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Do you pray limited, weak prayers to a supernatural and omnipotent God? In this message JP challenges us to pray boldly and explains the need to do so for the sake of our city and for the glory of our Sovereign God's name.
Stephen…a Faithful Mailman Who Saw Jesus
How to Destroy a Shadow: Stephen’s Masterful Defense of Jesus Finished Work
Hellenistic Lives Matter (And So Does the Ministry of the Word)
The Gospel is NOT a Fad
Beauty and the But
Where Does That Come From?
Living Bolder as We Grow Older
What Makes a Man Fit for Judgment, Ministry and a Ready Response - Acts 4:7-23
The Beginning of Persecution and the Proper Reason for It. - Acts 4:1-12
The First and Enduring Attributes of Christ’s Church
The First Savior Exalting Sermon of the Church
The Gift of Tongues Part 2
Baptism of the Spirit, Tongues of Fire and the Beginning of the Church
From Judas to Matthias: How to Choose Leaders and Find Hope in Failed Ones
The King’s Orders for the King’s New Men
The Story Before the Beginning of the Story: Genesis - Acts 1
Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing? Good, good, good. Fort Worth and Plano and Dallas are gathering together in the name of Jesus this morning. We are in Acts 4, if you want to turn there, if you brought your Bibles. This morning, we are going to look at the first prayer of the Christian church, the first documented prayer in the Scriptures where the church gathers and prays together. I'm going to read that. This is a prayer.
"On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. 'Sovereign Lord,' they said, 'you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.
You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one." Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.
They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.' After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."
We need this message this morning. Let me pray for us.
Father, we came in from chaos this morning, from spilled coffee and crazy kids and crowded parking lots, from highways and neighborhoods, emails, text messages, phone calls, voicemails. Lord, we need you to steal our hearts this morning and speak to us from these Scriptures. Remind us of the first century church, our forefathers, our ancestors who gathered in the name of Jesus Christ to pass on a message that we would gather around this morning. Would you speak to us and change us here today? Thank you, Lord. Amen.
My wife, my family, and I have been at a camp in Branson, Missouri, all week. I was up there and taught every day this week, five times. I had created some space to prepare on the way back. We went up there with some friends. We caravanned together. We had walkie talkies, which was a lot of fun for the kids, talking back and forth between the cars.
We drove back together as well. My plan was to finish this message, the one you're going to hear this morning, on the six-hour road trip back. I had asked wifey, "Hey, would you drive?" She said, "Sure." I knew the kids were so tired from being at camp all week. They were going to crash as soon as we get in the car. I knew how this was going to work out. I'm going to put my ear buds in, open up Bible commentaries on my laptop. This is going to be just fantastic. It's my own little quiet space in the car for this six-hour road trip.
We got about two miles outside of Branson, and our friends radio in and say, "Hey, our child just threw up all over the car." There was a stomach bug that was going around. Immediately, I thought, "Oh no. Oh no, no, no. This is not how this is… Lord, please do not let me get sick. Please do not let me get sick. Please do not let my kids get sick, because then I might get sick, so please don't let anybody in this car get sick. Protect this car."
This is the narrative running around in my head. Monica says, "Hey, we should pray." I'm like, "I'm already on it, girl. I'm praying right now." She grabs my hand, and she begins to pray. "Lord, help us to serve our friends and not be afraid." I just got Jesus-juked in my car, man. What just happened? "Yeah, that's what I was praying too. Yes, Lord. Help us to serve our friends and not be afraid."
It's such a beautiful picture of the way we pray. My concern in that prayer was my comfort, and her concern in the prayer was being able to comfort others. Yes, she's the holier one in our family. Yes, you guys should be hearing from her this morning. I think about that and just all of the crazy ways we pray in America today, just these patterns that mark our prayers, these things we say.
"Lord, thank you for this day." It's just a filler phrase. I think we say that when we don't know… "Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you… Thank you for this day." I think God in heaven is just like, "All right already. You're welcome for the day. Now use it. Do something with this day." At this camp, they would say every day, "Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies." I'm like, "It's camp food. Are we praying for a miracle right now? What are you actually asking for?" That's just one of those things we always pray.
