Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. 6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
I absolutely love this story because it shows the supernatural peace that Christians have available to them.
Peter was about to be be-headed the next day and where do you find him? Sleeping! Most would have been so uptight and even spiritually deflated but not Peter because he knew he was about to be promoted or delivered. Whom shall we fear, since God is for us who can be against us? Peter knew either way he won this race of life. Friends, when your eyes are on the prize of seeing Jesus, death is not a threat but a reality of seeing Jesus. Peter wasn’t blaming God for his condition because Peter knew his position in Christ. When you know your position in Christ, you can laugh at the face of adversity, you can shout in the face of danger, you can worship your worry away because God is your anchor in the storms of life.
Peter probably remembered when they were in a storm in
Mark 4:35-41 when Jesus had told them, let’s go to the other side. Jesus was on the boat with them and on the journey to the other side (right in the middle of the perfect will of God for their lives) a great storm arose. The wind was blowing, rain was filling the boat, it got dark and stormy and the disciples (including Peter) got afraid. Even though they were professional fishermen, this storm was larger than normal. Friends, it’s the larger storms of life that allow us to testify of God’s goodness. They started looking for Jesus and they found him SLEEPING in the storm. No storm can disturb the peace of God inside of you when you learn to walk in it. They woke him up accusing him of not caring about them in their storm but he arose, rebuked the storm and the storm ceased. Peter learned this lesson in life (from his Master, his Mentor, and his Savior) that you can sleep in the storm.
Before we move on, I feel a need to talk to you about Sleeping in the Storm. Even in the Old Covenant, God promised mankind peace.
Isa 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Friend, Father God is saying if you will do this, then you can have my peace that never changes. Never forget this basic eternal truth, with every God given promise there is a condition to the promise. Even John 3:16 has a condition; it is to everyone that believeth that has the everlasting life God promised. To have this perfect peace you must #1 keep your mind stayed on him. When the storm hits, remember it’s a distraction to keep you from the promise. The storm is not as powerful as the promise but you must stay focused on the promise or the storm will lie to you. What we focus on we become!
Secondly, we must put our complete trust in Father God, who has never failed and never will fail His chosen people. Peace is a gift to be obtained by trust (faith) and you have to speak it to have it. When the storm hits and you want to dwell on, talk about the storm it’s then you must choose your words carefully. Never praise the storm but rather praise the Promise Giver. Remember the promise is more real, more powerful than any storm.
Once again Peter was about to die the next morning but yet he was sleeping because of the supernatural peace of God he had learned to walk in. The anointing is not just to heal the sick, set captives free, loose those who are bound but the anointing also removes burdens and destroys yokes. What used to destroy your peace now is destroyed by the anointing, allowing you to walk in peace. We will never live in a stress free world on this side of eternity but we can choose to live stress free because we have citizenship in another world and we trust God is every area of our life.
2 Peter 1:2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.
Peter is wanting the believers to walk in greater grace and greater peace and then tells them how; by growing in the knowledge of God and Jesus which comes through studying the word and spending time in His Presence. Then Peter goes on to say this, that as we grow in grace and peace we have everything we need to live a Godly life, or we have everything we need to live in His Kingdom on earth including supernatural peace.
Prayer Points: Holy Spirit show me how to live in the divine peace for which I was created to live in. I want to live in supernatural peace even while I go THRU the storms of life.
Acts 12: 4 and imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod’s intention was to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover.
Last week we discussed some different prisons we find ourselves in but the good news is this, there has never been a prison lock for which God does not have the master key. He is able to unlock any prison door you might find yourself in. As long as we humble ourselves, fast, read His word and seek His face in prayer, the prison door will open. As God gets greater in you, the prison door loses its power to confine you.
Remember the desperation of the situation, James beheaded and now Peter imprisoned and surrounded by 16 soldiers and about to be martyred but there was an answer, the answer then is still our answer today…PRAYER!
Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
The early church family made up their minds that what they couldn’t do, God could do when they prayed in faith. So they set up people to pray around the clock for this desperate situation. Peter was an influential leader of the early church and they needed him. Prayer changes things; we must never forget that simple powerful one liner. That’s why we are commanded in Phil 4:6 Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. NLT
Friend, worry will weaken your faith or faith will destroy your worries but we must learn not to worry but to PRAY. If it’s big enough to concern you, then it’s big enough to pray over.
Nothing is impossible to the man or woman who believes in the power of prayer. No one is more powerful when they are on their knees in prayer. Through the power of prayer the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dumb talk and lives are transformed. Prayer is AMAZING!
George Muller is a prime example of a man who believes in the power of prayer. George Müller (German) (1805 –1898), a Christian evangelist and Director of the Ashley Down Orphanage in Bristol, England, cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. He was well known for providing an education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life. He also established 117 schools which offered Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of them being orphans. So pastor what is so amazing about George? It’s simply this; everything he accomplished and did was accomplished by the power of prayer. Let’s talk about some of his accomplishments in Father God’s Kingdom.
Müller moved to Bristol on May 25, 1832 to begin working at Bethesda Chapel. Along with Henry Craik, he continued preaching there until his death, even while devoted to his other ministries. In 1834, he founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad, with the goal of aiding Christian schools and missionaries; distributing Bible and Christian tracts; and providing Day-schools, Sunday-schools and Adult-schools, all upon a Scriptural foundation. By the end of February 1835, there were five Day-schools – two for boys and three for girls. Not receiving government support and only accepting unsolicited gifts, this organization received and disbursed $2,718,844 – around $144 million in today's terms – by the time of Müller's death, primarily using the money for supporting the orphanages and distributing about 285,407 Bibles, 1,459,506 New Testaments, and 244,351 other religious texts, which were translated into twenty other languages. The money was also used to support other "faith missionaries” around the world, such as Hudson Taylor.
His secret was private prayer. He never solicited any money or help from anyone. He simply prayed it in and God honored his faith. Friends, prayers prayed in faith can still move mountains, heal the incurable, give hope, bring peace, and supply needs supernaturally! Many times the orphans would have no food and God, at the last moment, would send food supernaturally. One time God allowed a milk truck to break down in front of the orphanage when they had no milk. That is the power of prayer!
As the church prayed for Peter, we will see in next week’s devotion that what they could not do, God did for them in sending an angel to rescue Peter from his prison. Believe God for the IMPOSSIBLE!
Prayer Points: Father in Jesus Name I ask you believing that you will deliver my loved ones from spiritual prisons that hold them captive.
Acts 12: 1 About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church.
Two things you can always count on when you are working in Father God’s Kingdom; 1. there will never be a shortage of persecution; 2. Father God will always turn the persecution into promotion.
Joseph was persecuted for doing good; falsely accused of attempted rape of his master’s wife, but God allowed the false accusations to position Joseph into a place which poised him for the greatest promotion of his life. You will never become all you can be for God’s kingdom without the spiritual sharpening of persecution in your life. It’s only when you are persecuted that you really find out the level of your spiritual walk and maturity. Persecutions are allowed to test our faith not to destroy our destiny.
The early church was birthed in the fire of the Holy Spirit but also birthed in the fire of persecution. King Herod was having Christians whipped, imprisoned and murdered in horrific ways. The next verse tells of one of the martyrs.
2 He had the apostle James (John's brother) killed with a sword. History points out that he was probably beheaded. 3 When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish leaders, he arrested Peter during the Passover celebration.
When you can be swayed by man, then you know you are not under the Lordship of Christ. Herod wanted to be a man pleaser instead of a God pleaser so he arrested the most famous of the disciples during one of the Jewish Feasts.
4 and imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod's intention was to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover.
Herod had Peter arrested and put him in a prison cell with four soldiers on each side of him. Herod had Peter surrounded to make it impossible for Peter to escape. Then after the Passover celebration Herod was going to bring Peter out for trial and take Peter’s life to further please the people. 5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.
What a powerful verse for us today! Never in the history of mankind are so many people in prison of their own choices today. Invisible prison walls but yet walls that keep a majority of people from fulfilling their purpose in Father God’s Kingdom. But there is hope for the imprisoned; a praying church, a praying parent, a praying pastor, a praying spouse. I’m still convinced that all things are possible when believing prayer is prayed in faith with expectation.
