The Rescue of Peter and James (Acts 12:1-25)

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” 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 he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place. Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there. Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king's chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king's country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. But the word of God increased and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark. (Acts 12:1-25 ESV)

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The first five verses of this passage, we begin to see the Jerusalem church under persecution. King Herod has a chip on his shoulder and will do anything to make his name great and gain applause. He realized that the execution of James, the first apostle to be murdered, pleased the Jews, so he requested the execution of Peter as well. By the grace of God, the timing was not right for a death to occur, it happened to be during the days of the unleavened bread. These celebrations occurred 7 days after the Passover. They were considered holy, so an execution would desecrate the holiness of the week. Instead, they cast him into jail with plans of execution after the Passover, and locked him down in “high security.” All the while, the church was earnestly crying out to God on his behalf. They already lost James, should they lose Peter as well? Their prayers were continual and never ceasing. The night that Herod was going bring Peter out to begin the execution process, Peter was sound asleep between two soldiers, bound by chains and extra sentries guarding the prison. Seems pretty hopeless doesn’t it? No way out! Peter knew the timelines and traditions of the festivals, so he knew his death was approaching, yet he was at peace enough to sleep. Ok ladies, let’s keep in mind that Peter is asleep when suddenly he was awakened by the Angel. How many of you know that men don’t just “wake up”? I learned the realities of this with two newborn Deeter babies. I woke up at any sound coming from my newborn child, my precious hubby only would wake when my hand motioned, abruptly to wake. Even then it would take him several minutes to come into his full senses. Now back to our buddy Peter, he is abruptly awakened by an Angel, and judging by commentaries we know that Peter was in a trance, still half asleep! He threw on Clothes as per the angel’s request and the chains fell off and he had no idea what is happening. Could this be a dream? Surely this is not a reality? I can’t escape my death that easily that my chains fall off and doors open freely and no one is around to watch me WALK out. That would be crazy. After, Peter walks through all the guards unharmed the angel leads him to the iron gate that leads into the city. It opens, he exits and finally comes to his full senses and realizes that it was the Lord who sent His angel to rescue him. Immediately, he runs to his friends house. Mary the mother of Mark. Many were gathered together praying. Peter knocks at the door of the gate, probably eager to get off of the streets when their servant girl Rhoda came to answer, (bless her heart) she recognized peter’s voice and took of running in pure excitement. How funny is that ladies? She was so giddy that she left Peter, whom they have been praying for relentlessly, who had a death warrant over his life…. on the streets, exposed! He just broke out of prison but couldn’t manage his way into his friend’s home. Well, the people in the house thought she was crazy, and wouldn’t you? Peter was in high security lock down facing his death at any moment. Surely its not him at the gate. They were bantering back and forth as to if it were actually Peter or maybe his guardian angel that looked like him… ya’ll Peter kept knocking. Like Hello friends, it’s really me! And I am going to die if you keep me out on these streets. Finally, they opened the gate. You can imagine he was probably a little peeved and motioned for their silence while he went into details on how he broke out of prison. He asked that word of this would spread to James and the brothers and he left and went into hiding.

There are a few points I want to expose from this passage. 1. Both James & Peter were Rescued: Often times when this passage is taught, the instructor tends to spend the large majority of time exclaiming of Peter’s rescue. But friends, let us not forget that James was rescued as well. Many times in our life, our prayers do not always happen the way we ask or hope. Although Peter was physically rescued from the pangs of death by Herod, James was rescued from the pangs of eternal death by the hand of the Evil One. Both achieved rescuing from the Lord just in two very different ways. Whatever the outcome of our trials or circumstances that we need rescuing from, lets us remain faithful and obedient to God. May we Praise Him and bring glory to God whatever the end result is. He is sovereign and so is His will, trust Him. Rescuing comes in many forms.

