…he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison… Acts 12:17 (NKJV)
The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners. Psalm 146:7 (NKJV)
The cell was cold. The walls were gray. The paint was peeling. The treatment was harsh. The privacy was nonexistent. The despair was real. It was a prison.
How many of us find ourselves in such a place? For some, it is a real prison from our wrong choices. For others, it is a real prison from persecution. Yet for most of us, it is a prison with imaginary bars that trap us from the outside world, bound by fears, addictions, unforgiveness… What is the name of your prison?
My friend, today we’re going to lead you out of that prison into the marvelous light of Jesus. There is an amazing story in the Book of Acts about Peter escaping from prison. It is so amazing that even Peter didn’t believe it was happening to him. Peter was one of those in a real prison because of persecution. King Herod had just beheaded his friend James and now he was preparing to do the same for Peter. Herod put Peter in prison with FOUR squads of soldiers. While Peter was there the church was praying constantly (Acts 12:1–5).
Now here, dear sisters, is where you must remember the power of prayer. Those prayers of the early church were heard by God and He sent His Angel to rescue Peter! This was no sweet angel singing anthems. This Angel of the Lord flooded Peter’s jail cell with bright light and struck Peter on the side. Then He pulled Peter up, saying, “Arise quickly!” The Angel even instructed Peter to get dressed with his sandals and garment.And off they went, past the first and second guard posts, past the iron gates, and out into the city. Finally, the Angel disappeared and Peter found himself at the home of his friend John Mark (Acts 12:6–12).
And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me.. . .” Acts 12:11 (NKJV)
At John Mark’s home, the church had been praying so hard for Peter. But when Peter showed up at the gate, they didn’t believe it! How is that for not believing God can answer our prayers? Isn’t He amazing? God answers all our prayers! Jesus rescues us from our prisons! The Holy Spirit carries us forth in victory!
He declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. Acts 12:17 (NKJV)
I know, because I’ve been in various “prisons” over the years. One was in college before Jesus saved me. I was in such grief over losing my cross-country team and coaches in a plane crash that I turned to food for comfort. This became an eating disorder called bulimia. There seemed to be no cure. One time I went to a gathering to help people with eating disorders and discovered four of my surviving teammates were also there. We had all dealt with the tragedy the same way. Some addictions you can choose to avoid, like smoking or drinking, but with an eating disorder, you have to keep eating. The only One who can rescue you from this prison is Jesus Christ. And He did. When I gave my life to Him, the eating binges disappeared and I was free! Some bad habits take longer to lose, even after we accept Jesus, but He gives us grace for the battle each day.
Bring my soul out of prison,
That I may praise Your name;
The righteous shall surround me,
For You shall deal bountifully with me. Psalm 142:7 (NKJV)
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. Psalm 86:5 (NKJV)
Remember Jacob’s son Joseph in the Old Testament? Besides being sold into slavery by his brothers, he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison. But God was with him even in prison, giving him a leadership position. This assignment put Joseph in the right place to hear two dreams which eventually led to his release. Joseph later told his brothers, “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” which fits with God’s promise recorded by Paul, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). Can we claim that promise even in the midst of our prison? And would you also consider that Joseph’s imprisonment was a foreshadowing of his family’s enslavement in Egypt, which was a foreshadowing of our own imprisonment and enslavement to sin?
He sent a man before them—
Joseph—who was sold as a slave.
They hurt his feet with fetters,
He was laid in irons.
Until the time that his word came to pass,
The word of the Lord tested him.
The king sent and released him,
The ruler of the people let him go free. Psalm 105:17–20 (NKJV)
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
And broke their chains in pieces. Psalm 107:14 (NKJV)
He brought out His people with joy,
His chosen ones with gladness Psalm 105:43 (NKJV)
Years ago, people were put in “Debtors’ Prison” for not paying their debts. This never quite made sense to me, for how could they earn money to pay their debts if they were stuck in prison? Family or friends had to pay the debt for them. My sisters, until we have Jesus, we are all in Debtor’s Prison. Our debt is to God for the sins we have committed. There is no way for us to work to pay off this debt. Our only hope is to let our Friend and Savior Jesus Christ pay for us. That’s the Good News: God has taken away His cup of wrath from us through Jesus’ blood on the cross. By believing in His death and resurrection, and asking Him to be Lord of our lives, the gates of our prison will be thrown open and we are set free(Deuteronomy 24:16; Isaiah 51:22; Jeremiah 31:30; Romans 8:12; Ephesians 1:7)!
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12 (NKJV)
For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:11 (NKJV)
He paid a debt He did not owe,
I owed a debt I could not pay,
I needed Someone to wash my sins away;
And now I sing a brand new song,
Amazing grace all day long,
Christ Jesus paid a debt
That I could never pay. (Old Gospel Song, Author unknown)
In another prison story in Acts 16, Paul and Silas were in jail for their faith. They were singing Psalms and hymns at midnight with the other prisoners listening, when suddenly there was a great earthquake and the prison doors were thrown open. The guard thought all the prisoners had escaped and was ready to kill himself when he heard Paul call to him. The guard was so astonished that he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And Paul replied, “Believe in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:16–40). That very hour the guard and all his family believed and were baptized, and they washed and fed the prisoners.
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved. Acts 2:21 (NKJV)
A newer version of the hymn Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin has the chorus, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.” That’s how it is when Jesus leads us out of the prison into His marvelous light. The enemy wants to keep us behind bars, but Jesus has the victory. You are not alone; many famous Bible characters spent time in prison.. . . Joseph, Jeremiah, Paul, and who can forget Daniel in the lions’ den? Come, my friend, let the Angel of the Lord escort you out of your prison today. Believe in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household (Acts 16:31).
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. Colossians 1:13 (NKJV)
Today’s TEA CUPP: My dear TEA friend, whatever you are facing today, in whatever prison you find yourself, turn to Jesus. Read the miraculous story of Peter’s prison escape in Acts 12:1–19. Imagine the Angel of the Lord shining His bright light upon you and saying, “Arise quickly.” And the Angel leads you out of your prison, past all the guards to the home of praying friends. And you are free! For another great prison escape, read Acts 5:17–42. And for those of us not currently in prison, we must heed Hebrews 13:3 which says, “Remember the prisoners . . . ” Who can you pull out of the mire today?
He also brought them out with silver and gold. Psalm 105:37
He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free; His blood can make the foulest clean. His blood availed for me. (Wesley, 1739)
(See also: Psalm 34:4,79:11,102:18–22, 118:21,124:7; Proverbs 28:13;Isaiah 41:10, 42:7,49:9,55:12; Jeremiah 10:23–24, 37:21, 38:13; Jonah 2:6; Zechariah 9:11–12;Matthew 18:21–35; Luke 1:37; John 3:3, 3:16–17, 3:36, 11:40; Acts 2:37–39; 1Corinthians 10:13; Galatians 5:1; Philippians 4:13; 1John 4:4)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson