Peter in Prison and Spiritual Lessons
Acts 12 – Peter in Prison and Spiritual Lessons
1. Herod the enemy of the Church
2. Herod kills James the brother of John with the sword
A man with political power
3. Herod, a political opportunist, pleases the Jews by his actions
Herod arrests Peter
A people pleaser –
4. Peter put in prison – kept by 16 soldiers
The indomitable Peter is now helpless
The bold and fearless fisherman is now shackled, a captive in chains
5. The Church prayed without ceasing for Peter that night
The power of the praying Church
6. Peter was sleeping the night before his execution
Peter was bound with two chains
Prison keepers kept the door secure
Jesus had told Peter how he would die (John 21:18-19)
Jesus had told Peter he would die when his is old
Peter was now at peace – he had been grieved by Jesus’ questions. His eyes had met the eyes of Jesus and he had wept bitterly –Peter had prayed for the first time in His life. And now, Peter was done with Peter.
Peter knew that he would be delivered –
Peter did not know how he would be delivered
His heart and his life was completely in the hands and heart of God
7. An angel came to Peter who was bound in prison
There was light in the prison
The angel struck Peter on his side and raised him up
“Get up quickly”
Peter’s chains fell off of his hands
An angel? How did an angel get there?
Daniel 10 – God sent an angel to answer Daniel’s prayer
God brings light in our dark helplessness
He sends someone to strike us and say, ‘get up quickly…”
Our chains fall off and even in prison we are free
“Stone walls do not a prison make nor iron bars a cage…”
8. The words of the angel to Peter:
‘Put your clothes on’
‘Put on your shoes’
Peter obeyed the angel
‘Put on your coat’
Get dressed for battle and obey and follow the Word of God
9. Peter is delivered from prison
Peter went out and followed the angel
Peter did not know this was really happening
Peter thought this was a vision
Peter obeyed the angel
Peter’s Spiritual awakening is now an inner experience
Have your chains fallen off?
If you are sleeping you may not know that you are in chains
You may not know that you are in prison
An ‘angel’ will need to waken you
10. The escape
They passed the first watch
They passed the second watch
The iron gate opened of its own accord
They went out
They passed through one street
The angel departed
The bondage of sin is gone –
Even the iron gates cannot withstand the power of God’s deliverance
“the gates of Hell cannot stand against the prayers of the Church”
There was work for Peter to do – God gave His children title to the promised land but they had to kill the giants. We are in a Spiritual war!
Have you claimed the Promised land? Are you fighting the giants?
Has God given you victory over the giants that hold you in bondage?
But now, Where is the angel when I need him…?
God delivers us and then expects us to put off the sin and put on the armor and fight the fight of Spiritual warfare for ourselves and for others.
‘Take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.’
11. The real Peter
He said (to himself)… Do you talk to yourself?
What kinds of things do you say to yourself?
‘Now I know for sure that God sent His angel’ –
He was experiencing the power of the Spirit world
And delivered me –the freedom of God’s inner peace
From Herod – from the powers that be
And from the expectation of the people – no more fear of man
The Peter who feared a little servant girl now is not even afraid of the king and the Jewish nation
The real you is the you that you are when Jesus has set you free. When you have come to the end of yourself and your cunningly devised schemes and plans and politics. When you are changed by the power and love of God. That is the real you that God made you to be!
Peter came to himself –Peter has become the Peter that God made him to be. No more a little stone but now standing on the Rock, The Christ – Peter is the fearless Man of God who can face the fiery trials of whatever Satan throws against him.
12-14. Now Peter is thinking clearly
He goes to the prayer meeting held behind closed doors – he knocks
14. Rhoda, a girl, goes to see – Excited, gladness, “Peter is here!”
15. You are crazy!
Be quiet, we are praying
NO, NO, He is here!
It is his angel
16. Peter keeps knocking – the people are astonished
Are you astonished when God answers your prayers?
Are you keeping God waiting because you are not ready to accept His answer?
Do we need a Rhoda to answer the door and tell us that God is here?
17. Peter tells the story and moves on to more ministry
Witnessing is telling the story of your deliverance – now you go and tell the story
‘Witness’ in Greek is martyr –
18-19. Herod a man of death
There are wise men, foolish men and evil men. The Herods frequently acted as evil men.
