Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. 1 Samuel 1:10 HCSB
My father was diagnosed with a brain tumor for which his doctor suggested surgery. He explained the tumor would eventually grow back, but the surgery would potentially give my father a few more years of life. Sadly, the surgery left him paralyzed on the left side of his body and out of necessity, we placed him in a nursing/rehabilitation facility. Within just a few weeks my father was worse and the doctor determined that the tumor had returned and was bigger than before surgery. There was nothing else that could be done for him and comfort measures were instituted. I went to the chapel and cried out to the Lord in prayer asking for God to intervene and bring healing to my father’s body or to go ahead a take him home to heaven where he would no longer be in pain or experience suffering. God answered my prayer and my father died just nine weeks from the time he was diagnosed with cancer. God did not answer my prayer as I would have wanted, but He did answer my prayer.
Hannah had been praying for years that she would have a baby. Having children was considered to be an honor and a blessing from God. She was downcast and cried out to God to answer her prayer and give her a son. Even though Hannah was discouraged, she faithfully brought her requests before the Lord because she knew that He was able to help her.
Challenge: Do you have a request you have fervently prayed for many years? Do your prayers seem to be just hitting the ceiling? You can be assured that God is constantly at work and hears your prayers. He understands your feelings and thoughts. Continue to pray. God will answer in His perfect timing. Trust Him with all of your longings.
At daylight, there was a great commotion among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter. After Herod had searched and did not find him, he interrogated the guards and ordered their execution. Then Herod went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. Acts 12:18-19 HCSB
David Copperfield is a world famous illusionist. His illusions have included the disappearance of a seven-ton Learjet, the vanishing and reappearance of the Statue of Liberty, levitating over the Grand Canyon, walking through the Great Wall of China, escaping from Alcatraz prison, the disappearance of a 70-ton Orient Express dining car, and flying on stage for several minutes.
God pulled off one of the greatest disappearing acts when He orchestrated Peter’s release from prison. Evidently, Peter walked out of the prison with the angel without any of the guards even seeing him leave. You can imagine the commotion the next morning when the guards discovered that Peter was gone. He had been chained to the floor and guarded by 16 guards. It would be seemingly impossible for him to escape. Note that even King Herod searched for Peter. It was customary that if a guard allowed a prisoner to escape that he would suffer the same penalty the escapee would have faced. Therefore, Herod ordered the execution of the guards.
Challenge: The God who created the universe and every living creature in it is capable of doing anything. What David Copperfield does is a trick or an illusion. He makes you think you are seeing something that in reality is not true. Peter’s disappearance was not an illusion. Because God is capable of anything, you can trust Him with your life and your future.
Peter, however, kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astounded. Acts 12:16 HCSB
Wikipedia reports that Gomer Pyle is a television character played by Jim Nabors and introduced in the third season of The Andy Griffith Show. Gomer was a simple-minded and gentle auto mechanic. In 1964, the character was spun off to Gomer Pyle, U.S.MC., where his countrified, backward nature served as the mainstay for the show’s humor, making him a comic foil to the hard-nosed drill instructor Sergeant Carter. Gomer provided comic relief, awestruck by the simplest of things resulting in the exclamation of his catch phrases, “Shazam!” and “Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise!”
The people had been praying for Peter’s release. When he appeared at the door, they could not believe what they were seeing and were astounded. He had to keep on knocking to get them to even open the door. He could have replied, “Sur-prise, Sur-prise, Sur-prise!” God had answered their prayers but they could not believe that God had actually honored their requests. I wonder if they lacked faith in God and this was a way for God to again show His great power and that He was in control of all things.
Challenge: Do you pray and lack the faith that God can actually answer your prayers? Are you surprised when God does answer your prayers? Thank God for the times He has answered your prayers. Watch a short clip on YouTube of Jim Nabors saying “Sur-prise, Sur-prise, Sur-prise” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TnkJ8_BmSI
Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel and rescued me from Herod’s grasp and from all that the Jewish people expected.” When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many had assembled and were praying. Acts 12:11-12 HCSB
When I began full-time ministry in the church 40 years ago most churches held “Prayer Meeting” on Wednesday nights. The purpose was to gather to pray for the sick, the lost, and the ministries of the church. There would usually be a short devotional shared, but the bulk of the time was spent in prayer. Today many churches do not gather on Wednesday nights and those that do often have discipleship classes and Bible studies without the option of a prayer meeting. There seems to be very little emphasis on prayer.
Many of the believers had gathered at the house of John Mark’s mother. Evidently she had a room that would accommodate a large group of people. They had gathered to pray for Peter and his release. I would imagine that a lot of praying was done by a lot of people. God heard their prayers and answered them by sending an angel to rescue Peter from prison.
Challenge: How much time do you spend each day in prayer presenting your requests before God? He is interested in what is happening in your life and wants to hear from you. Spend some time in prayer right now thanking Him for the opportunity to share your concerns and requests.
After they passed the first and second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened to them by itself. They went outside and passed one street, and immediately the angel left him. Acts 12:10 HCSB
Peter’s situation seemed hopeless. He was in prison waiting to be executed by orders of King Herod. With God nothing is impossible. God miraculously delivered Peter from prison and certain death at the hands of Herod. The chains fell from Peter’s wrists. Peter and the angel walked right past two guard stations and then walked through the gate to the city that opened by itself.
Just as God miraculously rescued Peter, I have heard many stories of how God has delivered people from drugs, alcohol, addictions, sickness, and even from financial disaster. God is in control of every situation. We must learn to trust Him because His timing is always best. God sometimes allows difficulties to come our direction for a purpose.
