Thursday, November 01, 2007

When the chains fall off

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Acts 11, 12; Psalm 150

Acts 12:6-11 (NIV)

6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”

Good morning!

I love to read the amazing miracles in the book of Acts. King Herod couldn’t keep the Gospel message from spreading like wildfire. No matter who he tortured, imprisoned, or even sentenced to death, it did not stop the living, breathing Word of God. Jesus Christ was alive and well in the hearts and souls of His apostles. Even Peter found himself in awe of God’s power on the night the chains fell off his wrists.

At first, Peter thought he must be dreaming, or maybe he was seeing a vision. But when the angel appeared out of nowhere and his chains fell off, Peter walked out of that prison unharmed. The guards who were sleeping on the job, lost their lives because they could not adequately account for Peter’s mysterious and unexplained vanishing act. Only the Lord of all could do this. And Peter knew it.

What does it feel like to have the chains that keep us back suddenly fall off? If you have ever struggled with some secret sin, then maybe you understand what a miracle it is to finally be free. People struggle with terrifying addictions to caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, prescription medications, street drugs, sex, pornography, even with gender identity. No matter how hard they try to escape, the chains of sin continue to tighten around them, keeping hearts from completely accepting the person that God created them to be. Many have tried to escape the prisons they find themselves trapped in. They cut themselves, or they eat for comfort, or sometimes stop eating all together, in an effort to cleanse their bodies and make the pain go away. They take pills and drink to escape, even for a time, the reality of their life. Do you know what it is like to feel so very unloved, dissatisfied and unhappy with yourself that you would literally change your outward appearance drastically just to gain some sort of inner peace? Can a sex change truly change the condition of a hurting heart?

Peter knew Jesus in a real and personal way. He walked with him and talked with him throughout his three year formal ministry. Peter watched Jesus suffer and die, and on the third day, Peter believed in the power of The Resurrection and The Life. He knew that God’s authority was not limited to the chains on his wrists. He had conquered death and Hell and now is risen! Jesus lives, and there was no prison wall that could hold the Good News of the Gospel back. Peter trusted Christ enough to know that no matter what obstacle he faced, God has the power to handle it. What kind of faith does it take to believe that God not only understands our pain and suffering, but that He has the power to free us from the chains we bear? Do you have the faith of Peter?

Today is All Saints Day. I would encourage you to take the things that keep you from wholeness and give them to the Lord who sees you, knows you, and who loves you. God created you with a passion and purpose for life. He can take the chains of sin and remove them once and for all. Ask Him for greater faith. You can experience new life today like you’ve never had it before. Won’t you trust God enough to let Him be Lord of your life?

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

Pray for: greater faith! What we cannot do for ourselves, God can do in and through us. Confess your sins and human frailties to the Lord. He understands. He has been here. And Jesus offers new life today to all who will turn to Him for hope and help. The chains will fall off when the Lord Jesus Christ removes them once and for all.


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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