Body: Read Acts 12:1-19 D. The Christians Persecuted by Herod. 1. The Death of James. 2. The Deliverance of Peter. In vss. 1-2 of the Book of Acts chapter twelve, King Herod had arrested members of the church.
In fact, he had James killed with the sword. Starting in vs. 3, when Herod saw how the Jews enjoyed his persecuting the Christians, he resolved to persecute Peter, after the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover.
The church prayed, and an angel appeared to Peter and helped him escape. Peter went to the excited church, told them what happened, and appeared to have hid from Herod.
Applications – - Persecuted Christians. Notice in vss. 1-2 of the Book of Acts chapter twelve that being a disciple of Christ doesn’t exempt one from being persecuted and even killed.
Why be a disciple then? God works all things out for the good of His people, including persecution. We have another home that is not built by the hands of people.
When non-disciples experience trouble in their lives, it seems so meaningless and then Hell awaits them after death. Let’s develop the faith needed to endure whatever persecution comes our way.
Prayerful Bible study and obedience with the support of other believers can help us in this area.
- Wicked people. Notice in vss. 1-3 of the Book of Acts chapter twelve that people can be so wicked. It takes a wicked heart to kill a person because of his/her faith. It takes a wicked person to rejoice about the misfortune of others.
There are too many wicked people in the world and in the church. Too many gossip and kill the good names of others. Too many are happy when bad things happen to others. Let’s work on being aware of wicked people and avoid being one.
We should obey God’s will and trust Him to handle our enemies. We should avoid envy, hatred, or anything else that would lead to our rejoicing about the misfortune of others.
- Remembering God’s goodness. Notice in vss. 3-4 of the Book of Acts chapter twelve the mention of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover.
A major idea in this week of feasting was to remember how God delivered His people from Egyptian bondage. First, we should make time to remember how good God has been to us. We should remember how He saved us from the penalty of sin.
We should remember how He brought us out of so many personal situations (e.g., health, financial, and relational problems). Second, it is good to have some communal times to remember the goodness of the Lord.
Church anniversaries ought to be such a time. Thanksgiving can be such a time. Let’s work on remembering the goodness of the Lord.
Such memories should inspire us to improve our level of obeying God. Woe unto us, if we remember how good God has been and then we continue to rob Him of His time, talent, and tithes.
- Praying together. Notice in vs. 5 that the church was in prayer. Too many church goers claim that they believe in the power of prayer and then don’t pray.
This appears to indicate that they really don’t believe in the power of prayer or are being negligent in using the power to address the problems of our day. Let’s work on praying together.
Even when prayer doesn’t change things into what we want, prayer can change us in such a way that we can handle what is going on in a better way.
Some churches used to say, especially during revival seasons, “Much prayer, much power; little prayer, little power; and no prayer, no power.”
- Sleeping in prison. Notice in vs. 6 of the Book of Acts chapter twelve that Peter was in deep sleep, even though he was in jail. He was not filled with anxiety or depression.
He was in such a state of peace, even though he was chained to two guards in a prison, that the angel appears to have problems waking him out of his sleep.
Too many of us are far from being in this state. We allow fear, anxiety, depression, resentment, or other negative emotions to rob us of the peace of mind that is available to us.
First, the negative emotions and sleeplessness only makes the presenting problem worst. Prison, lack of rest, and bad judgment nurtured by lack of rest are the results of not sleeping in prison.
Second, as believers we are to trust that God is working things out and experience a peace that surpasses all understanding, while He works it out (see Rom. 8:28; Phil. 4:7).
Let’s strive to experience God’s peace, in spite of our prison situations. Directing your mind towards God’s word (i.e., meditation) can help you stop directing your mind towards your prison situations (i.e., worrying).
- Working with the angle. Notice in vs. 9 of the Book of Acts chapter twelve that there is a miraculous angelic deliverance. As exciting as the miraculous angelic deliverance is, we have little or no control over such.
If you look closer, you see that Peter had to do some work. He had to wake up, dress up, and walk out with some fuzzy understanding of what was going on.
There are some who cannot take the first step, until they fully understand what God is doing and how He is doing it. The problem with this kind of mindset is that God doesn’t always give us as much information as we want, when we want it.
We must trust the God who allows one to be killed, while another is miraculously delivered. We truly walk by faith and not by sight or reason.
Let’s work on having the living working faith need to do what God says do, even when our sense of reason has not been satisfied.
Again, the importance of prayerful Bible study and obedience with the support of other believers would be difficult to overstate, as we try to carry out this application.
Conclusion: Let’s work on being witnesses for the Lord, everywhere we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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