20-21. Herod a man of politics
22-23. Herod, a man thought to be a god
Died at the hands of an angel
He did not give glory to God
Contrast to Peter
Angels are here to bless and to judge
24-25. The Word of God grew and multiplied
Godly men fulfilled the ministry to which God had called them
Is your Church growing and multiplying?
What kind of Church would have this kind of power?
Acts 6 – What kind of Church gets these kinds of results?
I. Growth – a good problem
Neglect – a bad problem
II. Leaders take responsibility
Apostles called a meeting of the disciples
Used their reason – (Unaided reason vs. Aided reason)
Knew their calling
Had a plan
III. “Deacons” – delegated servants
Knew how many were needed
Knew the qualifications needed
Of honest reputation
Full of the Holy Spirit
Full of wisdom
Appointed (ordained) them
Apostles were ordained by Jesus, not by men – Mark 3:14
IV. The leaders had a clear sense of their calling
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
They blended the contemplative (prayer) and the active (teaching) life
These men had heard Jesus pray and teach and now they prayed and taught.
V. The Church multiplied – v.5-6
The people were pleased with the leaders’ decision
The people chose qualified persons
Stephen was recognized for his gifting and calling
Six other men were also called
Apostles prayed and laid hands on them to give them their charge
VI. Growth – v.7-8
The Church now is growing greatly
Many priests – a great company join the new Church
The new Church made inroads into the religious systems of the day
VII. Persecution by religious leaders v.9
Life comes from death
Stephen’s death births Saul/Paul
Acts 12 – the power of Prayer and Spiritual Warfare
What kind of Church gets these kinds of results? Powerful Church!
Intro -Definition of prayer –
A heart that beats in harmony and fellowship with Father God
Prayer without obedience is not prayer
I. Basis of this message
A. Theme -Acts 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
B. Acts 2, and 6 – what kind of Church has this kind of power in prayer?
II. Prayer is in the Spirit
When the Spirit of God in your spirit connects with the Holy Spirit of God, that is prayer – I Cor. 2, Gal. 4:6, Romans 8:26
When the Spirit of God in you connects with the Spirit of God in another person, that is fellowship
What spirit is connecting you to God?
What spirit is connecting you to other people?
Teach us to pray – The disciples asked Jesus
III. Prayer in relation to other Christian characteristics
Prayer is worship
Adoration of and submission to Father God
Listening to God and to His Spirit
Vials are the prayers of the saints
Rev. 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden bowls full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.
Prayer and Angels-
Sent to the heirs of eternal life
See Daniel 10 for persistent prayer and Spiritual warfare
Angel led Peter and then left him-
Angels are not to lead you by the hand all of your life.
Prayer and repentance – Hosea 14:1 O Israel, return to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity;
Take words with you, And return to the LORD. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.
Prayer and humility – your humility is measurable – your humility is measured by how much time you invest in private prayer
Prayer and persecution – persecution purifies our prayers
Prayer and hypocrisy – There is no hypocrisy in private prayer
Prayer is power – as seen in this lesson
Prayer is self-examination – where you meet God
Prayer and truth – Jesus,” Thy word is truth” in prayer to His Father
Prayer and love/intimacy
Wives, your intimacy with your husband will be determined by your submission to him and by your rejection of all other men.
Bride of Christ, the Church – your intimacy with your Lord will be determined by your submission to Him and by your rejection of all other lords and allegiances.
Prayer is the first step toward love – prayer opens the heart – Prayer removes the defenses from around the heart and allows the love of God to penetrate the cold, hard heart. Prayer allows the love of God to calm the hurting, hungry heart. It prevents us from hiding from love.
Prayer allows us to Love God and love each other.
When we understand love, life will change because we will change. Satan has corrupted the most precious of all graces; love. Eros or agape? Given a choice, we chose Eros. Selfish or selfless? Given a choice, we chose selfish. We need Bold Love. We are Hiding From Love. If you think your understand love, they I have a question for you-
Did Jesus love the Pharisees?
How did He treat them? Did they feel loved?
Love is always about truth. Love and truth cannot be separated. Separately, they are destructive. Together, they build life. Together, they build trust. Jesus came ‘full of grace and truth.’ That is love.
