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  • Oct 07 / 2018
  • Comments Off on God is in Control of Everything (Acts 12:1-11)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

God is in Control of Everything (Acts 12:1-11)

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God is in Control of Everything

Acts 12:1-11 (Pastor Heo)

12:1 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. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”


Chp 8:1 “On that day, a great persecution broke out…”

The rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem brought fierce persecution. The Jews launched a direct attack upon the Christian leaders beyond mere threats and warnings – this time Herod had James executed and Peter arrested. These were tense and traumatic times, but the church began to pray earnestly.

It is important to remember that God wasn’t finished with the Jewish church, nor Jewish Christianity – even though the emphasis soon shifted to Paul and Gentile outreach. But still, God was working.

In this chapter, we can see 3 events:

  1. Herod killed James (one of the 12, the brother of John)
  2. Herod tried to kill Peter – but he was rescued by an angel of the Lord
  3. This Herod was killed by the hand of the angel of the Lord (maybe the same that rescued Peter)

v. 1-6

“12:1 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. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.”

Who is this Herod? This evil, wicked Herod. In the NT, we can see several Herods. This one is the grandson of Herod the Great who killed all babies under 2 years old in Bethlehem and its vicinity – to kill Jesus.

In the NT, at least 4 generations of Herods are mentioned:

  1. Herod the Great – when Jesus was born (killed all babies in Bethlehem) – he also killed his wife, son, and daughters
  2. Herod Antipus – took his brother Philip’s wife (Herodius) as his wife – had John the Baptist beheaded – and was involved in the trial of Christ (Jesus called him “fox”)
  3. Herod Agrippa I – killed James, tried to kill Peter
  4. Herod Agrippa II (chp 26) – one of Paul’s judges

Unfortunately, ALL Herods left behind an evil legacy.


Parents affect their Children

From this story, we can know that good or bad, parents have a powerful and lasting influence on their children. Traits of parents are passed on to their children and the next generation. Often the mistakes and sin of parents are repeated by their children.

So ask yourself, “What example am I setting for my children?”

What is important is not our words, but our actions – for children copy our actions, not our lectures.

“More is caught than taught.”


Herod arrested some Christians including James, whom he killed. So, James became the first of the 12 apostles to be martyred.

If we ponder the death of James in Matt 20, Jesus spoke to James and John (with their mother). They approached Jesus and asked for thrones of glory. He said, “Can you drink of the cup I must drink?” “Yes, we can.” they answered, though they didn’t understand what they were saying. But later on, ultimately, they discovered the high cost of winning the throne of glory.

Now, James is arrested and killed, and his brother John became an exile on the island of Patmos.

Indeed, they DID drink of the cup of Christ, and share in his baptism of suffering.

So, why did Herod try to kill Peter again? At that time, he was hated by the Jews – he was half-Jew, descended from Esau (brother of Jacob).

When he killed James, an important leader of the church, the Jewish leaders who were against the church (Pharisees, Sadducees) were happy. So, he thought that if he killed Peter, they would like him even more. But at that time, it was the Feast of Unleavened Bread – but killing during that time was not permitted. So, he arrested him to kill him AFTER the Feast.

This is Peter’s 3rd arrest.

  1. With John in chp 4?
  2. With other apostles later
  3. This experience

But this experience is totally different from other experiences.

In the other experiences,

  • he was arrested by the Sanhedrin –
  • with co-apostles –
  • and was not chained –
  • but he was given an opportunity to defend himself.

But in this prison now,

  • he was arrested by king Herod,
  • alone,
  • with at least 4X4 soldiers (16) guarding him (at least),
  • and bound with chains.
  • He had no chance to witness or defend himself.
  • This prison followed the death of James with the high possibility of his own death the next day.

In this situation, under these circumstances, what could you do? Even sleep? Peter was sleeping.

Peter’s Peace

Interesting, 16 soldiers who were watching him could not sleep, but he fell into a deep sleep. He was so sound asleep that an angel had to strike him on the side to get him up.

This is an important lesson for us. What is the secret? The mystery? What gave Peter such SOUND sleep in this moment before he should meet his own death?

