A rude, but joyous, awakening.
APRIL 19, 2022
A rude, but joyous, awakening. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
This is Key Life, with our host, author and seminary professor, Steve Brown. He’s nobody’s guru. He’s just one beggar telling other beggars where he found bread. If you’re hungry for God, the real God behind all the lies, you’ve come to the right place.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at the 12th chapter of the book of Acts. And it’s a wonderful chapter. I just love it. I have to restrain myself from just reading it to you because it’s so much fun. I mean it doesn’t sound fun. James is dead. He’s the leader of the church and Peter’s in prison. And what we’re talking about is the sovereignty of God in every situation. But the fun part of it is when Peter, when he gets out of prison, some supernatural, the doors open automatically, the chains fall off, the guards that have been put around him, all are sound asleep and can’t be woken up. And so, Peter goes back to where the church is praying. And I’ve got to read that to you because it’s kind of funny.
When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John, whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when Peter knocked at the door of the gateway, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and told that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You’re crazy.”
They really did. That’s what the text says. You are mad, but she insisted, you know, they’ve been praying for it. And when God answered it, they think something is really messed up and he couldn’t have answered. That’s like our faith, isn’t it?
“You are mad.” But she insisted it was so, and they said, no, it’s an odd, “It’s an angel!” But Peter continued knocking.
And I, you know, I’d love to have been there. There’s a lot, not in that text. Hey, you guys, it really is me. Will you open the stupid door? The angel came. I’m free. Your prayers, please open this dumb door. And so, finally they did and they rejoiced. And, then you hear about, Herod going after the guards. It wasn’t their fault. It was the angels. He shouldn’t have punished them. And then Herod dies. So, in the end, there’s a happy ending with a funeral. And the funeral is of the one who had killed off James at the beginning of the chapter. Now we’re saying, God reigns, that God is sovereign. And we’ve seen that he was sovereign. How do I know? Because James was dead. Secondly, we have seen that God is sovereign. How do I know? Because Peter was in prison and sound asleep. And thirdly, you know God is sovereign because when it gets dark enough, you can see the light. And an angel was watching, verse 8.
And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.”
And Luke says in the text that the angel whacked Peter because he was snoring, and so deeply asleep, and said, wake up Turkey! I’ve got something for you and you’re going to be pleased, a rude awakening, but a joyous awakening. And that makes me think that there’s a lot going on supernaturally that most of us don’t know. A number of years ago and I don’t know much about angels and frankly, the Bible doesn’t say a whole lot in detail about angels. There are references all over the place, Hebrews 1:14.
Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?
That means that something supernatural is going on, and you get an illustration of it in the 12th chapter of Acts. We are surrounded by angels. Mr. Graham, Billy Graham wrote a book a number of years ago, that was just titled Angels. And it’s the best Bible study I’ve ever read on the subject of angels. And I think it’s still in print. You ought to get it. The staff at the Billy Graham association said that when Mr. Graham wrote that book, it was a thank you note because God had saved him so many times from so many difficult and painful situations. It was kind of like Mr. Graham walked around, surrounded by protection and God kept honoring what he was doing in amazing ways. And so, the staff would say, Mr. Graham wrote that book as a thank you note to the angels. Well, we get all write thank you notes to angels, if we knew. If our spiritual blindness were removed for just a moment, we would see things going on in this world and in our lives that we would have trouble believing. That car crash, where you almost died and they thought you had, and then they checked and you were still breathing and walking around. What was happening? Well, a car crash was happening, but angels were happening too. And so, God reminds us in this 12th chapter of Acts that we are surrounded by supernatural forces. And those supernatural forces are forces of great comfort. When Hudson Taylor was going to China, he was a little man with no support. But if you had stood on the dock, when he arrived, you would have seen that there were legions of angels who were granting the support that nobody else would. When Luther walked into the Diet of Worms and he could have died. And he was forced to say, here I stand, I can do no other, if you had been there, you would have known that Luther would have said, here I stand, but I’m not by myself. I am surrounded by angels. Same thing when Wesley preached in the fields. And Whitfield made his way to America 13 times And Francis Asbury rode his horse in the wilderness, preaching the gospel. When Florence Nightingale ministered. They seemed alone, in fact sometimes very alone, but they weren’t. And you’re not either. And that’s the reason Luke, at the behest of the Holy Spirit includes this particular story about the beginning of the church. Jesus was there in the beginning. The Holy Spirit had been poured out on God’s people. People were coming to Christ all over, everywhere, but there was something else going on. Don’t ever forget the something else because God sent his angels and God is in charge. That’s what the word angel means, by the way. Just so you know, it means sent one. Well, let me go on because God was in charge, the church was praying, verse 12.
When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.
Abraham Lincoln said one time.
I’ve often gone to my knees because I didn’t know any other place to go.
Have you been there? Boy, I have. You know, there are times when I see situations and think to myself, this is not fixable. It’s kind of that way in our country and in Canada too. It’s kind of at way in some of the things that we face on a daily basis, we don’t know what to do. We don’t know where to go. And if you go to the world, they’ll say, have a drink and forget. And Jesus will say, have a drink and remember. Remember God is sovereign over all of this. I don’t know what you’re going through right now. I’ve got my stuff and you’ve got your stuff, but God is sovereign in the middle of that. And so, don’t go to a thousand people for a thousand pieces of advice on how to fix it. Get on your knees and be still before the God of the universe. And pray a simple prayer. Anne Lamott is somebody that I like a lot. We’ve interviewed her on our talk show a number of times. And just so you know, so you don’t send me letters, her language is shocking. And her politics are abhorrent. But I don’t know if I’ve ever met anybody who loved Jesus as much as Anne Lamott. But, when she talks about prayer, she says, I have three prayers that I pray very often. And the first one is, help me! And the second one is, help me right now! And the third one is, thank you. Listen, that’s the source of our power. It’s the source of who we are. It’s the source of making it through a dark world with dark circumstances and you find it in the book of Acts. The people of God were not going to the political leaders, trying to garner some help for their leader, Peter. They weren’t trying to fix an awful situation, they couldn’t. They were simply praying, help, help us now, thank you. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. That was Steve Brown, teaching us from Acts 12, about the aftermath of James death and Peter’s adventures into and out of incarceration. So much more good stuff to discover tomorrow. I do hope you will join us then. Well, Easter has now come and gone, but sometimes questions about Easter linger long after the chocolates have been eaten and the Easter clothes have been put away. Questions like, why exactly did Jesus have to die? Couldn’t there have been another way? If Jesus had lived to a ripe old age, wouldn’t he have had more time to teach us? Well, Steve has actually addressed those very questions in a sermon called Why Jesus Had to Die. In fact, we put that sermon on a CD, which we would love to mail to you today for free. Interested? Then give us a call at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also drop an e-mail to Steve@keylife.org and ask for that CD. By mail, send your request to
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