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Freedom In Prison Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
August 17, 2022 1:00 am

Freedom In Prison Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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August 17, 2022 1:00 am

God wants us to watch for Him even in the darkest times of our life. Sometimes, like in Peter’s circumstances, God walks us through prisons. In this message from Acts 12, we notice three unbreakable links in the chain of God’s providence. Through this miraculous story, we discover that we are not abandoned—even in prison. 

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Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter goes before to make sure the road ahead is just the way he wants it. That's what happened when the apostle Peter today will track story time when Peter went to prison from the Moody Church in Chicago.

This is when Sir whose clear teaching across the finish line. The master artist is nearly finished remaking heater. A man fizzled by the Masters hand dilutes her a few more touches remain in today will see Peter go to jail.

The prelude to a miracle when the apostle finds freedom in prison is a remarkable story. Dave is so remarkable. As a matter fact I wonder if I knew that I was to be executed. The next day. I wonder if I'd be sleeping. I'd probably be wide-awake, but as I have frequently heard it said Peter was sleeping the night before he was to be brought out and executed. Probably because and of course there's a little bit of humor here, probably because he wanted to arrive in heaven rested, but there he is in jail. Suddenly, the doors open. What a marvelous example of answered prayer and even surprise that the prayer was answered. I hope that everyone listens intently today and I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of running to win because at the end of this broadcast. I'm going to be telling you how you can become an endurance partner that someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts because you have been blessed through this ministry and you want to continue to see many others blessed. Thank you for those who help us and we trust that there'll be many more of you who join us in our endeavor to know God expects us to see him, even in some of the darkest times of our life. He expects us to see his footprint. During times of difficulty when we least expect to see his loving hand because he is with us now.

If you have been no joining us for the last couple of months. You know that this happens to be number 12 in a series of messages on the life of Peter Peter as we have already noticed was a great man of faith. He was impulsive in the Gospels.

We have many stories that bear that out.

He also love to Christ fervently, and even though he loved a lot. He also failed a lot, but God worked mightily in his life to bring him to the point where he would be a great spiritual leader, because after all, Jesus did say Peter your the one to whom I give the keys of the kingdom and we know that Peter was the one that got used to open the gospel up to the Samaritans and to the Gentiles and he became a great leader in the Christian church today were going to look at a rather remarkable story found in the 12th chapter of the book of acts acts happens to be the fifth book in the New Testament, and if you have your Bibles.

You may turn to that passage.

Acts chapter 12 story that involves a miracle story that involves the real commitment of Christ to his people like to do is to have you notice three links in a chain, a chain really of providential circumstances that take place herein. The 12th chapter of acts and the first link is that Peter is arrested.

Peter is arrested. Let's read the story. Now it came about at that time that Herod the king. By the way, this is Herod Agrippa the first. There are six Herod's in the New Testament, and it sometimes a little difficult to keep them all straight. Herod Agrippa.

The first was the grandson of Herod the great, the man who killed the babies the infants during the time of Christ. Remember that about 14 years have passed since Jesus ascended into heaven.

Sometimes when we read the book of acts we forget that Apollo had already been converted. There had been a lot of activity going on that the apostles were involved in and so many years of past now and that this Herod took some who belong to the church in order to mistreat them and he had James the brother of John, put to death with the sword. That is, of course, one of the apostles and when he saw that it please the Jews. He proceeded to arrest Peter also verse four and when he had seized them.

He put them into prison, delivering him to four squadrons of soldiers to guard him intending after the Passover to bring him out for the people. So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made to fervently by the church to God. Peter arrested put yourself in his sandals. Here was a man who was arrested not because he did anything wrong and he had no political or legal recourse. It was in just a rest for sure.

But in addition to being unjust. It was also very cruel. The intention was to mercilessly kill him because after all, Peter was a leader in the church and furthermore, many people recognized him to be a leader among the Gentiles, so to please the Jews. Herod said I want to be hit him just like I did the apostle James, no recourse, politically, legally, you know, it's one thing to be accused of Ivan the Terrible to be Ivan the Terrible but at least you may have an American court or an Israeli court that might listen to you whether they believe you are not is another story, but you always hope that in civilized countries.

There is some kind of legal redress of the situation, my friend. In those days, as in many countries today. There is no such thing as justice. A court of justice to which people can appeal but I want you to see this injustice as being part of God's will for Peter's life because God did not abandon him in prison. God went with him behind the gate into the prison. God always does that with his people.

It's not like when you're at an airport. You had the experiences I have that you go along and your friends accompany you like David Goldman did when I was in Morocco last fall. But then he gets to the sign of their in Morocco that says passengers only and we have to say goodbye know God goes behind those signs. God goes everywhere.

He even crosses borders from one country to another. Because he is always with his people.

I member when I was 18 years old attending a Bible college in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada that's not the end of the world, but you can see it from there. I had come from the province of Saskatchewan and that is the end of the world.

