November 7 - Message Update

God Gives and Takes Away – Acts 12:1-19 – Pastor Eric

God is sovereign for He controls death and deliverance. 



God gives and takes away are the famous words of Job when he lost his own children and much more. This same timeless truth is what we will find today in Acts 12 with the disciples and the early church as they lost the beloved disciple, James, to execution, and the leader of the church, Peter, to imprisonment.  It is a story of heartache and jubilation as our God is sovereign for He controls death and deliverance. 


#1 - God is sovereign even in loss for He watches over us.  God is in control in even in the loss of life or in the disappointment of life. Our God is the caretaker over our souls through thick and thin. (Acts 12:1-5)


Herod goes after the disciple, James, killing him by sword.  Many scholars believe that James was beheaded like John the Baptist.  James was the beloved disciple of Jesus in His inner circle, and he would become the first disciple martyred for his faith and the second martyred believer.  Not only does Herod murder a major person in the church, but then he arrests Peter, the leader of the church.


In God’s providence, Peter isn’t killed yet, and the church responses appropriately in prayer. The church went to the Lord in earnest prayer.  Even in the infancy of the church, it knew the power of prayer.  Protest was not the action of the early church. They instead bowed down to the King of Kings, not an earthly king, and their response is a great lesson for the church today.


One blessing of our church is that we are a praying church. If you attend SanLo, I can guarantee that you will get prayed for no matter the circumstance or situation.  Prayer is always the least thing that we can do, and it is the best thing that we can do.


So, if you are wrestling with something significant, then know this, that you got a prayer team backing you up. Sometimes, the Lord does take away, and we need the body of Christ to help us through the pain and the sorrow.  We need a band of brothers and sisters to uphold us in the strength of the Lord and to encourage us in prayer.


#2 - God is sovereign even in trial for He will deliver us. Our God is the great and mighty deliverer for He is able to bring us out of the pit of any hurt and suffering, and He is able to bring us to a place of relief and restoration.  It doesn’t mean that God will deliver you in the way you might want or think. Nor does it mean that God will deliver you from the consequences of your sin either.  However, in the end, God does always deliver us in eternity. (Acts 12:6-12)


Peter is now under heavy guard. He has four guards surrounding him and two of them are bound to him in chains. God delivers Peter from his circumstances through a miraculous event with assistance of a heavenly angel.


So, what do we learn from this story? It might be hard to think about because I assume many of us are not struck in a prison cell, and we may never experience a jail break. 


However, we do learn a lot about the character of God. Once again, God is sovereign and He is always in control of our circumstances. Our God has the power to free us from any circumstance if He chooses to do so. Our God is all knowing and He is all powerful!


We must remember and center ourselves on the gospel because if Jesus can raise from the dead to redeem your soul from the pit of hell, then Jesus can carry you through any circumstance in life.  This is the resurrection power of our God.  So, put your trust in Him for it is the only way to live.


#3 - God is sovereign even in trial for His purposes are greater.  God always has a plan that He is working out for His glory and our good.  We may not see it initially, and it might not feel beneficial in the moment, but He is the one with the master plan with a purpose much greater than our momentary sufferings. (Acts 12:12-19)


Peter comes to his senses after the miraculous ordeal, and he knows exactly where to go.  He goes to Mary’s house as it was a safe house for them.  From there, Peter is wise not to stay in Jerusalem, so he leaves.  Scholars believe Peter heads to Antioch in order to further the mission and the proclamation of the gospel. 


We do know that Peter helps the church in Acts 15 when he preaches at the Jerusalem council. He reminds the church that the gospel is for everyone especially the Gentiles.  God would use Peter to author two books in the Bible, 1st and 2nd Peter.  Therefore, God was using Peter’s time in prison to be a testimony of encouragement through suffering and hardship.  This helps us know that God can orchestrate even the difficult things of life and make them good things for His purposes and our good.


There are times in our lives when life doesn’t go the way we planned or hoped for, when the Lord seems to strip away things from us.  These things can be immensely valuable to us like family, loved loves, and our hopes and dreams. 


But let us remember to look beyond preferences and desires, and let us ask the Lord,What are You doing, God?  Why are these things, even these terrible things happening to me?  Why God, would you do this to me of all people?” 


For God hasn’t forsaken you or left you.  God is right there with a plan, which is always far grander and greater than we can ever imagine.  A plan that does at times include suffering and trial like the Apostle Peter, Job, Ruth, Esther, and Daniel in the Bible. 


Throughout history, God has been and still is firmly in control, and He is working things out, for He alone controls death and deliverance.  He alone takes away and He alone gives.  For it is by His grace that we might rely upon Him, and we might trust Him both now and forever.


Praise Singing:   Praise To The Lord The Almighty, Blessed Be Your Name, Sovereign Over Us, Doxology.