“Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.” Acts 12:1-3 NKJV
Fasten your safety belts and keep your hands inside the ride! Because today’s reading starts with this BANG! And it is quite the exciting ride! But it starts with the tragedy and our loss of James. James was one of the sons of Zebedee (John, the beloved disciple, being the other). They were fishermen and 2 of the original disciples, called to follow Jesus. Jesus also called them the SONS of THUNDER.
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen
Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Today’s reading is the Book of Acts chapter 12 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV).
Herod’s Violence to the Church
12 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he 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. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. 4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four [a]squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
Peter Freed from Prison
5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but [b]constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. 6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were [c]keeping the prison. 7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” 9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”
12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”
16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place.
18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small [d]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.
Herod’s Violent Death
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 [e]the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was [f]supplied with food by the king’s country.
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 [g]died.
24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
Barnabas and Saul Appointed
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned [h]from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.
- Acts 12:4 Gr. tetrads, squads of four
- Acts 12:5 NU constantly or earnestly
- Acts 12:6 guarding
- Acts 12:18 disturbance
- Acts 12:20 who was in charge of the king’s bedchamber
- Acts 12:20 Lit. nourished
- Acts 12:23 breathed his last
- Acts 12:25 NU, M to
MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:
Matthew 5:16- “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
I have so many thoughts after yesterday’s (and night before) world events. The world cried out for God’s intervention now, now that action has begun. Not as much when all the posturing and threats and psychological warfare were playing out. But now it apparently (finally) seems real. Now that people have died. (Lord, I hope they knew you.) Is it too late now to cry out to God? It is for those who are lost forever.
I was at least glad to see the USA move from we will stay out of it, to we will sanction. Although, I am not sure it will have that great of an effect since we have already crippled our own economy and supply chain. We are looking like fools on the world stage – but at least all the nations are. Some fools running into wars and other fools can’t pick a side because they no longer know the difference of right vs wrong.
Today’s reading starts with Herod persecuting the church. More political posturing.
James died. And the body count is growing. Ananias, Sapphira, then Stephen and now James (and how many do we not know about?). I do not see multiple deaths and scattering congregation in ANY books on how to start a ministry – yet here they are! Reminds me that God’s ways are not our ways. Which I can bring back home today – looking out at this world and the expected outcomes of all of this and be assured that God is still in control and His ways are not ours. I am sure the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah looked like evil to the neighboring cities who may have lost loved ones – but it was divinely appointed, for true justice. For truth. I will still pray for the souls and pray that if there are any holy, any with a relationship with God that they are spared to spread their testimonies.
For those who are persecuted and warred against, as well as for the rest of us experiencing some form of it or another – and if nothing else we suffer because a member of the ONE BODY IN CHRIST we are part of suffers, we have hope spelled out in this chapter. And faith comes by hearing – to listen closely with those spiritual ears so this hope in our Lord Jesus can be built into faith.
Peter in locked up. He must be morning James, worried about John, and worried about all these new believers he is shepherding. This was during the Days of Unleavened Bread – meaning Passover. So he is also concerned for his family. It means he is probably thinking about the last Passover he spent with Jesus after which, the garden and His failure to stay awake and pray, and then the sword incident and then the denying and rooster crowing and Jesus’s death. I hope it also led his thoughts back to the resurrection as well – if it did or not, Peter MUST have been emotionally overwhelmed and physically exhausted. It is no wonder that he fell asleep chained to two guards. I suppose it might have also crossed his mind that he might also die the next day, as Jesus did when they took Him.
I know I have discussed Peter’s jailbreak before at length. So I won’t get too into it tonight. The important part is to know is that it was an impossible situation! Something, many of us are in, maybe we aren’t imprisoned, like Pastor Artur. Maybe we are bombed like our brethren in the Ukraine. But I myself am looking down the barrel at some bills I cannot pay and a business that the enemy has but a blockage in front of and it’s not getting anywhere. These are impossible in human eyes. But every day, someone shows up with a gift from God and my needs continue to be met. Like Job, in the midst of my losses – I stand on the fact that I have not lost my God and he is faithful to His Word and He shall provide. And He does. This is not comfortable. But God make supernatural ways when there are no ways.