I remember in my first year being so lonely during those first few weeks because I was always a very shy person when I was five or six years old and we had company. My sisters and brothers would have to drag me out from under the bed, but I remember even at the age of 18, thinking to myself I wonder if God is here in Winnipeg.

Does he come this far will help.

Yes, God comes that far and a lot farther. God never abandons his people. He is with them because he has said I will never leave you nor forsake you. Notice how Peter was guarded. The text says that he was brought into the prison verse four and there were four squads of soldiers 4416 were assigned to take care of him a perhaps they were on some kind of a rotation basis every six hours. They were rotating and just so you had some men to come in two were chained to Peter. That's what the text says later. And then there was another one that was guarding the dungeon and then another that was guarding the gate to the prison itself. What chance did Peter have here. You had all of the Roman authorities against them. There was a dungeon and there were soldiers that were assigned to guard him and there was no way out. No way out. But there is a little phrase that we read it says but prayer was made by the church to God on his behalf. Peter was arrested. Let's look at the second link in the chain and that is that Peter was rescued he was rescued and what an amazing story that says I'm beholden angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in verse seven and a light shone in his cell and he struck Peter's side and roused him saying quickly as chains fell off his hands, and the angel said to him, gird yourself and put on your sandals was take time to get dressed when you go out and he did so, and he said to him, wrap your cloak around you and follow me, and he went out and continued to follow and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but he thought he was seeing a vision and when he had passed the first and second guard. They came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened before them by itself was as if they were walking out of the Jules store and they went out and went along, and they came to a street and immediately the angel departed from him, Peter is now had some good breaths of fresh air and when he 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 the Jewish people were expecting Peter is delivered. I want you to grasp something of the power of God in this experience. First of all God's power over people here were guards who had to sleep through this experience, so the Lord gave them some kind of a cosmic sleeping pill so they wouldn't wake up when the angel came in.

You can see God's power. Also, over matter.

The Bible says that the chains fell off they just broke apart and then that date that opened up of itself, the Lord just miraculously intervened and he did this are an amazing miracle. And Peter walked out all that prison without being seen. Last week my secretary told me that there was a report out in the East Coast from someone who contacted someone within the church within Moody church because they had heard.

We are going liberal. I don't know where those rumors came from.

We are liberal, hopefully in our generosity that we are not theologically liberal. So just in case you're visiting and you wonder where we stand. I want you to know that we here at Moody church actually believe this stuff we actually believe this stuff that happened and what a miracle it was now you know the rest of the story which involves actually some humor Peter goes to where the prayer meeting is being held.

It says in verse 13 and when he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant girl. I tend to think that she was a teenager. Mark servant girls often times were very young and they were used as servants and her name was Rhoda and she came to the door to answer 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 with one accord to shouted Amen. We've been praying for this and we knew he would be there not my children keep me up-to-date to understand verse 15 and they said to her you are out of your mind you're crazy wrote she keeps insisting know he is there. So the season the saints who have an explanation for everything. They come up with another idea. They say it is his angel, and Peter continues to not see the irony.

I mean, Peter is able to get out of the gate of the prison he can't get into the gate of the prayer meeting and so eventually they come and they are absolutely amazed and they say it is Peter and he continued to not until they opened now. Isn't it interesting that God answered their prayer even though apparently was not prayed in a whole lot of faith but because of God's will.

And because of God's purposes. The Lord was gracious in granting this miracle to preserve Peter's life. That's the second link in the chain.

First of all, he is arrested. Secondly, he is delivered. Thirdly, and very briefly. He is vindicated. What do I mean by that eventually dog God.

Herod God God Herod this wicked king was unscrupulous and who is known in history as being cruel will notice he took all of the people who were responsible to guard Peter and had them executed.

The text says, but one day Herod was going down to Caesarea and there in Caesarea. There is a big amphitheater and people were gathered together. If you ever go to Israel. You can actually go to that amphitheater and you can be there where Herod was and where he put on a show and according to Josephus, this Herod dressed himself in a shimmering silver robe and as the sun shone on him. Everybody shouted he is a God.

Verse 22. This is the voice of a God and not a man and you know that Herod didn't correct them. He should've said hey you guys are all wrong.

I'm just a man, really. I'm not into the New Age movement take me seriously I'm not God should've said that he didn't.

He took the credit and notice what it says. Verse 23 immediately and the angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory and according to Josephus, it took seven days, but it says he was eaten by worms and died.

What an awful way to go.

Interestingly verse seven in your Bibles notice it says an angel of the Lord appeared and struck Peter here we are. Verse 23 and angel of the Lord appeared and struck Herod. I tend to think it was the same angel. I can't prove that, but it may have been the first one strikes Peter to awaken him so that he can be delivered and the other time the angel comes he strikes Herod to kill him because of his pride and because of his ruthlessness and Peter is vindicated and Herod is the one who dies rather than Peter.

