Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Surprised?

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

I hope you enjoy reading the verses below as much as I enjoyed being at work in the lives of My disciples bringing them deliverance.

You have to admit that the reaction of the early believers to Peter’s release from prison in this account would be humorous, except for the fact that so much was at stake. Peter’s life was on the line. James had just been martyred for My cause. These early disciples were praying “constantly and intensely” for Peter’s deliverance. They were down to a few hours before Peter’s scheduled execution. Then, they saw their prayers answered as they hoped they would be. However, when Rhoda told these praying disciples that Peter was at the door knocking to get inside, they told her, “Rhoda, you’re crazy!”

Peter was equally shocked and surprised by the events as they unfolded! He “assumes he was dreaming” when the mighty messenger from heaven, one of My angels, appeared to him. This heavenly messenger assured, instructed, and delivered Peter from the soldiers on each side of him, from the double chains that bound him, from the prison that held him, and from the impending execution scheduled for him.

In addition, My people also were delivered from a tyrannical ruler. This Herod was from a family of three rulers all called Herod. Each of these three had opposed Me at different times — at My birth, at My trial before My crucifixion, and in My ministry through My people in the earliest days of My church. The arrogance of this batch of evil rulers ended with a gross and ugly death of this last Herod, who was eaten by worms.

Surprised?

Yes, My people were surprised by Peter’s liberation and deliverance from Herod’s desire to execute him and by their deliverance from the harm that Herod had planned for them.

Yes, Herod in his arrogance during a grand moment of earthly praise was surprised by his bitter end.

Yes, the enemies of the early disciples were surprised by the deliverance that We — Father, Son, and Spirit — won for our people when things were so tenuous.

Yes, We are the God of the Exodus. We helped David defeat Goliath. We defeated the power of death and crucifixion leaving behind the empty tomb.

What lies ahead for you, dear beloved, is surprise after surprise until you share with all of Our redeemed, throughout all history, in the grandest surprise of all: ultimate deliverance! This surprise really should be no surprise at all because of our guarantee: the Holy Spirit! (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Verses to Live

Psalm 2 speaks powerfully about the ultimate defeat of any earthly ruler who sets himself up as a rival to God’s Anointed Son — that’s Me, Jesus, your Lord and Messiah. So despite “hard times” coming to the disciples, I delivered them. I also will deliver you.

Years after Peter’s deliverance, My apostle Paul described deliverance coming to him in one of two ways. One of these will most certainly be your deliverance as well:

And I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance. For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

(Philippians 1:18-20 NLT)

Paul was confident that I would deliver him either from death and to productive service or through death to be with Me. I AM the Lord of deliverance! My deliverance also is exemplified in the following account about Peter and other early believers in Jerusalem.

Back in Jerusalem, hard times came to the disciples. King Herod violently seized some who belonged to the church with the intention of mistreating them. He ordered James (brother of John) to be executed by the sword, the first of those appointed as emissaries to be martyred. This move pleased Jewish public opinion, so he decided to arrest Peter also. During the holy festival of Unleavened Bread, he caught Peter and imprisoned him, assigning four squads of soldiers to guard him. He planned to bring him to trial publicly after the Passover holiday.

During Peter’s imprisonment, the church prayed constantly and intensely to God for his safety. Their prayers were not answered, until the night before Peter’s execution.

Picture this event: Peter is sound asleep between two soldiers, double-chained, with still more guards outside the prison door watching for external intruders. Suddenly the cell fills with light: it is a messenger of the Lord manifesting himself. He taps Peter on the side, awakening him.

Messenger of the Lord:

Get up, quickly.

The chains fall off Peter’s wrists.

Messenger of the Lord:

Come on! Put on your belt. Put on your sandals.

Peter puts them on and just stands there.

Messenger of the Lord:

Pull your cloak over your shoulders. Come on! Follow me!

Peter does so, but he is completely dazed. He doesn’t think this is really happening — he assumes he is dreaming or having a vision. They pass the first guard. They pass the second guard. They come to the iron gate that opens to the city. The gate swings open for them on its own, and they walk into a lane. Suddenly the messenger disappears.

Peter finally realized all that had really happened.

Peter:

Amazing! The Lord has sent His messenger to rescue me from Herod and the public spectacle of my execution which the Jews fully expected.

Peter immediately rushed over to the home of a woman named Mary. (Mary’s son, John Mark, would eventually become an important associate of the apostles.) A large group had gathered there to pray for Peter and his safety. He knocked at the outer gate; and a maid, Rhoda, answered. She recognized Peter’s voice, but she was so overcome with excitement that she left him standing on the street and ran inside to tell everyone.

Rhoda:

Our prayers were answered! Peter is at the front gate!

Praying Believers:

Rhoda, you’re crazy!

Rhoda:

No! Peter’s out there! I’m sure of it!

Praying Believers:

Well, maybe it’s his guardian angel or something.

All this time, Peter was still out in the street, knocking on the gate. Finally they came and let him in. Of course, the disciples were stunned, and everyone was talking at once. Peter motioned for them to quiet down and then told them the amazing story of how the Lord engineered his escape.

Peter:

Could you please get word to James, our Lord’s brother, and the other believers that I’m all right?

Then he left to find a safer place to stay.

But when morning came and Peter was gone, there was a huge uproar among the soldiers. Herod sent troops to find Peter, but he was missing. Herod interrogated the guards and ordered their executions. Peter headed down toward the coast to Caesarea, and he remained there.

At this time there was major political upheaval. Herod was at odds with the populace of neighboring Tyre and Sidon, so the two cities sent a large group of representatives to meet with him. They won over one of Herod’s closest associates, Blastus, the director of the treasury; then they pressured Herod to drop his grudge. Cooperation was important to the two cities because they were all major trading partners and depended on Herod’s territory for food. They struck a deal, and Herod came over to ratify it. Dressed in all his royal finery and seated high above them on a platform, he made a speech; and the people of Tyre and Sidon interrupted with cheers to flatter him.

The People:

This is the voice of a god! This is no mere mortal!

Herod should have given glory to the true God; but since he vainly accepted their flattery, that very day a messenger of the Lord struck him with an illness. It was an ugly disease, involving putrefaction and worms eating his flesh. Eventually he died.

Through all this upheaval, God’s message spread to new frontiers and attracted more and more people.

(Acts 12:1-24)

Response in Prayer

Thank You, O God — Father, Son, and Spirit — for repeatedly surprising Your people with Your deliverance. Thank You for every prayer for deliverance that has been answered with a “Yes!” — whether deliverance from death to new service or through death to new life with You forever. I thank You for your providence and guiding grace even when my prayers are not answered in the way I had hoped and thought best. I trust in Your grace and my complete deliverance when Jesus returns and all my prayers find their “Yes!” in Your ultimate deliverance! In Jesus’ name, I thank You. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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From: “A Year with Jesus”
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Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Company
Category: Passion for Praise

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