January 10, 2023 6:00 am
Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts
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You start hearing the gospel message that started with John and ended and started he came on the scene repent for the kingdom of heaven is here the kingdom of God is here at hand and Christ picks up that sermon and that that teaching and goes forward with it and a lot more and the righteous and everyone that is looking for the righteousness of Christ is pressing in I'm reading these verses to press the point that persistent faith presses forward Cross-reference radio specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching, but for now let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Acts chapter 12 as he begins a new message called Faithful Unbelief.
verse 19 Peter was therefore kept in prison but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church and when Herod was about to bring him out that night Peter was sleeping bound with two chains between two soldiers the guards before the door were keeping the prison now behold an angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the prison and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up saying arise quickly and his chains fell off his hands then the angel said to him gird yourself and tie on your sandals and so he did and he said to him put on your garment and follow me so he went out and followed him and did not know that what was done by the angel was real but thought he was seeing a vision when they were past the first and second guard post they came to the iron gate that leads to the city which opened to them of its own accord and they went out and went down the street and immediately the angel departed from him when Peter had come to himself he said now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people so when he had considered this he came to the house of Mary the mother of John whose surname was Mark where many were gathered together praying and as Peter knocked at the door of the gate a girl named Rhoda came to answer when she recognized Peter's voice because of her gladness she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate but they said to her you are beside yourself yet she kept insisting that it was so so they said it is his angel now Peter continued knocking and when they opened the door and saw him they were astonished but motioning to them with his hand to keep silent he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison and he said go tell these things to James and to the brethren and he departed and went to another place then as soon as it was day there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter but when Herod had searched for him and not found him he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death and he went down to Judea of Caesarea and stayed there faithful unbelief faithful Peter doubted that he was being delivered thinking it was a vision then the faithful believers doubted that he was delivered while they were praying for his deliverance and he's knocking at the door we are not picking on these believers we are appreciating that the Holy Spirit has preserved this for us so that we could be encouraged because we too though faithful to the Lord Jesus find ourselves sometimes in a state of unbelief we're just not getting it we're just not feeling it trusting God does not always deliver the desired results to us we trust God and then the worst happens this happens in the scripture and it happens in our lives and we as believers we learn to process it and do something about it and do something with it at the very least a shallow faith stops right there I did not have my urgent need answered and they don't grow they may even backslide remember the prophet met Naaman's needs but he did not meet Gehazi's wants and there's a lot of a lot of lesson in that for us our Lord through the Holy Spirit is constantly calling us to do what we cannot do in our own strength to depend on him if we are going to accomplish things for the kingdom we want to do it in communion with God with the Holy Spirit with the Lord Jesus Christ and not just because it seemed to be the thing to do we want that communion that fellowship and it is certainly easier to sink downward than to struggle upward this is just a fact of life world we live in especially when there is no flame in the heart it's very difficult to fight upward to get out of some rut that we might find ourselves in or some bad habit that perhaps we have latched on to Charles Spurgeon said long ago a touch of enthusiasm would be the salvation of many a man's religion some Christians are good enough people they are like wax candles but they are not lit oh for a touch of the flame and as I don't want to be a wax candle I do not want to be without the flame but I have to work for it nowhere in the scripture does this come to us easily it is a struggle persistent faith presses forward this is emphasized in the New Testament it existed certainly in the old also Matthew chapter 11 verse 12 from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force there is force involved there is this struggle not suggesting being violent towards people but it is there is violence concerning the evil and the sin and the self I mean the self the sinful self it just makes us petty people at the least monstrosities at the most Luke chapter 16 the law and the prophets were until John now Christ is talking about the transition period into the New Testament and he continues to say since that time the kingdom of God has been preached and everyone is pressing into it you start hearing the gospel message that started with John ended and started he came on the scene repent for the kingdom of heaven is here the kingdom of God is here at hand and Christ picks up that sermon and that that teaching and goes forward with it and a lot more in the righteous and everyone that is looking for the righteousness of Christ is pressing in I'm reading these verses to press the point that persistent faith presses forward where the prayers are answered or not whether our desires are granted or not. I mean you can put you you can put so much into something and then when you get the opposite result it can be devastating I tried so hard I tried in ministry I tried to serve I tried to be a good father I tried to be a good whatever it is and then you meet with some failure What are you going to do? The idea is to press forward. Apostle Paul I press toward the goal or the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. We are faithful when we believe in Christ but we are not always full of belief when it comes to how things are going to turn out. God knows this for the Apostle Paul he told the believers it just tells us in Acts 14 strengthening the souls of the disciples which means they were weakening or at least susceptible to exhorting them to continue in the faith and saying we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God because straight and narrow is the way and to get through a narrow opening one has to squeeze through press through and so don't be surprised when you find yourself pressing forward in your faith squeezing through. It's not as easy as maybe you were expecting it to be.