Challenge: God is able to deliver His children from any challenging circumstance they might face. Sometimes God delivers us from difficulties while at other times He allows us to struggle knowing that the struggle will help us grow closer to Him. Thank God for both the positive and negative circumstances in your life. Ask Him to deliver you from any difficulty you might be facing right now. Thank Him for the times He has delivered you in the past from hopeless situations.
Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. Striking Peter on the side, he woke him up and said, “Quick, get up!” Then the chains fell off his wrists. Acts 12:7 HCSB
Several years ago Billy Graham wrote the book “Angels: God’s Secret Agents”. It is an excellent book on angels. He does a wonderful job of researching angels noting that there are over 300 references to angels in the Bible. This book provides a deeper understanding of who and what angels really are. He breaks it down into several categories: Angels and the Gospel, Angels as Messengers, and Angels in Prophecy. Each category is backed up with Scripture. God’s Secret Agents and their powers are extremely valuable in aiding and assisting in carrying out God’s plans on earth.
Angels were created to love, serve, and worship God and carry out His will. God sent an angel to get Peter out of jail. Light is often related to the appearance of an angel. A bright light shone in Peter’s cell. His wrists would have been chained to the floor and there would have been 16 guards watching over him as was customary for one being held in prison awaiting execution under orders from the king . Humanly there was no way Peter could have escaped, but with God all things are possible.
Challenge: Have there been times in your life when you wished you had an angel to rescue you from a problematic situation? You may be comforted to know that, as a believer, guardian angels are constantly watching over you, every minute of every day. Thank God for His daily protection and care for you.
The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. Acts 10:45 HCSB
Discrimination in our country against black Americans in the 1950’s and 60’s was unimaginable. Many were forced to ride in the back of a bus and refused service at the restaurants. They were forced to drink water from a fountain labeled, “Colored People” and disallowed the use of certain restrooms. Their human dignity was stripped away through the prejudice and oppression of those who did not understand that God created all people in His image.
The circumcised believers were those Jews who were believers and had come with Peter. They were surprised that God’s Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles. God message is for everyone. The Bible says, “Whosoever believes in Him shall be saved.” The “Whosoever” includes people like Billy Graham and Mother Teresa but also includes murderers and child molesters. No one is excluded.
Challenge: We should have the same attitude that God has – we should love and accept everyone who believes regardless of their race, nationality or belief system. Ask God to point out your prejudices and to help you to love all people regardless of their differences or what they have done.
All the prophets testify about Him that through His name and everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:11-15 HCSB
At Christmas time I really enjoy giving gifts. I like to see the joy on the faces of children as they excitedly tear the wrapping paper off and discover what they have received. Even with adults it is exciting to see their reaction when they open a gift that is a real surprise or has a special meaning. My son, Nathan, enjoys both receiving and giving unique gifts. He always gives a lot of thought to his gifts. Sometimes it is something he has purchased while at other times it is something he has made.
Forgiveness of sins and eternal life is a gift from God. He gladly gives that gift to anyone who believes in His Son, Jesus Christ. No one can earn forgiveness. No one can be good enough. The Bible is clear that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Jesus said that He is the only way to His Father (God). Peter boldly preached the message that the prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah. He proclaimed that everyone who believed in Jesus would be forgiven and receive eternal life.
Challenge: Have you received the gift of salvation from God? If not, it is as simple as A-B-C. Admit you are a sinner; Believe that Jesus is the Son of God, lived a perfect life, died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead; Confess Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Thank God for His mercy and the gift of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven.
He saw heaven opened and an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners to the earth. In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat!? “No Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything common and ritually unclean! Again, a second time, a voice said to him, “What God has made clean, you must not call common.” Acts 10:11-15 HCSB
The Life Application Bible says, “According to Jewish law, certain foods were forbidden to be eaten (see Leviticus 11). The food laws made it difficult for Jews to eat with Gentiles without risking defilement. In fact, the Gentiles themselves were often seen as ‘unclean.’ Peter’s vision meant that he should not look upon the Gentiles as inferior people whom God would not redeem. Before having the vision, Peter would have thought that a Gentile Roman officer could not accept Christ. Afterward he understood that it was his responsibility to go with the messengers into a Gentile home and tell Cornelius the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.”
Peter had an unusual vision of animals that were considered to be “unclean” by Jewish customs, but God made it clear that those animals were “clean” and acceptable. God loves and accepts people of all races, nations, and skin color. God is all inclusive of everyone. He wants everyone to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, be saved, and enjoy new life in living for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Challenge: Do you have any prejudices? Are there people that you consider to be “unclean” with whom you do not associate? Pray that God will help you to see others through His eyes. Listen to the song “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5AkNqLuVgY
Then he became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing something, he went into a visionary state. Acts 10:10 HCSB
Both Peter and Paul experienced a visionary state (See Acts 11:5 and 22:17). A visionary state is sometimes referred to as a trance. It denotes an involuntary state of awareness other than normal waking consciousness. It is like a trance or an altered state of consciousness that is usually associated with hypnosis, meditation, or prayer. It is an induced change in one’s mental state and is always temporary.
In this case, Peter went into a visionary state or trance while praying. He saw a vision from God that illustrated what God’s plan and direction was to be. God uses a variety of means to make His will known to His people.
Challenge: We must be sensitive and aware that God works in mysterious ways. He may implant a vision or idea in our minds. Ask God to reveal His perfect will for you. Do you have a vision for what God is calling you to do today?