Peter’s brethren were gathered together, awake, abiding in prayer for Him and therefore and Angel just walked in the front door and escorted Peter out the front door. Nothing is impossible with God.
Side note: no, I do not think God will do this for Pastor Artur. I think God will embarrass these evil people who locked him up, in the courtroom when their own words can testify against them. Like Psalm 64:8 –
“He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.”
Anyway – nothing is impossible with our God – Especially when we are praying for one another.
Let’s talk about that – interceding for each other in the church. Our modern church (global) seems to be slowly waking up. Why? It is the prayer of the saints. We must wake up, shake it up, and let God clean the house then move like Gideon’s small army. But that can’t happen unless we are praying for each other. If all we do is pray for others, they come into the body and learn it is just as sick and corrupt as the world. The only way to be set apart and make the impossible happen, call angels down from heaven, tear down impossible strongholds, fight against principalities and powers that we cannot see, heal people, cast out demons and raise the dead – is to do it. Just do it. Do it because Jesus said to. If it doesn’t work, keep trying. AND have a real prayer life with real people of prayer praying for you daily.
Speaking of – please pray for me, as I face battles to get the word studied and to follow the voice of God and get these out to you. Please pray for others in the internet world, that you follow – if they are of God they face battles to put the good news and salvation message out into the universe. Please pray for your pastors and other Christian leaders and their leaders. The battles intensify and we need more prayers – as we see evidenced in our physical world and the battles there. Please also pray for each other, in agreement with me for everyone who reads this.
Peter escaped Jail, and told everyone what happened, then he escaped to Caesarea, and stayed there.
So point one – in case you missed it: subsection 1 is God is in control; subsection 2 is He can do the impossible; and subsection 3 is that God can do the impossible for us and through us with us having enough faith to do it and enough prayer to power it.
My next point – is Justice vs pride
I will sum up the justice part quickly – Herod died an untimely death! He was eaten by worms from the inside out. God will only permit someone to behave evil for only so long. God gave Herod all the chances he could to repent, because God wishes NONE will perish. But ultimately, Herod God what he deserved. He killed James and others, as well as persecuting innocent believers.
Pride – We all know pride comes before a fall. We all know the way to God is through humility, admitting our faults, acknowledging we can’t do it without Gods help, and daily repentance. Stay humble, be graciously lowly in meekness. When they called Herod a god – he did not correct them. It is obvious by God’s response that Herod was believing he was greater than any god as well. If Herod softened his heart, was humble and meek… this story would have turned out so differently. God would have raised him up.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” James 4:10 KJV
This “lift you up” means give you power, and authority, and boldness. Do not confuse confidence and boldness. And a proud person, especially a minister, has no authority except his own. We must be humbly submitted. If a preacher preaches to raise up his people can get them proud in their salvation – get on your face and do not take part. That is of the flesh or demonic. Because it is on our face before God that God’s power can move through us. Pride shuts to door against God.
Herod crossed the line, God had to remove Him. If God didn’t all the new believers, not strong in the fait could be susceptible to believe Herod was a god and be deceived. God has to protect His children’s souls!
Our final verse seems to belong to the next chapter – where Barnabas, Paul and Mark (the author of the gospel of Mark) all returned to Jerusalem.
I looked up why it says they “returned from”, when they mean “return to” and the footnote agrees it is supposed to be “to”. Long story about how the Bible was translated which is disputed depending on the article and the opinions and merging of multiple stories. But the long and short of this one is that the Greek word here can mean something like “from” – in the sense that they returned from where they left from. Anyway, we know what it mean. So Monday when we pick back up on these guys, they are in Jerusalem. However, many think they were in Antioch still because of the confusion of “from” and the wording in the opening passage. I guess we can figure it all out on Monday.
Keep praying my friends. We are here for such a time as this and God will make the impossible work out in our favor and He will protect and provide and Justice shall prevail. Just stay humble, repentant and prayerful. Love you – God Bless you all!
Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!