Don't be knocked out of the box by that. Keep going it is going to be fruitful if you persist and of course prayer is a big part of this. We have to learn how to pray. I don't know why it is we think that because we are saved we automatically know how to pray. Well some it may come more easy to them than others but some of the rules for prayer I'm going to list 800 of them.
Here are 800 points. I just give four that I send out to me. When I pray I must pray within the rules of scripture. I cannot go outside of what the Bible teaches. I cannot go contrary to what the scripture teaches in my prayer. When I pray I have to remember to trust in the character of God that if he allows or disallows he is still good and I will trust him for that and leave it there. I will pray with sense.
I don't think stupid prayers glorify God and by that I mean prayers that just are mindless and there are those that offer mindless prayers they just don't even thinking about what they're saying. And then and we'll get to that towards the end I'll quote that from Corinthians with Paul says I will pray with understanding. I will pray to the finish and not just be knocked out because things aren't turning out my way if it takes a lifetime on a particular prayer request.
So long as there is breath in me and an opportunity I will stick to it. I think this has something to do with what we're talking about because here is Peter on death row he's going to be executed at daybreak. The saints are praying hard for him because they already lost James under the same circumstances. Whether they prayed so hard for James or not we're not told we can assume that they were praying for James. Which would be exciting because James of course was beheaded and rather than pack up their prayers and keep and no longer go forward they're praying. Verse 6 we look at because verse 5 set up for us Herod had arrested Peter. And when Herod was about to bring him out that night Peter was sleeping bound with two chains between two soldiers and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.
Six men watching one. As I mentioned well where it says and Herod was about to bring him out this is the daybreak execution that's when it was scheduled for the morning. But the believers they did not cast away hope they were praying. Peter was sleeping it tells us here in verse 6. Probably the only Christian that got any sleep that night in Jerusalem was Peter. The one who was in jeopardy the one that was in danger he's just sleeping. Apparently resting in the will of God.
There's some exhaustion there too. But Peter understood what the Lord said to him the prophecy and we've covered this going through Acts. That he would be old when it was time for him to die and he would die the martyrs death. Peter brings us up in his second letter he says knowing that shortly I must put off my tent just as our Lord Jesus showed me. Well that's years later that he writes that what we know as Peter's letter.
But in these days he's still relatively young it's not time for him to die and that's why I say he is resting in the will of God. Peter had no hope of being raptured. He functioned as an extraordinary Christian as an extraordinary apostle without ever thinking that one day I'll be raptured.
He would die a violent death because of the things he believed and to him it was worth it and he would do it again. Peter was delivered from prison twice that we read about. Paul not so much.
We'll come to that. But here he lives in the shadow of the cross all of his Christian service. As I mentioned Paul notified the Christians that we through many tribulations entered the kingdom.
Encouraging them to not give in. Acts chapter 9 God said this to Paul. I will show him he's saying it to Ananias to get to tell Paul I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name's sake. When it is my time to die I would like to go to go out of this life like my grandfather. Sleep sound asleep not screaming and crying and carrying on like his passengers.
I didn't deliver that right I don't know something was missing but you got the point. Grandpa sleep at the wheel. Who doesn't want to go out in their sleep?
I think we all do. Maybe when you're young and you know just enter the faith and you're all excited. But as time goes on you know you just you know I think I'll just go with the easy way. Well we want to go the way God wants us to go whether it is through life or out of life. Bound with two chains verse 6 still between two soldiers and the guards before the door we're keeping the prison. There is a difference between being asleep while chained and asleep in chains. That makes my point. Some are active in faith in spite of life's limitations restrictions. Things that they just cannot do the freedom that they cannot achieve.
Others are just inactive. Prisoners of life not doing much for the kingdom not even talking to God about is there anything else I could do for you. Which I think is a sensible prayer we talk about praying sensibly. Lord who are you?
What would you like me to do? Growing in the knowledge and grace of God. Well we meet Christ and we know him personally but there are things about him that we have to learn as life moves forward and relearn. That's why Paul prayed that the believers would grow in the knowledge and grace of Christ. Interesting or the grace and knowledge because some have the knowledge no grace. But to have true grace you're going to have some Bible knowledge. That will that's a critical point that Satan does not want you to get. And there are entire churches and denominations that have tossed what the Bible teaches away and they're just now doing their own thing in the name of the church.
