Even when our faith is immature and deficient, God does a work that only He can do. And through it all, God still loves us and is perfecting our faith as we focus our attention on Jesus and follow Him.
In Acts 12:1-11
we are told of how the Apostle James was killed and Peter was placed in prison awaiting his death. After Herod Agrippa I saw that beheading James pleased the people, he decided to do the same to Peter and He had him put in prison. Because Herod was now observing the Jewish law and trying to win favor with the people, he would not put Peter to death during the Passover season. He would wait until afterward and do to Peter in front of all the people what he had already done to James. In the meantime, he would hold Peter prisoner and make it impossible for him to escape or be freed by assigning four squads of soldiers to guard him. Each squad consisted of four Roman soldiers and each squad would have a six hour shift. Two soldiers would be chained to either side of him and two soldiers would guard the door. There was seemingly no way Peter would be able to escape, but God sent an angel to deliver Peter out of the prison in the middle of the night. As Peter followed the angel, he was set free. Peter was still in a daze from it all and when his mind finally cleared, he realized that he was supernaturally delivered by God and saved from death.
When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, "You are out of your mind." But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, "It is his angel!" But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Tell these things to James and to the brothers." Then he departed and went to another place. Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there.
(Acts 12:12-19 ESV)
The church survived without a church building for three hundred years. There were no building funds. There were no campaigns to pay down building debt. There were neither maintenance invoices nor utility bills to pay. Instead, Christ followers met in houses and existing facilities. At this time in Jerusalem, the church had grown to large numbers and was meeting in many houses in the city. Upon his supernatural deliverance from prison, Peter went to John Mark’s mother’s house. Many believe that this was the house that held the upper room where Jesus had His last supper with the disciples the night before His crucifixion. This was probably the house where Peter met with other Christ followers regularly and was the people he was most familiar with as Rhoda knew his voice. In any case, Peter went to where he knew people would be meeting in the middle of the night to pray for His safe release.
Prayer has always been a quality that identifies the church. Christ followers are praying people and follow the example that Christ gave as He walked this earth ministering at the point of need. Jesus took the time to pray and the disciples, seeing that this was a priority in Jesus’ life, asked for Him to teach them how to pray.
Faith is exercised as one communicates to God and asks for his help, guidance and intervention. A person prays believing in God and believing that He can do the impossible. Those who met in this house knew that Herod had beheaded the Apostle James and was planning to do the same to Peter the next day at the conclusion of the Passover. They were praying earnestly for him day and night knowing that God could deliver and in this case, it would take God.
Peter knocked at the gate indicating that this house had a courtyard which was typical of the bigger homes of that day that could accommodate many people. Rhoda goes to see who is knocking. Upon recognizing Peter’s voice and without opening the gate and letting Peter in, she goes back inside tell the people it was Peter. The people thought she was out of her mind! Anyway you look at this it is humorous. Their prayers had been answered. Evidently they had enough faith to pray knowing that God could deliver Peter out of this seemingly hopeless situation, but their faith was deficient in realizing that God was willing to deliver Peter. Even though their faith was deficient, God moved on their behalf and supernaturally delivered Peter from the chains of bondage and certain death.
Beloved, we have been supernaturally delivered from the bondage of sin and saved from death by Jesus Christ. Some may doubt our deliverance and that doubt may come from some who have prayed for our deliverance, but nevertheless we have been delivered! We didn’t do anything to deserve it. It was all God pouring our His amazing grace upon us. We were bound in the chains of sin and held captive in its prison. But Jesus set us free. And when Jesus sets us free, we are free indeed!
Not only is God able to deliver and set the captive free from the power of sin, God is willing. All Peter had to do was follow the angel the Lord sent out of the prison he was held captive in. We have been given Jesus to follow. All of those friends and loved ones that you are praying for, God can and he will deliver as they follow Jesus out of their prison. Keep praying for them. Pray earnestly for them. God will do in an instance what no person could do in a lifetime.
If you are held captive by the power of sin today, I encourage you to follow Jesus out of that prison. As you fix your eyes on Him and follow Him, He will break every shackle that binds you. He will lead you out of darkness and despair. He will take away your hopelessness and give you a reason for living. He will truly set you free!
Beloved, as we follow Christ and keep our eyes fixed on Him, our faith will grow because He is the founder and the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). When our faith is immature and deficient, God still loves us. He does supernatural things in our life and in our circumstances regardless of the size of our faith. And as He does, our faith grows. It is simply Jesus perfecting our faith.
Know that you are loved,