God's Great Family of Faith – Acts 12

Preached by Chris Adams, May 11, 2008

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God will use families to build His Great Church!

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Although the early church was “earnestly praying” for Peter, there was no guarantee that God would spare them the sorrow of losing another dear friend, especially after the memories of seeing Stephen and James martyred had not even faded!

Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” Acts 12:13-14

I’ve always seen Rhoda as blending into this group of earnestly-praying-but-trembling Christians. However, recently I realized that Rhoda was quite distinct from this houseful of disciples; she certainly seemed to be the FIRST if not the ONLY one among them who believed that God really had rescued Peter and delivered him safely back to his brothers and sisters!

Surely, we must have those with Rhoda’s heart of faith right here in our church—possibly even young women barely in their teens who we ourselves might not view as spiritual giants with chronicled deeds of faith, but who are just the kind of souls God has always loved to listen to and honor! As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 1:27, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

What an inspiring picture of the family of God going through great trials but staying together, staying focused on God and staying on the mission to spread this message of forgiveness to the whole world!

“God’s Great Family of Faith” preached by Chris Adams
Sunday, May 11, 2008

1. Great faith takes great Bible study.
To build a church of great faith, we must have great Bible study. 3 ways to study the Bible effectively are:

Study by Topic: The First Principle Studies of the church are a great example of this. I’ve been studying out the concept of God’s glory.
o In Eph 1, the phrase “to the praise of His glory” shows up 3 times and I just couldn’t get past it—HOW CAN WE WHO ARE IMPERFECT BE FOR THE PRAISE OF HIS GLORY? Paul teaches that our redemption that has already happened praises God’s glory, our present lives as disciples can praise God’s glory and being brought into heaven to be with God will praise his glory in the future: God loves more and more people becoming His very own possession!! We can actually live our lives as a song of praise in a way that magnifies God’s glory!
o 2 Cor.3:8 Will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
o Psalm 8:1 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
o Exodus 24:17-18 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain.)
o What songs are there about God’s glory? 366 Glory Be to Jesus
You need to get your heart involved! Pray for wisdom (Eph 1:18 and Philippians 1:9-11)

Study by Book: Pick a book of the Bible and spend some great time learning all about it as we have been lately with the book of Acts or as we did with 2 Corinthians earlier this Spring when Andrew and I preached the Power in Weakness series. Key: Read the whole book or large chunks in one sitting if possible—overview/understand context of the issues. Then read and re-read large chunks 2 or 3 times, asking yourself the following questions: (Taken from How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth, Fee and Stuart)
o What did this passage mean then? (For those for whom it was written?)
o What’s the point? (Why is the author saying what he’s saying?)
o How should I apply this to my life? (In the here and now?)

Study of Biblical Characters: We have actually been doing this for the past few weeks. You may have learned more about Peter over the past few weeks than you realize. Peter is the main leader for the church throughout Acts chapters 1-12, as Paul is in Acts 13-28.

What have we learned about Peter thus far in our study series in the book of Acts?
• Originally named Simon, son of John (John1:42).
• The brother of Andrew (Matthew 4:18 / John 6:8).
• Married to a believer (Matthew 8:14 / 1 Corinthians 9:5).
• Working in his father’s fishing business when he was called by Jesus (Mark 1:16-20).

Let’s review what we have learned about Peter in this series…
Acts 1: Peter’s name was listed first not because he was chosen first but because he was the leader of the Apostles. He led them in choosing Matthias as Judas’ replacement.

Acts 2: He preached the first ever gospel sermon and 3000 responded to that message and were baptized. He ushers the Jews into the Kingdom. (HS study under first principles.)

Acts 3 He and John heal a cripple, preach the word and give God the glory.

Acts 4 He is persecuted and proclaims with boldness the message of the cross. He was thought of as unschooled and ignorant because he was not trained by a Rabbi and had a Galilean accent (Matthew 26:33). He was commanded not to preach in Jesus’ name, but would not stop.

Acts 5 He confronts Ananias and Sapphira.

Acts 6 Peter helps find a solution for the problems that arose in the church and keeps focused on the ministry of the Word and prayer.
Let’s all be praying for God to make it clear who can serve as Deacons in our church!

Acts 7 Stays in Jerusalem after Stephen is martyred. This strengthens the church in times of great distress and difficulty! Those who are staying in Syracuse be inspired.

Acts 8 Peter supports Philip’s work in Samaria and confronts Simon the Sorcerer.

Acts 9 Heals the paralytic, Aeneas who had been bedridden for 8 years and then was asked to comfort the disciples mourning Tabitha’s death . . . only to raise her from the dead!

Acts 10 Peter uses those keys again like he did in Acts 2 to usher the Gentiles into the Kingdom and explained actions to the other Apostles. (HS study under first principles.)

Acts 11 Peter explained to the apostles and circumcised believers how the Gentiles also had received the word of God; he brought the saving message for Cornelius, all his household and ultimately for all the Gentiles! Verse 5 says it all: “I was in the city of Joppa praying . . .”

2. Great faith takes great prayer.
Acts 11:5
Question: What are your impossible prayers?
• Challenge: Pray impossible prayers.

Acts 12:6-12
• How well you sleep and when you sleep reveals your character.
• Peter was guilty . . . of preaching the Word of God!
• You got to assess how your prayer life is.
Question: How are your conversations with your best friend? (You need time to connect with God!)
• You need to be more disciplined as to when you go to sleep.
Question: Do you have faith that whether it is “Yes” or “No” that God is answering your prayer?
• You are living proof that God can answer the impossible prayers.
• Three prayer goals for the church:
i. On Sunday, May 25, 2008, the Central New York Church of Christ will raise $50,000 for its Mission Contribution.
ii. One person in every single ministry across the Central New York Church of Christ will become a disciple of Jesus Christ before the 2008 World Missions Jubilee (Thursday, July 31, 2008).
iii. Deacons will be appointed to meet the needs of the Central New York Church of Christ.

Acts 15:38
• God has a plan to strengthen you at your weakest point. He did that for John Mark!
• Every single disciple must be loyal to God’s mission . . . have you deserted God?
• There is nothing that could replace prayer.

3. Great faith takes great surrender.
Acts 12:13-17
• There was no guarantee that God would save Peter.
Question: Who was the only one who believed it to be true that it was Peter at the door?
Answer: Rhoda, the servant girl! We have Rhoda’s right here in our church—even young women who might not be looked at as spiritual giants but who God will listen to their voices, their prayers!
• In the family of God, everyone recognizes everyone else’s voice. Great relationships!
• The one who is humble is who God will lift up.
• In the midst of it all, there is this family of God praying.

Proverbs 15:29
• God hears your prayers.

John 21:18-23
• Jesus expected obedience and surrender.