Recorded on October 27th, 2019
We are all chained to something – not soldiers like Peter, but we’re chained to something nevertheless. There are days when we feel like we’re doomed to be there forever. Hang in there!
Transcript of Sermon:
[Music] x12 1 through 11 it was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church intending to persecute them he had James the brother of John put to death with the sword when he saw that this met with approval among the Jews he proceeded to seize Peter also this happened during the festival of unleavened bread after arresting him he put him in prison handing him over to be guarded by four squads of 4 soldiers each Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover so Peter was kept in prison but the church was earnestly praying to God for him the night before Herod was to bring him to trial Peter was sleeping between two soldiers bound with two chains and sentries stood guards at the entrance suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell he struck Peter on the side and woke him up quick get up he said and the chains fell off Peters wrists then the angel said to him put on your clothes and sandals and Peter did so wrap your cloak around you and follow me the angel told him Peter followed him out of the prison but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening he thought he was seeing a vision they passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city it opened for them by itself and they went through it when they had walked the length of one Street suddenly the angel left him then Peter came to himself and said now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen the Word of God for the people of God Robin thank you so much I don’t know about you but I am a sucker and I mean a real sucker for movies like rocky or anything that has somebody fighting from the underdog position to the like winning position anything that has somebody working really hard from the he can’t do it there’s no way he can do it to being victorious at the end I’m a sucker for those kinds of stories and I think that rocky resonates with people like me and I guess most of humanity because we want rocky story to be our story because we all have a struggle we all have something now most of us aren’t boxers I mean my kids are boxers they don’t know it but they’re totally all boxers even my daughter they’re crazy and they’re obnoxious sometimes I’m sorry but they are but we’re not physically fit the way Rocky’s physically fit even so I would be the underdog in Rocky’s fight but Rocky is the underdog and I think in our lives in a lot of situations we feel like the underdog we feel like there’s something in our life that has us under control that has control over us and what no matter what we do no matter how hard we fight there’s just no real chance that we’re gonna win this battle over this thing that has control over us now for Rocky he was the underdog in a in a boxing competition because he just wasn’t as good as his other opponents whatever they were whichever movie were talking about but the thing that rocky always had he always had people in his corner rocky always had a ring man some people on his side rootin for him helping him helping him train helping him prepare helping him get ready for the fight and you know in our lives we got to have people like that too but not a lot of us especially North American us us proud individualist who can do life all by ourselves and we don’t need any help because that would be me to a tee hey Alyssa can I help you put away those chairs no I got it why would I say no to help I don’t know but I do all the time because I can do it on my own and if I admit that I need help for anything well then of course I’m mitting that I’m less of a person it’s sad the way we look at the world sometimes the way that we look at ourselves but in acts 12 what we see here in the story of Paul and the Great Escape Stu because we’ve seen him escape from prison already we are in a journey through acts we have been in acts for a while Paul Peter I did it again where is Jean Jean you didn’t call me on it this time Oh Jean how long ago what we see here with Peter is that he is the underdog in this story what we see here in this narrative is very much a similar story to what we see played out in movies of today in fact if you put my husband Joe in charge of narrating this little scripture right here he could make an amazing movie out of it because that’s the way his brain works my brain does not work like that I read it just like word for word no pictures come to mind when he reads sets like there’s there’s explosions and there’s people and there’s all of this crazy stuff because that’s really how we should read it it’s pretty amazing what happens here what we see how than here right in the beginning is that King Herod takes James not James the brother of Jesus but James one of the first three disciples of Jesus and he kills him quickly swiftly makes him a martyr and this makes the Jewish people extremely happy and the popularity of King Herod Rises quickly and King Herod notices this and thinks I understand what I need to do I understand what makes these people happy who’s next and so he gets Peter and he puts him in prison and he doesn’t kill him quickly one of the reasons why he doesn’t kill him quickly is because it’s the Passover and it doesn’t mean much to King Herod because King Herod is not jus a Jew but he knows that the people that he’s doing this for are and so there’s time this time with James there was no time there was no time for intervention there was no time for prayer there was no time with James but this time with Peter there’s this gap and so Peter is in jail and the Christians start praying and praying fervently night and day without fail they are praying now whether this means they had a prayer chain and some people were sleeping while other people were praying who knows but they were praying without ceasing they were praying the people in Peters corner he had people on his side praying and praying they were on his side now what was Peter doing now this is interesting Peter on the other hand was shackled between two guards holding him down he was sleeping Peter was so at ease with what was happening to him so certain of God’s plan for him so certain of God’s providence of god’s sovereignty that no matter what happened he would be okay now I’m not Peter I wasn’t there but if I had been Peter I would have probably been thinking well he already freed me from jail once it’s possible it could happen again then again maybe that was the one time and maybe this is my time maybe it’s my time to be a martyr regardless of whatever it was he was so comfortable with God’s plan he was sleeping everything in his soul was at peace he was at peace so much so that when the Angels showed up to free him from prison he had to hit him upside the head that’s literally what happened in the New King James Version that says that smote him that the angel smote him awake and says come on let’s go it’s time to go and Peter when he wakes up he’s so confused he doesn’t know if this is really a dream or if it’s actually happening but regardless he listens and goes but not knowing if he’s