Highlights In Today's Reading:
Proof from heaven — Jesus died for all (11:1-18). Use Peter's defense: ‘God said it and I'm not arguing with Him' (11:17). Persecution spreads the Gospel (11:19-26;12:24). Notable fact (11:26). Two die, one lives: James martyred (12:1-2); Herod ‘consumed' (12:20-23), Peter lives (12:6-19). Paul's 1st mission trip (chap. 13).
About the time of the famine, Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church (11:27 — 12:1). And the Jews . . . raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts (13:50). Young Christians and sometimes some of us older ones as well have gone out of our way, often including finances as well as time, to help someone who we just knew was deserving; we "knew" they would be grateful. Instead, to our surprise, they were not thankful, and even criticized us.
Well, the Apostle Paul had some words of "encouragement" after he went to Damascus. He was determined to persecute Christians but, on his way, was miraculously saved. Now his foremost desire was to let everyone in the world know how wonderful it is to be a Christian. But the disciples in Jerusalem were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple (9:26). Even years later, in the church in Corinth that he organized, some of the leaders there said his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible (II Cor. 10:10). What a pitiful disappointment when he may have expected as the founder of the church to receive a hero's welcome. It seems that wherever Paul went the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and (poisoned) their minds . . . against the brethren (Acts 14:2).
This way of life is illustrated when the Lord told the apostles to get in their boat, and go to the other side. You would expect that the disciples would have had the wind carrying their sails leisurely in the direction of their destination; but instead, in the midst of the sea. . . . He saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them (Mark 6:47-48).
The fact is the winds of life's opposition often are contrary winds in our families, in our churches, and in our social lives; and they often come, when like the disciples, we are striving to reach the other side, desiring to be a blessing. But often we face powerful stormy winds of opposition and everything seems to be against us. The surprise is that Peter could see Jesus in the storm (Matt. 14:28).
The amazing thing is the wind ceased (6:48-51). In the midst of the storms of life, Jesus is waiting to say: Be of good cheer . . . be not afraid (Mark 6:50).
Thought for Today:
My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decket himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels (Is. 61:10).
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 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.
Pray for Staff: Gina Lesnefsky • Country: Lesotho (2 million) within the east-central part of the Republic of South Africa • Major languages: Sesotho and English • Limited religious freedom • 43% Roman Catholic; 30% Protestant; 6% ancestor worship, divination, and spirit-possession cults • Prayer Suggestion: Praise the Lord for His goodness and mercy (Ps. 106:1).
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 16:25