Acts 12 – Prayer and fasting Journal – January 12, 2017 – Pastor Dennis ShillingburgActs 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
I can’t imagine how Peter’s friends felt when he was thrown into prison by Herod. Peter was simply doing what Jesus told him to do, “Go and make disciples…” Matthew 28:19-20 and Herod threw him in jail chaining him to the prison guards. I am not sure if the disciples were praying more from faith in what God could do to set Peter free or fear of Peter being beheaded like his friend James had been earlier. Personally, I think the disciples were praying more from fear than faith because of how they responded to their prayer when answered;
“When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it (the door) and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished” Acts 12:14-16.
Whether praying from fear or faith, God hears because He loves us. Fear challenges my faith because I decide the impact fear will have? Will fear lead me to pray or shrink back and surrender the future God has for me? The disciples chose to pray together in the midst of their fear. Peter had no idea who was praying for him, but God did and ultimately those praying saw the fruit of refusing to surrender their future. Prayer is not always answered in the same way and that often brings fear, but faith presses on like king David declaring:
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:13-14
Today, what impact is fearing having on your life? Are you praying and moving forward by faith or shrinking back, surrendering the future God has purposed for you? My prayer for you is that faith will lead you through your fear to the future God has purposed for you. Make these verses a personal prayer for you:
1 Pet. 1:6-7 In all this you (I) greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you(I) may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your (my) faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Heb. 10:39 But we(I) do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
Acts 10 – Prayer and fasting Journal – January 10, 2017 – Pastor Dennis Shillingburg
Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.
I am often astonished when I hear in the news or read an article that attempts to make Christianity out to be an American religion. Let’s review:
Christianity started in Israel, advanced through Asia Minor, settled in Europe, dispersed to India and North Africa in the second century, expanded into Eastern Europe and Russia in the 4th Century, spread throughout Central America, South America and south East Asia in the second millennium, came to America in the 16th Century, and is currently experiencing one of the greatest revivals in history, in China – all without the benefit of guaranteed religious freedom we currently have in the United States.
So Christianity is not an ethnocentric religion. Peter experienced this principle first at the house of a Roman gentile named Cornelius. God heard Cornelius praying and revealed to Peter the plan for reaching people who were not like him. Peter had to go to Cornelius. Notice, God did not send Cornelius to Peter. Peter was called to Cornelius’ neighborhood to share Jesus with him. In every move of God throughout history, God called someone who knew Him to go to someone who didn’t. This fact is not lost on God Himself. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir (Gal. 4:4-7).
If God Himself, chose to leave His neighborhood to bring hope to someone else, maybe we should model this principle. You don’t have to go to Central Kenya (where I took this picture) to change neighborhoods, you just have to leave your front door with the courage and hope to share what God has given you – a new life as His child. God has been doing this since the beginning, how about you?
Acts 6 – Prayer and fasting Journal – January 7, 2017 – Pastor Dennis ShillingburgActs 6:3-4 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
It is apparent from Acts 6, the disciples didn’t think the Church was going to grow like it did. In fact, they were so focused on serving people in every facet of ministry, they couldn’t balance the basic elements of serving. How many of us are so busy with everything we do that we don’t see what is being neglected right in front of us. To the apostle’s credit they jumped on a solution as soon as the complaint was voiced. Have you ever wanted to solve your “too busy for basics” problem, but kicked the can down the road, because you were too busy to deal with it? How did that work for you? More complaining, more stress, more problems are the usual trajectory of unresolved complaints. How do we address unresolved complaints that are happening right in front of us? Here are some starters;
Acts 5 – Prayer and fasting Journal – January 6, 2017 – Pastor Dennis Shillingburg
Acts 5:38-39 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
There are certain things on earth you just can’t stop. No matter how much effort you employ, barrier you use, blockade you construct or law you pass – some things are unstoppable. Gamaliel recognized this principle early in the life of the Church. Gamaliel recognized when God moves on the hearts of people and empowers them to act in accordance with His purpose, fighting them is futile. Those who fight against God’s purpose in the hearts of people, may win temporary battles, but the war being waged is won when called people refuse surrender. There is evidence of this principle throughout history; Noah, Babel, Pharaoh, Philistines, Nebuchadnezzar, Empires, the Revolution and Constitution, Civil War to unite a nation and emancipate slaves, Holocaust, revival in China, and the list is volumes long. When God moves on the hearts of people and empowers them to act, the threat of imprisonment, legal action, death or failure has no lasting effect. When God moves upon the hearts of people, He does it to touch the earth with freedom – lasting freedom from the laws of sin, death, oppression and fear. I pray today we embrace God’s move for freedom. Not attempting to control His power, but walk in it to renew life, release grace and repeat over and over as an unstoppable force upon the earth standing against the power of darkness that seeks only to steal, kill and destroy life. Stand unstoppable today – share your hope!
