Steven Furtick - I'm Going Out of My Mind
It's obedience that creates freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom from needing to know the outcome before you take the step. If he doesn't get up, the chains stay on. If you don't do what God has told you to do right now, God can't do what he's going to do that you don't know he's going to do. God already intended to take his chains off, but if he waits until the chains fall off to get up, he's never going to get up, because the chains aren't going to fall off.
"When I get my financial situation in order, I'll tell you, I'm going to put God first, because I've heard about that and praising the Lord and putting him first with the firstfruits of my womb and all of the things the Bible says. I'm going to do it". No, you're not. Not if you won't do it with a little. He who is faithful in a little… It's that first step. It's getting up. Get up, and the chains will fall off. You say, "God, take the chains off, and I'll get up". No. Get up, and the chains will fall off. I love this part, because there is no indication in this text that Peter had faith to be free from prison. All he's doing is going through the motions.
Sometimes that's all you can do. Sometimes all you can do is come to church and fake…I mean, faith it until you feel it. Most of us wouldn't have gotten a miracle if we were in Acts, chapter 12. If we were in Herod Agrippa the First's prison, we'd stay right there, because we wouldn't follow instructions until we knew details. We'd be like… "Get up". "Why? Who are you? Let me see some identification. Is this God"? No, no, no. He just got up. When you're in a place of rest, you're able to respond without overthinking it. Just get up. Some of you all think too hard when we're worshiping in here. You're thinking too hard. "I'm going to see a victory…" I can't sing that. I don't know if I really am. You need to start singing it so you can start seeing it, because faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
Remember the old Peter who argued all the time? The old Peter would have been like, "Get up for what? Go out for what? I don't understand. I was getting some sleep. Why are you interrupting my sleep? I'm trying to get a good night's sleep. I have a big day tomorrow. It's a really important day. I need to be sharp so I can defend myself". But he just did it in this place. In fact, that's exactly what the Bible said. "'Quick, get up!' he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists. Then the angel said to him, 'Put on your clothes and sandals.'" He has still not told him his destination, but faith is getting dressed even when you don't know where you're going. "And Peter did so". He got dressed with no destination. "Is this God? I hope so". No details. Just obedience. Knock, knock. "Hey, Peter, get up. Get dressed".
You know how God knocks? Just little things. And you know it's him. Just little things. The littlest thing can happen. "Get up. Get dressed. Put on your cloak and sandals". To me, this whole thing seems very small. "I don't mind getting out of here in my underwear if we're getting out of prison. What am I getting dressed for"? But that's us trying to make sense of things. This is a different kind of freedom. This is not a freedom that can be achieved in your mind. "The angel said to him, 'Put on your clothes and sandals.' And Peter did so". Just that simple. "'Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,' the angel told him". Notice what Peter didn't ask. "Where are we going"? He just followed. "I'm just following grace. I'm just following mercy. I'm just following, cooperating with God. I'm getting my heart in harmony with what he's doing in this season. I'm coming into agreement and acceptance of the situation he has placed me in step-by-step".
You know the thing on your GPS where if you put it on… At least on mine. I use Google Maps. It just tells you the next turn, but then if you click on it you can see details, and that will tell you every turn. For somebody like me who has no sense of direction, I never put on the details, because it would get me lost. I can't think seven turns ahead. I just need to know the next one. "We all like sheep have gone astray". All Peter has to do is the next thing. That's all you have to do: the next thing. Anything else is too much right now. You don't have to be Peter to be in prison. You don't have to be some important apostle to be in prison. Addiction is a prison. Depression is a prison. You don't have to be Peter to be in prison. Mindsets are a prison. Rumination is a prison. Trauma can be a prison. Isolation can be a prison. Never really engaging in real relationships can be a prison. Hiding and concealing can be a prison. But if you've been in prison lately, all you need to do is the next thing.
You can't predict the path of your freedom. You can only respond to the light you have that's shone in your cell. When Peter got up… This is a very profound moment in Peter's life, and he doesn't know it yet. For all he knows, he's just dreaming. He doesn't even know yet… Read it in the passage with me. "Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision". Do you know most of the time you don't even know it was God until after the fact? While you're in it, it feels so confusing and so uncertain, and you're like, "I don't even know. I don't know what this is right now".
It is only after you have been through it that Romans 8:28 makes sense. Then you can say, "All things work together for the good," but it's hard to say that in the process of it. Peter is just going through the motions. He's just worshiping. He's just moving. He's just obeying. He's just doing the next practical thing. Then he kind of has this moment. "They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city". Watch what happened to the gate. "It opened for them by itself…" Do you know God will do for you what you can't do for you? Y'all aren't going to clap for this one. But he won't do for you what you can do for you. God opened the gate for Peter, but watch what Peter did. "…and they went through it". They walked through it. The angel didn't carry Peter through the gate piggyback style. Peter is too big to be carried through the gate now.
You have to go through it. Do you know how many people who are listening to me preach right now are standing and knocking at a door that's already open? The gate was open. You can stand there and knock all you want, but you have to go through it. Every second we spend not going through it, every second we spend wishing it wasn't there, every second we spend waiting for something miraculous to happen, it already happened. The worst thing that could happen already happened on the cross. It was already transformed into resurrection power in your spirit. It already happened. It's already open, but you have to go through it. When you go through it, that is the proof that you trust God even while you're in it, that you stay in the fire, that you stay in the furnace, and you still survive. He walked through the gate.
