Summary: This message focuses on how our responses to circumstances can have a lasting affect on the lives of those around us.
A Life Saved
Last week I spoke to you about the ongoing situation in Ferguson, MO. I shared with you in that message that Rev. Dr. Martin L. King said “Riots are the language of the unheard.” In other words, people riot when their voices have been silenced and they are seeking a way in which to be heard. The same happens today but not everyone who participates in a riot does so because they are trying to get their voices heard. Some people participate because it gives them an opportunity to destroy the property of and steal from others. Think about it, what does breaking in a store and getting caught running down the street with a stolen TV have to do with a policeman shooting a child? Some people call that “Getting Back at the man” while I call it stealing for personal benefit. People who feel justified in burning down businesses and stealing from others is really hurting the very cause in which they are supposed to be fighting for. Their actions, in some people minds, actually justify the actions of the police. As a Christian we should always, always carry ourselves as a Christian. We might participate in protests and marches, but always with a mindset of abiding by the righteous laws that are in place to protect all, not some. Our actions in the most trying of situations can sometime lead others to think differently about Christianity and what it means to be a child of God.
This morning we are going to examine a story found in the book of Acts where two Christians had the opportunity to do something that could potentially save their own lives but chose instead to remain in their situation and thus lead someone else to Christ. We’re going to examine their attitude during the situation as well as what follows after their opportunity for freedom was presented to them. At the close we will consider what we should do today when we find ourselves in situations where justice is not always present or working in our favor. Please turn with me to Acts chapter five.
I. Jailhouse Break In Order To Teach
I want to read a couple of incidences of where the disciples were placed in prison but were delivered by an angel prior to our getting to the story which is at the heart of this message. In chapter five we find a situation where the apostles were arrested because they were doing many signs and wonders before the people. Please note that these are the same men who just a short time earlier was in hiding and fearing for their lives. Verses twelve through seventeen describes some of the signs and wonders that they were doing which made the religious leaders jealous (verse seventeen says the high priest and some of the Sadducees were jealous.) Don’t you find it amazing that the very people who were supposed to be representing God and teaching others to walk with Him were the very ones who were jealous of those actually doing the works of God? Things have not changed as it is the same today.
The high priest and his associates had the apostles arrested and thrown in jail. Let’s read from Acts 5:18-21a. “They laid hands on the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, ‘Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of Life.’ Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach…..” The night of their imprisonment an angel of the Lord came and released them. He did not release them so that they could escape and go to another town; he told them to go back to the temple and continue to teach there. The next morning when the high priest’s servants went to get them, they found the jail was locked with the guard in his place, but no prisoners. As they thought about what could have happened, someone came in and told the chief priest that the apostles were back in the temple teaching. The apostles were not delivered from prison on this occasion so that they could escape; they were delivered so that they could continue to deliver the word that the Lord had for the people. While this would seem strange on the surface for the apostles to be sent back to the temple, God had souls there who would hear their message and be saved. You see, sometimes “we” have to come out of our self-imposed prisons to allow God to use us. We have to move beyond what our minds tell us we can do to that place where God is able to direct our paths. This is the first situation. Keep this in mind as we move to the second jailbreak. Please turn with me to Acts chapter twelve.