Here I was asking God why He hadn’t done certain things in my life.
God, don’t you care?
You said You would take care of me.
Then an opportunity that I missed years ago came around again.
And now I realize that God had answered my prayer years ago, but when the answer came, I didn’t recognize it because all I could see was fear and unbelief.
I’m not smart enough.
This is too good to be true.
I was like the church who was constantly praying for Peter to be released from prison, but when God released the answer – when the answer to their prayer knocked on the door, they didn’t open the door because they didn’t believe. Rhoda, a servant girl – a slave girl, recognized the answer. Not the church. And she just didn’t believe that it was Peter, but she knew his voice.
But thank God Peter knocked and knocked again until they opened the door.
And thank God that He caused the opportunity that I missed last time to knock again – until I opened the door.
For some of us, the answer has already been released and I pray that we all recognize it when it comes.
[Reference scripture: Acts 12:5-16]
I don’t know if my sister is still doing it or not, but for awhile she was buying a lot of hair products for hair growth. And I mean a lot. One day I was asking her about one of the products she had on her dresser.
I don’t know if it works or not. I didn’t use it long enough. I started and then I stopped.
Does that sound familiar?
When something doesn’t happen as quickly as we would like it to, this is what some of us do. We get weary, we stop believing and we stop doing the things that we started doing.
The reason why some of us haven’t seen results or haven’t seen certain things come to pass is because we got distracted along the way. We started making daily confessions and then we stopped. We stopped fasting. We stopped doing what God told us to do. Some of us decided to set up a time to pray every day, but then something else became more important and it took the place of our prayer time.
When Peter was in prison, the church prayed for him and they prayed without ceasing. They didn’t stop praying just because nothing had happened yet. They prayed until their answer knocked on the door.
The angel told Daniel, You words were heard and I have come for your words. If the church had stopped praying, the angels would have stopped working.
Peter needed a miracle. He was in a situation that he couldn’t get himself out of. He was bound with two chains between two soldiers and there were guards at the prison door. Now, Peter wasn’t worried about his situation. He was sleeping. He was resting, but because the church remained faithful, consistent and persistent, an angel appeared to Peter in prison. It was the angel who took the chains off his hands. It was the angel who led him out of a door that he wasn’t supposed to go through.
I’m not saying that the church never grew weary, but in spite of what it looked like or how they felt, they kept praying. Without ceasing means they never stopped. Our problem is we just don’t give God time to work. If nothing happens when we think it should happen, then we assume that God doesn’t love us or that He has forgotten about us or that He changed His mind about what He said.
Let’s become the church we read about in the book of Acts. These people probably needed a miracle in their own lives, but they kept Peter’s name before the Lord. I know God doesn’t sleep or slumber, but they gave Him no rest until Peter was released from prison.
They were like the widow who went to the judge daily until he gave her what she asked for. They were like the person who went to a friend’s house at midnight to ask for bread, but the friend told him that the door was shut, he was in bed and he wasn’t getting out of bed. But because of their friendship (John 15:15) and because he refused to return home without getting what he asked for, the man got out of bed and gave his friend what he needed.
There are some things that we need to stop doing, but praying isn’t one of them.
Pray without ceasing.
[Scripture references: Acts 12:1-16; Luke 18:1-8; Luke 11:5-13]
“You may not have what others have, but you have something.”
But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold! But I will give you what I do have. In the name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, get up and start walking” (Acts 3:6, CEV).
Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
Who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked an alms.
And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have, give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk (Acts 3:1-6).
The lame man asked with expectation for alms, but Peter and John wanted to give him something better – something that would last. Had Peter and John given the lame man gold and silver, how long do you think that would have lasted? At some point, he would have run out of money and the only choice he would have had was to go back into the lifestyle that he thought he left. He would return to begging.
This man had a problem, but what he was asking for was not the solution to his problem. Just like the lame man, I was sitting at the gate of Beautiful. As a result of when I went through, I was crippled with fear, unbelief and doubt. I was sitting in pity when I should have been walking in power. I was on the outside when I should have been in the inside.
Your problems and painful experiences may have brought you to the gate, but it can’t stop you from going through the gate.
I was praying for money, but money wasn’t my problem. My problem was that I didn’t trust God. When Peter told the man to look on him and John, the man immediately looked at them to be his source. And that was me. I was looking to my job to be my source when I should have been looking to God to be my Source. The man was looking at their hands, but Peter wanted him to know that what he needed wasn’t in his hand, but in his mouth. In his mouth was the power to command things, to prophesy, and to change his situation.
I thought it was money that I needed, but I needed wisdom. If I have wisdom, I have riches (Proverbs 8:18). I thought I needed money, but it is healing that I need. God never hurt me and He never disappointed me, but I know that I don’t have the trust in Him that I once had and I need God to build up what the enemy tried to tear down. I need Him to restore that childlike faith.
The lame man spent most of his life depending on people, but God wanted him to depend on Him. When Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up, it took trust and faith to believe not only that he could rise, but to do something he had not been able to do since birth – walk.
But one thing is needful (Luke 10:42).
What I need and what God wants is for me to seek a better relationship with Him. It’s time to go from begging to believing.
I’ve been giving Him my hands (seeking a handout), but what God really wants is my heart.
come: to go from one place to another; to act; to follow someone
Jesus gave his disciples an assignment. He gave them something to do. He told them to get into a ship and to go to the other side. After He sent them away, He went to the mountain to pray.
The disciples did what Jesus told them to do. Things got off to a good start, but before they could reach where Jesus told them to go, a storm came in the midst of the sea. In the middle of their journey. The waves tossed the ship and the winds were very strong.
Jesus left where he was (the mountain) to go where they were (the sea). When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were afraid for they thought it was a ghost. But Jesus encouraged them with words. Be of good cheer. It is I. Be not afraid.
Peter then said, Lord, if it be you, command me to come to you on the water. If Jesus told him to do it, then he believed he could do it. Jesus then said, Come.
When Peter stepped on the water, the sea wasn’t calm and the storm hadn’t ceased. The wind was still strong and the waves were still tossing the ship, but he obeyed. His situation never changed. Things still looked the same, but he wasn’t focused on what he saw. He didn’t wait for the right time. He didn’t wait for perfect conditions. He didn’t wait for Jesus to give him another word and then another word. He acted on the word that Jesus gave him.
Jesus gave Peter one word (Come) and he obeyed. Some of us have gotten so many prophecies and promises and confirmation, yet we remain in the ship. We never moved. We never did what God told us to do, but we’re wondering why our situation hasn’t changed. You asked God to do something in your life and then your opportunity came, but because the opportunity came in the form of a storm, you didn’t want what you had asked for anymore. God promised you something and now years later you’re wondering why it hasn’t come to pass yet. It’s because you refused to do something that you had never done before.
Peter had NEVER walked on water before.
Here are some of the things we battle with in our minds: What if I fall once I get out of the ship? What will they (disciples) say about me? What if I fail? They may laugh at me.
The moment Peter stopped doing what Jesus commanded him to do and looked at the wind, he became afraid and began to sink. No one never said that fear wouldn’t come, but remember that God didn’t give you the spirit of fear. He is with you, He has revealed to you that it is Him and you don’t have to be afraid.
God just doesn’t want to fulfill His promises in your life, but He also wants to do something in the lives of those who are in the ship with you. Think about it this way. The longer Peter would have stayed in the ship, the longer he would have stayed in the storm as well as those who were with him. When the disciples saw what He did for Peter, it gave them hope. It increased their faith. It helped their unbelief. They worshipped him and said, You really are the Son of God.
I know we think that it’s ‘safe’ in the ship, but the blessings and the promises that God gave you aren’t in the ship. And listen. When you get out of the ship, continue to focus on the One who called you out of the ship. Focus on the word He gave you. Keep doing what He told you to do. If you focus on what things look like, you will begin to doubt and then you will sink. But if you sink, do what Peter did and cry out to the Lord because you are not far from His hand. He will catch you with His hand. He will hold you up with His hand. He will not allow what was sent to bless you to drown you.
But to see a difference in your life, you are going to have to do something different. Something you have never done before. For us to see change in our lives, we are going to have to change how we think and how we feel and how we used to do things.
It is time to get out of the ship. To do what God is telling you to do, to go where He wants you to go, you are going to have to leave something.
Peter left the ship to go to Jesus. What are you willing to leave? Will you come out of the ship also?
[Scripture reference: Matthew 14:22-33]