Sometimes I see somebody really fit, and I'm like, "Man, their parents must have prayed for a lot of nourishment as they were growing up. That's fantastic." Then we follow it up with, "…and bless the hands that prepared it." I'm like, "What does that mean?" Bless means to make happy. Are we asking God to make their hands happy? If he blessed their hands, what would that actually look like? Do they glow? Are they shiny? Are they clean? What does it look like to walk around with blessed hands? What is it we're actually asking for in these prayers?
I asked, "Why do we pray that?" and somebody said, "Because our parents did and our grandparents did." I'm like, "Okay, well, I guess I have my answer." Why do we ask these crazy things like travelling mercies? Does anybody really know what that is? "God, send your angel armies to protect this car." We live in the safest country on the planet, and the net sum of most of the prayers in the church I bet would be for safety and comfort.
"God, would you give us more safety? Would you give us more comfort as we enjoy our lives in the safest place on earth? How about more safety and more comfort?" What is the net sum of our prayers? I think about how often I have been a part of conversations lately where people are complaining about our presidential candidates, our choices (or the lack thereof), and I'm wondering if we're praying 10 times more than we're complaining, more than we're talking, more than we're discussing, more than we're posting.
Are we praying? Are we pleading with God, "Would you give us a believer in the White House, someone fully submitted to your will," or are we in a place where it just doesn't seem possible? We then begin to presume that God can't do the impossible. Are we praying for promotions and forsaking our coworkers? Are we praying for the safety of our kids rather than, "Lord, I pray that they would risk it all for Jesus, that they would be bold"?
If we took the entire sum of our prayers, and God answered all of them, and the only thing that changed would be that we would be a little better off, that our lives would be a little better off, then we would have a problem. If you, this week, have been praying for revival in the church daily, then feel free to just tune out and check Facebook and send some emails. Actually, you can leave. Just pretend like you're going to the bathroom and go to lunch early.
If you didn't, if you're here and you didn't pray for revival on a regular, daily basis, if that's not the cry of your heart, then we need this message so badly, Watermark. We need to turn, and we need to let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts this morning, that we might be changed and that this might happen here in our city.
When trouble hits, you learn a lot about Christians by the way they pray. I believe the reason that the church and our country have grown weak is because our prayers have grown weak. We truly do not know how to pray bold prayers. This morning, we're going to talk about elements of a prayer leading to revival, really a movement in the first century church, a revival today, elements of prayer leading to revival.
Any movement of God… If you look backward in church history, any grandiose movement of God was preceded by God's people praying for it, almost without exception, to the best of my knowledge. Any movement of God was preceded by God's people pleading with him, begging for him to move in this way. I hope today is no exception.
Let's just recap where we've been in Acts. In Acts 1, Jesus dies. He resurrects. He comes back to life. He ascends into heaven. Before he does, he tells the disciples, "Go into all the nations, and tell them what I've told you, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." In Acts 2, you have the grand kickoff of the church, also known as Pentecost.
You see preaching, and 3,000 people are saved in one day. These men are bold. In Acts 3, just a few days later, you have Peter and John, who are big figures in the church at this time… You have Jesus, and then you have Peter and John on the earth. These guys are a big deal in the church here. They are going to the temple like good Jewish men always would have done.
They're going to worship God now as Christians, Christ-followers, and they see a man who is lame, who has been lame for 40 years, the Scriptures tell us. He sits there in the temple, begging for money. When Peter and John walk by, he asks them for money. They say, "Silver and gold we don't have, but what we have to give we give to you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk." You see this incredible healing in the Scriptures.
This man starts going crazy, and he grabs onto Peter and John, and he's jumping around. He's like, "These guys healed me. They healed me. These guys healed me." People begin to gather because this man has been lame for 40 years, and they've seen him, and they're like, "This is crazy." It says there were thousands of people there.
Peter takes advantage of the platform God provided, and he begins to declare, "No, Jesus healed him. The Jesus you killed, the Jesus who came back to life… He died for your sins." It says that 2,000 more believed. The church has grown to 5,000. Then the Sanhedrin and the religious leaders walk up on this sermon and say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. What is all of this Jesus stuff? Hey, man, you have to cut that out. You can't be talking like that."
They're like, "What's wrong?" "Hey, come with us." They put them in jail. They don't know what to do with them. They put them in jail that evening. When the morning comes, they stand before the Sanhedrin. They start to say, "In whose name are you doing these things? How did you heal this guy? What happened here?" Peter is like, "Say, man, are we here because a guy who couldn't walk now walks? Do you have something against walking? Is that the problem?"
"No, no, no. We have something against you talking about Jesus. In fact, we're prepared to let you go if you would just stop talking about Jesus."
"Let me make sure I understand. We can go free. We don't have to go to jail. We get to keep our heads if we just stop teaching in the name of Jesus."
"Okay. Problem. We can't do that. See, before he floated up to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, he told us that we're to go everywhere and preach in his name."
"That's not okay."
"I'm sorry. That's just the way it has to be."
They don't know what to do. They release them, but they're angry. This is a real… You have to feel the weight of this situation. Let me give you an example. Weeks from right now where they're telling them this, John's brother James is about to get his head sawed off because he won't stop talking about Jesus. That's about to happen. This is a real threat.
These men aren't like, "Okay, go on your merry way." They're like, "Okay. You go, and we're going to get you." That's where we're picking up. Let's go. Verse 23 of Acts 4. We're looking at three elements of a prayer that leads to a movement. "On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them." They gather with a church. "Hey, guys. Circle up, man."
The church is like, "Oh, you got out?" "Yeah, we got out." Just imagine if this happened here at Watermark. You have Todd and Kyle and Dean and Beau, the elders here. They just got out of prison. We gather because we want to know what was said. They said, "Here's what the chief priest said. They said we couldn't talk about Jesus anymore. We said we couldn't do that, that we were going to keep talking about Jesus.
Guys, they're angry. They're angry. They're going to come after us. They're going to come after our children. These guys are powerful, and they're upset. You just need to know that when you leave through those doors, they're looking for you. They know where you live. Now that you have come into the family…"
They've been Christians for weeks now. They're facing death now. "Be ready, guys." "When they [the church] heard this, they [the church] raised their voices together in prayer to God." This is what I'm going to read from here. It's a prayer. What would you pray for? You just got out of jail. You just got out of risking persecution.
They say, "Sovereign Lord…" The word here is not a common word for God. It's Despotis. It's where we get the word despot or despotism, which is a government with one key ruler who has absolute, supreme, sovereign power. There is no Congress. There is no Supreme Court. There are no checks and balances.
Whatever that ruler says goes. He can move and change at will with a moment's notice. He can add laws, take laws, kill people, promote people. He has sovereign power. This is what they say for God. "Sovereign Despotis." They said, "You, God, made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You, God, are in control, and you made everything." As we talk about three elements of a prayer for revival, the first element is…
1._ An understanding of who God is._ Our understanding of God's sovereignty causes us today, I believe, not to pray. We think, "If God is in control and knows what is going to happen, why even talk to him about it?" Their understanding, the first century church's understanding of God's sovereignty caused them to pray.
"No. Because God is all-powerful and because he cares, we should talk to him. Because he wants us to talk to him. He likes to be asked. He enjoys fellowship and communion with the saints. We should talk to him." Most often, it's interesting to me that we pray to a supernatural God for the best-perceived natural outcome we can imagine. Why do we ask the supernatural for the natural? Let me explain what I mean in case that is confusing.
I grew up in a small town. My grandparents lived 15 miles away in a farming community, Meyersville, Texas, just a few hundred people. They had a dairy farm and all of that fun stuff. I can remember my grandparents' house overlooked their church. Their church was in the valley. Their house overlooked it. My grandparents' schedule would kind of revolve around these prayer gatherings.
They were going to pray for rain because they needed rain for the crops to grow. They were going to gather and pray for rain. They would pray for rain because in their minds, the crops need rain to grow. What they didn't pray is, "Lord, would you give us crops that don't need rain? I pray that our crops would grow without rain, that crops wouldn't need rain anymore."
We begin to pray. I'm not saying it's wrong. It's just a habit. We pray for the best naturally-perceived outcome that we can understand. When your car breaks down, you don't pray for a new car. You probably pray that it can get fixed or for the money to fix it or whatever that is. I'm not saying that you should. I'm just kind of outlining our habits to make this point.
I don't even think we know how to pray bold. We are so entrenched in weak prayers that I'm not even sure we understand what it means to pray bold. Our view of God's sovereignty impacts the way that we pray, I believe, as much as anything impacts the way we pray. We need to understand that God is not only sovereign and in control; there is this profound reality that he loves us.
Dawson Trotman founded The Navigators, which is still a curriculum that we use here today in our Equipped Disciple ministry. Billy Graham said about Dawson Trotman that he had personally impacted more people for Christ than anybody else who has ever lived. He was a great evangelist. When Dawson Trotman died, he died by drowning in a lake.
His wife, Lila, walked up on the scene, and her friend came to her sobbing, fell into her arms, and said, "He's gone, Lila. Dawson is gone." She responded with these words. "My God is in heaven. He does as he pleases." She responded directly from the Psalms, Psalm 115:3. "My God is in heaven. He does as he pleases."
It feels cold to me, if I'm honest with you. What? I mean… Mourn the loss of your husband, woman. It feels… I'm sure you felt that just now. It feels a little cold, like, "Whoa. She has a high view of God's sovereignty." Here's why I think she can say that. Not only does she have a high view of God's sovereignty, she knows that God loves her and that God gives good gifts to his children, that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of heavenly lights.
She has an understanding not only of his sovereignty but also of his love. The reason I tell you that here is because I was just with a friend a couple of days ago who said, "You know, I heard that story about Dawson Trotman and Lila Trotman. You know, it really messed with my view of God because when I went into deep, dark depression and was hospitalized for cutting and wanting to take my life, I pictured God in the corner, smoking a cigar like, 'Hey, I'm over here. I do whatever I want.'"
She had only grasped the view of God's sovereignty. She did not understand that that God was moving toward her, that he loved her and cared for her and had plans for her. He did not want her to hurt. That was not his first desire, that she hurt, but he can use it. See, the first century church, in the midst of the trouble, their first step was turning to a God who controls everything and who loves them and cares for them.
"Sovereign Lord. You laid out the heavens and the earth. You have plans for us in the midst of this." Verse 25: "You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David…" They're talking about David here, David and Goliath here, David and Bathsheba here, David the shepherd boy here, David the king.
"Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one." This comes from Psalm 2. If you haven't been in Psalm 2 in a while, just as a refresher, this is the one where it says that God's enemies are like pottery, and he is like a rod of iron. What an awesome picture. Iron nunchucks, shards of terra cotta going everywhere.
Nothing can come up against God Almighty. "What are they thinking, God, coming up against you as if you are not all-powerful." "Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen." I'll remove the mystery. The word there is predestined, destined ahead of time, determined beforehand.
"They did…" Talking about Herod and Pontius Pilate, who sentenced Jesus to death. "…what you had determined ahead of time. God, you're in complete control. The enemies of you are but puppets in your hands. What can they do? You're playing both sides of the chess board. They move a pawn. You knew they would move it there. You put it there. You can switch back and forth. You see the beginning from the end. They move a pawn. You lay down their king. What can they do against you, God?"
2._ An understanding of God's Word and his will._ The first-century church is literally walking through prophecy. As they exist, as they face persecution, they are fulfilling prophecy that said they would. They knew they said that God said this would happen. They're not worried or concerned about how God is going to respond here.
I think that's what we do. In the midst of trouble, we're like, "Okay, what is God doing? Is he in the corner smoking a cigar? What is he doing?" They're not worried about God. They know God is faithful. They're worried about their own faithfulness in the midst of trouble. "Lord, make us faithful. We know you're faithful. God, would you make us faithful? Would you help us be faithful in the midst of this persecution?"
I think there is a lot of confusion around praying the will of God. You may have tacked it onto a prayer in your life. "Lord, if it's your will, God, would you do this? God, if it's your will, would you do this?" I think that is a misunderstanding of how we should do that. Let me at least say it like this so you're not confused. It's incomplete.
Praying for the will of God starts with understanding the will of God through the Word of God. Let me say that again. Praying the will of God starts with understanding the will of God through the Word of God. God has made known his will through the written Word. This is his revealed will. We cannot concern ourselves with the unrevealed will of God until we concern ourselves with the revealed will of God through the Word.
