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CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN
August 22, 2021
IT IS UP TO GOD
As we see what is now happening to the Christians in Acts, almost a year has gone by since Jesus’ death on the cross. To get an understanding of the timing, we can simply see that in verses 3 and 4. In the 3rd verse we can see that James had just been killed by King Herod and King Herod decided to arrest Peter. It happened to be during the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. In the 4th verse, we can see this happened just before Passover. Of course, Passover was going on when Jesus was arrested and ultimately crucified.
Now to go back to the verses 1 and 2 in the 12th chapter, we see it is now King Herod that is taking the lead in arresting and persecuting the Church. He even had James, one of Jesus’ original disciples, killed by the sword in execution manner. King Herod saw how happy the Jewish leadership was about the killing of James, so he went after possibly the most outspoken and effective apostle of them all, Peter. We see he arrested Peter and made him so secure you would have thought he had an army at his disposal or was Harry Houdini. How many of you know who Harry Houdini was? He was probably the greatest escape artists of all time. King Herod put Peter in jail and had him guarded by four squads of soldiers with four soldiers in each squad, 16 men were to guard this one man. King Herod did not want to ruffle too many feathers so he had decided to wait until after Passover to have the public spectacle of a trial. We read the day before the trial, actually during the night, something absolutely amazing happened. In verse 5 we read while Peter was in prison the church was praying earnestly to God on his behalf. Clearly, the prayer chain had been activated and someone or groups of people were praying nonstop around the clock for Peter’s release or escape, or looking for something good to happen. Then it happened! Peter was guarded in the cell by two guards. He was in chains and the other guards were posted throughout the prison to prevent Peter from somehow getting away. But what is it that can stop God and his plans for our lives? NOTHING!
In spite of everything King Herod had done to prevent Peter from having any chance of getting away, an angel sent from the Lord changed everything. If you notice what was said in these verses, Peter was simply told to get up, put your clothes and sandals on, wrap a cloak around yourself and follow me. The chains had fallen off. Peter and the angel simply walked by every guard who was there watching. It does not say they were asleep or in a trance. The angel and Peter just walked by as if they could not even see them. Once on the street and out of the prison, the angel left Peter. Peter promptly went to where he knew the apostles and others were. Peter gets there, knocks on the door and a girl answers the door. She is so stunned by who is knocking on the door, she does not even open the door but tells those in the house that Peter is there. They told her, “You are out of your mind!” Yet she insisted. They went as far as to come up with the crazy answer that it must be Peter’s ghost. These are men and women of faith and yet they came up with this crazy way to explain what this girl thought she had seen. Peter kept on knocking, probably thinking what in the world are you doing in there. Someone may see me standing out here and I am a sitting duck. Open the stupid door! That is probably what I would have been thinking. They finally opened the door and sure enough it was Peter in the flesh. Peter ultimately decided not to endanger those staying there but told the people there to tell James and the other apostles who were not there that he is all right and will catch up with them later.
Once King Herod found out what happened, he ordered the men who had been in charge of guarding Peter to be executed as well because he felt they had made him look bad in the eyes of the public. King Herod was apparently going around to the surrounding towns doing damage control and some of the people from Trye and Sidon wanted to talk to the King about keeping supply lines open for themselves. When they went in to talk to King Herod, he was all decked out and they started laying it on good saying that King Herod was the voice of a god. Instead of correcting them, he soaked it all in and then it happened. An angel of the Lord struck him down and he did not just die. He was even eaten by worms. Looks like what goes around, come around. We do not know if this was the same angel that led Peter’s escape or not but somehow, I believe it was.
Though all of this, we see the church continues to grow and spread throughout the region. The chapter concludes by telling us when Barnabas and Saul’s year in Antioch was over, they returned to Jerusalem bringing with them a man by the name of John Mark. There is a lot going on here in this chapter. We see that James was killed by King Herod and yet Peter is led by an angel to escape what would have been almost certain death. Why? Did the church care more about Peter than James? Did God care more about Peter than James? Of course, the answer is no. God loves and cares about all of his sons and daughters just the same. Then why did it have to happen this way? As much as I hate this answer, the fact is, we just sometimes do not have all the answers. We have seen similar things happen in our own lives and our loved ones’ lives as well. God answers a prayer we have been praying for on this occasion, but we do not see the answer so many have prayed for over here. There are not easy answers sometimes. That is just the way it is. Should we give up on our faith in God if things do not work out like we want? Boy, I hope we won’t. Sometimes God is simply asking us, “Do you trust me?”
Later in this chapter we are reminded God sees what is happening in the life of his believers and his Church. King Herod ultimately paid an earthly price for his arrogance. I guarantee you everyone knew how things ended for him. We read once again that through it all the Church keeps on moving forward. It seems like God is bringing me back to that theme over and over again lately, but I am convinced God is saying the same thing to us today.
There are a list of things going on in America and the world today that could have the Church and its people saying, “What the use? What is the point? Does God really see what is going on? What are you waiting for God?” Just like with the early Christians, at times it would have been understandable if they gave up, but they did not and we should be thankful that God kept encouraging them and moving them forward. That message is as valid and real today as it was 2000 years ago. Jesus is still on the throne at the right hand of the Father. We will be victorious. We simply must understand that everything is up to God and his timing.
Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday
Backpack school supplies are needed by Sunday, Sept. 5. Please put them in the container at the back of the sanctuary.
District Conference is November 5 and 6 and is virtual this year. We need 2 more delegates (Carol & Larry are delegates). Talk to Carol or Larry if you are willing.
Sept 3 – 6 Family Camp at Camp Emmanuel
September 8 Church Board
October 2 All church wiener roast sponsored by Women’s Fellowship
October 9 Rummage sale at Brethren Church to benefit the Lord’s Storehouse. Take items to Katie or Amy.
Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you!
Donation Box: AC Bills
First Sundays: food donations for food banks
Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362
To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:
Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.
District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook
Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook
Keep in Your Prayers
Marge Starr and family; Linda Martin and family, Andy Black and family; Jen Durst and family; Sarah Rudelick; Sydney (Nancy Gorrell’s niece); Tera Runyan; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Anna Gentry Thompson; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 621,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; the situation in Afghanistan
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
Church of the Brethren vision statement:
Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.
Our Mission Statement:
Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.