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
Acts 3 – Prayer and fasting Journal – January 4, 2017 – Pastor Dennis Shillingburg
Acts 3:1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.
Peter and John, what a partnership. They spent three years together experiencing Jesus’ ministry firsthand. After the resurrection, though Peter had denied Jesus, John did not deny Peter. These partners ran to the tomb together after hearing the news that Jesus was alive (John 20:3). They fished together and John helped Peter recognize the risen Jesus on the shore of Galilee (John 21:7). Weeks later the two walked to prayer together and for the first time since Jesus sent out the twelve in Luke 9, Peter prayed for someone to be healed. Who was with him, John. Something changes in us when we are partnered up. Courage, confidence, faith, accountability, partnership? Maybe this is why God said “it’s not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18) or why Solomon said “two are better than one” (Ecc. 4:9-12). This principle of partnership is seen over and over in the Bible and in creation. God has wired us to do life together. Has isolation become a theme in your life? Maybe you are surrounded by people and still feel alone. Perhaps it is time to pray specifically for partnership. Ask God to connect you with someone who you can pray, laugh, cry, serve, vacation, and just share life with. This kind of partnership is invaluable and will help you step out more courageously just like Peter’s friendship with John did. Though their partnership didn’t keep Peter from failing, it helped him come back from failure. Thoughts on partnership:
Acts 2 – Prayer and fasting Journal – January 3, 2017 – Pastor Dennis Shillingburg
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
The first description of the disciples at Pentecost – “they were all together in one place”. How many times were you in one place with people today but not at all together? There were a lot of things happening the day the Holy Spirit moved on mankind at Pentecost. The most relevant – those who would experience God’s present outpouring, were in one place, together. Can you imagine Peter distracted, stepping out of the upper room, declaring “Hold that thought Holy Spirit, I have to take this call”? Or John the beloved so focused on his revelatory encounters feedback on Facebook, that he told the Holy Spirit to go ahead start the baptism without him. Perhaps Mary taking selfies and posting them on snapchat with the heading, “waiting for a promise”. Sounds ludicrous I know, and I run the chance of sounding judgmental – I am working on the same things. Of all the good technology has done for the modern church, one big negative is how easy it has become for us to be in the same place, but not together. Over the last year our family has decided to reinstitute eating dinner together, as often as possible, at the dinner table with no distractions, except food. Being face to face with my family, listening to their day, laughing with each other, debating each other and even crying with each other over the tough stuff – God meets us. This year I have been asking the Lord for more of His presence in my life and I am finding Jesus words ringing true more and more; “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matt. 18:20
Together in one place is a vital key to experiencing more of God’s presence in our lives. Experiencing more of His presence can start at home around the dinner table, making time to be together in one place. If you live alone, don’t eat alone – invite someone over to eat with you – you both will be blessed when you experience His presence as you are together.
Acts 1 – Prayer and fasting Journal – January 2, 2017 – Pastor Dennis Shillingburg
Acts 1:4-5 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Waiting is not something many of us are very good at, let alone waiting for a promise to be fulfilled.
What promises has God given you? There are hundreds of promises in the Bible that are for you, but is there a specific promise from the Lord you are still waiting for? As we are fasting this January write those promises in your prayer journal and ask God as you pray, when.
Perhaps the back story is still being written for your promise as it was for the disciples. The disciples, who were from the north of Israel were headed home to resume their lives when Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem for their promise from the Father – the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Though the disciples only waited another ten days for their promise, waiting was the key to receiving. When we stop waiting in obedience for God’s promises and take things in to our own hands – that is when we really mess life up. There are a few keys to active waiting: