Prayer That Shakes A Place
Dr. Terry Anglea
“And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:23-31)
Have any of you ever been through an earthquake? Okay, there are several that have been. I have not been in a building shaking, window-rattling type of severe earthquake. We have a laundry chute in the bathroom off of our master bedroom, that goes from that second floor bathroom down to the basement where my wife’s washer and dryer are. It has got a little metal door on it that was going bang, bang, bang, bang. It woke me in the middle of the night, and I thought to myself, “That’s unusual.” Then, I felt a rumble that shook the bed. I said to my wife, “You know what, we just had an earthquake.”
She said, “You’re dreaming. Go back to sleep.”
I said, “No, we just had an earthquake.”
I did go back to sleep. The next morning I had the radio on listening to one of the news stations out of Chicago, and they said, “An earthquake took place in southern Illinois last night that was felt all the way up into Chicago.” I was like, “Na, na, na!” Wrong again wife! I can say that because she is not here. That is about the most severe earthquake that I have ever been in.
My good friend, Brother Gomez, was with Brother Mike Ray who has pastored out in Napa, California for many years. He had Brother Gomez out for a meeting in October, 1989. They got up in the morning on Tuesday the 17th, and traveled to Santa Clara to visit with Pastor Treiber, ate lunch together, and got back in their vehicles and drove back. Brother Gomez said they were in the Napa area on the 4th or 5th floor of this nice motel to get ready for the evening service when all of a sudden the whole room began to shake. Brother Gomez said that he did what they tell you not to do. He went to the window, and they tell you to stay away from the window. He went right to the window and looked down, and he said the telephone wires looked like a jump rope, up and down, up and down. It was the Bay area earthquake during the World Series when the San Francisco Giants were playing the Oakland Athletics, and it pancaked those interstate bridges on top of each other out there, the very interstate that he and Brother Ray had just traveled on.
Earthquakes can be very, very devastating. In Acts 4, the disciples were not in an earthquake that necessarily shook the road and the highlines and all of that because there were no highlines back then. But they were in a place that was shaken. That place they were in actually shook.
Now, think about that. What would it be like for you or me to leave church some Sunday, and when our friends ask us, “Hey, how was the service?”
“Well, it was wonderful.”
“So, what happened?”
“Well, God shook our service. God moved in our service in such a fashion that the place we were in shook.” That would be a wonderful thing.
I was thinking about all of this, and I began to think what happened that prompted God to move in such a way in their service that the place was shaken? The truth of the matter is that it was during one of their prayers, or after a prayer meeting. I began to think to myself, “What was it about this prayer meeting that caused God to move in and shake that place?”
Before their prayer
I think, in order to answer that question, we need to look at three aspects of their prayer. Let me begin by talking first about before their prayer. Before their prayer.
Now, before their prayer, the disciples were the focus of some very strong persecution. There was a great disturbance going on all over Jerusalem because of the healing of that lame man that sat at the Gate Beautiful of the Temple.
Do you remember the story? It happened in Acts chapter 3. Peter and John went to the Temple for to worship at the hour of prayer, and there was this man begging, saying, “Give me alms, alms, and can I have some alms?”
Peter looked at him, and fastening his eyes on them, he said, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, give I unto thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk!” That man stood up on those formerly lame legs, and walked!
This created a great stir. A huge stir. People saw this man walking around. Verse 14 talks about the fact that this man was standing with his friends. You know, fellas, how many people had passed by that man and given him what he wanted, what he asked for, which was money, alms, a charity gift for those in need.
But nobody had ever given him what he needed. What he needed was salvation, the gospel of Jesus Christ. They don’t make enough money so that you and I could gift people with what is truly their greatest need. Their greatest need is not money. Their greatest need is the Lord Jesus Christ.
What money could never do for that man, Christ did in one moment of time. When his faith was placed in the Christ that they were preaching, a miracle took place. He changed his condition! In verse 16, the Bible says that people even said a notable miracle has taken place here.
Because the people saw that this man was healed, there is a great disturbance, and the authorities of the Jewish religion in Jerusalem, boy they came down on the disciples. “And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.”(Acts 4:1-3)
“But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.”(Acts 4:17) “So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.” (Acts 4:21) Before their prayer, they were threatened and they were persecuted. The disciples of Christ were not found in favor with those in their community. In fact, they were perceived as the problem. “These guys are the problem, these religious fanatics, these Bible thumpers, these independent fundamental old-time Baptists. They are the problem!”
Fellas, in some ways in the eyes of certain people in our world today, the followers of Christ are perceived as the problems in society. The left wing media, the sin-soaked Hollywood crowd, they are laboring to always cast Christians in a negative light. You know what, I think it is time that we quit sugarcoating anything that we say to you young men, you young preachers. It is probably not going to get better.
It is amazing to me how many people haven’t bothered to come back to church that were members and even some workers. They go to Walmart, the grocery store, the pet groomers, the builder’s supply, and feel perfectly safe to go anywhere and everywhere else, but they don’t think it’s safe to go to church? Yet I’ve got families showing up from evangelical churches because their churches aren’t open, and they think it’s important to be in the house of God. One of those evangelical men looked at me the other day and said, “Pastor, I think it is time that I started talking to my kids about following Christ, and I am not telling them anymore that its going to be okay. In fact, I am telling my kids that it is going to be more difficult than ever to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.” That was an evangelical talking! I really believe that gentlemen.