So many prisons that mankind find themselves in today:
Prison of their past: many cannot live today because they never learn to let go of their past. Friends, Jesus died to redeem us from our past! Yes, we may face consequences by the decisions we made in our past but never judgment from God. When you ask Father God to forgive you, He casts your sin as far as the East is from the West never to be remembered anymore. The next time the devil tries to bring up your past, remind him of his future!
Prison of a negative mindset: because of the way many are raised up with angry, harsh, words spoken to them time and time again they begin to think negatively and even live in a world full of negativity. You will never live a victorious life with a negative mindset. Negativity is a prison that will isolate you not only from your enemies but also those who really love you. A negative mindset is a prison that will keep you locked up and unfulfilled.
There are so many spiritual prisons but the greatest prison is one that we all had in common and it’s called SIN. Sin: a transgression of God’s Law; disobedience to God’s Word. Sin is a destroyer. The wages of sin is death here and in eternity to come. Someone said that since the wages of sin is death, you better quit before payday. Sin will rob you, destroy you. Sin is enticing to our flesh and deceives our mind but there is a cure for sin and there is a key for every spiritual prison, the key of prayer which allows the blood of Jesus to set us free.
Prayer Point: Father God help me pass the test of persecution, never to be imprisoned in prisons of my own choices which keeps me from fulfilling the purpose for which you created me.
We continue our journey in the book of Acts this morning in Acts 11:19 Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen's death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews. 20 However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. 21 The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord. Notice once again the lines drawn in the sand by the divisional walls of religion but Father God always has the last say. Where some are unwilling to travel, God will raise up others to go. I love verse 20, it’s what the church is supposed to be about…believers telling the lost about the good news of Jesus and verse 21 declares that the POWER of the LORD was with them and many Gentiles got saved. We are not called to change anyone but we are all called/chosen to be a vessel that will GO and TELL. If we will GO then Father God will do His part in drawing the lost to Him, He only needs vessels to go and speak through. One of my favorite thoughts is this, if God can use a donkey and a rooster, then HE will use ME if I will be willing to go in obedience.
22 When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw this evidence of God's blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.
Jerusalem quickly became the hub of spiritual authority and oversight in the church Jesus had established so they sent one of their leaders (Barnabas) to give oversight to what was happening and he was filled with excitement and joy as he saw what God was doing among the Gentiles. In Hebrew, the name Barnabas means- Son of consolation or son of exhortation, son of comfort, he was gifted to encourage the believers. The church today needs more people in the body encouraging, we all need to develop the gift of being an encourager.
24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.
Friends, may we all strive to have the same report told about us but not from us. It’s important to know what others feel about us but at the same time remembering what God knows about us is of the upmost importance. If we are full of the Holy Spirit then it should be said about us, they are a good person and they are strong in faith. You can never be full of the Holy Spirit and continue to have an ugly spirit about you. The Holy Spirit changes you from the inside out.
25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)
Discipleship takes time but Jesus told us to go make disciples not just converts. For fifty two weeks these two men of God taught the new believers and I believe they were having not just weekend meetings but meetings throughout the week as they learned more and more about Jesus. Friends, we all need to know more about the Word of God and to experience the presence of the Lord. Hunger, along with humility, is two key ingredients for personal spiritual growth. We must guard against spiritual complacency which leads to personal compromise (in our daily spiritual disciplines such as prayer, word, communion, etc.) which leads us to living a life of being spiritually cold. Fellowship and bible study with each other in the body of Christ will help keep a fire burning in our spiritual lives.
27 During this time some prophets traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.) 29 So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could. 30 This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem. NLT
The early church was a body of believers who relied on the supernatural power and knowledge of the Holy Spirit to lead them in their daily activities. We must all become more sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit in every area of our daily lives. The gifts of the Spirit are for all of us and to be in operation in our daily lives as we bring the full gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost, dying and hurting world.
Prayer Points: Father, help us be led by the Holy Spirit like the early church and give us a greater desire to grow and mature in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.