Sermon Based Group Homework
For the message on November 21, 2021
Passage: Acts 12:1-17
This Sunday, Mike continued our “Live Sent” series by looking Peter’s escape from prison and the prayers behind it.
Looking back at your notes from Sunday’s message, was there anything you heard for the first time, caught your attention, or challenged you?
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
While Peter was led out of prison by the angel, he thought it was a vision. In verse 11, it says that “Peter finally came to his senses.” When was the last time you thought about pinching yourself to see if you were dreaming?
LET’S GO DEEPER
Persecution of the first Christians is continuing at the hands of the Roman representative King Herod Agrippa I (nephew of Herod Antipas, who questioned Jesus before his death). This story finds the apostle Peter in jail because of his faith and preaching. The Jews had already had James put to the death with the sword. The night before Herod was to bring Peter to trial, something amazing happened! Peter and the church experienced the power of God through the prayers of the church. In the message, Mike showed us four beliefs about God that this praying church held that made a huge difference. We need to hold these same truths close as we engage the Lord in prayer.
1. This early church believed that God was listening to their prayers and was greater than any circumstance or obstacle they faced. Peter faced an impossible situation humanly speaking. Peter was going to be executed unless God intervened. If the church didn’t think God was bigger than this predicament faced by Peter, they wouldn’t have prayed in faith. In verse 5, it says, “But while Peter was in prison,” they gathered together and prayed. They believed the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:26 – “with God all things are possible.” What do the following verses tell us about God’s ability to hear our prayers and answer them for our good and His glory?
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT2)
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Psalm 139:7-12 (NLT2)
7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. 9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— 12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.
Matthew 7:11 (NLT2)
11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Hebrews 4:16 (NLT2)
16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
- What are some reasons God doesn’t always give us what we ask for? In this life, will we always understand how He answers?
- If He doesn’t come through like we want Him to, why should we continue to pray?
2. One of the interesting details in the story is that on the night before his trial and impending death, Peter was asleep! It took an angel prodding him to wake him. Even then, the angel had to tell him to put some clothes on before leaving! Later, Peter would write these words in 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on the Lord because He cares for you.” Peter knew the Lord cared for Him. And so he slept. How do the following verses, describing God’s care for you, encourage you to pray when situations are bleak?
Psalm 23:1-4, 6 (NLT2)
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT2)
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
John 10:11 (NLT2)
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.
- When has a difficult circumstance caused you to question whether God cares about you?
- When has God come through in your life to demonstrate that He cares about you?
3. One of the big truths we must cling to in prayer is that God answers our prayers. As Mike mentioned, His answers may be “yes, no, or not yet” to our requests. When we can’t see His plan and when we don’t understand, we can always trust God’s heart. In verses 15-16, the answer to their prayers was knocking at their door but they didn’t believe God had answered at first. They thought Peter was an angel! Based on the following verses, what are some of the filters through which God processes our requests?
John 9:31 (NLT2)
31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will.
James 4:3 (NLT2)
3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
1 John 5:14-15 (NLT2)
14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
- As you close your group time together, take more time than usual to share prayer requests and pray for one another.
TAKE IT HOME
1. What is your biggest takeaway from this sermon and study?
2. Do you have any prayer requests for your group?