When the first-century church prayed the first prayer they said, they began to recite Scripture from memory. "Lord, you said… Lord, you told us… God, we knew… You told our father David…" Here's why this is important. Any good coach, military commanding officer, what are they going to do as they're giving your game talk? They're going to study the opponent. They're going to study the enemy. They're going to study the other team.
They're going to say, "Hey guys, this is the play I think they're going to run. We're going to go out there. I think they're going to go on the sidelines. Here's what I want you to do." Any good coach is going to do that. They're going to telegraph what they believe their opponent is going to do. Any military commanding officer is going to say, "Okay, we're going to go toward the valley. I think they're going for these bunkers on the hill. This is what I'm anticipating from the enemy."
Jesus does the exact same thing. God does the same thing. The only difference is he knows that the Enemy is going to do. Trump card. What can they do against him? He knows what they're going to do, so when he tells you, it's not a, "Hey, I think… I've been watching game film. I've been studying the enemy. I read The Art of War." He's saying, "No, man. I know what they're going to do."
If he knew what they were going to do, why didn't he tell them? How cruel of him to not… No, he did. Let me read it to you. Matthew 10:17. Jesus is talking to the disciples as he sends them out. "Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils…" Check. "…and be flogged in the synagogues." It's coming. "On my account, you will be brought before governors and kings…" Check. "…as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles." Check.
"But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it." Awesome. "At that time, you will be given what to say…" Awesome. "…for it will not be you speaking…" Awesome. "…but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the who stands firm to the end will be saved."
He says this over and over. I'll give you a few more. John 16:1-4 says, "All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue…" Check. "…in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God." See also Islamic State. "They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them."
Then in some 20 verses, he says this really famous thing in verse 33. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." These guys weren't shocked by the persecution they were facing. They had been told to expect it.
Let me ask you a question, Watermark. Why, when we face it, do we assume we're doing something wrong? We assume we should shrink back. We assume we shouldn't face it. When evangelism is hard, we assume it's not necessary or not our gift. We stop. When we face troubles, we get angry at God instead of thanking him for the heads up.
"Oh, God. This is trouble in this world. Thank you that you told me that this was going to come my way. You didn't just leave me here to flounder, not knowing what to expect. You told me that my boss, my coworkers, my kids, friends, parents are going to persecute me because of my faith. Thank you for that heads up, God."
A lot of us don't know to expect it because growing in understanding of his will and the Word is not a natural part of our day. It's not a part. It's not a priority in every day we live; therefore, when we expect it, we're not equipped to go with it and go through it. We didn't see it coming because we didn't wake up and dive into the truth that he has given us. "Hey, let me give you some truth as you go through this world."
That's why a biblical worldview is so important. I'm just going to take a minute. This is going to feel like it doesn't fit, but I'm going to make a case that it does. I want you to see this. The first-century church had what is called a biblical worldview. This is what we need. Here is a graph. This is a worldview map, if you will, a grid, a chart.
There in the middle, you have worldview. You say, "Well, what is worldview?" This is important, so lean in. It may be a little boring. I see some of you taking pictures of it. That is probably a good move. You can also find this on the web. We'll make it available to you at watermark.org. Worldview is simply what is real. What is real leads to what you believe is true. What you believe is true leads to what is good, which leads to what you do.
Now, if you look on the other side, the way you define that is worldview leads to your beliefs which leads to what you think is important, known as your values, which leads to your behavior. We see the behavior on the outside, but deep, deep, deep under the behavior is a worldview. It's a worldview, a belief, a value, a behavior. That worldview is going to drive the behavior.
"Why is this important?" Here's why this is important. In the culture we live in, the world is going to tell you that this world, what you see, the natural realm is all there is. Some of you here today say, "I'm a Christian," but you believe at your core, calling yourself a Christian, that this world I really all there is. The reason I can say that with authority is because your behavior follows that.
If we put in the middle of that what is real, and we just say, "This world is all there is. That's what's real," then the beliefs that follow that… Listen. If you believe this world is all there is, then the beliefs that follow that are, "I need to be as comfortable and safe as possible and seek as much pleasure imaginable in this world because it's all there is. That's what is true."