2. The diligent prayer life of a believer: While Peter was in jail, what were the members of the church doing? Praying! Do you think they occasionally tossed up prayers whenever they remembered? By no means. These people, earnestly poured themselves out into prayer for him. It was continuously, they didn’t cease. They powerfully prayed together as a body of believers on behalf of Peter. Can we say the same about ourselves individually and as a church? Why is it hard to sit through prayer meetings and zone out whenever someone prays? Have we lost our passion? One commentary says this about passion and prayer, “When we recover the biblical vision of God and His truth, we will recover biblical passion. If God is who the Bible claims he is and if what the bible says about life is true, then we must face up to the implications of those truths.” Pastor Justin preached a two-part sermon series at the beginning of this month on Happiness. When we daily commune with God our passions will be ignited. Here’s some practical ways he suggested to cultivate our passions in communing with Him

  1. Commune with God through the Spiritual Disciplines: Begin reading your bible daily and spend dedicated amounts of time to pray. Ask God to give you a hunger and to fuel your passions for him.
  2. Commune with God through personal holiness: repent often and die to yourselves daily. Become less in your life as Christ is made greater.
  3. Commune with God through the enjoyments of His creation. Enjoy the life the Lord has given you. Slow down, soak it all in. All of his creation is meant to point to him. Worship Him in your thankfulness and Awe of what He has done for you.
  4. Commune with God through the ministry to others. Live sacrificially for others. Find out your gifting’s and use them. Do not sit on them. Serving others will greatly increase your joy and passions for the Lord. It will also increase your passion while praying.
  5. Commune with God through the local church. Do not be a passive church member. Come, and come often. Get plugged in. Don’t just come to bible studies and skip church. There is so much joy in being plugged into a local church. Let the fellowship with one another, stir your affections and passions for Christ.

Let us begin to be in complete awe of our God, that our passions and affections for Him become unquenchable, that your prayer life and “regular” life become one in the same.

Before we jump into the reflection questions, lets really quick take a look at the Death of Herod. Let’s read verses 20-25. What Was Herod’s main issue in this small passage? He sought the praise wherever he could find it.  Even down to his clothing. Josephus a Jewish Historian of the time, wrote that Herod’s robes were made of silver that sparkled in the sun. Ya’ll, he thought he was fancy! And not Reba Fancy! He wore these stunning robes to catch the crowd’s attention. He sought praise. Ultimately, his pride got in the way as his ego was built up by the crowds. And the Lord humbled him. He struck him down with serious abdominal pains. Josephus writes that it was an infection of intestinal roundworms. The Lord had enough of Herod stealing God’s glory that He caused Herod’s beautiful fancy body to betray him, exposing who he really was, a worm infested evil man who was already dead inside. So friends, do you elevate yourselves above God? Do you dress in a way to capture your audience’s attention? Do you find yourself engulfed with jealousy or rage when affections are not bent towards you? If so, you have a problem and that problem is you! Repent! Because you are not a god, you are a woman worthy of no praise whatsoever. Anything good in our life is from God. Any praises thrown your way is a direct reflection of the grace covering you from God Himself. We are nothing, He is everything! Keep yourself in check and do it often.

Reflection Questions

  1. How do you need to revamp your prayer life? Do you need to be in the word more? Study theology more to grasp more of who God is and what the bible says?
  2. How can you surrender yourselves over to prayer more in our church? Maybe its actively listening to prayer during service, starting a prayer walk each week in our church, praying in the prayer room throughout the entirety of the service begging the spirit to move in the life of our church and in the awakening of individuals cold hard hearts.
  3. In what areas can you most relate to King Herod that you need to repent of?

Spirit Led Change (Acts 11:1-18)

Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” But Peter began and explained it to them in order: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”” (Acts 11:1–18, ESV)

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The early church members were furious that Peter, a circumcised jew, visited with uncircumcised men and ate with them. Peter wants so desperately for his people to understand why he did this so he goes through his vison and the vision of Cornelius and what the Spirit did to pave the way for the Gospel to reach the Gentile’s heart. Lets pick up at vs. 15 and read until 18.

You cannot argue with the work of the Holy Spirit, so why do we? Why are we content grumbling over changes in our churches? Let’s embrace the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our church. Beg that the Holy Spirit will fall down on our church. Invite him in.

I’ll warn you, when you do get ready to embrace uncomfortable change. The spirit will not, I repeat, will not let our lives or our church stay comfortable. He will not be confined to time lines, human experience or any other stipulations we place on Him. He will however cause change and we must humble ourselves and embrace the spirit in our church.

After all, church is not about us. So why do we make it about us? Why are our preferences elevated above the movement of the Spirit. Let our focus shift to living in a state of total discomfort. Let us put the needs of others above our own for the sake of the Gospel and allow us to stop suppressing the work of the Holy Spirit so that dead hearts my come alive to Christ.

When we do that, we will see the Lord bring the “unclean” peoples in. The people who look and act differently than us and he will even redeem them, set them apart and adopt them into the same family as ours, God’s family. The Holy Spirit can save even those whom we fear and those who look differently than us. Friends, let this be our prayer and our mindset before we walk into church each week. Step out and invite the spirit in!

The Spirit Falls on the Gentiles (Acts 10:34-38)

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. (Acts 10:34-48 ESV)

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In Acts 10:34-48 we see the Gospel reaches the “unclean” peoples & The spirit falls down through Peter’s gospel soaked sermon, we are going to see the “unclean” gentiles embrace the gospel and the Spirit fall on them before baptism. The Good News was simply proclaimed that day by Peter to this group of Gentiles. Although this account was more than likely an abridged version of the sermon we know a few things:

  1. Peter humbly confesses again of his failure to grasp that God shows no partiality and that He looks for individuals who fear Him and does what is right and acceptable to Him.
  2. Peter’s sermon gets interrupted by the Holy Spirit (v.44) The Gospel was preached and before the alter call time approached the Spirit fell down on the gentiles. Which happens to be the only time in Acts where the Spirit falls on individuals before baptism.
  3. Their conversion was evident by their praises to God and speaking in tongues
  4. Peter baptized soon after their conversion.

Imagine with me, sitting in church one Sunday Morning. Everything seems as if it will be the same hour and a 15 min service and you are satisfied with that. Routine is important to our Baptist comfort zones. We pull out our bag of peppermints and leave our bulletin cracked open so we know the EXACT order of service. Nothing, is going to surprise us. Our pastor preaches the Gospel when suddenly people start praising God, LOUDLY! the Holy Spirit is evident and their conversions are genuine. How upset would we be that the spirit did not move in our programmatic timeline laid out so intentionally before us? Would it inconvenience us that the service went longer because dead hearts became alive to Christ? Friends, we have to surrender our flesh and allow the spirit to move when he wants. Exactly like Peter did here during his sermon. I am sure it threw him that he hadn’t even offered a time for repentance before the spirit moved and people came to know Christ, but he vulnerably put his timeline aside, he prejudices behind him and embraced the uncomfortable movement of the Holy Spirit. Friends, when was the last time we embraced the Spirit in our church? Do we wait eagerly for it?

Application Questions

  1. How would we as a Church look during the service if we put our agendas and time table aside and waited with eager anticipation for the spirit to fall down on us?
  2. How often do we pray that the Spirit moves in our church?

Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10:1-33)

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa. The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” So he invited them in to be his guests. The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.” And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”” (Acts 10:1–33, ESV)

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We are going to see two visions that do not make total sense in the moment, but both Cornelius and Peter are obedient and act without haste to the Lord’s leading through the visions. Cornelius was a well established centurion soldier who was a commander of over 100 Roman soldiers. In addition to this position, he was part of the Italian cohort which consisted of 600 men with 6 centurions as commanders. Cornelius was a man of power, wealth and position. He was paid 5 times the amount as ordinary soldiers.

The text identifies this very successful soldier and all of his household, as a God-fearers. Basically, He was a Gentile man who worshipped the Jewish God. He attended Synagogue and honored the Jewish laws and customs but had not officially joined the congregation through the act of circumcision. He was a morally upright man who committed himself to prayer and giving to the poor. Although he was morally on point, he did not know Christ. During the traditional hour of prayer for the Jewish people, Cornelius saw a vision form the angel of God, clearly in the light of day. Cornelius was terrified and said, “What is it Lord?” The angel responded to Cornelius, “your prayers and gifts to the poor have ascended as a memorial before God.” This is pointing to a gorgeous display of a sacrifice. Cornelius’ prayers and gifts to the poor ascended to the Lord like the beautiful aroma of incense during a sacrifice. They were pleasing to God. God choose Him. He was preparing his heart to receive the Gospel.

The angel tells Cornelius to send men to Joppa (31 miles away) to bring Simon who is Called Peter who was staying with a tanner named Simon. When the angel departed, Cornelius was quick to act and sent men immediately after explaining all that he had seen. Let’s pick back in verse 9 and we will read through to 33. Peter is staying with this Tanner, a man named Simon (whose occupation probably made Peter a little uncomfortable because of his often state of uncleanliness from handling animal hides).

Around noon, Peter went up onto the roof of Simon's house to pray. The roof may seem like a strange place to pray and perhaps even a bit dangerous, but this was a common place of prayer in Judean houses. The roofs were flat and had easy access to them. In the heat of the summer, a cool breeze could be felt. It was a place of retreat—a place to ponder, reflect, and pray. Also, noon was not a traditional time to pray in the Jewish Culture, which indicates that Peter was a praying man.

Do you have a place where you can go to get away and spend time with the Lord? Is it at an unconventional hour or unusual setting? For me, waking up early to pray and dive into scriptures is almost a total guarantee that one or both kids will hear me and will wake up. How do they sense these things friends? So my morning often looks like this: We wake at 7, momma has her coffee because that is as essential as breathing, obviously. We get dressed, eat and I load my two precious kids in the van and we drive to the YMCA. I check my kids into the nursery there and I resort to my elliptical. My place to pray as I am blasting worship music into my earbuds. After my time of prayer, I load the kiddos back up and we go home. It’s 9am and I put Ellie Grace down for her nap and Jude in his room for some independent play time and I dive into the word and also grab a shower. It’s an unconventional set up and it looks differently than most moms I talk to but it works for me. So think, in what ways even the unconventional ways, could you add more prayer into your day? Could it be turning your radio off on your commute to work or praying while taking a shower in the morning? Make prayer an important time in your day and be intentional with it. So Peter was praying when he became engulfed with hunger and while his hosts were preparing him lunch Peter fell into a trance. Have you ever been so hungry that exhaustion sets in and you are just still? I imagine that’s what is happening here with Peter. His defenses were low and he was still praying and resting when suddenly he sees a vision. The heavens open up and something like a great sheet descends upon the earth by its four corners. So in this sheet were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds. Every form of creature was represented here in this vision. Clean and unclean animals alike were displayed. And a weird request is voiced from God, “Rise Peter, kill and eat!” What an insult this devout Jewish man. It was not kosher for him to eat animals labeled unclean and he responded in disgust almost in a way to defend why he wouldn’t kill and eat these animals. You see that abstaining from unclean animals was not a matter of preference or etiquette but rather part of the Jewish heritage and identity.

So then we see that God speaks to Peter a second time, “What God has made clean do not call unclean!” and this happened three more times before the thing was taken up at once to Heaven. Can you imagine being left with this vision? I don’t think Peter fully grasped the true meaning behind this vision. But God was gracious and already preparing Peter’s heart to reach the Gentile’s, the unclean peoples with the Gospel. You see how God was widening his arms to individuals outside of the Jewish culture? Even more humbling, he was using Jewish disciples to bring his Gospel to the unclean people. Can you imagine the loss of identity in your pure Jewish heritage and the stripping down on one’s pride this must have produced? How could one even begin to comprehend all of this? It was new, it was uncomfortable and honestly, these people weren’t their people. It was insulting to think of people outside of the Jewish culture embracing their God and his gospel. As Peter was mulling over the vision and trying to grasp an understanding of it, the men arrived who were sent by Cornelius. Peter’s heart was tender and open from his vision and he invited them in as his guests.

