Summary: Sometimes Christians suffer because of their faith, but God is able to deliver and make it right.
Religion and Politics Acts 12:5
INTRO.: A man once said "I guess no one should talk about religion or politics." I informed him I disagreed since my livelihood involved talking about religion. When he discovered I was a preacher, he proceeded to fill me in on why he didn’t attend church. I had little interest in his excuses at the time. It’s been said excuses are like armpits. Everyone has a couple and they usually stink.
Actually, religion and politics are two subjects about which talk is essential. How can we possibly share ideas and philosophy or persuade people to vote for someone or come to Christ unless we are willing to talk about religion and politics?
In the story of our text, the two trains of thought collide and the result is interesting.
I. The story starts out on a political note:
A. "Herod, the king" was Herod Agrippa, grandson of the Herod the Great who killed the babies in Bethlehem.
1. He was a smooth operator, a slick politician.
2. His goal in life was to gain the approval of those who had any power.
3. So, he catered to the Jewish priests and politicians. Christians were unpopular, so he persecuted them.
4. He killed James, the brother of John and when he saw it pleased the Jews, he imprisoned Peter.
B. This is the way of politicians, they please people.
1. Herod didn’t have to, but it was his nature. He was a born politician, and this brought him into conflict with the Christians.
2. Genuine religion and politics will always interact. Religion effects one’s political views
3. Politicians react differently to religion. It is an inescapable issue in a free society because both engender very strong feelings.
4. If your faith doesn’t affect the way you vote, it probably isn’t good for much.
C. When the two clashed in our story, the politician thought himself to be the more powerful.
1. After all, he had killed a leader. James was the first apostle to die a martyr’s death.
2. He picked the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover) as the best time because Jerusalem was crowded with Jews from all over the world.
3. It is exactly eleven years after the arrest, trial, and execution of Jesus. Public opinion was against the Church
4. This is Peter’s third time in jail. He and the others had been miraculously delivered once. Hence the strong security.
II. With all this security in place, Peter was sleeping the night before his trial:
A. There is evidence of great faith here.
1. He is chained between two soldiers, two locked and guarded doors stand between him and freedom.
2. The next day he is to go on trial before the same man who killed James.
3. Would you have a hard time sleeping. I would!
4. Peter had seen enough miracles to make him fearless.
B. In the meantime, the Church across town is praying.
1. There was nothing else they could do. They were powerless, but God is all powerful.
2. They were earnestly praying. They knew Hero’s intent.
C. Suddenly, unknown to them, their prayer is answered:
1. Tell the story of Peter’s release. 7-10
2. God proved Himself to be more powerful than the politician, the soldiers, and the locked doors.
3. God can deliver His people even from the threat of death if it is His will.
4. God does answer prayer, though not always in the way we expect.
III. Peter is reunited with the Church: 13-17
A. Peter has a hard time believing this is happening:
1. He thinks he is having a vision like on the rooftop in Joppa.
2. The angel leaves and he finds himself breathing fresh air. Then it dawns on him.
3. He immediately goes to a prayer meeting.12
B. The other Christians have a hard time realizing what has happened. 14-16
1. We have to wonder what they were praying for. What did they expect when praying for Peter?
2. Don’t you feel sorry for Rhoda? No one will believe her.
C. If you go to God in prayer, be prepared for a surprise.
1. There are times when God may do just what we ask.
2. We should be optimistic when we pray. Pray expectantly.
3. We serve a God of pleasant surprises. He is able " to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us," Eph. 3:20
CONC.: Sometimes Christians suffer because of their faith. God is able to deliver and will make it right. Don’t be surprised when God acts in your behalf in answer to prayer.
Peter and the politician stand in sharp contrast. At issue is the question: Am I like Herod, the politician, a people pleaser? He faced a terrible judgement from God.
Or am I, like Peter, one who please God and will be blessed and protected by God?