My values are going to be safety and comfort. My behavior or even the way I pray is going to be safety for me, safety for my loved ones, and comfort, because the worldview, the center, what's there is, "This is all there is." Now, if you take that and put this book, the Bible, for a biblical worldview, if you put that in the middle, then what is true is that there is a God, and he created you for him and his purpose, so what you value is everything he values.
Why does it say David was a man after his heart? David wanted what God wanted. David displayed actions (at times, not all the time) to show that he wanted what God wanted. What is good? God's glory. How do I behave? Everything I do is for God's glory. My prayers are around, "Would you make yourself famous through my life? Would you bring others to know you through the way I act and talk, the things I say, my thoughts, and what I do?" Your prayers change. Worldview crash course.
If the Bible defines your worldview, then you will value most what glorifies God the most, people coming to know him. If the sum total of your prayers is safety and comfort, you, in turn, have a worldview problem, not a praying problem, a worldview problem. If evangelism or sharing the gospel or living on mission is not a natural part of your life, it's not just that you are afraid. It's not that simple. It's a worldview problem.
It's that you don't believe that it's so important that you should push past your fears. See, the first century church knew the Bible, and they stood on it. The twenty-first century church, by and large, neither knows the Bible nor stands on it. Verse 29 in the prayer: "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants…" Here we go with the ask. Here is the supplication part. "Enable your servants to be comfortable. Smash the enemies into pieces, Lord. Give us something to protect us, a hedge of protection. When we travel, give us mercy."
We know what is coming, right? Now comes the ask. Are you ready? Here it comes. "…to speak your word with great boldness." What? Not to dull the knives so they can't cut or to stop them? They're not saying, "Stop my enemy." It's like they're saying, "No, we know the enemies are coming. You told us that. Make us bold. As they put the knife to our neck, help us to declare the gospel and to not shrink back. God, enable your servant to be bold."
They don't ask God to change their circumstances; they ask God to change them in the midst of their circumstances. Why did they pray for boldness? Do you want to know what I think? Because they were afraid. Do you know why they were afraid? Because they were human. I really empathize with that.
I can imagine stepping down from this stage afterward and somebody coming up to this stage and saying, "Hey, Jonathan. I'm going to get you. I know where you live. I'm going to get your family. I'm going to take your kids, Presley, Finley, and Weston, and I'm going to kill them in front of you, and I'm going to make you watch. Then I'm going to take you out, unless you stop preaching Jesus."
Do you know what I'm going to be tempted to do? Stop preaching Jesus. I'm going to be like, "Really? Maybe we should move. Monica, I don't know. Maybe the Lord is calling us somewhere else. Maybe we should run from this place. Maybe we should pray for boldness." What? "Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
This is so misunderstood because of the craziness that happens in the church today. They're simply saying, "Show yourself to be great so that others come to know you. Help us not to shrink back." Last week, Todd challenged us to go to people and ask them, "Who is Jesus?" How did we do? "Help us not to shrink back. Help us to be bold."
"After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." An entire people fully yielded now to his Holy Spirit, and his presence is felt in a physical manifestation of an earthquake. The place they gather is literally shaken, and their prayers are answered because it says they spoke the Word boldly.
3._ An ask for boldness to carry out his will._ It was an ask for courage to carry out his will. Boldness was true to the text. They changed it to boldness. That kind of sent me on this wandering of, "What is the difference between boldness and courage?" I think courage, by and large, or at least my understanding of it, is reactive.
Courage is, "In the midst of them putting the knife to my neck, help me to be strong." Boldness is different. Boldness is proactive. It's, "Help me to live in such a way that causes me to want to do that. Help me to live in a such a way to where I bring my coworkers to a decision. They can either persecute me and reject my message or they can be converted by your Holy Spirit. Help me to live in such a way that causes them to choose persecution or conversion, to consider my message better said."
We must be bold, church. I need you to pray for boldness. Let me help you do it this week, this month. You have to do it. I need 100 percent participation from every Christ-follower in the room. I need you on board. Are you on board? Okay. We have to do this. I was reminded this year at that camp that when I was there last year, I was praying for a friend who had drowned.