Now the power of God did not prevent the attack, but it protected Peter within it and enabled him to go through it. "God is going to get me through this. I don't know how, I don't know when, but God is going to get me through this. The gate is open. The way is made. Faith has already provided for me the grace I need". "When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him". Now he has to figure out where to go. Suddenly, he wakes up, and he comes to this moment that I believe we come to sometimes when God knocks on our situation or when the Enemy knocks to come get us but God won't let him. He comes to this realization. He's like, "I've got to go". I wonder what door he's going to knock on.
See, it's really important that you know where to knock when you're in trouble. That's how some of us got our hearts broken and our minds messed up, because we knocked on the wrong door. Do you know what's really weird about it? Sometimes we run back to the same door that disappointed us last time, knocking on it as if there's anything inside. That's crazy. And Christians will do this. They'll pray the Devil away, and when he knocks on the door leave it wide open for him to come in and put out a fruit basket and welcome him as a guest with a monogramed towel, just leaving themselves wide open to everything.
When you run around knocking on the wrong doors and the wrong people and the wrong patterns and you keep going back to that place… It's very important that you know where to knock. Thank God that Peter knew where to knock. See, he knew about John Mark's mother's house. Apparently, this was the same place that they had been praying for James, and he knew if he would knock on that door there would be some praying people. I want to say something to everybody who came to church today. I don't know what your life is like right now, and I don't know what you need God to do, but you knocked on the right door today. Everything you need is in the presence of God. God has what you need. The fridge is full. The bed is made. There's a prayer meeting going on. There's a fire in the kitchen.
Watch this. I have to show you something. Peter said, "Now I know without a doubt it was the Lord coming into my prison cell. It wasn't Herod's intention that brought me here. It was God's purpose. The Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating". Do you know what he was saying? "Herod came knocking. He came to get me. It came to kill me, but it couldn't have me. That's how I know God was with me, because it came for me, but it couldn't kill me. It came for me, but it couldn't take me out. It came for me, but it couldn't have me, and now I know that God was with me". Verse 12: "When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying".
Isn't it amazing that they were still praying, still asking, still seeking, still knocking? Really, I don't know if I would have. If I prayed for James and they cut his head off, I don't know if I would have faith to pray for Peter. I think a lot of us pray for things or hope for things or secretly wish for things we really don't believe could even happen. We sing things we no longer believe really happen. We sing of freedom, but we learned a long time ago to stop dreaming about it. Peter is out of prison, but they don't know it yet, but they're still praying. Oh, that takes faith, man. It takes faith to pray for Peter when you just lost James. It takes faith to believe in this situation.
When you've seen him move the mountain and you believe he can do it again it's one thing, but when that mountain is still there and you have to pray about that one, this is a difficult moment. Yet it didn't stop their prayer. It didn't stop their persistence. So, Peter shows up, and they're still praying. When he got there (verse 13), the Bible says Peter knocked. This is Peter. You all know Peter is loud. Peter is not knocking like Abbey. Peter is banging on the door, because they're still looking for him. He just broke out of prison. You knock differently when you're desperate. You pray differently when you know you need God. "Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door".
While they were praying for Peter, and he's at the door. Their prayer request is standing in the form of an answer on the other side of the door. Look at verse 14. "When she recognized Peter's voice…" I think she recognized his knock. Nobody is knocking as loudly as Peter. Nobody knocks like Peter. Nobody is persistent like Peter. Nobody makes it through denying him three times and comes back to preach on Pentecost. "My failures taught me persistence". Nobody knocks like Peter. Nobody knocks like the one who knows, "Even through my mistakes, God is working miracles in this moment". Nobody knocks like Peter.
When she recognized his voice… "Hey"! "…she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and [told the people], 'Peter is at the door!'" "It's Peter, y'all! Hey, guys, it's Peter"! Rhoda is a 14-year-old white girl in my mind. "Hey, guys, it's Peter"! Watch what they say. "You're out of your mind".
Well, that's a compliment, because my mind has been my prison all along. That's what I've been trying to get: out of my mind. That's what's making me miserable: being in my mind, in my thoughts. For his thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and his ways are higher than my ways. I'm out of my mind. Rhoda said, "No, no". "When she kept insisting that it was so, they said…" Watch how much faith they had. "It must be his angel". It was easier for them to believe Peter died and his angel came to the door than it was actually him.
Sometimes it is easier for you to believe you are worthless; it is easier for you to believe it's over than it is for you to believe dry bones can live again at the word of the Lord. "But Peter kept on knocking…" I hear God saying to somebody today, "Don't stop knocking. You're at the right door". Don't stop knocking just because Rhoda ran back and the people didn't believe. God can use even the imperfect faith of a hurting church to break Peter out of prison. If you keep knocking, keep asking… I know you don't have the answers yet, but now you're learning the questions. If you keep seeking and you keep knocking, I declare, in the name of Jesus, Peter is at the door.