When God Steps In

July 9, 2023 

Message Big Idea

This week centers on the arrest of Peter, which was prefaced with the killing of James. This heightens the narrative tension surrounding Peter’s arrest. He was in real danger!  But as Peter sat in prison, the church prayed earnestly for him. God responded to their prayer and miraculously rescued Peter from prison, thereby overriding Herod and his plans to kill Peter. With this, God demonstrated his power as One who is truly the King of kings – the one who is sovereign over the affairs of humanity. And he alone gets to have the final say.

Lean In

  • A common axiom is that ‘Life’s not fair.’ Tell of time when you realized this to be true. What were the circumstances surrounding that situation?  How did you respond?

Look Down

  • Read Acts 12.
  • Discuss/highlight the parts of this passage which intrigued you most? What stood out? Why?
  • Share/reflect on key highlights or takeaways from the previous Sunday’s message (Key Points on next page). What jumped out at you as impactful and/or made you want to know more?

Look Out

  • How would the secular world diagnose the difference in outcome between the apostle James and Peter? Why was one saved and not the other? Was it chance? Fate? Karma?
  • What would conventional wisdom say to those who prayed for James’ release after witnessing God rescue Peter? Should they continue serving the Lord after not getting what they wanted nor receiving an explanation as to why?
  • Has a transactional view of our relationship with God crept into the church? How so? Have you witnessed anybody’s faith shaken when prayer goes unanswered?

Look In

  • John David noted that the gospel will always be met with the potential for persecution. How ready are you for persecution? How committed to the mission are you in the face of adversity and uncertainty?
  • The prayer of the early church was marked as earnest and essential. How is your prayer life? Do you believe your prayers matter? Do you pray others as a way of caring for them? 
  • How comfortable are you with the theological tension of not knowing why James died while Peter was rescued? What are some ways you can find peace and rest in the uncertainty and ambiguity? How can you live into God’s sovereignty and the present reality of suffering?

Live It Out

  • What one truth from this passage would you like to take to heart and act upon? How will this affect you
  • Who will you share this with this week?

Weekly Preparation

Throughout the summer, this section will consist of four areas which will help prepare for the upcoming Sunday’s sermon: a scriptural read ahead, a commentary on the passage, a reflective exercise, and a weekly practice.

  • Scriptural Read Ahead: Acts 13

(Note, commentaries are not without error. Prudent commentary use will lead one to have confidence where consensus exists across commentators while holding loosely where disagreement arises.)

Reflective Exercise: Prayerfully ask God to reveal if your faith depends on receiving something from God. It could be family, friends, health, wealth, etc. Then, offer anything that came to mind back to the Lord. Lay it down and worship God for who He is, not what He can give you.   

Weekly Practice: Read and recite Psalm 10 daily. Mimic the pattern of prayer there. Open with honest and questions for God (this may be anger, doubt, lament, etc.). Move toward telling God who He is (just, good, almighty, all-knowing, faithful). End with a clear statement that God can be trusted, placing your hope firmly in Him.

Sunday’s Sermons Key Points:

In Every Story of Life Change…

  • God’s people are always susceptible to persecution.
  • Prayer is an important part of the Christian faith. It is our way of communicating to God and supporting one another.
  • God is sovereign and has the final verdict over the affairs of men/women.

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