Today: [Acts 12:]How to Loose a Man of God: Do you pray for your pastor or spiritual leader? When your prayers are absent, your leader will be like Peter, bound and in prison. When you pray unceasingly for your leadership, angels get involved to see them get free and be set at liberty to fulfill their calling.
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[Act 12:1-25 KJV] 1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth [his] hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put [him] in prison, and delivered [him] to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. 5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. 6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. 7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon [him], and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from [his] hands. 8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. 9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. 11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and [from] all the expectation of the people of the Jews. 12 And when he had considered [the thing], he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. 14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. 15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. 16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened [the door], and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place. 18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. 19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that [they] should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and [there] abode. 20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s [country]. 21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. 22 And the people gave a shout, [saying, It is] the voice of a god, and not of a man. 23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. 24 But the word of God grew and multiplied. 25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled [their] ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
Chapter 12 of Acts opens with Herod bringing persecution against the church. The persecution of Saul has passed, and now the enemy roams the earth seeking whom he may devour and lights upon Herod as the instrument through whom he will vex the people of God. In verse 2 we see the first martyrdom of one of the 11 original apostles, i.e., John, the brother of James. Why does Herod do this? Because he craves the favor of the Jews who want every Christian leader imprisoned and killed, and the new faith to be stamped out. What does Herod do next? He takes Peter also and puts him in prison intending to execute him as well.
When Herod apprehended Peter he appoint four quaternions of soldiers to watch him and two additional soldiers to be chained to him in case of an escape attempt. Here you see the enemy’s strategy against men and woman of God. They want to use as much force as is necessary to suppress God’s leaders and will go to extraordinary lengths to get it done. A quaternion is four soldiers. Four quaternions and two additional soldiers mean that there were 18 soldiers charged explicitly with keeping Peter in prison. Do you think Peter had any conversation with these men? Is it possible that any of them converted to the faith during this time? The scripture doesn’t specifically say but knowing what we know about Peter it is indeed possible. We want to keep that in mind in light of what happens later to this squad of soldiers.
What is the churches’ response to the jailing of Peter? Remember that they were not jailed under charges of being such godly men. They were charged as cult leaders who led their crazed followers in a blood cult that sacrificed and ate little infants. The charges against these men were as astonishing and scandalous as it gets. Does the church distance itself from Peter to see what will happen? Apparently, the same thing happened to James, and there was no record of them praying at all for James’ release. As a result, James is executed. Did the church realize that they failed to act in James’ case? Whatever the backstory is we see them begin an unceasing prayer vigil for the release of God’s man.
So Peter is in prison, and the church is in hiding. What do the people of God do in their defense? Do they take up arms? Do they seek to influence a powerful leader in the city to act in defense of the faith and of Peter to get him released? We have no record of them doing anything except pray. They not only prayed but the prayed around the clock. That took a little planning. When is the last time you actually verbalized prayer for the leaders of the faith that influence your life? Paul made this statement:
[1Ti 2:1-2 KJV] 1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
Paul in his writings consistently asked those who gave heed to him to pray for him. He asked them to pray that he would be delivered from evil men. He asked that they would pray that a door of utterance would be opened to him. He asked them to come alongside him in the work of the gospel by praying for him. He continually and continuously began and ended his epistles with plaintive requests for the prayers of the saints. Do you think without prayer Paul’s ministry would have been as powerful as it was?
My wife Kitty heard the Father say years ago “as the ministry increases so must the intercession…” Intercession is more than a gabfest or a Facebook forum with posts about little kittens. Kitty and I acutely feel it when the prayers that go up for us are waning or increasing. When the people aren’t praying the pressure pushing against us in what we are doing is sometimes increased cripplingly so. If you are connected with leadership in any capacity, let your mouth pray. Let your mouth verbalize in prayer. Prayer that isn’t verbalized is wishful thinking. When God created the universe, He didn’t look at the formless void and think a warm thought about it. He spoke. When you speak (whether in prayer or not) there is always a creative response. These people prayed for Peter, and an angel was sent to secure Peter’s release.
When the angel comes to fetch Peter, we find that he is exhausted sleeping in chains wrapped around his body with two soldiers chained to him. It could not have been comfortable to try to sleep like this. When your ministers are under demonic attack, it is always accompanied by exhaustion. When your pastor or leader looks and sounds tired all the time, it is because no one is praying. When they are restricted and unable to do the things that God is calling them to do it is because someone wasn’t praying. Thank God the church learned from the mistake they made concerning James. When you don’t pray, you can expect something to happen to take that ministry that blesses you out of your life. James is dead. No one prayed. They learned the lesson, and now they are praying, even going overboard in prayer for Peter and it is working.
