Acts 4 Group Prayer Open and Closed Heavens

June 7, 2015   Acts 4:23 – 35    Group Prayer

 

   We are in a war brothers and sisters.   You are in a war.  He enemy has his eye upon you and he is roaring like a lion.  He seeks to chip away at your faith your commitment to church and to build the kingdom of God.  He chips away at your family.     We are in a war for our cities and for this state and for the nation.  We are in a battle and prayer is so important in this battle.

    Are the heavens opened or closed?   Does it matter if they are opened or closed?   Does the bible talk about the heavens being opened or closed?   Is it good if the heavens are opened or closed?  Are they generally opened or closed?   Can man can Christians do anything to open or close the heavens?      Let’s consider some scripture. 

      Genesis 28 starting with verse 10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran.   One night he stops and takes and lays down to sleep.   He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. Some Christians believe such as Perry Stone that is a picture of a heavenly portal.  Many also believe that there are demonic portals.  They believe there are places where demons come and go.  Verse 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.  He wakes up the next morning and says surely the Lord was in this place and I was not aware of it and Jacob was afraid. 

   In Ezekiel 1:1 in my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.   Matthew 3:16 as soon as Jesus was baptized; he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.   Luke 3:21& 22 when all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.   And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

    John 1:51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”  That gives us a picture that it is good to see the heavens opened.   Peter in Acts 10:9 and on about noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.  He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.   He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.   It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.   Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”  After the vision Peter gets up and goes with the gentiles to Cornelius home.   Was it important for Peter to see the heavens opened and this vision?   That vision was critical for the Jews to accept the Gentiles.  That whole situation was very important. 

    Revelation 4 after this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”   At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.  Revelation 11:19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm. The temple veil was ripped or rent in two when Jesus died signifying that we have access to God.  Hebrews 4 we can come boldly before God.   Revelation 19 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 

     His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.   He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.   The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.    Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”   He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.    On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.   After that is war and destruction.  A very interesting verse on this topic is Malachi 3:10 bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will open the flood gates.  That would indicate that the heavens are closed.   Are the flood gates of heaven open over us?  Are the heavens open over this church?    Are the heavens open over your home?  I think we need to pray that they would be open.  I want to see some miracles in this church.  I want to see some lost saved this year. 

     In the book Secrets top powerful prayer they give an example of open heavens.  This happened on a street that separates Brazil and Uruguay.  A missionary was passing out tracts and on the Uruguayan side of the street not one person would accept a tract.  On the Brazil side they would accept tracts.  The difference is only a few feet.  On the Uruguay side he would be snubbed and a few feet over the Brazil side everyone would take a tract and thank him.  In time he saw a woman who had refused a tract an hour ago cross the street to the Brazil side so he followed her across the street and offered a tract to her a tract again.  This time she took it and said thank you very much I appreciate it.  I have read similar things in other books.  The spirit world really impacts us. 

      Does the bible say anything about the heavens being closed?   Leviticus 26 God is speaking ‘If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over.   I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze.  Ever feel like there is iron over your prayers?     Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit.   “‘If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve.  

    I Kings 8:35 & 36 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them,

Then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.   II Chronicles 7:13 - 15 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.  It looks like prayer can change how open the heavens are.   Haggai 1 Therefore because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.    Luke 4:25   I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 

    I remember reading in a book where a missionary was told in a certain area he could not preach.  His response was that is stupid, crazy, and ridiculous I can preach anywhere I want to.  They took him to a spot and guess what he could not preach.  That is hard to believe there are places where we cannot preach. So the missionary said well take me to a spot where I can preach.  I want to point us to 3 situations where groups of people prayed in the bible.     

     In 2 Chronicles 20 a great army comes against King Jehoshaphat, Judah and Jerusalem.  The king realizes that he has no chance against the army that has come against him.  Moab, Ammon and Mt. Seir had gathered their forces to fight Judah.  Instead of turning to the wrong things Jehoshaphat turns to the Lord.  He enquires of the Lord and proclaims a fast for all of Judah.  Jehoshaphat and Judah gather and fast and pray and the spirit of the Lord comes on Jahaziel who prophesies and tells them in II Chronicles 20:15 do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army for the battle is not yours but God’s.  Verse 17 you do not have to fight in this battle go out against them tomorrow.   Their battle was done in prayer.  They won the battle in heavens by God’s grace.  When they go out the next day they find all of the army that came against them was dead.   The armies rose up against each other and they all fought each other and every last man died.   Not one of the enemy lived.  There was no one left to fight them.

    It took 3 days for them to carry off the spoil and on the 4th day they worship.  It took 3 days to carry off the plunder.  I imagine word got out on the plunder.   Drive a BMW or Mercedes into a tough neighborhood in one of our big cites and abandon it overnight.   Don’t expect to see anything of it in the morning.   It was a big army and it took time to gather the goods.  Then they return joyfully to Jerusalem.  You can pray individually and God blesses that kind of praying.  You can pray with another person in agreement and more power is released.   When groups pray in unity that releases tremendous power of God and great things can happen.  History will record the change.  Nations can be changed. 

     When Jonah finally preached in Nineveh and the King and all the people and the animals fasted that God did not destroy them.   Later they were destroyed but not then.  It was one big revival.  In the book of Esther Haman wanted to destroy the Jews and had permission from the king to do so there was a turn around.      Mordecai and Esther proclaimed a fast and in a few days Haman and the enemies of the Jews were destroyed.  Haman was hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai the Jew.    When people get together fast and pray God’s power is released.        

    The spiritual world impacts us a lot.    John Dawson’s book on taking our cites for God on how to break spiritual strongholds for God.    John writes the greatest prayer effort I have experienced was in Los Angeles during 1983 and 1984.  The Olympic outreach is the central illustration of this book and the prayer strategy and its results are among the most exciting stories of all.   He writes we knew the attention of the world would be on our city.   We expected 100’s of thousands of foreign guests.  People from almost every nation would come to a city with religious freedom.  Over 1600 churches united in an active coalition.  Ten sub committees were dedicated to every conceivable form of evangelism and met to pray.   Two hundred pastors met for 3 days of prayer. One group of women purchased detailed street maps and spent months praying over the inhabitants on every street.  A group in Korea of over 300,000 intercessors prayed for Los Angeles.  Television, newspapers, and magazines called for prayer.  Two hundred pastors of the city met each month for prayer at the Olympic village site.

     The spiritual atmosphere over the city changed.   When the outreach began teams reported that more than 1,000 people each day came to Jesus.  Everything in the city was affected.   People were friendly.  Instead of the expected increase in crime the crime rate decreased.   The city was free from spiritual oppression.   A police academy Chaplin visited the county morgue shortly after the outreach.   The coroner told him that normally the morgue received 78 bodies a day many of whom are victims of murder.   The Chaplin asked him if he ever saw a change in those statistics.  The coroner gave an exciting answer, yes he said during the 2 weeks of the Olympics there were no murders.  Not a single person murdered for 2 weeks when normally there were several a day.   We have powerful spiritual resources.    We wrestle not against flesh and blood.  We are in a spiritual battle and we can by God’s grace abolish strongholds in our lives and in the lives of others.   What if God has assigned this church to break through the spiritual forces over Hooksett?   I have been told that there are some very powerful demons over this city