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Godly Lessons from an Ungodly Leader

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Godly Lessons from an Ungodly Leader: 1. Evil will always rise when God is rejected (vs. 18-20). 2. Christ is in control (vs. 18-19). 3. We should always give glory to God (vs. 20-23). 4. We should always keep our minds on our mission (vs. 24-25).

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Godly Lessons from an Ungodly Leader

Acts 12:18-25

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - April 13, 2014

BACKGROUND:

*Tonight, we come to the surprising and gruesome end of a story that began with the murder of James the brother of John, and the arrest of the Apostle Peter. Peter was being held in prison by King Herod with the intention of killing him too.

*The king was only waiting for the eight-day Passover Feast to end. But as we saw in vs. 5-17, the church offered up constant prayer for Peter, and God sent an angel to rescue Peter in a miraculous way. The chains fell off his hands, and the iron gate of the prison opened by itself!

*Todd Coget put this incident in context by reminding us that "persecution had broken out again. There had already been a time of persecution in Acts 8-9. That persecution had been led by Saul of Tarsus, but Saul got saved when he met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus!

*And Acts 9:31 says: 'Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.'

*Now in Acts 12, the persecution was back, and it was being led by King Herod. This Herod was Agrippa the First, the grandson of King Herod the Great who had ordered the beheading of John the Baptist. This Herod was also the first person to rule over the same complete kingdom since his grandfather. It was now 44 A.D. or eleven years after the crucifixion of Christ. The persecution of the church surrounding the death of Stephen had taken place about seven years before." (1)

*With this background in mind, let's see what happened after God set Peter free. Please stand in honor of God's Word as we read vs. 18-25.

INTRODUCTION:

*The world is full of ungodly leaders today, and sadly, this has always been so. King Herod is our bad example in this Scripture. And the Bible gives us some important lessons from his ungodly life.

1. The first lesson is that evil will always rise when God is rejected.

*Evil will always increase when people reject the God of the Bible, when they reject God's ways, when they reject God's Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This sad fact is true on every level: in individuals, in families, in societies, and in governments.

*We see this kind of full-blown, unrestrained evil on display here in Acts 12. It began in vs. 2-3, when Herod:

2. . . killed James the brother of John with the sword.

3. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also.

*After God miraculously set Peter free, we see more of Herod's heartless ways. Starting in vs. 18:

18. Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter.

19. But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.

20. Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king's country.

*Herod probably gave the order to kill those guards with no more compassion than swatting a fly. Herod also had cut-off much needed food from the people of Tyre and Sidon.

*Earthly kings can be cruel beyond measure, and they generally will be, if they are not living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Men who reject the God of the Bible will either set themselves up as god, or bow down before some other false god.

*Think how horrible it must be to live in North Korea with most of the people starving while their mad-man ruler lives in luxury. Think of the heartless cruelty of radical Islamists around the world. The massive corruption in our own country is more evidence that evil will thrive when God is rejected.

*One of many of examples came out of Lackland Air Force Base in September 2013. There, evangelical Christian airmen were facing severe threats and retribution for their religious beliefs. Steve Branson, the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio said: "There is an atmosphere of intimidation at Lackland Air Force Base. "Gay commanders and officers are pushing their agenda on the airmen. There is a culture of fear in the military and it's gone to a new level with the issue of homosexuality."

*Pastor Branson told Fox News reporter Todd Starnes that at least 80 airmen attended a private meeting at the church. There they voiced their concerns about religious hostilities at the Air Force base. It was a standing-room only crowd. "The religious persecution is happening," the pastor said. "It's getting bigger every day. Gay and lesbian airmen can talk about their lifestyle. But the rest have to stay completely quiet about what they believe."

*Among those at the church meeting was Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk. The 19-year veteran was punished after he refused to tell his lesbian commander his position on gay marriage. Monk disagreed with his commander when she wanted to severely reprimand a new instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality. The senior master sergeant was relieved of his duties after he refused her order to disclose his personal opinion about gay marriage.

*Monk, who had a spotless record, filed a religious discrimination complaint against the Air Force. When he showed up for a meeting about the complaint, he was accused of giving false statements to the reporter. Sgt. Monk was subsequently read his Miranda Rights, and faced a possible court martial. (2)

*This prejudice against Christians is just one of many examples we could list. All kinds of evil are thriving in the world today. But we must not blame God for it. The Lord does allow evil to continue for a time, but 2 Peter 3 tells us it's because God is still seeking to save the lost. And at the right time, God will bring all evil to an end. Until that time, evil will always spring up when people reject the God of the Bible.

2. Evil will always rise when Christ is rejected. -- But Christ is in control.

*That's the second lesson from this Scripture: God is in control! Verses 18-19 remind us of this great truth, so please listen again:

18. Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter.

19. But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.

*Think about the 16 guards holding Peter in prison. They probably thought they had the upper hand on Peter, and Herod was sure he had the upper hand. But God is in control. And no one ever got an upper hand on God, unless He allowed it.

*I think of that wonderful story of Jacob, as he wrestled with the pre-incarnate Christ. Listen to it from Genesis 32:24-30:

24. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man (capital "M" Man) wrestled with him until the breaking of day.

25. Now when He (i.e. God) saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.

26. And He (God) said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks.'' But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!''

27. So He said to him, "What is your name?'' And he said, "Jacob.''

28. And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.''

29. Then Jacob asked Him, saying, "Tell me Your name, I pray.'' And He said, "Why is it that you ask about My name?'' And He blessed him there.

30. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.''

*As the Lord wrestled with Jacob that night, don't you know that God could have broken free at any time! But the Lord allowed Jacob to get the upper hand, because God wanted Jacob to get to the point where he would not let go, no matter what!

*No one ever got an upper hand on God, unless He allowed it. I think of Jesus being willing to die or us, letting puny men like us nail the Almighty Son of God to a cross! But God was in control.

*The Lord explained it this way in John 10, where Jesus said:

11. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. . .

15. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

16. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

17. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.

18. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.'' (John 10:11; 15-18)

*No one ever got an upper hand on God, unless He allowed it! God is in control, and all of our lives are in the Hand of God. King Herod disastrously found this out in vs. 23, where "an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died."

*Every moment of life is a gift from God, and we must be ready to stand before Him. Just like those guards, just like King Herod, we can leave this world in a moment, in a way we never expected. So we must be ready to stand before the God who reigns over the whole universe.

*Jesus Christ wants us to be ready. He loves us. He died on the cross for us. He rose again from the dead. And by His Spirit, He knocks on the door of our hearts, so that we will open our hearts to receive Him as Lord and Savior.

*Nothing else can make us ready to meet our Maker. And we must be ready, because God is in control.

3. Christ is in control! -- And since He is, we should always give glory to God.

*That's the third lesson from this Scripture: We should always give glory to God.

*In vs. 20-23, the people of Tyre and Sidon were desperate to make peace with the king, so King Herod received a delegation in Caesarea, and made a speech during a festival dedicated to Caesar. The Jewish historian, Josephus, reported that King Herod's clothes that day were made of shimmering silver. And when the morning sun hit that garment, the people were mesmerized. (3)

*Listen again to what happened in vs. 21-23:

21. So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them.

22. And the people kept shouting, "The voice of a god and not of a man!''

23. Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.

*Herod was killed. He found out the high price of pride in a terrible way. And there are several important truths for us here, like there is never a good reason to worship a false god. And we can never fully depend on an earthly king. Even the best leaders will let us down at times.

*But the biggest lesson from Herod's death is that we should always give glory to God. Always give glory to God for the good things in your life. Live with a humble heart. As the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:14, "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

*Paul gave glory to God, especially for the cross, and we should do the same! Psalm 96:7-9 tells us:

7. Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples, Give to the Lord glory and strength.

8. Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts.

9. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.

*Always give glory to God for the good things in your life.

*The first radio broadcast with voices was on December 24th of 1906. Up to that time, all radio transmission had been by the long and short tapping alphabet of the Morse Code. But a Canadian engineer had invented the new process. His name was Reginald Fessenden, and his father was a preacher.

*I mention that, because Reginald used that first broadcast to give glory to God. On Christmas Eve of 1906, Fessenden sent this Morse Code message from his workshop in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts: "CQ -- CQ, alerting all ships at sea to expect an important transmission."

*Then the signalmen in their radio shacks heard something unimaginable: The sound of the human voice coming over their earphones! They were as stunned as if a tree had talked to them. At that moment Fessenden spoke for the first time over the public airwaves. And when he did he gave glory to God. Reginald read part of the Christmas story, including these words from Luke 2:14: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (4)

*Those were some of the best words that have ever been heard on the radio, words that should always overflow from our hearts: "Glory to God in the highest!"

4. This story of King Herod teaches us that we should always give glory to God. -- And we should always keep our minds on our mission.

*That's the fourth lesson tonight: As Christians, we should always keep our minds on our mission. That's what happened in vs. 24-25, where:

24. . . the word of God grew and multiplied.

25. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.

*More and more people were getting involved in the ministry of the Gospel. And we will later see that Mark would stumble for a while at first. But the most important mission in the world was going forward by the grace and power of God. King Herod couldn't stop it. Caesar couldn't stop it. And Satan couldn't stop it, though he is still trying with all his might.

*The Bible is the Word of God! It's the Good News about Jesus Christ! -- The Good News that continues to grow and multiply around the world. Our job is to keep our mind on the mission.

*Jim Elliot was one of the missionaries who were killed in 1956 in South American by the Auca Indians they were trying to win to Jesus. Their story was shown in a 2006 movie called, "The End of the Spear."

*Jim Elliot was a passionate Christian who wrote many of his thoughts and prayers in a journal. One entry spoke of his concern about making an impact on our world. And Jim wrote this prayer: "Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road. Make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me." (5)

*That's the kind of life Jim Elliot lived, and that's the kind of life God wants us to live: A compelling life, a life that compels other people to trust in Jesus Christ, a life that compels other people to put Jesus first in their lives.

*God help us to live like that! Nothing else matters more.

CONCLUSION:

*Yes, evil will always rise when God is rejected, but Jesus Christ is in control! So always give glory to God. And keep your mind on our mission.

*Let's pray about these things, as we go to God in prayer.

(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Prayer Power" by Todd Coget - Acts 12:1-25 - 07072002

(2) "Airmen say Air Force is punishing evangelical Christians" By Todd Starnes - September 30, 2013 - FoxNews.com

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/09/30/airmen-say-air-force-is-punishing-evangelical-christians/

(3) John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible by Dr. John Gill, 1690-1771 - Acts 12:20

(4) SermonCentral illustration contributed by Ralph Andrus

(5) "ThinkExist.com" - Source: "In Other Words" - February 2007 #2 - Produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - www.iows.net

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