In Acts 12, we see how earnestly the early church in Jerusalem prayed. Also, we can observe how Peter’s life had changed; he was calm and courageous even in prison, which was totally different from how he had acted in Matthew 26. Peter had once relied on his own courage, and it had led him to disowned Jesus for three times. Yet, the Peter in Acts 12 could face such threats calmly; he could even sleep soundly in prison, with two soldiers watching him. Later, God freed Peter via a miracle so that Peter could fulfill God’s purpose for him. In this chapter, however, we also see that God allowed James to be martyred.
God has absolute sovereignty; He allowed James to be killed and Peter to be imprisoned. In all the persecutions, no one complained about a thing, because they knew God has different destiny for everyone, and we all have different tasks to achieve. Therefore, do not complain, and do not compare with others. God owes us nothing, and God has supremacy above all.
Christianity is not only a religion, it is our relationship with God. Our relationship with God is restored. We are saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. As a result, we should follow God faithfully. We should go wherever God asks us to go. We don’t ask for death when God wants us to live. We should always follow God’s lead. Don’t be obsessive about things we cannot understand, and don’t focus on questions we cannot answer; all the answers we are seeking is in Jesus Christ.
After we are saved, do not forget our identity as blessed sinners. In Jesus’s time, tax collector was despised and detested, and when the author of Matthew was called and used by Jesus, he knew he was nothing more than a blessed sinner, hence, he called himself Matthew the tax collector. Paul called himself the worst of sinners, but he also commented that “by the grace of God I am what I am…” So, let us not be proud; we will always be blessed sinners before God. And yet, let us not to be self-abased as well, because we are all bought at a price, redeemed by His blood, and we are now God’s children.
Some of the crises churches face today are that people now focus more on the lives in this world, and that the preaching become more and more secularized. If we focus on our lives on earth, we tend to pray only for God’s blessings and think only of our own benefits. Once we encounter difficulties, we will abandon our religion instead of persist in walking on God’s path. Churches ought not to follow the rule of this world in order to please people. Christians are the salt and light of the world; we should have influences on the world, not the other way around.
The best people in the world are those who are used by God, and serve God with all their hearts, not those who are rich, powerful, or intelligent. Let us all surrender ourselves to God. Let us devote our energy, time, wisdom, and skills to serving God so as to make our lives meaningful and to make ourselves remembered in God’s kingdom.
Message by Elder Yeh / Summary and response by Jim Lin