August 2, 2020
I DON’T BELIEVE IT!
We see that God is moving in a powerful way through the apostles. Today we read, however, a mixture of how things are going in the early church. King Herod is playing politics with the Jews. He sees that arresting these Christians, even having some put to death as was the case with James, is making the Jewish establishment happy. These early Christians do not have any clout with Herod so persecuting the Christians for the Jews seemingly is strengthening his position in this area. So, this is what is now going on. Even though the Church is gaining strength, they are also seeing continual persecution, which leads us to what happened to Peter. Herod, I am sure, knew Peter was one of the original followers of Jesus, which made him a valuable person to arrest in the eyes of the Jews. However, it was time for Passover at the time of his arrest. No official business could happen in the Jewish province until after the Passover, so Peter was simply put in jail at this time. While in jail awaiting his trial, members of the church, who knew he had been arrested, are praying for him. The day before his trial, an angel comes during the night and wakes Peter up. We read that he is being well guarded. Herod does not want anyone helping him to escape. We read that four squads of guards were used to make sure he did not escape. We see though Peter, once awake, saw the chains that had secured him fell off. The angel and Peter then proceeded to walk past all the guards who were supposed to make sure he went nowhere. They ultimately came to the iron gate that was locked at the entrance of the prison and it opened all by itself for them. As they continued walking into the city, Peter looked to talk to the angel who had led his escape, but the angel was gone. Peter was convinced at first that he was dreaming, that he was just seeing what he wanted to happen, but it was not real. However, once on the street all alone, he decided it must be real, an angel of God really helped him to escape.
As I read this, I found myself thinking of dreams I have had in the past. In all honesty, I do not often have dreams that I do remember but every once in a while I will find myself in the midst of a dream and during the dream itself I have found myself wondering if I was in fact dreaming. My dream seemed so real and often I would wake up just before I would see how things were going to turn out. When I did then wake up, I would find myself wondering how things might have turned out.
I cannot help but think this is what Peter at first thought was going on. He might have been saying, “This must be a dream. It cannot be real. Things like this just do not happen.” However, amazingly he found out it was not a dream. It was in fact real. He then immediately went to the place where he knew many Christians would go to be together to pray. We read earlier in these verses once the Church realized Peter had been arrested, they began praying for him. When Peter knocked on the door, they immediately opened the door and welcomed him in, knowing their prayers had been answered, right? The fact is that the girl who went to see who was knocking was so surprised she did not even open the door to let him in. I am sure they were keeping the doors locked knowing King Herod was looking for Christians to arrest. Peter kept knocking and finally they let him in. Now their reaction was to tell Peter and to say to one another, “We knew God would answer our prayers and set you free.” Is that what they said? No! Basically, they said, “I don’t believe it.” Despite the fact this is what they had been praying for, when the answer was standing right in front of them, they could not believe it. How often have we seen some similar answers to prayer and were amazed when they actually were answered?
As I thought about this very thing, I was reminded of a story a minister of the word I heard early in my walk with the Lord told. His name is Anthony Campolo. He was a guest speaker at one of the annual conferences that Cathy and I attended for The Church of the Brethren. In this story, he received a call from a friend or family about his dad. Anthony was apparently speaking somewhere away from where his dad was. Right before his dad passed away, his father accepted the Lord as his Savior. Anthony had been praying for years for his dad to come to Christ, but it had not happened. When he got the mixed news that his dad had passed away and had received Jesus as his Savior, what do you believe Anthony’s response was? Did he say, “I knew it would happen!” or “I knew God would answer our prayers.” No, this tremendous man of God, this man of faith said, “I don’t believe it!” How often do we miss the full blessing God has for us because we fail to accept and recognize what God is doing? I am convinced there are prayers being answered every day. Sometimes we get frustrated to the point of giving up on our prayers, because we do not see an immediate answer.
Peter and the Church on this occasion saw an almost immediate answer because it was necessary, but sometimes we need to be like the persistent widow who just kept asking and believing. God is still in the business of answering prayers. It is up to us to recognize the answer when it comes and give the proper praise and glory to the Lord he deserves. May we get better at saying, “Thank you God for your faithfulness!” instead of saying “I don’t believe it!”
Every Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study
August 9: Special Council Meeting after worship
August 12: 7:00 Executive Committee
Women’s Fellowship is collecting monetary donations for health kits. $15 will buy a kit through Church World Service. If you have already put together some kits, bring them to church and we will mail them. Donations will be collected through the month of August. Give donations to Kathy, Carol, or Nancy F.
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