We didn't know what happened. He was 35 years old. He was in a pool with a bunch of young men, his sons and their friends. The next thing they know, they find him in the bottom of the deep end, having been under there at least 10 minutes. They pulled him out, and he still had a pulse. We thought we would never know what happened.
Here's what happened. There was a young man there that day who jumped off a 10-foot water feature, a 10-foot waterfall. He was just playing, just being a boy. He jumped on my friend. As my friend turned around and saw him coming, his knee hit him right here and temporarily paralyzed him. Everything was paralyzed except his eyes and his brain.
He said he was in three feet of water as he sunk to the bottom, and he remembers looking up at the sun as he bounced off of the pool floor in three feet of water, but he couldn't do anything. He couldn't control his breathing, which was a gift from God, because he took in a big breath of water and blacked out. He was down there so long that his body slowly drifted to the deep end and settled there at the drain.
When his boys saw him, they thought he was just holding his breath. They left him down there for a few more minutes. Then one of them, his 8-year-old, said, "I think something is wrong with Dad." He dives down and tries to get him up. He is waterlogged at this point. The kid can't. He gets help, and they get him out. They call the ambulance, and 13 minutes later, they show up.
They said it is the worst case they have ever seen where someone still has a pulse. He goes in for a CAT scan. They tell his wife, "Be prepared. If he makes it through (it doesn't look like he's going to), he will be a vegetable his entire life." Doctors who went to his church were there. They were praying. They were praying that he would die. The most naturally perceived outcome, best case scenario, that he would die. "You don't want to live as a vegetable for the rest of your life," is what they thought. They said, "Lord, would you take him home?"
His wife was praying for a full healing. That's what happened. The Lord answered her prayers. The reason I tell you this story is because there was actually a third prayer. Everyone said, "Why did this happen?" When my friend woke up, they said, "Do you know what happened?" He said, "Yes." He remembered everything. He told them, and they said, "Why did this happen?" He said, "I know why. For the few weeks preceding the event, every day, I was praying for a testimony. I was so upset that I had…"
He thought what he had was a boring story. He grew up in a Christian home and was preserved and protected and knew Jesus. He just said, "Lord, would you give me a testimony so I can be bold in sharing your gospel with others." Now, I will tell you, in case that is your testimony, that is an awesome testimony. If you were protected and preserved in the faith, that is an amazing testimony. Share it with everybody. It's too rare.
He said, "I know why this happened. I prayed for it." Now he has been on TV. He shared the story. Hundreds of thousands of people have heard the gospel because he drowned and resurrected. I tell you that to say that God is going to move forward his message whether you like it or not. I don't say that to scare you. I don't say that to put guilt on your shoulders. I don't say that to fearmonger.
I say it because it's true. God is going to move forward his message. I have read the back of the book. I know how it ends. Every knee bows. Every tongue confesses. He's just saying, "Hey, do you want to be bold and play a part of it? It starts by coming to me and asking me and talking to me." His story is going to move forward, and he invites you to be bold.
In summary, pray to a sovereign God with an understanding of his Word and his will, and ask him for boldness to declare his truths. On the way back from camp, we were running late because a friend's kid got sick, and we stopped and did operation quarantine and got trash bags and paper towels and Lysol and everything.
That put us in Fayetteville right about lunchtime, Fayetteville, Arkansas. We stopped at a little restaurant there called FlapJack's, breakfast for lunch. You can't go wrong. We went inside. There was a not-so-young man there named Noel. I got talking to Noel. I said, "Hey, do you know what your name means?" He said, "No," which blew my mind because it's his name.
I said, "It means Christmas. Have you ever sung the song 'The First Noel'?" Noel wasn't from here. I said, "It means Christmas. Do you know what happened on Christmas? God became a man. Noel, let me ask you two questions. Between one and ten, ten being certain and one being not so sure, if you were to die today, how certain are you that you would go to heaven and be with God forever?" He said, "Oh, man. No, no. I'm not so sure. I don't think that would happen."
"Would you say a five? A coin toss?"
"Yeah, yeah. Maybe a five."
"All right, Noel. The second question I said I would ask you is this. If God said, 'Why should I let you in?' what would you say?"
"Oh, my friend. That is a very good question."
