In the Face of Difficult Times

We have been going through the New Testament book, Acts, at our church. It is part of a big plan to help us see what it is that God is wanting from His church.

Recently, we covered the last half of Acts 4 where the early church was facing a crossroads. On one hand, they had been commanded by Jesus to go into all the world and be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). On the other hand, they have been told not speak in the name of Jesus. What would happen?

First of all, it should not surprise us that difficult times come our way in this life. Jesus never promised that trials would not strike us here on earth. As a matter of fact, He said, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33 ESV).

Since trials are a part of this life, how are we to respond to them when they do come? I believe the early church of Acts 4 shows us what we should do in the face of difficult times.

1. Take the matter to God in prayer first. The first thing we see the early church doing when Peter and John are released is that they pray (Acts 4:24). It amazes me how many times we see prayer as a "last resort." It should be a first priority.

By them taking the matter to God in prayer first, you gain a certain perspective that is easily lost. You remember the sovereignty of God (Acts 4:24) and that He has a plan (Acts 4:28).

2. Make your requests specific. I really believe that we miss many answers to our prayers because we pray too generally. We pray things like, "Lord, bless me and my family..." "Help the missionaries around the world..." How do we know when God is answering these requests? The more specific our prayers, the more specific the answer.

The early church asked for boldness in the face of difficult times. They specifically asked for boldness, and in Acts 4:31, God granted them boldness - the very thing they were praying for!

3. Put to use the resources God has given. After the church received what they were praying for, we see them putting it to use in various ways (Acts 4:32-35). God does not give us resources that we need to stockpile up somewhere or put on display on a case; they are given with the intention that they will be put to use as they are intended.

If we want victory in those difficult situations, it is going to take us not only going to God but coming back with the tools that He has granted and using them.