Summary: Through passionate prayer, you can be set free from the adversities and conflicts of life.
“Breaking The Chains To Set You Free!”
Sometimes, life holds more bad news for us than good news!
Today’s text from the Bible in the book of Acts lets us know very quickly that our perspective on life makes all the difference.
Like the 96 year old man who was asked what it was like being 96.
He said there were some bad things and some good things about being 96 years old.
He said, “What I don’t like is that I can’t see very well anymore. In fact, I can only see about 15 yards in front of me, and that’s with my glasses on.”
“I can’t hear very well, even with both my hearing aids, and my joints don’t work very well.”
“My reactions are slow and I have to take both hands and pick up my right leg just to get it moving in the right direction.”
After all that, somebody said, “Then what’s so good about being 96 years old?”
The man replied, “Well, I thank God every day that I can still drive my car!”
In our text we read about the Apostle Peter in prison, we find that Peter had some bad things going against him, but he still rejoiced.
Wicked King Herod had already put James, the brother of John, to death with the sword (verse 2).
Now he has seized Peter, sent him to prison, and placed him under guard by 16 soldiers (verse 4).
Peter wasn’t pacing the floors and neither was he pleading for a pardon.
He’s sound asleep in an undisturbed slumber in the prison cell, not questioning or blaming God for his circumstances, fully expecting to be executed in the morning.
He’s sawing logs, cool, calm, and collected when the pressure’s on, knowing that he will be rejoicing in heaven with his Savior and Lord the following day.
How can that kind of peace and joy be happening in Peter’s life?
How can Peter be calm and cool in the face of his troubles and adversities?
How can we stay cool and calm today amid our own troubling circumstances of life?
Let me give you a couple of suggestions that I learned from our text in Acts.
I. First, Peter feared God instead of fearing man.
This is the main contrast between Peter and King Herod.
Peter feared God.
Herod feared man.
How do we know that?
Verse 3 says that Herod was into “pleasing the Jews.”
An English translation from The Nestle Greek text says Herod "...seeing that pleasing it is (was) to the Jews he added to arrest also Peter."
Herod, the true politician, played to the crowds as his popularity rested on keeping the masses happy.
Herod feared men!
Peter, on the other hand, was in prison because he wasn’t afraid of man.
Peter feared only God.
On an earlier occasion in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts chapter 4, Peter was beaten by the Jewish religious authorities and told to keep quiet about Jesus.
Peter asked his persecutors a question, “Is it right in God’s sight to obey you rather than obey God” (paraphrased, Acts 4:19).
Then Peter went right on preaching about Jesus!
All of us today are under one of two primary influences in our lives.
We either fear God or we fear men.
We either do what is pleasing to God, or we attempt to do what pleases men.
Here’s the key:
We won’t be totally and truthfully free until our fear of God supercedes our fear of men.
Peter was in prison, but he was much freer in prison than Herod was in the palace.
That’s one of life’s great ironies.
People work their entire lives to impress others, and while you’re working so hard to impress others you never have peace of mind and peace of heart and soul.
If you want to be free from the things that grip and bind you, be advised that the first step is to fear God more than you fear men.
II. The second key to freedom from the things that bind you is to not forget to look at the things you cannot see.
That’s the spiritual dimension to this story that’s amazing and exciting.
You see it clearly in the prayer meeting and in the angel.
Verse 5 tells us that prayer was earnestly being made by the church to God concerning Peter.
Basically the church was in a nonstop prayer meeting at the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, praying that Peter would not be martyred like James was.
The Bible teaches us that through personal prayer, nations rise and fall, wars are won, lives are changed, and problems are solved!
When was the last time you prayed in such a way about your situation that you agonized and stretched yourself to the breaking point in your prayer life?