Chains of Command – Rick Bagwell

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SWEET SLEEP

SLEEP IS IMPORTANT TO OUR DAILY HEALTH.

OUR BODIES CAN GO  JUST SO MANY HOURS WITHOUT IT, THEN MAJOR PARTS OF OUR BODIES BEGIN TO BE FATIGUED  AND OR EMOTIONS BECOME ALL OUT OF SORTS; WE CAN’T THINK CLEARLY, AND OTHERS AROUND US ARE AFFECTED.

IT WAS EASIER FOR US TO GET A GOOD NIGHT’S REST WHEN OUR EMPLOYMENT WAS FARMING AND PHYSICAL LABOR; BUT NOW, WE ARE BOMBARDED WITH MUCH MENTAL STRESS: ON THE JOB AND AT HOME. WE HAVE MACHINERY AND ALL KINDS OF APPLIANCES NOW, THAT ARE SUPPOSED TO MAKE OUR WORK EASIER BUT WE JUST SEEM TO “ADD-IT-ON” INSTEAD OF REST WHILE WE CAN.

SOME YEARS BACK, I HAD AN ILLNESS, THAT REQUIRED MUCH REST AND SLEEP.  I QUICKLY NOTICED HOW THE NAPS I WAS TAKING WERE HEALING. IWAS WEARING OUT MY BODY AND WAS ALL STRESSED-OUT.

SLEEP IS DEFINED AS A STATE OF COMPLETE OR PARTIAL UNCONSCIOUSNESS.

IN THE SCRIPTURES, THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 21 REFERENCES, AND MAYBE MORE, REFERRING TO SLEEP OR THE LACK OF IT.

SLEEP IS DESCRIBED AS SLUMBER IN PROVERBS 6:4,10.          PROVERBS 3:24, IT IS DESCRIBED AS SWEET – WHEN THOU LIEST DOWN, THOU SHALT NOT BE AFRAID: YEA, THOU SHALT LIE DOWN, AND THY SLEEP SHALL BE SWEET. HERE, IT SAYS…THOU SHALT NOT BE AFRAID…

SO WE MUST ASSUME, FEAR KEEPS SOME FROM HAVING SWEET SLEEP.

VERSE 25 – BE NOT AFFRAID OF SUDDEN FEAR , NEITHER OF THE DESOLATION OF THE WICKED, WHEN IT COMETH; AND VERSE 26 READS –  FOR THE LORD SHALL BE THY CONFIDENCE, AND SHALL KEEP THY FOOT FROM BEING TAKEN.

MANY PEOPLE ARE PARALIZED WITH FEAR, AND FEAR BRINGS WITH IT TORMENT. WE ARE TOLD IN THE BIBLE, THAT FEAR IS A SPIRIT; IT IS A HARASSING DEMON THAT KEEPS PEOPLE FROM BEING AT PEACE SO THEY CAN’T ENJOY A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP.

SOMETIMES GOD USES THE LACK OF SLEEP FOR HIS PURPOSE:               IN DANIEL 8:18, DANIEL WAS GIVEN A PROPHETIC VISION IN HIS SLEEP: – NOW AS HE WAS SPEAKING WITH ME, I WAS IN A DEEP SLEEP ON MY FACE TOWARD THE GROUND: BUT HE TOUCHED ME ND SET ME UPRIGHT  ( OR MADE ME STAND UP).

IN DANIEL 2:1, WE SEE WHERE THE INABILITY TO SLEEP IS CAUSED BY WORRY NEBUCHADNEZZAR DREAMED DREAMS…WHEREIN HIS SPIRIT WAS TROUBLED, AND SLEEP BROKE FROM HIM (HE COULD NOT SLEEP). WORRY CAN CAUSE ANY OF US TO HAVE INSOMNIA. IN ESTHER 6:1, THE KING COULD NOT SLEEP BECAUSE GOD WANTED HIM TO READ THE BOOK OF CHRONICLES.

INTERCESSORS AND MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL, CAN’T SLEEP BECAUSE GOD HAS A PURPOSE IN MIND: MOSTLY, SO THEY CAN PRAY AND INTERCEDE ABOUT SOMETHING OR FOR SOMEONE.

PETER WAS FAST ASLEEP IN A PRISON (DUNGEON). JAMES HAD ALREADY BEEN BEHEADED FOR THE CAUSE OF THE GOSPEL, AND PETER WAS NEXT IN LINE: ACTS 12:1-11 – NOW ABOUT THAT TIME HEROD THE KING, STRETCHED FORTH HIS HANDS TO  VEX CERTAIN OF THE CHURCH. AND HE KILLED JAMES THE BROTHER OF JOHN WITH THE SWORD. AND BECAUSE HE SAW IT PLEASED THE JEWS, HE PROCEEDED FURTHER TO TAKE PETER ALSO. (THEN WERE THE DAYS OF UNLEAVENED BREAD).  AND WHEN HE HAD APPREHENDED HIM , HE PUT HIM IN PRISON, AND DELIVERED HIM TO FOUR QUATERNIONS OF SOLDIERS TO KEEP HIM; INTENDING  AFTER EASTER (PASSOVER) TO BRING HIM FORTH TO THE PEOPLE. PETER THEREFORE WAS KEPT IN PRISON; BUT PRAYER WAS MADE WITHOUT CEASING OF THE CHURCH UNTO GOD FOR HIM. AND WHEN HEROD WOULD HAVE BROUGHT HIM FORTH, THE SAME NIGHT PETER WAS SLEEPING BETWEEN TWO SOLDIERS BOUND WITH TWO CHAINS: AND THE KEEPERS BEFORE THE DOOR KEPT THE PRISON.