The following day, he followed them back to Caesarea. Cornelius was awaiting their arrival and had called all of his relatives and close friends to hear Peter. When Peter entered the room, Cornelius met him and fell to his feet and began worshipping him. Cornelius heart was ready to receive the Gospel but I can’t help but think he just didn’t know what to expect. So many feelings and emotions to sift through that seeing Peter walk in was enough to bring him to his feet. He was more than likely relieved and eagerly anticipating whatever Peter had to say. His gesture was a form of reverence but Peter wanted none of it. He lifted the bulky centurion and exclaimed, “stand up, I too am a man!” He didn’t want any praises or form of worship that was reserved for God only. When he saw all the people gathered he confessed that he finally understood the meaning of his vision. “God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean!” So when the men arrived, Peter followed without haste, but asked them why they sent for him. Cornelius reveals his vision to Peter.

In what areas do you grapple or should you grapple with what you are uncomfortable with for the sake of the Gospel?

Do you limit the Holy Spirit to a time during bible studies or Worship, do you want to rob someone of hearing the Gospel potentially for the first time because you need to be somewhere else?

Do you struggle with racism and culture mixing into our traditional church culture? Do you reach out to your neighbors who need Jesus?

Do you disciple someone or avoid it because you feel you have nothing to give or its awkward and uncomfortable?

Depending on Christ's Strength (Acts 9:32–43)

Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.” (Acts 9:32–43, ESV) Acts Blog Image

First, we see an encounter between Peter and the man named Aeneas in Lydda. He had been bedridden for 8 years, which pointed to the severity of his paralysis in his legs. He was lame and unable to walk. Peter told Aeneas, “Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed!” How beautiful and humbling that the authority in which Peter performed this miracle was not of his own powers (which he had none) but of the power of Jesus Christ. Peter knew, that Jesus was working in miracles and encounters such as this to build his church. Although, Jesus could not be physically seen, he was working and his church was growing.

Second, we read that a disciple name Dorcas became ill and passed away. She was a vital member of her community full of good works and charity. Her people adored her. They washed and prepared her lifeless body and laid her in an upper room. Lydia, the town in which Peter was visiting was located close to Joppa where the precious body of Tabitha (Dorcas) laid limp and lifeless. The disciples called for Peter and sent two men urging him to come quickly. Peter followed. When he arrived, they took him to the upper room where Tabitha’s lifeless body laid. The widows and those gathered in that room were filled with grief. Their mourning was heard through their weeping. They embraced articles of clothing that were handcrafted by their beloved friend as if to catch a breath of her scent. Peter asked all those who gathered in the upper room to step outside. When the room cleared, Peter knelt down and prayed, then turning the body, he spoke, “Tabitha, arise!” Breath began to fill her lungs once again, her eyes opened and she sat up when she saw Peter. Her once lifeless body was now alive. He gently offered his hand and helped her up. Peter called for those he asked to leave the room and presented her, alive. Word traveled all throughout Joppa and many believed the Lord.

We must never forget that we are disciples in name of Jesus Christ. We must deflate our pride as we exalt the precious and mighty name of Jesus Christ. When we use our gifting’s for God's glory, we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. From this passage we see that Peter acknowledged Jesus Christ as the ultimate source in which he was able to heal Aeneas and raise Tabitha to life. It was not of his own might but by the power of God. He surrendered his pride and allowed the spirit to work through him to further the Gospel and the name of Jesus.

In what areas of your life do you need to acknowledge Jesus Christ as your ultimate strength? How do you need to use the gifting’s he has given you?