Read Acts 11

Highlights:

Jesus died for all who receive Him as their Savior and Lord (Acts 11:1-18). Peter's defense: "God said it" (11:17). Persecution spreads the Gospel (11:19-26;12:24). James martyred (12:1-2); Peter lives (12:6-19). Beginning of Paul's first mission trip (chap. 13).

The Jerusalem church had met early opposition by the Jewish religious leaders but, for the first time, Luke recorded persecution from the ruling civil authorities in Judea. King Herod (grandson of Herod the Great, who was the Roman-appointed king of Judea when Jesus was born) catered to public opinion. The popular response at the execution of James, the brother of John (Acts 12:2) and the son of Zebedee (Matt. 4:21), led Herod to seize Peter for execution also. Sixteen guards (Acts 12:4) had to answer with their lives for the safekeeping of this prisoner (12:19). No mob could force open the prison's massive gates. To judge by all outward appearance, Peter's fate was sealed.

His friends had no money to offer for a ransom. No attorneys were hired and no plea bargain was made with Herod. But, they could pray, so they prayed. Here we see the power of persevering prayerprayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him (Peter) (12:5). Even though the believers had been praying earnestly for Peter's release, they were amazed when their prayers were answered.

Herod the king and Peter the Christian stand as representatives of two distinct types of humanity. To the world, one was rich, strong, and powerful, and the other was poor, weak, and a prisoner. The contest between them seemed most unequal. But God heard the prayers for what seemed an impossible situation.

We often judge by mere human circumstances. If one has social position, wealth, and great ability, we think he is equipped for success. But the Lord seeth not as man seeth (I Sam. 16:7). Do we continue in prayer without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17)? With God, nothing is impossible, but apart from Him, our brightest prospects are only delusive dreams.

Never forget, dear friend; when God moves in behalf of His children, no obstacle is too great for Him. How easy it is for God to do what is impossible for man! And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27). And yet, how quickly one fails to acknowledge the ability of God to answer prayer for things which cannot be accomplished through human effort. Man does not need to visualize how God can bring about the answer to prayer. Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me (Jer. 32:27)?

Thought for Today:

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:23).

Cross References:

For Acts 13:22: See I Sam. 13:14; Ps. 89:20. Acts 13:33: See Ps. 2:7. Acts 13:34: See Is. 55:3. Acts 13:35: See Ps. 16:10. Acts 13:41: See Hab. 1:5. Acts 13:47: See Is. 49:6.

Word Studies:

12:1 Herod, Agrippa I, king of Judea, grandson of Herod the Great (Luke 1:5); to vex, to trouble; 12:4 four quaternions, 4 guards of 4 soldiers each; Easter, Passover; 12:15 mad, out of your mind; 13:17 high arm, great power.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for International Broadcasts in memory of Henry Rogers • Government Official: Gov. John de Jongh (Virgin Islands) • Country: Eritrea (4 million) in eastern Africa • Major languages: English and Tigrinya • Religious persecution • 51% Muslim; 40% Eritrean Orthodox; 4% Catholic; 1.5% Protestant • Prayer Suggestion: Keep your mind on the Lord and trust Him; He will give you peace (Is. 26:3).

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 6:13