Highlights In Today's Reading:
Peter tells the brethren that the Lord accepts Gentiles (11:1-18). The early Church grows in Antioch with Paul and Barnabas (11:19-30). Note vs 11:26. James the brother of John murdered. Read who kills him (12:1-2)! Herod arrests Peter but an angel sets him free (12:3-19). Herod blasphemes and dies (12:20-23).
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. Herod, the king (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 (12:2) and the son of Zebedee (Matthew 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. 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 with Herod. But, they could pray so they prayed. Here we see the power of persevering prayer — prayer 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. 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 advantage is on one side. Do we continue in prayer without ceasing? 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 limits the ability of God to answer prayer for things which can 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? (Jeremiah 32:27).
Thought for Today:
One of our greatest hindrances to having our prayers answered comes when we share with God our good ideas as to how He should do it.
12:1 Herod =b> Agrippa I, King of Judea, grandson of Herod the Great (Luke 1:5); to vex =b> to trouble; 12:4 four quaternions =b> 4 guards of 4 soldiers each; Easter =b> Passover; 12:15 mad =b> out of your mind; 13:17 high arm =b> great power.
For Acts 13:22: See I Samuel 13:14; Psalm 89:20. Acts 13:33: See Psalm 2:7. Acts 13:34: See Isaiah 55:3. Acts 13:35: See Psalm 16:10. Acts 13:41: See Habakkuk 1:5. Acts 13:47: See Isaiah 49:6.
Pray for International Shortwave Broadcasts sponsored by Thursday Morning Prayer • Radio Sri Lanka International Shortwave Broadcasts in India in memory of Stephan Howe Thurber • Staff: Benjamin Wallace • Country: Mozambique (19 million) on the eastern coast of Africa • Major language: Portuguese • Religious freedom • 40% worship of false gods, ancestral spirits, and some witchcraft; 23% Roman Catholic; 14% Protestant; 13% Muslim • Prayer Suggestion: Praise the Lord for the privilege of publishing His Word (Psa. 68:11).
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Timothy 4:5