1. Many believers were praying for him

(v. 12 also mentions this) – they prayed ALL night – night and day – this helped to bring Peter peace. Yes, true prayer under the guidance of the HS gives us true peace and rest of the soul.

Phil “Do not be anxious about anything, do not worry, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God in the name of Christ, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.”

Prayer also reminds us of the PROMISES of God’s Word. Do you know how many verses in the whole Bible? More than 30,000 – and ALL verses are a promise. And when we pray, we remember these.

Isaiah “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I will strengthen and uphold you with my mighty right hand.”

The written Word of God = logos – if you apply this in your practical situation, the Word will be ALIVE and act – rama

So, logos (written) should become rama (applied)

2. Peter’s knowledge that Herod could not kill him

Yes, the situation looks very bad, but he knew that Herod could not kill him – because he was holding the promise of Christ given him in the gospel of John:

“Feed my sheep; feed my lambs. When you were younger, you dressed yourself, and went wherever you wanted to go – but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and he will lead you to where you do not want to go.”

Jesus had already predicted that Peter would live to be an old man, and crucified on a Roman cross – this was the prophecy given to him by Christ.

In this situation, we might ask,

  • WHY was James killed, but Peter rescued? Did he favor Peter?
  • Why was Stephen killed immediately just for his great sermon, but his co-evangelist was used for a long time?
  • Were Stephen and James failures and Peter and Philip successes? NO.

The only answer is:

The Sovereign Will of God

Yes, we agree that the heavens cannot contain all of God. His thinking and design is far beyond our own.

Heb 11 is the faith chapter.

Some conquered kingdoms by faith, some escaped death by faith, some quenched the fury of flames by faith, some shut the mouths of lions by faith.

Yes, these stories are very great.

But at the same time, the same chapter says,

Some were tortured and refused to give in by faith, some were put to death by faith, some were stoned by faith, some were jeered and imprisoned by faith, some were sawed in two by faith, some went around in sheepskins, persecuted and mistreated by faith.

Also these stories are great stories.

Those who live by faith can receive ANY situation because we believe Romans 8:28 “For we know that in ALL things, God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose.”

We may not always understand his ways, but we know that his sovereign will is always best. Remember that God is in control of everything.

God’s sovereign will is always GOOD and BEST (whether we understand it or not)

“If I live, I live for the Lord; if I die, I die for the Lord; whether I live or die, I do it for the Lord.” Yes, we can glorify God through our lives, but we can also glorify God through our deaths.

When Jesus told Peter this story about his death personally, the next verse says, “Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.”

Physical death is the end of our bodies on earth, BUT death is NOT the end of ME. Death is not the end of your existence. Death is not your termination. It is just your “terminal” – your transition into eternity.

v. 7-11

“7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.””

Once again, we witness the ministry of angels in which they brought light into their prison cells.

In chp 5 also, “when they were in prison, during the night, an angel opened the gate and brought them out.”

This is the second time angels have come to get them out.

  • Who are angels?
  • Who is higher in position: you or angels? YOU
    • Angels = God’s servants (always) – in this world and in the world to come
    • We = God’s children

John 1:12 “To those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

Yes, angels have many ministries, but here is a summary of two:

  1. In Greek, angelos = “herald” = they deliver the message of God
  2. They also help the children of God (Heb 1:14 “Angels are the ministering spirits who will help those saved by God”)

In this situation, the angel did something extraordinary – he came and got Peter out. But, Peter also had his own job to do. He had to GET UP, GET DRESSED, and GET OUT.

  • The angel did something extraordinary,
  • Peter did something ordinary.

Even in miracles, Jesus is always practical.

  • God created all beasts, birds, and plants (extraordinary),
    • man had to name them (ordinary).
  • Jesus turned water into wine (extraordinary),
    • men had to put water into jars and take some to give to others (ordinary).
  • Jesus multiplied fish and bread to feed 5000 plus (extraordinary),
    • the disciples had to distribute and gather (ordinary).
  • Jesus raised Jarius’ daughter from the dead
    • man had to give her something to eat,
  • Jesus raised Lazarus (extraordinary),
    • man had to remove the stone from the tomb’s entrance and take off the grave clothes (ordinary).

This is a practical principle of Christ.

