One passage per day for a whole week, based on the sermon:
- Matthew 7:7-12 (“Knock and the door will be opened.”)
- Luke 9:21-36
- Luke 22:39-46
- John 5:1-15 (“Get up!”)
- Acts 16:16-40 (Another prison break, this time about Paul and Silas)
- Revelation 3:14-22 (“I stand at the door and knock.”)
- Romans 8:18-39 (especially verse 28)
eGroup Discussion Questions – Great for personal reflection, too!
[Nick: I can tell from his shirt that this is not the same service I saw yesterday, so if there are any discrepancies between my notes and this video, that is why!]
Pastor Steven’s message focused on the account of Peter’s escape from prison in Acts 12:1-17.
He starts off his sermon talking about how after living with people long enough, you learn their idiosyncrasies, the things that make them unique. Like, how you can tell which of your kids is at your door based on their knock.
If God is in your heart, if he’s really a part of your life, if he’s really made your heart his home, you learn to recognize his knock. (Ephesians 3:17, NLT, very reminiscent of the sheep recognizing Jesus’ voice in John 10:4)
Open the Door For Opportunity, Even If It Looks Like Opposition
If you open the door to the Opportunity, you open the door to the Opposition. Sometimes you open the door for the Opportunity but all you see is the Opposition.
1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 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. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.Acts 12:1-4, NIV
James was one of the three disciples (along with Peter and John) who witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus. These three are the de facto head honchos of the church after Jesus’ Ascension.
The Opportunity = The church is growing
The Opposition = Herod has put James to death, and he has Peter also
Pray Earnestly For Peter, Even When You’ve Lost James
5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.Acts 12:5, NIV
“If Peter gets killed like James got killed, what will we do next?” So they prayed earnestly. (The Greek phrase for “prayed earnestly” is the same phrase used to describe Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:44 – Also of note, Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.)
It’s hard to pray for Peter when you just lost James. It’s hard to keep knocking on a door you’ve been standing in front of for a long time.
Be Willing to Sleeping In Between the Problem and the Solution
Pastor Steven says that he was expecting to find that Peter was praying the night before his trial–if it was a matter of life and death like James, he should be praying, right? He says that he barely sleeps before sharing a sermon in front of friendly faces! But Peter wasn’t about to go in front of friendly faces.
6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.Acts 12:6, NIV
Instead of praying, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers. Have you ever had to “sleep in between,” not knowing an outcome?
Someone needs to hear this: You need to get some sleep “in between” the problem and the solution.
Rest is power when your faith is in the sovereignty of God.
Be Willing to Get Up, Even When The Chains Are Still Attached
7 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 Peter’s wrists.Acts 12:7, NIV
Peter was instructed to get up FIRST, and then the chains fall off. We want the chains to fall off first. [Nick: I’m no Greek scholar but I’ve always understood this passage to mean that the angel instructed him to get up and then the chains fell off so that he could get up.]
The Bible is a picture of faith [trust] and obedience and following Jesus when I don’t know where I’m going.
Follow Him, Even When You Don’t Know The Way
8 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.Acts 12:8, NIV
“Peter did so.” He’s come a long way since his nickname was Satan, when he would argue with the Son of God.
Most of us wouldn’t have the faith to get dressed before knowing the destination.
Faith is opening your heart to the work God is doing without knowing the process.
Go Through the Motions, Even When It Seems Pointless
9 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.Acts 12:9, NIV
Peter didn’t think this was really happening; thought he was seeing a vision. Most of the time, you don’t know it’s God until after the fact. You won’t be able to identify it until you’re on the other side.
Romans 8:28 isn’t a passage you say in the midst of the problem, it’s something you say after the solution has been resolved. (“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28, NIV).
Sometimes you need to go through the motions and worship even when you don’t want to—Peter goes through the motions of following the angel, even when he’s not sure why.
Go Through the Gate, Even If It Isn’t Open (Yet)
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.Acts 12:10, NIV
They didn’t even have to knock on the gate, but they did have to go through it.
A lot of us wait back for the gate to open… but it’s a motion-activated gate.
Move toward the last thing God told you to do.
Where does Peter go? Where do you go when you find yourself standing on the other side of the problem?
Now I Know
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.”Acts 12:11, NIV
I didn’t know while I was in it. There are some things you will only know once you go through it.
12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”Acts 12:12-14, NIV
He goes to the house where they are praying.
Peter knocked – How do you think he knocked?
She was so excited she ran off without opening the door!
Out Of Your Mind
“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”Acts 12:15, NIV
They didn’t have the faith to open the door when their prayer request was on standing on the other side.
“Out of your mind” – Isn’t that a good place to be? Isn’t it our minds that got us into this mess in the first place?
This was all happening during Passover, when the angel of death came knocking for the Egyptians, but the angel couldn’t enter any of the houses over which the blood of the lamb was painted. (Exodus 12:12-13)
Keep Knocking Like Your Life Depends On It
But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.Acts 12:16, NIV
Keep knocking like you know your life depends on it!
Some of us are here because our Moms never stopped praying for us.
Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.Acts 12:17, NIV
You need to stop talking about what you’re in and start talking about what he brought you out of.
We prayed for James but we lost James.
We prayed for Peter, and we got Peter.
Is there an area of your life where God is asking you to believe again?