Pastors BLOG
October 24, 2017, 3:23 PM

The Adventure Begins 42: Lessons From the Early Church - Acts 12:1-4, 19


Acts 12:1-4 (NIV)
1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.
2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.

Let’s stop here and recall who John and James were

Mark 10:35-45 (NIV)
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask."
36 "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.
37 They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory."
38 "You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said. "Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?"
39 "We can," they answered. Jesus said to them, "You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with,
40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared."
41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.
42 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.
43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,
44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

James here was executed John was later exiled

Revelation 1:9 (NIV)
9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

What is it that you are expecting out of following Jesus?  Why are you following Him?

What do you want from Jesus? I can tell you what he wants from us.  Jesus wants all of us.  And to follow Him means to give up everything else.

I grew up wanting to be a Christian Rock Star.  I have come to find that God different and more fulfilling plans for me.

A friend of mine in college Adele Garza prophesied over me that I would suffer for Christ.

A long-time mentor and friend Tim Clements called me out at a friend’s wedding about my desire for fame.  He asked – “Do you want to glorify God or just have people sing your songs?”  I answered, “Both.”  He said you can’t do both.

Luke 14:26-30 (NIV)
26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.
27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?
29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,
30 saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

Truly God is not interested in 10%.  He wants all of you.

Husbands and Wives – when you got married you vowed your love to each other till death do you part.  Not 10% right?

God wants all of us – we have to count the cost.

Jesus doesn’t care about our happiness – He wants our lives to be fully surrendered and to mean something.  Jesus didn’t tell people things to tickle their fancies – make them blissful.  He told them the truth – what He requires is everything.  Some people want to go to church to feel good.  First off  you don’t  go to church, you are the church and sometimes being the church doesn’t always feel good, but it is always right – It is always truth that we are living as we follow Jesus.

What is this going to cost me?  Everything.

God may require things of you that do not make sense.  He may call you to sacrifice things…You may need to give up dreams…comfort…

What do I get in return?

James and John got death and exile.  What happened to Peter?  Peter was rescued from his cell by an angel (we will look more at that next week), but what was Herod’s plan for him…

Acts 12:19 (NIV)
19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.

In Rome the punishment for a soldier that allowed a criminal to escape was the sentence of the prisoner that was in his charge – in this case death.  These guards were on the wrong side of God here.  But that doesn’t mean that God’s people don’t ever suffer, it just wasn’t Peter’s time, yet.

We will never understand why God allows people to be taken and why others remain.  Why does one cancer patient survive to return to fruitful living and another pass on to the next life?  Why do some people prosper/ soar while others fail/ flail?  We cannot grasp the reasons behind this – we just have to trust in Jesus and in His plans.  For James this was the end, for Peter not yet,

John 21:18-19 (NIV)
18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."
19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

The historical tradition passed down by the early church fathers is unanimous in claiming that Peter died in Rome, by crucifixion, during the persecution of Nero in AD 64, and that he was in fact crucified on a cross, upside down at his request because he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as his savior Jesus.

John 16:33 (CEV)
33 …While you are in the world, you will have to suffer…

John 15:18-21 (CEV)
18 If the people of this world hate you, just remember that they hated me first.
19 If you belonged to the world, its people would love you. But you don't belong to the world. I have chosen you to leave the world behind, and that is why its people hate you.
20 Remember how I told you that servants are not greater than their master. So if people mistreat me, they will mistreat you. If they do what I say, they will do what you say.
21 People will do to you exactly what they did to me. They will do it because you belong to me...

Jesus says that what you get is a cross.  You will get a cross to bear.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said – “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

Romans 6:3-23 (NIV)
3 …don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--
7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
19 …Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sure we are called to die/ to suffer/ to bear a cross, but this tells us about benefits.  You will suffer, but…

You also get eternal life, fulfilled purpose, and a relationship with the Living God.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (NIV)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace
8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory.

Isn’t that good?

Are you ready to follow Him?  Have you counted the cost?  Who will stand with Jesus?  Who will give up everything for Him?

 

By Carl Friedel



Comments

10-24-2017 at 5:10 PM
JoAnn
This reaches down into my heart so deeply...none is worthy, I never will be, but I give my life to the Lord Jesus, for without Him there is nothing. He is our everything. He shows us the way to the Father!

Thank you...much spiritual food for thought and more...gives us encouragement and hope!
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