Jesus does EXTRAordinary, we do ordinary. Jesus does SUPERnatural, we do natural.

But when we do these things, Jesus calls us his co-workers, to share in his victory, in his glory.

Even today, what are you doing inside and outside the church? Yes, ministry in or out of the church looks small – it looks very ordinary. But even these small things, by our faith and expectations, Jesus does something EXTRAordinary, supernatural.

We are doing ordinary things, but through these ordinary things, God is doing extraordinary things.

Believe and expect something great from God.

God bless you.

Let us pray.

  • Aug 10 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Impossible Becomes Possible in the Hands of Christ (Matthew 14:1-21)
Matthew: The Book of Kingship, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Impossible Becomes Possible in the Hands of Christ (Matthew 14:1-21)

08.10

08.10.2014-PHeo

Sermon Notes

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Impossible Becomes Possible~~

Matthew 14:1-21 (Pastor Heo)

John the Baptist Beheaded

14:1-12pp — Mk 6:14-29

1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet. 6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

14:13-21pp — Mk 6:32-44; Lk 9:10-17; Jn 6:1-13 14:13-21Ref — Mt 15:32-38

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” 16 Jesus replied,”They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. 18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.


This is the “Retirement of the King” – when he withdrew and remained in a solitary place.

Several reasons for this:

  1. Growing hostility of enemies
  2. Need for physical rest
  3. Need to prepare his disciples for his death

This withdrawal is not a period of inactivity. There are three groups around Jesus:

  1. His enemies
  2. Huge crowds, hungry, needy multitudes
  3. His disciples

In chapter 14 especially, we can see this.

His response:

Two stories (1-12 – about Herod – his enemy; 13-21 – about the crowd – the hungry multitude).

5,000 men at least. How many women and children is unclear.

Herod Antipas = arrested JB (John the Baptist) and put him in prison and wanted to kill him. This Herod was married to his half-brother’s wife. JB had said continuously “This is illegal!” Both Herod and Herodius (his illegal wife) wanted to kill him. Herodius’ daughter danced before the drunk Herod on his birthday and he said, “I’ll give you anything – even up to half my kingdom.” She asked her momma, her momma said, “JB’s head on a dish.” So he did it. Can you imagine this scene?

Later, this Herod thought Jesus was JB rose from the dead. Later, this Herod tried to kill Jesus – so Jesus called him “fox.” And then finally, before his death, he stood before this Herod and Herod asked many questions, but Jesus was silent – he had silenced God. “If you hear God, do not harden your hearts.”

Jesus heard of this and went off by himself. He lived according to a divine time table – he didn’t want to stir up trouble with Herod too early. At that time, the religious leaders allowed JB to be killed because they did nothing to help him. And these same leaders asked Herod to kill Jesus.

Herod and his ancestors were descended from Esau. Many Herods’ in the Bible.

  1. (Matthew 2 – Herod the Great tried to kill Jesus after he was born – he killed his own sons and wives if they got in his way – he established the “Herod Dynasty”)
  2. (Acts 12 – Herod Agrippa (grandson of the original) – put Peter in prison and killed James – one of the first disciples (and first martyrs))
  3. (Acts 25 – Herod Agrippa II tried Paul before he went to Rome.)

How did Jesus respond to his enemies? He withdrew.

v 14-21

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Still now, he feeds – all living things. He is the provider and sustainer of all things. Eph. Philippians 4:19 “My God will meet all your needs…” “Jesus is the exact representation of God and sustainer of all things…” Jesus = Jehovah Jireh (God’s Provider).

The time is late (getting dark) – the place is remote (countryside) – there’s no food – there are too many hungry people – there’s the problem.

How do you meet the needs of this vast crowd? Their physical hunger? This story is so important because Jesus wants to give us a very practical lesson. This story is so important it is written in ALL 4 gospels. There’s a little difference in the explanation, but it’s the same, it’s one event.