Let me ask you question why is it that God allows the story to be in the Bible. Is it just so that Peter would have a fantastic story to tell, so that he could stand up and give us testimony and say folks, I've got something to tell you that you folks have never experienced. Listen to what I have to say it's not like the experience was given. It may have been all right to repeated I'm not arguing that I'm just simply saying that God doesn't do things just for the sake of doing them behind of the workings of God.

There are always his footprints to teach a lesson to office that we might not learn in any other way. Let me give you three lessons that Peter learned as a result of this prison experience. First of all, he learned is something about the sovereignty of God, the absolute sovereignty and control of God over his people.

You did catch it at the beginning of the chapter didn't you notice what it says that Herod took James and killed James with the sword. Was it because James wasn't a spiritualist. Peter golf course not, but God allows James to die and it's not because the church wasn't praying for James and God could have delivered James without the prayer of the church. He could've delivered Peter without the prayer of the church.

God can do as he wills his purpose was that James would die and Peter would go on and live because there was still work for Peter to do but how can we pry into God's secret councils and figure out why figure out why he would allow James to die and Peter to live.

We don't have an answer to those kinds of questions on the side of glory. Those are the kinds of questions we will ask God someday. We like to tell the story of Daniel Howe that he was there in the lion's den and the Lord came and sent an angel and close the mouths of those Allianz so Daniel was there and the hungry lions did not eat him the true story and we believe it but my wife and I have been to Rome and we walked through the Circus Maximus and we been to the Coliseum and we have seen areas of the city. There were Christians died by the hundreds and they were thrown to wild beasts, and there was no angel that came to close the mouth of those lions have a word with you. Are you puzzled by the providence of God.

I certainly am.

As a matter fact, the older I get, the more I realize that God is oftentimes so mysterious. We do not know why he does some things and not others. But this much we know we come to know him through Jesus Christ our Lord. And I want to encourage you today and I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry, you know, perhaps you've heard me already say in a previous broadcast running to win is in 20 different countries in four different languages. Why because people just like you have stood with us. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner, someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.

Of course, the amount that you give is entirely up to you but here's what you do for info you go to RTW offer.com mats RTW offered.com and when you're there, click on the endurance partner button or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 if you're at your computer or you have your cell phone handy right now.

Go to RTW offer.com. Click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337 now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lewis or a question about the Bible or the Christian life Dr. lutes or listener named Amy has been hearing your series on the armor of God from the book of Ephesians. She's having some trouble, though putting what you said into practice.

Here's what she wrote I've heard and been told to put on the full armor of God each day, but I have not heard an explanation of what this really means I've been a Christian for four years now and have never been given a full understanding of this by anyone I've asked. I understand what each piece is for and that it is a representation of spiritual armor because we are in a spiritual battle but what does it mean to put it on. I have heard say it like a prayer each day or imagine in your mind putting each piece of armor on your physical body and say to yourself what each piece represents. I even asked my pastor and he couldn't give me a solid answer.

The answers I'm getting. Don't make complete sense to me. How can your words alone or your imagination protect you, Amy. I think that you vest an excellent question, and I'm very sorry that in my series on the seven pieces of armor.

I probably might not have answered it as well as I should have. I really do believe that putting on the armor isn't simply saying a prayer though God knows that that may be very necessary. I think that putting on the armor of God is really a lifestyle.

For example, when it talks about the belt of truth what it means is that we live lives of integrity and truth, righteousness, the breastplate of righteousness we receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ most assuredly, but I think that also.

What this involves is living a life of righteousness, so that righteousness becomes characteristic of your conduct in your daily relationships. You know, faith, the shield of faith, of course, is not simply getting up in the morning and saying well. I've prayed and so I have my shield on now what it means is that you live a whole life of faith as you go through your day. You're totally dependent upon God, you are saying that your dependence is complete. As you have situations come up. So think of these more as characteristics of a person whose lifestyle is really reflecting these pieces of armor and I think that when you do that and by the way when they are all on it says also praying, praying, and that is part of it, then I think we really equipped to stand against the wiles of the devil. I pray for you Amy and I pray for myself that God will grant us the grace to be able to put on these pieces of armor by our lifestyle that we might be successful in our walk with God. Thank you Amy for your obvious concern to live a life pleasing to the Lord. Thank you Dr. lutes or for your answer to her questions. If you'd like to hear your question answered.

You can go to our website@rtwoffer.com and click on ask Pastor lutes or or call us at 1-888-218-9337 that's 1-888-218-9337 you can write to us running to win 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 going to win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Peter knew that his life would not end by execution in a jail cell. But when an angel opened the prison doors young church could not believe he was free. Then again would have thought any differently next time I'm running to win will turn again to practice. Chapter 12 Erwin lutes will ask a question about some news that seemed too good to be true for Dr. Erwin lutes or this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the teacher


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