Was That Really from God?– Acts 12:6-11

Liberation of Peter (1665-1667) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

In our last post from the book of Acts we explored what James might have thought about how God allowed him to be executed by Herod even though He rescued Peter. If you’re interested you can learn more here: Whatever Happens, True and Just are Your Judgements–Acts 12:1-11.

In today’s post we’ll learn an important truth concerning what to do, when we’re wondering whether or not something in our mind or in our life came from God.

Acts 12:6-11

Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

Acts 12:6-11

Was It Just a Dream?

As we saw in our last post from the book of Acts, James had just been executed. And when Herod saw how that pleased the Jewish leaders, he decided to arrest Peter also and he put him in prison. But while Peter was in chains, sleeping between two soldiers, with sentries guarding the prison door, an angel stood next to Peter and shined a light into his cell. This angel struck Peter on his side and woke him.

The angel said: Quick, get up.

And the chains fell off Peter’s hands.

And the angel said: Get dressed and put on your sandals.

So Peter did what he was told.

And then the angel said to him: Wrap yourself in your cloak and follow me.

And Peter followed the angel, even though he didn’t know whether or not what he was experiencing was real.

It wasn’t until the angel had led Peter a few blocks away that Peter realized this miraculous rescue was a reality. “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting,” Peter said.

Was It Really from God?

So often we have thoughts enter our mind or coincidences happen or we see something and we wonder if it’s a sign from God — and then we deliberate within ourselves, we wonder: “Was that from God? Was that some sort of inspiration from the Holy Spirit? Or was it just a thought, or a coincidence, or something that would have happened anyway and God wasn’t involved?”

Here’s what I want to say today.

Here’s the thing to do in that situation.

Do what Peter did.

Get up and go.

Should I Bother to Get Up and Go?

I’ll never forget the story I heard from my friend and fellow firefighter Steve Shafer. He was dragging a fire hose deep inside a burning commercial building in the wee hours of the morning, trying to find the seat of the fire when he became lost. There was so much thick black smoke inside, it was impossible to see. He was wandering around searching for a way out when his low air warning bell began sounding. He was running out of time.

Steve said, “I became disoriented. I had no idea which way to go.” He managed to locate an outside wall with some roll up bay doors but they were all locked. These bay doors had narrow little windows in them and he thought about trying to find something he could use to break the glass, so he could yell out the window. But there wasn’t anything around him that might work. He could feel panic starting to well up inside.

Then, behind him, he just barely heard the sound of someone else’s low air alarm in the distance. It was hard to hear with his own alarm ringing in his ears.

He thought about trying to follow that sound, that other bell. But if he stayed where he was, at least he had a window. Maybe someone would walk by. On the other hand, even if someone did walk by and see him, they might not be able to force the door before he ran out of air. And as soon as he ran out of air, he was dead. But, if he left the bay door, he was leaving his one point of reference and venturing into the unknown. All he knew about moving toward the interior was it would be hotter, and blacker, than where he was now.

In the end, he decided to take a chance, and follow the sound of the bell.

In Steve’s own words, “Through the Lord’s guidance, no brilliance of my own, I came walking out [of the building], about fifteen feet behind Milligan.” (Milligan was Steve’s crewmate.)

Three days later Steve bumped into a family member, his aunt Doris Wolmesdorf. And she asked him, “Where were you early in the morning on Thursday? Because the Lord woke me up at three in the morning on that day, and said, ‘Pray for Steve.’ After praying for you about a half hour, I thought, ‘OK, whatever it was is OK,’ and I went back to sleep.”

That Thursday morning aunt Doris asked about, was October 30, the time and date of the commercial fire, when, as Steve puts it, “I was reasonably sure I was going to die.”

Thank God for Aunt Doris.

And thank God she didn’t dismiss that thought that popped into her head about praying for Steve.

Get Up and Go (just as soon as you can)

So whenever that happens to you, just as soon as possible, get up, and go call that friend who popped into your mind. Get up and help that person who’s struggling to mow their lawn. Get up and volunteer for that ministry that helps sick kids. Get up and clean the bathroom or do the dishes or take care of that project. Get up, go out, and buy that gift. Write that note. Schedule that lunch. Pray that prayer.

The absolute best thing we can do when we’re wondering whether or not something is from God, is to do what Peter did:

Get up and go do it.

Just as soon as you can.

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Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.

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  • How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
  • How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
  • How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
  • How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
  • How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
  • How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.

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3 Comments on “Was That Really from God?– Acts 12:6-11

  1. Only Peter would an angel strike to wake up. I always smile when I read this line, “he struck Peter on the side and woke him.”

  2. Pingback: You Have More Power Than You Think You Have–Acts 12:11-17 | God Running

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