There are 4 solutions to this problem:

  1. Disciples said, “Send them home.” (Get rid of the problem – so much like many of us today. Yes, we “know” God is unlimited in his power and ability – but we try to remove the problem. Jesus said, “They don’t need to go. You give them something to eat.” Do you feel sympathy or compassion (stronger) toward people who need your help.)
  2. Philip (not in Matthew’s gospel) was asked (to test his faith) “Where shall we buy food for them?” Philip said, “8 months (240 days) wages couldn’t buy enough to give ALL these people even a single bite.” (He’s a quick calculator – very often, we also think that MONEY is the answer to every need. But Jesus was asking to test his faith.)
  3. Andrew (also not here) – found a boy with 5 loaves of bread (maybe rolls) and 2 fish (maybe dry), “But how far will this go among so many?” He wasn’t sure HOW, but we are glad that he found someone to help. This is not the final solution.
  4. Jesus (true solution) said, “Bring the bread and fish” and he took it and had all the people sit down in groups. He gave thanks to God, blessed the food, gave it to the disciples, and they distributed the bread and fish. Wow! What a miracle! This miracle happened in the LORD’S hands – not in the hands of the disciples.

Jesus can do immeasurably more than we think, want, and pray according to his will and power.

Not only did all the people eat, but there were 12 baskets left over after everyone was totally full!

Practical lessons (3 to put into practice in our daily, faith lives):

1. Learn from Andrew:

There’s a big difference between Philip and Andrew. Philip said, “Mission: Impossible.” Andrew said, “Here’s a little something, I’ll trust Jesus to do the rest.” Among the 12, Andrew was a champion in bringing people TO Jesus (even Greeks, Gentiles). In the early stages, the first thing he did was to find his brother Simon Peter and said, “I found the Messiah!” and Peter became the ROCK of faith, the first pastor of the early church, one of the most powerful preachers of the early church. Among the 12, Andrew was the first personal evangelist.

No one ever knows, says, “What will come out of this for me?” when we bring a person to Jesus. Are you a parent? If you raise your child in the fear of the Lord, nobody knows what things that child will one day do. When we bring somebody to Christ, who knows if he will be doing something even greater than us for Christ. If I bring somebody, they can do something even greater than I if Christ allows and leads.

Andrew provided material for a miracle.

We don’t know what possibilities we are releasing when we bring someone to Christ.

2. Learn from the little boy:

This boy gave to Jesus ALL he had. The amount was not big, but it was everything. At that time, barley bread and dry fish was an ordinary meal for poor people. But this food was ALL to this boy. If not for this fish and bread, could Jesus NOT do what he did? No, he COULD – he COULD even create something out of nothing. He COULD feed all the people at that time.

Is it possible that there is NOBODY who had something to eat besides this small boy? Maybe. But we must know that God loves a cheerful giver. Do not misunderstand. We must not be proud. God can do anything and everything WITHOUT us – without our service, money, sacrifice. Then WHY does he want to use us and what we have? Because God loves us and wants to bless us and wants to give more reward, have closer relationship, fellowship, communication with us – he wants to upgrade our relationship to “partner” in building his kingdom on Earth.

There are many examples of people that God used their small things, or small bodies to conquer nations:

  1. The staff in Moses’ hand conquered Egypt
  2. The sling in David’s hand conquered Palestine
  3. The words in prophet’s mouths conquered nations
  4. The feet of Paul carried him everywhere to preach
  5. The ears of John heard his final words and recorded the book of Revelation

What is in your pocket? In your mind? In your life? God wants to use whatever is in your hands or pockets – if handed over to him willingly and cheerfully – the small becomes HUGE, common becomes miraculous, temporary becomes eternal.

3. Learn from Jesus:

Jesus speaks a very practical and powerful sermon. Jesus is the Bread of Life – Bread from Heaven – only he can satisfy our spiritual hunger in our spirits, in our hearts. The tragedy is that today, many people a wasting their lives and time and money on things that are not bread – on things that do not satisfy.

In this story, Jesus said, “YOU give them something to eat.” Today, Jesus still says to his church, his body, “YOU give them something to eat.” It’s actually easy for us to send people away, to make excuses, but Jesus asks us to give ALL that we have and let him use it as he pleases, as he sees fit. When we give all that we have to Christ, we never lose. When you give what you have, you never lose. We will end up with more and more blessings than when we started the first time.

These are the practical lessons given to us by our King, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

He is the Only Answer to All Questions.

Let’s pray.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen