet does it very frequently… happen that God, by means of one of a household, draws the rest to Himself. He calls an individual, and then uses him to be a sort of spiritual decoy [ie. lure] to bring the rest of the family into the gospel net!” (Charles Spurgeon sermon #1019)
We can easily become overwhelmed and discouraged by the unbelief in our families. But remember Jesus also had to deal with unbelieving family members: John 7.5 “For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” They thought, Jesus “was out of his mind” (Mk 3.21). But something changed, because in the end, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1.14)
Jesus had to persevere in order to see his family members come to salvation. May he give us the grace and power to do the same.
Pray for someone who seems closed to the gospel: Lord, break the bondage of unbelief in __________ ’s life. Give me the courage to present the gospel clearly to them. You saved me for a reason. May my family be blessed because of what you have done in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s pray and sing of the Father’s great love: (Click Here)
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16.31-34 NIV)
Imagine going to a Tesla showroom, intending to buy the car for $50,000. The sales rep says you can have it for $5,000. You can’t believe it! You think, maybe I should buy one for everyone in the family. But he says you can’t buy it for them, they have to come themselves. But if they come, they can have the same deal. You ask, “my wife? my kids? How about my uncle? How about…?” He says, you and anyone in your family, if they come, same deal. Wow, what an offer! Call everyone right now and let them know!
But you know we’re talking about something infinitely more valuable than a car. Salvation in Christ is the deal of the century! Imagine again, that we call our cousin to tell them about this incredible deal. And they respond, “Nah, that’s good for you, but not for me.” Or, you call someone else, and they say, “Sounds too good to be true.” Our hearts should break when our loved ones reject God’s offer of salvation. They don’t know what they are saying “no” to.
Let’s pray for our loved ones: Lord, may you give the gift of faith to __________ . Open their eyes to see the good news in Jesus. Deliver them from blindness and ignorance. May salvation come to me and my loved ones. In Jesus’ name, amen.
As you sing “Jesus Loves Me” (Hillsong Kids) pray that your loved ones will receive childlike faith: (Click Here)
With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them… Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children… Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! For God said to Moses,
“I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”
So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
— Romans 9.1-3, 8, 14-15 (NLT)
“When we are genuinely concerned for the salvation of our family members, it is also God’s grace calling us to make sure our lives are in order… Is our witness compromised because we are lacking in integrity in how we are living, how we are dealing with family matters? Evaluate the credibility of your witness…” (P. Mark)
Pray for someone who needs salvation: Lord, show __________ your mercy. Show them your compassion. Bring them from death to life! Clothe me with the power of your Spirit so that I may be a faithful intercessor and credible witness. In Jesus’ name, amen.