"You're right. It is a good question, the best question you're ever going to be asked, I have a feeling." Humbly.
"What would I say? I don't know, man. I guess because I tried hard. I tried to do the right thing, you know. I don't know what I would say."
"Noel, I have some good news for you."
I declared the truth to Noel. It was the same truth that Jesus declared to the disciples, the same truth that the disciples declared at Pentecost, the same truth that Peter preached in the temple courts as thousands gathered. It's the same truth that Peter preached in the Sanhedrin as they said, "Whose name do you do this under?"
It's the truth that Jesus Christ came, lived. It's the truth that starts with, "We were created by God, for God, for his purpose, and we ran from him in our sin, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. He sent his one and only Son, for God so loved the world that he gave only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Christ took our sins on him on the cross. He was placed in the grave, and three days later, he came back to life. He resurrected so he could help us in this life. He promised us a life to come with God to come forever and ever and ever and ever. Noel, I have some good news for you, bro. I need you to know this. You're going to get to God, not because of anything you've done but because of what he did through his Son.
It's like if I give you a ticket to a game, and you get there, and you say, 'Why should we let you in?' You're going to say, 'Because I have a ticket.' They're going to say, 'Did you buy the ticket?' You're going to say, 'No, it was gifted to me.' The only reason you're getting in there is because you have that ticket because it was gifted to you. That's salvation, my friend. That's what Jesus did for you on the cross, my friend."
It dawned on me, Watermark, that God loved Noel so much that he allowed a young man to get the stomach bug two miles outside of Branson, Missouri, to slow us down, to put us at FlapJack's right at noon, so we could walk in and not only enjoy a breakfast buffet but see this man consider Christ and his conversion as we prayed. That's how God moves.
Friends, I need you to pray for boldness. When you came in, you got a card. We have to have 100 percent participation. We actually did this at The Porch, and it has been incredible to watch God answer this prayer through that ministry that I thought we would do it this morning, as David taught this exact same text years ago at The Porch.
This is simply the prayer from this text. "Lord, enable your servants to speak your Word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to save every person in Plano, every person in Fort Worth and here, every person in Dallas." When you get into your car today, I want you to put this card on your dashboard, that when you get in and turn the key, you would begin your day by praying this prayer.
You would begin your trip, not praying for travelling mercies or protection or security or comfort but that God would do whatever he needs to do to use your life to stretch out his hand to save every person in Dallas, so we could see a revival happen in our country, starting in our city, beginning with you. Would you do that? Would you applaud if you would do that? How about that? If you're in, let me hear you.
It's going to begin with a very important step, you walking out of here and not getting distracted by you going to Mattito's but by you setting this on your dashboard right there. Put it right there so you can see it. I want you to do that for the next 30 days. Everybody, 15,000 people, multiple times a day will be going to God with this prayer.
If you want to share it on social media, if that's your thing about what you're doing or where you put it or a picture of it, you can use the hashtag there at the bottom, #PrayBold, but that's how we're going to do this in 2016. The first century church did this a thousand years ago so we might gather in his name today and continue to pray bold. Let me do that right now as we wrap up.
Father, would you please enable your servants, everyone at Watermark, Dallas, Plano, and Fort Worth to speak your Word with great boldness? Lord, would you stretch out your hand to save every person in Plano, in Collin County, in Dallas County, in Tarrant County? Father, would you save all of them, every one of them? Don't leave one single person behind.
Would you use us, boldly declaring the truth of who you are and what you did through your servant, Jesus Christ? Would we not shrink back in the midst of persecution or an idea that is seemingly growing unpopular in our culture, that we would be followers of the one true God, Father, Son, and Spirit? Thank you for your Anointed One, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, whom you raised from the grave. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Could you imagine if he did that, if he saved every person in Dallas because we prayed? I need you to pray. I'm going to be praying with you for the next 30 days. Put this somewhere where you'll see it. If you just got one, and there are two of you or three of you, go grab two more as you leave. Put it in your car, and every time you get in, not when you're driving 70 miles-per-hour down the road, but when you get in, pray this with me, corporately with us, and let's watch God, not that we obligate him to do anything, but he wants us to pray. He asks us to pray.
I love you guys. Have a great week of worship.