What sends the angel to your minister’s aid? The prayers of the saints. The angel shows up and shines a light in the prison expecting Peter to wake up. He doesn’t wake up; he is that tired. The angel then smotes Peter in the side telling him to rise up. Here is where Peter has to do his part. He has to get up. It wasn’t until Peter got up that the chains fell off. It doesn’t matter how much prayer is going up for you or for your pastor until they get up and put a resistance against what is holding them bound – nothing will happen.
Peter gets up, but he is still groggy and sluggish. The angel urges him to gird himself, put on his sandals and cast his garment about him and follow the angel out of the prison. What are the four things Peter has to do?
1.) He has to gird himself. Paul taught we are to gird ourselves with the word of God. You are not going to get the mind of Christ watching Gunsmoke. Sometimes ministers say “what’s the point? I am bound, held back, unable to move forward, why study the word of God? You have to break that kind of thinking or nothing will change even though the deliverance of God is standing right in front of you.
- He had to bind on his sandals. It isn’t enough to study the Bible, you have to make it relevant to your walk. Too many times preachers apply what the word of God says to everyone but themselves. Paul warned about preaching to others and still becoming a castaway. If you are a minister of the word you have to apply the word of God to yourself first or nothing will change in your life.
He cast his garment about him. We are talking about his mantle of ministry. You have a call on your life. When we get under pressure, we tend to lay aside what God has said to us and called us to. It seems foolish to languish in a restrictive situation in ministry while carrying the promise of great things to come. You can’t lay down in a battle zone. You have to get up. You have to keep your mantle of ministry, your understanding of what God is saying close to you at all times.
He had to follow the angel. People who say they don’t know where to go or what to do are not listening. God promises that His guidance will always be in our lives. If we don’t know what to do it isn’t because God isn’t speaking. If you are in a place and someone is talking, and you can’t hear them what is the problem? It’s too noisy. You need to shut out all those other voices and get quiet before God.
Peter follows the angel out and after doing everything he needed to do to get free after the people prayed – now the doors of the prison open to him of their own accord. Think about all that has happened up to this point. The people had to act. Peter had to respond. Then the door of opportunity and liberty opened. We often sit around wondering what doors don’t open but we aren’t connected with praying people, and we aren’t doing what God told us to do. Do you feel bound? Do you feel as though you are restricted, and you can’t move forward in your calling? You need to separate yourself from prayerless people.
You need to deal with prayerlessness in your own life. God will never give you liberty as long as your prayerlessness is keeping others bound. What you make happen for others in prayer God will make happen for you. When you don’t understand why things aren’t changing you know that you are the problem and not God. Make the adjustment and see how quickly the doors open for you by the hand of God.
Peter makes his way to John Mark’s mother’s house where the people are praying. Now John Mark is the momma’s boy who was involved in the contention that broke up Barnabas and Paul. Even among praying people, there are potential problems, don’t ever forget that. Mark was an attractive person to want to work in ministry, but he is a problem waiting to happen. Yet here Peter finds people praying. They are praying, but when their prayers were answered, they didn’t believe it. Do you believe what you are praying? Sometimes there is a disconnect between what we pray and what we actually believe.
Notice they think that the apparition at the door was not actually Peter but his angel. Interesting that they thought Peter’s angel looked just like Peter. Paul thought this way as well. When he couldn’t travel to a city to minister to them, he traveled in the spirit to look over the people and see if they were in order. These early Christians understood many things about the spirit that we know nothing about today.
After Peter’s deliverance from Herod, what happened to the soldiers? They were executed. What about the ones that got converted through the preaching of Peter? They died. Like Ananias and Sapphira, they found themselves on the wrong end of something God was doing, and they paid for it with their lives. In Ananias and Sapphira’s case, there is no indication that God killed them or that Peter spoke death over them. God was moving mightily in the church specifically related to giving, and this couple stepped crosswise against this and fell down dead. These soldiers were just doing their job, but it didn’t matter. Even those who may have converted still died because they were on the wrong side of something God was doing in the lives of his people and in Peter’s life. Do you think when the people who prayed for Peter rejoiced when they heard 18 men died because they prayed? Be prepared for your prayers to have unintended consequences. Many people don’t get this and quit praying never to pray again because things didn’t work out entirely as they had hoped.
What about Herod? The law of sowing and reaping is in effect. Herod is putting pressure on everyone around him. At one point he has a speaking engagement and the people fearing him declare he has the oratory of a god and not a man. As a result, he fell down dead and in the sight of the people assembled he belly bursts open, and worms devour him. You don’t ever want to be on the side of people who are speaking against God’s ministers. They may be very persuasive and manipulate you to join with them against the man or woman of God, but it won’t work out in your favor. Are you praying for the men and women of God who constitute leadership in your life? This is how to loose a man of God – by prayer without ceasing.
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