When God Sends His Angels
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - July 21, 2013
*Some day you are going to see an angel.
It's not a matter of "if" but "when."
God's mighty angels are as real as we are today.
And in this wonderful story from the early church, we can see some of the times when God sends His angels.
1. First: God sends His angels when His people face big problems.
*We see this truth in vs. 1-4, where the Bible says:
Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.
2. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also.
Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
4. So when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
*This was a terrible crisis for the church.
It was not the first persecution, but a fresh wave of persecution against the church leaders in Jerusalem.
King Herod stretched out his hand to "harass" or "vex" them.
He wanted to hurt, oppress, and crush them.
They were probably scourged and put into prison.
Herod even killed the Apostle James, and was just waiting for the right time to kill Peter.
It was a time of terrible trouble.
*Many Christians around the world are going through the same kind of trouble today.
And we may not be going through that kind of trouble.
But all of God's people will face great problems.
And in those situations we sometimes see God's angels at work.
*In 1993, "Time Magazine" had a story about Melissa Deal Forth.
She was a 40-year-old film maker from Atlanta.
The story was about the death of Melissa's husband Chris, exactly one year after he had been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia.
*The last months had been gruesome, with many nights when Melissa could not sleep.
But Melissa was sleeping by Chris' hospital bed on January 4th, when he somehow managed to get himself and his IV pole out of the room without being seen or heard.
Melissa remembers being shaken awake at 3:00 a.m. by a frantic nurse who told her she couldn't find Chris.
*Melissa did find him in the chapel sitting with a man she had never seen before.
She burst through the door, firing off questions, "Where have you been?
Are you okay?" Chris just smiled.
"It's fine," he told her, "I'm all right."
*The other man remained quiet, as if he didn't want to be noticed.
He was tall and dressed like Chris usually did in a flannel shirt and Levis.
Melissa later reported, "There was no real age to him, no wrinkles, just this perfectly smooth and pale, white skin and ice blue eyes.
I mean I've never seen that color blue on any human before.
They were more the blue like some of those Husky dogs have.
I'll never forget the eyes."
*Chris seemed to want to be left alone, and so she reluctantly agreed to leave.
When he came back to his room, she says, "He was lit up, just vibrant, smiling.
I could see his big dimples.
I hadn't seen them in so long.
He didn't have the air of a terminally ill and very weak man anymore."
*"Who was that guy?" she asked Chris.
"You're not going to believe me," her husband replied.
"Yes, I will," she answered.
"He was an angel," Chris said.
"My guardian angel."
Melissa did believe him.
"All I had to do was to look at him," she says now, "to know something extraordinary, something supernatural had happened."
*She searched the hospital, but couldn't find the man.
And Melissa said: "After the visit, Chris told me his prayers had been answered.
I worried for a while that he thought the angel had cured his cancer.
I realize now it wasn't the cure, -- it was the blessing he brought with him.
It was the peace of mind."
*Chris died two days later.
Melissa says that not a day has gone by when she has not thought about the angel and what he did for her husband.
She said: "Chris' life could not be saved, but the fear and pain were taken from him.
Never, never, never will anyone be able to convince me that angels don't exist."
*God sends angels when His people face big problems.
He also sends His angels when His people are in prayer.
*Verse 5 reminds us of this truth, when it says: "Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church."
*This was a giant crisis for the church.
But we see them doing exactly the right thing.
They started praying for Peter.
And they kept on praying.
They prayed without ceasing.
And that's exactly what we should be doing.
Passionate prayer always makes a difference.
*W.A. Criswell tells us that prayer is the real battlefield of the world.
He said all the host of heaven and God Himself looked down on that little group interceding for Peter's life.
"When trouble and sorrow came, the people fell on their knees in real, agonizing prayer."
*And Dr. Criswell explained: "I can see that in the lives of God's people.
So often our prayers are peripheral.
They are lifeless.
They are cold.
They are indifferent.
They are repetitive.
They have no blood in them, no tears in them, no agony in them.
But when trouble comes and sorrow threatens, our prayers are no longer just syllables, sentences, and words.
They are heartbeats.
They are blood drops.
They are agonies.
So it is in this text.
Bowed to their knees by an awesomeness of the slaughter of the infant church, the church goes to God in agonizing prayer."
*And in vs. 6&7, we see God coming to the rescue at just the right time:
And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.
7. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, "Arise quickly!''
And his chains fell off his hands.
*God's people prayed, and He chose to send an angel to the rescue.
A blind lady named, Sandy Seltzer, reported a similar answer to prayer.
It happened when Sandy got a new guide dog named Dustin.
Dustin was born and trained in California, but Sandy lived in New York.
And when she got Dustin, the dog had never been in a snow storm before.
*Those guide dogs have to be walked regularly, and their first trip out was really frightening.
Dustin was confused by the snow.