following a dream or an actual angel and he follows the angel the angel frees him from the soldiers frees him from the jail and it’s not until they’re outside of the jail that Peter fully awake awakens and understands that he has actually followed an angel that the angel has freed him from certain death certain death and he knows that the Jews wanted him dead he knows that they’re not going to stop he knows that he’s in trouble the first thing he does is he goes to Mary’s house not Mary the mother of Jesus but Mary the mother of John Mark another disciple he knocks at the door and this cracks me up I mean it’s so you and me cracks me up he knocks at the door she opens the door not marry another lady they don’t name her she stunned shuts the door runs away I so would do the same thing she goes and tells them that Peters at the door they say no way there’s not it’s not possible you’re crazy the thing that we’re praying for can’t possibly be at the door I mean God doesn’t work like that and so they tell her over and over again it cannot be it cannot be so he keeps knocking at the door and then finally they go to the door open it and sure enough oh my gosh it is you and he tells them what happens what has happened he tells them to share news of what has happened and then he moves on because he knows that he will be followed the rest of the story is not so good for the soldiers or for Herod the soldiers end up getting killed which honestly is unfortunate for them because they’re innocent ish bystanders in this Herod that’s such an innocent bystander gets eaten by worms after he dies so you know bully for that and I don’t really you know it just as in scriptures so I thought I’d share it with you but here’s the thing that you and I need to know you and I are probably never going to be put in prison for being really great evangelists there’s part of me that maybe wishes that would be true of me but one I don’t live in the right area of the world for that to happen to I don’t know if I’m that brave but here’s something that is true we are all all of us being held down by something in our lives we are shackled to something it’s not a soldier but it’s something each one of us whether now or at some point in our lives has been shackled to something whether that’s pornography or shopping and overspending for some it’s alcohol for some of us it’s depression and the your soldiers on each side are named fear and anxiety for some of us what we are shackled to is cancer for other people what we’re shackled to is an aging parent that we are caring for but regardless of who you are every one of us is shackled to something and that thing that were shackled to weighs on us deeply and heavily it makes us the underdog in our fight it makes our everyday life difficult and there are days when we think there is no way that we can come out from under whatever it is that is holding us hostage and what we have to do first is name that thing look at it in the face and say I see you I see you but you’re not going to win even though I’m the underdog and you know why you’re not going to win you’re not going to win because I am a child of God and as a child of God I have people in my corner and if nothing else the person in your corner is God without question God is in your corner there is no doubt without question that God is fighting for you in and out every day moment-to-moment but here’s the thing that we are leaving behind you and I as independent North Americans leave food on the table per se we have a whole community that could be on our side we have people that could be praying for us every day over that issue but we won’t share that issue with anybody because we’re too prideful or were too afraid or we can’t say it out loud or we won’t even face up to the fact that it’s an issue for us in the first place and so we have no one praying for us like Paul did Paul had Pete Peter dagnabbit Acts he had people praying for him day in and day out he had people in his corner and you should too this whole community right here would pray for you if you let them in they would not judge you they would not hate you they would pray for you and they would love you some of you led in the wrong people to your corner some of you led in people that want you to continue your behavior some of you led in people that want to shop more with you that want to drink more with you those aren’t the people that belong in your corner the people that belong in your corner are the scariest you think to let in but once you say those words and let go of the power you have somebody that will pray with you if nothing else just pray with you day in day out the next thing you need to do is wake up you got to wake up and then you got to recognize the miracle when it comes you got to recognize the answer to prayer when it comes knocking at your door how many times have you been that woman on the other side of the door the answer to your prayer right in front of you and not recognized it I can’t tell you how many times that God has answered my prayer and I have not seen that answer to prayer because I was looking for something else when we pray to God we cannot tell him how to answer our prayers when we pray to God we not cannot dictate to him how we want this thing to end we cannot say hey God this is my problem and if you would please have this and this and this and this and this happen we lift it up and leave the rest to him and then we keep our minds open to what the end will look like so that when the answer comes we see it when it happens instead of 20 years later looking back and going oh yeah he was there when I needed him the most in my life I have wasted too much time telling God how to fix my problems and I only came to Christ when I was in college so listen I’ve had a very short amount of time to do that but I’m very good at giving instructions I’m not so good at listening so let me tell you how I do it when I lift up my problem I say God here’s my issue give me eyes to see give me eyes to see you working in the process give me eyes to see the hardest shekels that I’ve ever had to deal with in my life came four years ago when I was in a massive car accident and I got a brain injury as a result of that and it has been four years of the hardest anything of my life and just this January just this year we are just starting to see healing we are just starting to see life become somewhat normal it’s still really different it’s still I don’t know but sometimes the answers happen in one night like Peters and sometimes the healing is a process and it takes time and you have to be willing to name the problem look at it in the face stop shying it away from it share it with somebody who can pray with you and be in your corner and give it to God and open your eyes so that you can see his solution not yours let’s pray god I thank you so much for your love and your grace and your mercy God we ask you today to please make us brave make us brave because the things that have shackled us have made us small have made us afraid have taught us that we are nothing but we are so much more than nothing we are children of God and so we are not underdogs we are victorious and you it’s in the name of Jesus that we pray, Amen.