You say, “Well, you shouldn’t discourage us and be pessimistic and a dark cloud.” I am not being pessimistic; I think I am being realistic. This thing is not going to get better. We are perceived as the problem. The truth of the matter is, what in the world had these men done to hurt their community if they had only helped a man.
What is behind the efforts of those that want to close down, our churches? I am going to tell you what. Preacher Woodward just hit on it just a moment ago. We are one of the only voices standing in opposition to their globalist, socialist dreams. Christians, generally speaking, are some of the most liberty loving, loyal, patriotic, flag-waving, law-abiding citizens.
Personally, I don’t think the globalist crowd is after the Methodist churches. I don’t think they are after the Presbyterian churches, or the Episcopalian churches. What have they ever done to change a community or to change a life? But the Gospel preaching, sin-fighting, soulwinning Baptist church that is going after sinners to see souls saved and lives changed, they are coming after us.
I am being realistic. This is not going to get better. We are perceived as the problem. The truth of the matter is, what in the world had any of these men done to hurt their community, even if they had only helped one man? We are one of the only voices taking a stand.
Somebody said it this morning. The pressure is on to be a good testimony in your town. Pass out water bottles and paint the park and rake the leaves. Pay your bills, and be right financially. I’m not against you doing that, but friend, painting the park and passing out water bottles is not what the Lord left us here to do. He left us to spread the gospel! “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
Fellows, I am not against being pro-community, being out and about and involved in your town, but I am simply saying this folks, that the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists aren’t doing a lot to change Marion, Iowa, but Grace Baptist Church is. Those churches aren’t doing a whole lot in most towns, but First Baptist Church of Dwight is making an impact for Christ and the Gospel message in Dwight, Illinois. The Presbyterians and the Episcopalians aren’t doing a lot to change Bourbonnais, Illinois. Do you think that they don’t know that? The Presbyterians aren’t preaching the Bible. The Methodists aren’t preaching the Bible. The Baptist churches for the most part are the ones preaching the Bible and spreading the Gospel, especially the independent Baptist churches are preaching the Bible, the whole counsel of God.
They are not burning Korans. They are burning the Bible, because the Bible, the living Word of God, is what stands in the way of their dreams and in the way of their plans. The Bible is not a socialist Bible. It is not a globalist Bible at all. Those of us that stand and attend our church, we are in the cross-hairs. The message that you and I preach still changes lives, and they can’t say anything against that.
When I first became pastor in Bourbonnais, I went to a couple funeral homes. I went to Tom Fitzpatrick, I don’t know if you ever knew Tom, he was a chain-smoking Catholic. He handled the state aid funerals in town. I said, “Tom, if you ever have a family without a pastor, I would be happy to do the funeral service for you.” I did several of those funerals.
One day he called me and said, “Reverend, could you come do a funeral for me?”
I had just done one, and I was tired and had a lot going on, and I said, “Tom, I can’t, I don’t have time this time. I’m sorry.” He said, “Okay, that’s okay.” Man, when I hung the phone up the Spirit of God said, “You don’t have time?” I fought with the Spirit of God, but that is a losing battle, and we all know it.
After a few minutes, I called him back, and said, “Hey Tom, did you find somebody to do that funeral yet?” He said that he hadn’t been able to find anyone. I said, “I’ll do it.”
“Good man!” “Good man” was something he used to say. It was at a little old wood-frame house. Tom Fitzpatrick did a funeral one time, showed up at the funeral home 20 minutes before the service was to begin. A quarter till, nobody came; ten till, nobody came, five till, nobody came. It was time to start the service, and nobody was there but me and Tom. At five after, nobody was there. Tom was in his 70s. That chain-smoking Catholic stood at the foot of the casket weeping, and he said, “I have never had this happen.” Nobody, and I mean NOBODY showed up to that man’s funeral. Nobody.
I said, “Tom, guess what? Nobody is here but me and you, but I want to tell you something. Nobody may have valued this man’s life, but the Lord Jesus Christ did. He valued this man’s life enough to go to the cross and die for him.”
I preached another funeral for a man whose mother had died, and through it had an open door to talk with them. After a couple of hours sitting around their kitchen table Frank and Jessie got saved. They got baptized, and they got in. You might have call them card carrying liberal democrats in their life before they were saved. She was from New York, a liberal democrat. I don’t know if I have any more ardent supporters of conservative Christian values and patriotism in our church today than Frank and Jessie.
You say, “What changed them?” Was it giving them a water bottle at the park? Not on your life. It was the life changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and friend that’s why we are here. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
I would never argue with you that sometimes an act of kindness and showing that you care can open the door to someone’s heart and give you the opening to share the Gospel with someone and they will listen when they wouldn’t have before. But becoming a goodwill ambassador or public relations director will not save a soul from hell or make someone a new creature in Christ with a changed life and a changed eternal destiny. Only the Gospel can. We cannot let ourselves get sidetracked from the purpose God left us here for. Proclaim the Gospel. Preach the Bible. Feed the flock of God. Stand for what’s right. Seek the old paths.
And we had better learn again what it means to pray and see God’s power fall. What we can do is not enough. We had better seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways and beg God to do what only He can. He hasn’t changed. Anything God’s power could do in the book of Acts, He can still do today. The only thing that has changed is how few Christians actually spend time getting in touch with God, and getting their own hearts right with Him, and pleading for the Holy Spirit of God to work as He did then.