Open The Door Acts 12:1–11
As we enter Phase Two in Louisiana, doors are opening that have not been. More churches are meeting – although with recommended restrictions to keep people as safe as possible from the virus.
Emerging from a time of crisis is not easy – and everyone is dealing with that on their own terms. In our text today the Christians in Jerusalem are in a firestorm of persecution and trouble – a time of crisis that became a time of prayer. In Acts 12… King Herod was arresting Christians with the intention to persecute them.
This King Herod is the grandson of Herod the Great- who ordered the killing of the children when Jesus was a child. The Herods were ruthless and cruel authorities.
James, the brother of John, is put to death. James and John were among the first to follow Jesus. Peter is arrested. Herod intends to make a public spectacle of him before executing him. He is in prison, guarded by 16 soldiers, bound with two chains. Peter is a well known Christian leader in the church at this point. Do you think that if we were facing this kind of crisis we would be on our knees in prayer? That’s what the church was doing – “earnestly praying”. While Peter was sleeping in Prison an angel awakened him and led him through all the guards and gates to freedom. He decided to go to the house of Mary (12:12) “where many people had gathered and were praying.” The Church in crisis, gathered to pray, and God began to answer their prayers.
Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.
I want to encourage you to…
OPEN THE DOOR WITH PRAYER
Prayer opens doors in our faith. We trust that God hears us and acts on our prayers in His wisdom and in His time. God is answering prayers at this moment. Some were prayed long ago, some seconds ago. Some answers we will never see, some will surprise us.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their2 Chronicles 7:14
“hear from heaven” is a phrase the Chronicler uses several times. When we pray God hears from heaven and moves in our behalf.
Prayer opens doors in situations when we have no control – but God can intervene. We intercede on behalf of others. What doors need to open in the lives of other people? our country? our loved ones? Are we praying for doors to open? Doors of addiction, poverty, fear, or distress?
Prayer opens doors when we do not understand the answers. God knows what is best, even when we do not understand. In this chapter we have the execution of the disciple James. We find it nearly impossible to explain the workings of God, we just continue to pray through them.
Steven Cole: There are times when evil seems to be winning the day. Wicked men get away with murder and their popularity goes up, not down. The righteous suffer terribly. Their loved ones are bereaved. It’s easy at such times to wonder, “Where is God in all of this? Why did He allow this to happen? How can any good come out of such awful wickedness?”
Prayer opens doors that we did not even know were there. Sometimes God answers prayers in ways we could not have predicted, and can only see later. Kind of like when God led Peter out of a prison cell to Mary’s house, even though no one expected it!
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.Colossians 4:2-4
Open the Door With Prayer. Sometimes there is a problem here.
HAVE WE LEFT THE DOOR CLOSED?
By trying to solve everything on our own without God’s help.
By not believing that God can or will act when we are in crisis.
By not listening to the voices of those who seek to encourage us in faith.
By allowing sin and sinful habits to have control in our lives. Genesis 4:7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.
Let’s not fall into any of those traps. Instead….
KEEP ON KNOCKING
Keep on Praying Earnestly. Intentional, passionate, sincere – even though they did not know how it would turn out.
“These people prayed earnestly and doubtingly, yet the force of earnest halting prayer was mightier than Herod, and mightier than hell!” – G. Campbell Morgan
Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
Keep on praying earnestly…
Keep the Focus on God
After Chapter 12 of the Book of Acts, Peter is hardly mentioned. This story shows the importance of prayer by the church. Peter is spared from the death sentence, and fades from the story of the early church. It wasn’t about Peter – it was about God!
Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.Psalm 24:7-8
Keep an open door to God in your heart.
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.Psalm 84:10-11
Today let’s resolve to open doors
Open door of faith
Open door of prayer
Open door of persistence
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?”Matthew 7:7-9
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
– Revelation 3:20
Prayer: God, there is no prison so strong that you cannot free its captives. There is no situation so dire that you cannot provide relief. There is no life so ruined that you cannot restore it. May we trust you to save and protect us, to deliver us from evil and the valley of the shadow of death through the power of your Son’s sacrifice at Calvary. We pray this in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Cole, Steven J. From the Series: Acts https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-30-unstoppable-gospel-acts-121-25