Resurrection Prayers

Resurrection Life  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Good morning. Happy Eastertide and happy spring! Isn’t it beautiful out there? We are in the spring time of our church year, Eastertide, the weeks after Easter when we remember, just like the flowers, Jesus Christ himself came back to life. Easter, more then any season, keeps me looking up. What do I mean by that? Well I have luxury of being able to walk to church. It’s a luxury that’s expiring soon so I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts. But on my bad days I walk staring down at my feet. I’m thinking about the tasks I need to accomplish ahead of Sunday, all the emails I need to send you all which I haven’t, my sermon which needs a final polish, you name it. On my good days, I’m looking up. I’m enjoying the season, noticing the trees, the sky, hearing the birds, and in spring the flowers. As I approach the church, I notice the open sky all around me. While I am about to walk into this lovely sanctuary and meet Jesus in a special way, I’m reminded all of this world will be his sanctuary. The whole universe will be the stage of his worship. Because Jesus lives, he reigns, and he’s coming again to make all things new. I wonder where in life you may find yourself looking down at your feet? I wonder how Jesus can gently life your gaze today?
If you’ve been with us we been exploring week resurrection life. What does new life in Christ bring us today? We’ve seen risen Jesus brings his disciples and us peace over fear, last week we heard he brings purpose to our lives as proclaimers of the gospel. Today, in Acts 4 we see Jesus lift up our prayer life. How could the resurrection of Jesus lift up our prayer life? How we talk to God? Some of us may need a literally resurrection of our prayer life, meaning it’s dead. We’re not talking or hearing from God at all. Others of us might sound like I do at 6 in the morning. Wherever you are in prayer, we’re going to see today what prayer could look like in light of the resurrection. In particular, we see in acts 4 two ways our prayer life is raised up:
Risen Jesus resurrects our prayer life with confidence and expectation
Let’s look at how Jesus’s raises our confidence first. Peter and John had just been dragged in front of the same chief priests and rulers that killed Jesus for healing a man in Jesus’s name. After boldly proclaiming Jesus to the rulers and not backing down, they were beaten and released because the crowds were so overjoyed with this miracle Jesus had done. Acts 4:23-28
What confidence the early followers of resurrected Jesus possessed. They just went toe to toe with the same leaders, the same powers, who had killed Jesus killed and they proclaimed not only did it totally backfire on them, but that even their evil plans were apart of God’s bigger plan to bring about good! Them killing Jesus and his resurrection lead to more followers of him, not less! Why? In part because in Jesus’s resurrection he disarmed the very weapon they wielded against the disciples, death. They killed him and he lives. We follow him, even if they kill us we live with him.
Jesus’s resurrection disarmed the powers and rulers which stand against God’s people and God’s purposes. Not only actual physical governments and people in power, but the spiritual forces standing behind those evil schemes to destroy God’s people. Satan was as present as Pontius Pilot and Herod during Holy Week and Good Friday, and he was very much defeated on Easter Sunday. Resurrection power defeated the power of death and the fear of death which satan would peddle to keep us from speaking out for Jesus. In light of the resurrection of Jesus the cross becomes of death is what destroys death and leads to new and forgiven life in God forever through Jesus. In his new book, Jesus and the Powers, N.T. Write says the nations raging against the Lord and his anointed is like ants attacking a lion.
Maybe you have encountered a bit of a power push back in your life. You certainly have or certainly will if you are doing what we heard last week, what Peter and John were doing, which is proclaiming Jesus. Opening up your mouth about God to others. Sharing God’s word with people. The powers, weather that be friends, family, work, organizations, spiritual forces, will push back so to speak. Will bully, will try and silence.
One of the best ways to stand up to bullies is to not stand up to them alone. Bullies like singling people out, but come with many and they will flee. On Good Shepherd Sunday, we remember Jesus is always with us. And that shepherds staff has taken the form of a cross which crushes the wolves we may face in our life as we live for him. We’re not alone. He’s given us himself which is so often experienced through each other.
