Body: Read Acts 12:11-19 D. The Christians Persecuted by Herod. 1. The Death of James. 2. The Deliverance of Peter. In vss. 1-2 of the twelth chapter of the Book of Acts, 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. Starting at vs. 11, we see that Peter went to the excited church, told them what happened, and appeared to have hid from Herod.
Applications - - Staying in touch with the church. Notice in vss. 12-13 of the Book of Acts that as stressed as Peter may have been, he stayed in touch with the church.
Too many people allow trouble to keep them away from the church. The church ought to be a place that people come to, so they can find strength and perspective for whatever they are going through.
In order for this to be the case, all believers must strive to be relational enough to be an instrument of encouragement and perspective. Let’s work on staying in touch with the church.
- God’s answering our prayers. Notice in vs. 15 of the Book of Acts that even though the church was praying, they were shocked that God answered the way that He did.
It would be a great improvement to simply get our churches to pray. But at some point, we need to address our level of faith, in what we are praying about. God is really able to do more than we think He can do.
Therefore, when we pray, we should be open to God doing great things. Let’s work on improving our level of openness towards God’s answering our prayers.
Many of us know that God doesn’t always move when and how we want Him. But He does move at the right time, in the right way, with an aim of working things out for the good of His people.
- Working faith. Notice in vs. 17 of the Book of Acts that as much faith as Peter and the church had, they also had some works to go with their faith.
Peter essentially runs and hides from the authorities. Some have all faith and no works. For example, they pray for God to send them money, instead of them looking for a job.
Others have all works and no faith. For example, they are always working and putting money away for themselves but don’t trust God enough to give Him His tithes and offerings.
Let’s work on having a working faith. There will be a great need to pray for God’s wisdom to know what to do and when to do it. There is no “one size fit all.”
Read Acts 11:19-23 3. The Death of Herod. In this section of the Book of Acts Herod went to Caesarea. There he was dealing with some people from Tyre and Sidon about some food matters. Because he did not give God His praise, he was killed and eaten by worms.
Applications – - Collaboration. Notice in vs. 20 of the Book of Acts the idea of coalition building. People who had similar self interests – they all needed the food supplied by Herod – worked together.
Furthermore, they found a person who was receptive to their influence and who could help them with their mutual interest.
This is a marvelous text for churches and believers who seek to be involved in improving the quality of life in their communities.
Issues such as employment, crime, youth programming, and family enrichment often call for more than the church can provide by herself. But there are others who have similar self interests that the church may do well to collaborate with.
Furthermore, there are often people who need to be persuaded to make decisions, in order for the church to get what she is interested in. Wisely choosing an approach, a person, and a right time are crucial issues.
Let’s seek God’s wisdom and energy in working collaboratively with others. We must strive to collaborate on good works without compromising God’s word.
- Lying, flattery, and arrogance. Notice in vss. 22-23 that the people essentially lied to further their agenda with Herod. Herod was crazy enough to believe the hype about himself.
And God, in His anger, destroyed the arrogant Herod. First, we should avoid the sin of lying. Lying leads to all kinds of troubles. (The matter of lying being a greater good or a lessor evil will have to wait for another time.)
Second, don’t be crazy enough to believe that you are more than you really are. Be very careful about people flattering you for their own agenda.
For examples, sales people often talk about what you deserve, as a means of selling the item to you for a commission. Third, God is a jealousy God. It is dangerous to claim what belongs to Him, as if it is our own. Only God deserves praise and glory.
Let’s work on living by the lessons about lying, flattery, and arrogance.
Read Acts 11:24-25 4. The Dissemination of the Word. In spite of everything else that was going on, the word of God continued to increase and spread in the Book of Acts. Barnabas and Saul kept on ministering. They added John/Mark.
Applications – - Keep the Word increasing and spreading. Notice in vs. 24 of the Book of Acts that in spite of all that was happening, the word of God was increasing and spreading.
Whenever the word is increasing and spreading, God is pleased. When the word is not increasing and spreading, God is not pleased. Let’s do all that we can to keep the word of God increasing and spreading.
We can help this application, by being active witnesses. We can help this application, by giving as God has prospered us, so that the church can support an evangelic ministry.
- Adding and developing team members. Notice in vs. 25 that John/Mark was added to the Barnabas and Saul team. Too many people get too comfortable with the current work force or ministry team.
We would do well to put more emphasis on getting the job done, instead of simply keeping the same team members together and excluding new team members.
When we think about how all of us are getting older but yet the ministry must go on, when we are gone, we should see the wisdom of adding and developing new people. Let’s work on adding and developing new people in our areas of ministry.
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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