That is less than ideal. Verse 7, Now behold an angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the prison and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up saying arise quickly and his chains fell off his hands. Angels are God's servants who serve God's servants also.
And they do other things. But one of the outstanding features about angels in relation to us is that they serve us at God's behest. Hebrews chapter 1 verse 14, Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? Psalm 134 7 tells us that the angel of the Lord encamps about the righteous.
Elisha asked God that he could that the servants eyes that God would open his servants eyes so he could see that there were more with them than against them. And there he saw the chariots of fire. Matthew 4 11 after Christ had faced Satan in the wilderness then the devil left him.
Luke adds for a while. And behold angels came and ministered to him to the Christ our Lord. 1 Kings 19 7 speaking of Elijah who had this great, this fantastic victory on Mount Carmel against evil. And then he flees at once he gets to the gate of the city and finds out there's a contract on his life to kill him.
He flees to the wilderness and there he feels he's a failure because in that sense he is. And the Bible tells us in an angel of Yahweh came back the second time and touched him and said arise and eat because the journey is too great for you. And so there we see the angel ministering to the prophet making him strong to continue his work. We'll come across angels in the book of Acts at least twice more strengthening Paul the apostle. It says here in verse 7 a light shone in the prison and struck Peter on the side and raised him and raised him up. Is that the same verse that gave me a hard time? Am I being stalked? It's interesting the light awakens no one.
They're all so sound asleep. This is what we could say uncreated light in the physical realm. Certainly brought in from the spiritual in other words he didn't light anything it just comes with this messenger of God. It is going to help Peter find his sandals and his cloak and exits. This messenger strikes Peter just enough to awaken awaken him without harming him. It is a heavy strike according to the Greek word. It is the same word that's going to be used when the angel strikes Herod to death. But he doesn't kill Peter doesn't even harm him.
But he gets him up. Evidently Peter was in a deep sleep because he's groggy enough to suppose this is not really happening. Well saying arise quickly and his chains fell off his hands. The miraculous still called for action. This was a miracle that just the fact that the angels in the room with him that there's light coming from no known source other than the angel. And that Peter's the chains have fallen off of his hands. The miraculous though still call for the action in the physical. Peter still had to do things.
He didn't just hover his way out of jail. Luke who is the author of the book of Acts is careful about his research. We learned that in Luke's gospel chapter 1 verse 3 where he says I paid attention to these things.
I was very careful I investigated what I'm telling you O Theophilus. Verse 8. Then the angel said to him gird yourself and tie on your sandals.
And so he did. And he said to him put on your garment and follow me. Here's the interesting thing gird yourself and tie on your sandals. God told Moses and Joshua to remove their sandals when they stood before him because it was the time to worship. Peter is told to put on his coat and sandals because it is time to move. John's gospel again chapter 21 most assuredly I say to you when you were younger you girded yourself and walked where you wished.
But when you are old you stretch out your hands and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish. Well he's girding himself and he's not old yet not relative to the prophecy. He's still in control of himself his future his destiny to the under the leadership of God Lord Jesus. Peter was responsible to put on his shoes and his garment the sandals.
He would remember this for the rest of his life no question. Certainly in Press Luke he's writing this 15 20 years later he had to go back and question people about this which would have been Peter and John Mark. And whatever believers were around Peter first told the story while it was fresh in his mind. Verse 9 so he went out followed him and did not know that what was done by the angel was real but thought he was seeing a vision. Well he had a vision before while in Joppa's and this tells us that visions of God are of that real.
They make such an impression on us. But this again is no vision and Peter is not able to make that distinction yet. Well that again is encouraging to me. Things are not all you know just automatic sometimes it just is to have to unfold before us. Maybe somebody ask you something or request something of you. And you at least I do purposely often take my time to get back to them because I pursue it with the Lord. Well that comes with the position that I have as a pastor. But even outside of being a pastor I try to practice that. It's a good practice to give space to the Lord to minister to you if you have time. Verse 10 when they were past the first and second guard post they came to the iron gate that leads to the city which opened to them of its own accord. They went out and went down one street and immediately the angel departed from him. Angels again in scripture never appear to be interested in hanging around here any longer than they have to.
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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-10 16:03:00 / 2023-01-10 16:11:15 / 8