     AND BEHOLD, THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CAME UPON HIM, AND A LIGHT SHINED IN THE PRISON: AND HE SMOTE PETER ON THE SIDE, AND RAISED HIM UP, SAYING, ARISE UP QUICKLY. AND HIS CHAINS FELL OFF FROM HIS HANDS. AND THE ANGEL SAID UNTO HIM, GIRD THYSELF, AND BIND ON THY SANDELS. AND SO HE DID. AND HE SAITH UNTO HIM, CAST THY GARMENT ABOUT THEE, AND FOLLOW ME. AND HE WENT OUT, AND FOLLOWED HIM; AND WIST NOT THAT IT WAS TRUE WHICH WAS DONE BY THE ANGEL; BUT THOUGHT HE SAW A VISION. WHEN THEY WERE PAST THE FIRST AND SECOND WARD THEY CAME UNTO THE IRON GATE THAT LEADETH INTO THE CITY; WHICH OPENED TO THEM OF HIS OWN ACCORD. AND THEY WENT OUT, AND PASSED ON THROUGH THE STREET; AND FORTHWITH THE ANGEL DEPARTED FROM HIM. AND WHEN PETER WAS COME TO HIMSELF, HE SAID, NOW I KNOW OF A SURETY, THAT THE LORD SENT HIS ANGEL, AND HATH DELIVERED ME OUT OF THE HAND OF HEROD, AND FROM ALL THE EXPECTATION OF THE JEWS.

THIS WAS A TRYING TIME IN OUR HISTORY WHERE THE CHURCH WAS GOING THROUGH HARASSMENT AND PERSECUTION. WE FIND PETER FAST ASLEEP IN A PRISON.

BECAUSE HEROD, THE KING, SAW HOW IT PLEASED THE JEWS TO WATCH JAMES BE KILLED BY THE SWORD, THAT HE DECIDED PETER WOULD BE NEXT: AFTER THE PASSOVER.

SOMETIMES WE FIND IT HARD TO SLEEP AFTER WE HAVE PASSED THROUGH A TRIAL DURING THE DAY OR WE ATE PIZZA LATE IN THE EVENING.

THIS STORY OF PETER AMAZES ME BECAUSE PETER KNEW WHAT WAS TO TAKE PLACE THE NEXT MORNING, YET WE FIND HIM THE NIGHT BEFORE WHE WAS TO BE EXECUTED, AN A DEEP SLEEP, CHAINED BETWEEN TWO SOLDIERS, AND GUARDED WELL.

HEROD’S GREAT DESIRE TO PLEASE THE PEOPLE BY GIFTS AND SHOWS OF BLOOD TO WIN THEIR FAVER, HAD BEEN FOILED. HE WAS PLANNING TO BRING PETER UP ONTO A STAGE OR SOME HIGH GROUND WHERE ALL THE PEOPLE COULD SEE HIM CONDEMNED WHICH WOULD BE AS GOOD THEM AS A GLADIATORIAL SLAUGHTER TO A ROMAN AUDIENCE.

THIS IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION WAS JUST THE RIGHT TIMING FOR A MIRACULOUS EVEN IN THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH. WHEN THE BATTLE SEEMS THE HOTTEST, THE VICTORY IS USUALLY THE SWEETEST.

SUDDENLY, THE LIGHT SHOWN IN THE PRISON! THE ANGEL HAD TO AWAKE PETER OUT OF A VERY DEEP SLEEP AND RESCUE HIM AS THE SOLDIERS SLEPT ON DUTY. THIS, BY THE WAY, IS AN UNFORGIVABLE ACTION OF A SOLDIER. THIS WAS HIS DEATH WARRENT.

WHY DID PETER HAVE SUCH A CALM DEEP SLEEP ON THE NIGHT BEFORE HIS INTENDED DEATH? BECAUSE HE KNEW HE WAS IN THE PERFECT WILL OF GOD, AND KNEW IT EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS A BATTLE GOING ON FOR HIS LIFE. PETER LIVED WHAT HE TAUGHT THE CHURCH.

WE LEARN SWEET SLEEP AND REST FROM THESE GREAT SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS; BUT THERE IS ONE MORE WAY WE LEARN: AND THAT IS THROUGH EXPERIENCING GOD’S PROMISES THROUGH OUR BEING TESTED.

LAST NIGHT I WAS STUNG IN THREE PLACES ON MY BODY BY A SCORPION IN BED DURING MY SLEEP. THE LAST TWO STINGS CAUSED ME TO JUMP OUT OF BED AND TURN ON THE LIGHT. THERE HE WAS, A BROWN SCORPION, READY TO STING AGAIN. MY HUSBAND SOON CAPTURED MY LITTLE ENEMY, AND I WENT BACK TO BED, AFTER CHECKING FOR MORE OF HIS LITTLE SCORPION FRIENDS. —-DID THIS KEEP ME AWAKE? NO! —-I WENT BACK TO SLEEP, LEAVING MYSELF IN THE HANDS OF THE ONE WHO IS FAITHFUL: MY LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. 

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