Acts 12 – Are you using your freedom to spread hope to others? with Peter Shenk (Gateway South Austin)

Acts 12 starts by informing us that the disciple James, the brother of John, has been killed by the sword, presumably for sharing the good news about Jesus.

And when King Herrod sees how his death pleased the Jews, he has Peter arrested and imprisoned with the intention of trying him publicly after Passover.

I bet Peter is terrified. He had lived through Jesus’s arrest, public trial, and brutal execution which also happened around Passover.. Those images, sounds, and smells would never leave his memory… And now, here he is, in a fortified jail, bound in chains, surrounded by guards awaiting his fate. It’s very possible that Peter is struggling to remain hopeful about his future here on earth…

In the same way, you and I may not know what it’s like to be in chains, on death row… but maybe you’ve experienced a sense of hopelessness, feeling alone and trapped in a troubling situation, a personal tragedy, or shackled with an addiction… and from your perspective, there was no escape in sight, no silver lining that could comfort you. Maybe you’re there right now.

It says in verse 5 that “the church prayed very earnestly for him.” Meaning, that his church family was using their freedom to pray, with sincerity and intense conviction, for Peter’s justice and freedom to come.

I won’t spoil all the details, but God sends an angel and delivers Peter from his imprisonment! Peter is so blown away that he thinks he might be dreaming! Look at how he responds in verse 11 and 12:

11 Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”

12 When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer.

Now, Peter could have taken his miraculous prison escape, immediately changed his name and appearance, and caught the first plane to the Bahamas to start a new chapter in hiding…

But instead, he decides to go tell the people who have been praying for him, and many who are new to faith altogether, about the way the Lord had rescued him, despite the odds! He decides to use his new freedom to bring fresh hope and faith and encouragement to the community around him. Through his personal testimony.

Now let’s make this personal. It’s very likely that God has set you free from something that seemed hopeless… Have you kept that story, that testimony, to yourself? Or are you sharing the good news to bring hope to the people around you?

There is power in sharing your personal story.

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