I remember being oriented to this by a seminary professor who ever year organized “reach the beach.” It was a week long evangelism outing where we would set up a tent on the boardwalk at revere beach in Massachusetts and passers by could stop for a conversation, prayer, some literature about Jesus, and we had some cold water. I decided to join one year, and apart of his training beforehand was how to determine if you’re being spiritually attacked before or during the week. Essentially, if things start happening which cannot be explained physically, nor naturally, then it is most likely super natural. When this stuff came up, we could spot it, pray about it and pray for each other. We spoke to dozens of people that week, prayed for them. I remember one young boy came up with his brother on their bikes. I got to talking with them. They were from west Africa and Muslim and lived in the high rise apartments down the street. After some conversation and prayer one brother put his faith in Jesus. It got to the point were we were considering just baptizing him right there in the ocean. We decided instead to direct him to a local church whom could disciple him after baptism as well.
If you speak up about Jesus, you will face adversity. But your prayer life will be full of confidence just like these brothers and sisters in Acts 4, why? Because whatever adversity comes your way has been overcome by the risen and reigning Lord Jesus. Most importantly, you will get to see people come alive to God.
Try it this week. Take that beleaguered college to coffee and just tell them about Jesus. Make that call to the relatives and tell them about Jesus. See the potential push back around you and pray through it with confidence that this too is apart of his plan.
So risen Jesus resurrects our prayer life with confidence. Next, we’ll see he also does with expectation that he will actually answer our prayers. Acts 4: 29-31
With expectation
These disciples prayed expectantly for boldness and power to heal and boldness to speak, and God powerfully “amened” their prayer. God “Amen’s” their prayer. V. 31. He shakes their ground and fills them with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s word boldly.
In leadership you often have to coach people ask you the right request, “let me, help you get to yes from me.” This is God’s “Yes and amen!” Israel was always supposed to be the light to the nations by sharing with the world his life giving law or “word.” And here are finally people begging him to embolden them to do just that! Please pray for power and I would give it! Please pray for boldness to speak my words and I would grant it! God shakes with excitement- literally! Finally people that care about other people like I do, and are not just in it for themselves. Not just trying to play church but be church.
Have you ever had someone pray for you? And I mean they listened to you. By a power or intuition beyond themselves they prayed your deep desires out loud. They prayed the thoughts of your heart out loud. When we pray for boldness to share his word with others in power, we pray God’s heart out loud because his heart is for them who do not yet know him. Thus we can expect to answer that prayer. How? totally up to him! It’s his gospel, his power, his mission. We just pray to be apart of it and expect to be empowered and emboldened as we go.
I was a bold witness on my lacrosse team in college of Jesus and I had a couple of people come to me with their stuff. I had ongoing conversations with two friends about taking steps to Jesus. I honestly would say God showed up powerfully through me to reach them...But I never saw anyone follow Jesus. About a month or so ago I got a text for a former teammate who has said yes to Jesus and thanked me for helping him come to faith. To him I was like, praise God! To myself I was like, that 15 years ago!
Friends, be expectant! be bold! Some seeds take a while to germinate, be patient. No matte what God is up to for each person, we know what we’re about for everybody, that’s Jesus. I’ve shared two testimony’s about how God has moved through me to reach others. WHy? To show of God but moreso to orient us to what church could be like. We go out proclaiming, we come back to HQ, to base came, proclaiming and praising and praying for more! Just like these early disciples did. They went out in bold faith proclaiming with power, and came back and together and testified to the glory of God and praised him and, and we didn’t talk about this today, shared everything in common. Friends, may our corporate prayers be resurrected with confidence and power to proclaim his name.
Let us pray. Gracious heavenly father. In your plan you sent you beloved son to die and live again that we may be saved and satisfied in you. Embolden us we pray to share this good news of Jesus to others. If we have forgotten our purpose, encourage us, if we are weary in our task, strengthen us, if we afraid, stand with us Good Shepherd. May Christ the Redeemer be an outpost of your kingdom, and us your gospel warriors. In Christ name, Amen.
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