Walking around with a big smile like everything is fine is dishonest. That presents a false picture and everyone knows it is false. The youth have built-in hypocrisy detectors. (Those detectors get lost as we get old.) There is difficult to talk to people who act like that. They use smiles and false love as tools of their politics. They do not understand love. They do not know love.
We all have a love-hunger that can only be satisfied by the love of God. If we do not accept that love, no one else can love us either because we will not accept their love.
You will find it very difficult to love people who do not feel loved. You cannot love people who do not know that they are loved by God. People who do not know in their heart (they know it in their head) that God loves them, will reject all the love that you try to give them.
Love is so difficult because it is such short supply. It is in short supply because we do not have enough to share. We need all the love we have and we need all the love we can get and we have non to share. BUT, if we experience the agape love of God, Jesus said, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love will be a well, a spring of living water coming out of our innermost being, out of our belly shall flow rivers of living water, the water of love, joy, peace because it is the love of God and not our own. Gal. 2 and also Eph. 2 speak of the fruit of the Spirit. That is the fruit of prayer.
Prayer and The Word of God
Elijah prayed that it would not rain. Why?
God had said, If you sin, it will not rain. II Chron. 7:13
Elijah’s prayer was agreement with God and His word
Elijah’s prayer was looking for God to keep His word
Prayer is unity
Lords prayer is unity – our father – who is ‘our’Father?
The Church is the body of Christ – it is a unity. We band together and pray that
God will deliver our members who are in bondage and then be ready for His answer to the situation.
When we are not unified, someone is not part of the body or a part of the body is sick.
My most ardent personal prayer was that God would, in His grace, grant me obedient children and “not give me wayward children.” My children love me and they love their mother and they love each other. Perhaps I forgot to pray for healthy children and God gave us children with physical problems.
My most fervent prayer was on Jan 17 this year. Broadsided in the dark by a vehicle that had run a stop sign, we could only cry out to God and we did. In our moment of need, He was there.
These people were united – so united that they forgot that God might enter the room. Be careful. You can be so focused that when your prayers are answered, you may miss the answer. We pray for revival. Would we recognize revival if God sent it. Revival is here. All we have to do is acknowledge it. God has placed people here who have and live their convictions. That is revival. When people live out their Godly convictions, that is revival. Many youth are making good choices. Young parents are raising a generation of Godly children. Excellent expository preaching. New schools are being built. New congregations are being started. Do not miss the revival just because God did not send it in the way you thought it should be. Youth are choosing missions and conservative training.
Open the door. Rhoda, open the door so God’s answer to our prayers can come in.
They were praying for God’s will. Is there any reason that could/would unify your Church enough to pray like that?
V. Silent prayer – personal private prayer is the real test of prayer life
” And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ”
Psalm 55:17 – morning, noon and night are times to pray without ceasing.
VII. Hindrances to prayer
-Grace is at war with sin – if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me
-Lack of repentance
-Politics in the Church
-Men – that your prayers be not hindered – take your place in the home I Pet. 3:7.
Men passive, women aggressive, children confused – is the curse of Mal. 4:6
-Self – need for selflessness
The greater your ability and your trust in your ability the greater your need for prayer – Peter was the boldest and the neediest apostle. God broke him and then God used him. Have you come to the end of yourself? If you have not – God cannot use you to build His kingdom. If you are a broken person – done with your will – helpless and available before God, God will deliver you from yourself and then God will use you.
What about your Church – What kind of church has power with God?
My testimony – I am loyal, and I trust you are loyal to the Church of Jesus Christ and to The God of the universe and to His Word. What ever that costs, I am prepared to pay. Delivered or not, I am in His hands. Maybe I am James and Herod will kill me. Maybe I am Stephen and religious leaders will kill me. Maybe I am Peter and God will set me free for more years of service.
Jeremiah was accused of disloyalty. Jeremiah was the most loyal of all of them. Jeremiah said, “Do with me whatever you want. I am in your hands.” Really, Jeremiah was in the hands of God.
Prayer is not words but it is your heart beating with God’s heart – your love of Him and His Word and His people as your heart shares His love with Him.
When I go to bed with a heavy heart, I pray – the Lords Prayer. Sometimes it takes five or ten minutes to pray that prayer. I call you to a life of communion with God. That is prayer. That is the prayer of a powerful Church.
That is my prayer for you.
Kyrie eleyson – Lord have Mercy.