Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 14, 2010

Do You Believe?

The New Testament recounts many stories about Peter, one of Jesus’ first disciples. One of my favorites is found in Acts 12:5-17. In this story, Peter has just been arrested by King Herod and thrown into prison. The Scriptures tell us “but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church” (Acts 12:5b). The church undoubtedly recognized the seriousness of Peter’s arrest. The early church was dealing with much persecution. The disciple James, the brother of John, had just been put to death by order of Herod and this was Peter’s third arrest (see Acts 4:3 and 5:18). Furthermore, since Peter had escaped his most previous arrest with the help of an angel, this time he was bound with two chains between two soldiers and additional soldiers stood as guards outside his cell. There did not seem to be a lot of hope for Peter. In spite of their prayers, most of the early church probably feared that he would be executed.

Yet in the midst of this seemingly hopeless situation, what is Peter doing? Sleeping! “And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers” (Acts 12:6a). I don’t know about you, but when I am fearful or facing a stressful situation, sleep usually does not come easily for me. Yet Peter was not only sleeping, but he was sleeping soundly. The Scriptures tell us that an angel stood by Peter and a light shone in the prison, yet apparently Peter slept on because the angel had to strike Peter on the side and tell him to get up (see Acts 12:7).

Sound sleep is usually a peaceful sleep. Peter was in anything but a peaceful situation, In all probability he was facing execution the next day, so how could he just calmly go to sleep? I personally believe that Peter was able to sleep because of two things. First of all, he knew he was doing what God told him to do. And, secondly, he trusted the situation to God. He was obedient and he responded with faith. Thus he was able to write in 1 Peter 1:6-7: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Simply stated, Peter believed Jesus. It had been a process for Peter to get to this point. Before Jesus was crucified, Peter had denied even knowing Him (see John 18:15-26). After Christ’s resurrection, Jesus restored Peter and told him to feed His lambs and sheep (see John 21:15-19). With his restoration, Peter accepted the work that Jesus had for him to do. He had another chance and he was faithful to the task that God gave him. It was this faith that allowed Peter to sleep peacefully in spite of what the next morning possibly held for him.

What about you and me? Do we believe God? James believed God and it ended in his death. Peter believed God and was delivered. Both men were doing what God told them to do, yet one lost his life and the other was miraculously saved. If we truly believe God, we have to be able to surrender our situations to Him and trust Him with the outcomes whatever they might be.

Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus often told His disciples and followers to not be afraid, but only believe (for example Mark 5:36, Luke 8:50). I may fear a situation that is too big for me to handle, but when I believe in God and turn my situation over to Him, I no longer have any reason to fear because I know I can trust Him with however He chooses to work it out.

Unfortunately, however, too often we may say we believe, but our faith is too small. Just as in the story of Peter, the church was praying constantly. Yet when Peter appeared they didn’t believe that it could possibly be him. “It is his angel,” they said. We do the same thing. We pray for people to be healed, lives to be saved, or even to have money at the end of the month. Yet when those prayers are answered, we often seem surprised. Or even worse, we fail to recognize God’s work in our lives because we ask so little as if we cannot trust God with the real issues we are facing. Our prayers can become recitations of things we feel we ought to say rather than honest to goodness conversations with an all-knowing, all-powerful God about the real things going on in our lives. Yet God beckons us to come to Him. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

“Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders.”

(Psalm 77:13b-14a).

 

Do you believe?

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