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Amazed by Grace! Acts 12v11-19

09/08/2020

Amazed by Grace

Morning Service at Ballymacashon, Lord’s Day,  9th August 2020

Opening Prayer.

Praise,    Psalm  55:3-8. (Tune:  St Flavian)

3 I’m troubled by the voice of foes,
by their malicious stare;
For they bring suffering to me—
their hatred I must bear.

4 Within me anguish grips my heart;
death’s terrors have come near.
5 I tremble and am terrified;
I’m overwhelmed by fear.

6 “O that I, like a dove, had wings!
Then I would fly away
7 And be at rest; I’d flee from here
and in the desert stay.

8 “Then would I to my hiding-place
for refuge take my flight,
Far from the raging of the storm
and from the tempest’s might.”

(Sing Psalms)

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Bible Reading.   Acts 12:11-19

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

Prayer.

In our last study we saw how God rescued Peter, by sending an angel and setting him free. Acts 12:11  There is a sequel to the fascinating story of Peter’s escape.   Let’s continue with Peter’s story…

1 Peter’s Destination!  V12

Peter is now on the dark street, and he has time to think.  He ‘considered the thing.’ Peter thought about this and his conclusion was that he should go to the church.  It was his very first instinct. When we are in times of trouble or we need support or help, we ought to seek the company of our brothers and sisters in the Lord, of the Church of Jesus Christ.  It was the dead of night, and MANY are there, so there’s a passion for prayer, and a love for Peter, a concern, an all night prayer meeting!  What would it be like? 

  • It would be an ORGANISED meeting.  The fact that Peter knew exactly where to go would tend to suggest that this was a venue where the church often met.  It was at the home of a woman called Mary – the mother of John Mark, the writer of the Gospel of Mark, and the sister then of Barnabas.  It must have been a large house, for it had a courtyard and a room big enough for a large gathering. That seems to have been common in the early church. 1 Corinthians 16:19.  Colossians 4:15, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Philemon 1:2, Romans 16:3. All our homes ought to be little churches, places of worship and prayer for our families, where God is reverenced and glorified. 
  • It would be a DANGEROUS meeting!  Such a big gathering, meeting in the city, right under the gaze of the authorities. This big prayer meeting was a ready made target for Herod.  But thankfully we know that they would have divine protection! Matthew 18:19-29    
  • It would be an ENTHUSIASTIC meeting!  They continued in prayer,  they didn’t just mention Peter in passing, but they did it again and again. Jesus taught his disciples about the importance of persistence in prayer.  Luke 18:1 And I’m sure that as the time of Peter’s execution drew ever closer, their prayer would have been even more fervent.  
  • It would be a well-REWARDED meeting!  Peter came to them when they were still praying, it was an immediate present answer to their prayer. Isaiah 65:24.  Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given unto you.”

2 Peter’s Debarment.  V13-16.

Peter is standing at the gate, which no doubt is safely locked for security reasons.  It would lead to a courtyard, and then to the house.  So he rapped the door of the gate.  Loudly, no doubt!  Inside, Rhoda comes to see who is outside.  So, who was Rhoda? 

  • The Little Rose. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. The word Rhoda means a ROSE. The Greek text describing Rhoda is a derivative of ‘paidi’ (child), παιδισκη – it indicates a young female person, – not a baby, not a young adult – probably a girl child in her early teens, and she probably was a servant or slave girl, for answering the door in a big house would have been a menial job.  Yet, she knew Peter’s voice, so Rhoda must have been often in Christian company,  – she probably was a Christian believer too. 
  • The Barred Gate.  Rhoda got to the gate – opening it could be a serious matter indeed, so is it any wonder that she didn’t open the gate immediately. She must have asked who was outside, knocking, and a voice replied.  It sounds like PETER! 14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, She knew his voice and she was so glad to hear his voice that she totally forgot to open the gate and let him in!  
  • The (Dis)believers?  Up in the meeting, meanwhile, the Christians are still praying when Rhoda entered the room, and grabbed  the sleeve of the man at the door, and told him that Peter is outside.  “Quiet, girl! Wait outside until the meeting is over….” “NO! PETER IS HERE!”   (She) told how Peter stood before the gate.  15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.  She told them their prayers had been answered, and they told her that her she was mad!  She persisted, they surmised that Peter was dead and what she was hearing was his ghost!   

How often do we pray, and we simply don’t expect that our prayers will be answered! Isaiah 65:24. But, eventually, they decided to go and open the door, and what a shock that was.  16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.  

3 Peter’s Debriefing. v.17

There must have been a lot of shocked babble when Peter walked into the prayer meeting that evening.  Maybe a stunned silence, then a sudden outbreak of loud noise and chatter…. And now we see another one of these little accuracies – 17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace.  Peter must have raised his hand to call for silence, so that he could tell his story to the church.  Let’s see:-

  • Peter’s testimony to the church.  declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison.  He declared what the Lord had done, and what a thrilling testimony that must have been!   
  • Peter’s report to the church elders. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren.   James is one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church, and holds a prominent position.  He is the half-brother of Jesus, a younger son of Mary and Joseph.  During the earthy ministry of Jesus James was sceptical of his claims of divinity.   John 7:3-5  Mark 3:21,   But now, in Acts, James is a Christian, and a church elder, and will preside at the church council in Jerusalem in Acts 15.  What has happened?  READ 1 Corinthians 15:3  James the sceptic had met the risen Christ!  It was a life-changing experience!  It’s another example of the power of the cross to change people lives.
  • Peter’s common sense. And he departed, and went into another place.   Peter left town.  It was the sensible thing to do for Herod was truly livid when he discovered that Peter was gone, so much so that he ordered that his gaolers be executed for their negligence.  Peter sought sanctuary elsewhere.

So, Peter is safe and we have been challenged, to pray, believing that God will answer our prayers – and never to be afraid to share our own personal stores of deliverance, and to be amazed at what the grace of God can achieve in ehe life of even the most ardent unbeliever!   

Prayer and Benediction

 

From → Acts, Bible Study

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