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29—ACTS 12:1-17

PETER PRAYED OUT OF PRISON
Acts 12:1-17

There are times bad things happen to good people.
Sometimes innocent people suffer in ways that we think are unfair and unjust.
When we look closely we can see God using bad circumstances for His glory and our good.
Paul's encouragement to the Romans — Romans 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Remember the phrases, to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose.”

PETER'S PERILOUS CONDITION (Acts 12:1-5a)

A. The plans of the King — (Acts 12:1-3a -- Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church, in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword, And when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. ...)

  • The role of politicians has not changed.
  • They have always served the winds of public opinion. Herod was trying to endear himself to the loyal Jews.

B. The desire of the Crowd — (Acts 12:3 -- And when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread.)

  • This was a High Holy time for the orthodox Jews. They had seen Jesus stopped during this time, now Peter, the leader of the Christians, would see his end also.

C. The suffering of Peter — (Acts 12:4-5a -- And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. So Peter was kept in the prison)

  • Herod knew that during Passover the people would be busy.
  • He would wait and have a showy public trial after the Holy Day ended and before the crowds left Jerusalem.

PETER'S PRAYING CHURCH (Acts 12:5b)

A. Recognized their Responsibility (Acts 12:5b but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.)

  • This church knew what they were called to do.
  • I wonder how many of us turn to prayer first?

B. Knew God was their Source (Acts 12:5b but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.)

  • They knew that only God had the ability and power to release Peter.
  • The word translated fervently is a medical term describing the stretching of a muscle to its limits.
  • The same word used to describe Jesus' prayer: Luke 22:44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.
  • It means that they poured the maximum effort they were capable of into their prayers. Have we ever done this?

C. Refused to be Discouraged…nothing was more important to this church than praying for Peter, even when the odds were so heavy against them.

PETER'S PEACEFUL COMPOSURE (Acts 12:6)

  • What was Peter doing on this last night before his execution? 
  • He was asleep on a hard wretched cell floor, chained to guards, worried about nothing!
  • He was not wringing his hands, pacing back and forth, crying out of fear, or explaining his innocence.
  • He was asleep! What was he thinking about?

A. Memory of Stephen Acts 7:54-60 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they {began} gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears, and they rushed upon him with one impulse. And when they had driven him out of the city, they {began} stoning {him,} and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon {the Lord} and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" And having said this, he fell asleep.

  • Memory of the Savior Luke 23:34 Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
  • Luke 23:46 Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit." And having said this, He breathed His last.

B. His Mind On Scripture John 14:1-6 Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, {there} you may be also. And you know the way where I am going. Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

PETER'S POWERFUL CARETAKER (Acts 12: 7-8)

A. An angel Appeared (Acts 12:7 And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared, and a light shone in the cell.)

  • The angel's appearance was sudden and shining.

B. The angel's Authority (Acts 12:7 And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter's side and roused him, saying, "Get up quickly." And his chains fell off his hands.)

  • This angel did not come in His own power, but in the Name of the Lord.
  • He had the authority to touch and transport Peter.

C. The angel's Command (Acts 12:8 And the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.")

THE MINISTRY OF THIS ANGEL WAS TWO-FOLD.

First, he was there as liberator.

  • All the things that bound Peter fell off.
  • He will free you today from whatever it is that has you bound, whether habits, sickness, disease, whatever satan has been using to torment you.

Second, was leadership. He not only frees us but more importantly he leads us! God can always be counted on to grant leadership to his faithful followers.

PETERS COMPLETE OBEDIENCE (Acts 12:9-10)

A. His obedience (Acts 12:9 And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.)

  • His obedience was immediate. He did not question the angel. Faith causes us to trust even what we do not understand.
  • His obedience was also intense.

B. The effect of obedience (Acts 12:10 And when they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street; and immediately the angel departed from him.)

  • It relieved his burdens.
  • It removed all barriers.
  • And it released him from all bondage.

THE CHURCH CELEBRATES (Acts 12:11-17)

A. This Affirmed his Faith (Acts 12:11 And when Peter came to himself, he said, Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.

  • He now knew this was not a dream, but a deliverance by God himself!
  • He was never the same again after this experience.

B. Peter Came to his Friends (Acts 12:12-13 And when he realized {this,} he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer.)

  • Peter also realized that God had released him for a reason.
  • Things that happen in the life of the believer are often to be used to encourage the saints.
  • Some things are very personal, but may be for church edification.
  • He wanted to let the people know that prayer really worked and they were safe because God was still in control!

C. They Were Amazed at his Freedom (Acts 12:14-17 And when she recognized Peter's voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. And they said to her, "You are out of your mind!" But she kept insisting that it was so. And they kept saying, "It is his angel." But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened {the door} they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had led him out of the prison. And he said, "Report these things to James and the brethren." And he departed and went to another place.)

  • There is an indication that they were praying,
  • But Were They Expecting?
  • Many times we pray and are shocked when God answers.
  • We should always pray expecting the answer to the prayers we are praying.

CONCLUSION:
God is still in the business of answering prayer.
Whatever it is you are facing, He cares for you.
This is what the Word of God declares (1Pet 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.)
This comes from a man who knew from experience the power of prayer.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Prayer requests: 1-918-224-3609
Mail: Bishop Ira L. Hargis
Post Office Box 354
Sapulpa, Oklahoma USA 74067
Email:
pastoriralh@fireofrevival.com or
pastoriralh@hotmail.com

Awesome links: http://www.e-sword.net/, http://www.jsm.org/, http://worldenglishbible.org/, http://www.netbible.com/

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