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1Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. 2And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. 3When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4When 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. 5So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God. 6On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, andguards in front of the door were watching over the prison. 7And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter's side and woke him up, saying, "Get up quickly " And his chains fell off his hands. 8And 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." 9And 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. 10When 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. 11When 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." 12And 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. 13When he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14When 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.15They said to her, "You are out of your mind!" But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, "It is his angel." 16But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed.
GOD OPENS DOORS SO THAT NO ONE CAN SHUT AND SHUTS DOORS THAT NO ONE CAN OPEN. The encouragement to me here is…
1. No matter the “prison” situation in which you find yourself, God is more than able to get you out of it or, more than likely, through it. This is what I like so much about reading through the “Acts of Jesus”, because He IS active among us and it’s encouraging and empowering to be reminded of how He works.
2. My prayers that I offer to the Lord, many times not expecting them to be answered, are still answered by the Lord in miraculous ways. How many times have I said after praying and having that specific prayer answered, “I can’t believe it!” The point is we must learn to believe it as we pray. We must learn to trust Jesus completely in all that we do.
Now, check out verse 21…
21On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. 22The people kept crying out, "The voice of a god and not of a man!" 23And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died. 24But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.
This is an interesting contrast, isn’t it. Herod has James killed and then puts Peter in prison with the intent of doing the same thing to him, all to please his constituency. Well, he pleased his constituency even to the point that they hailed him as a “god”…and this is precisely what killed Herod. So, Peter, imprisoned, is out of jail free and Herod, free to do anything he wants, is now in the prison of death!
And, most importantly, “But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.” The kingdom of God cannot be imprisoned or shut down…it’s like a mustard seed, the smallest of the seeds, that grows into a large bush…. Those who follow the God of gods and seek His kingdom will gain all that is significant and live forever. Those who play God and seek their own kingdom may gain the whole world and lose their souls.
In the name of Jesus,
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
FOR AUDIO VERSION GO TO: www.timtimmons.com