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Daily Devotionals

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Betty’s Devotions


Persecution of the Church


Scripture Reading: Acts 12:1-11


12 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.


5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.


6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.


8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.


11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”


King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.

Acts 12:1


James, along with his brother John, were called by Jesus to become his disciples. They had such fiery personalities that Jesus gave them the nickname “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17; see Luke 9:54). Along with Peter, they became Jesus’ three closest disciples (Mark 9:2; 14:33). And when the church began to grow after Jesus’ death and resurrection, James became the first apostle to be killed for his faith in Christ.


“King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.” Herod had James killed, probably because James was known as a leader, and when Herod saw that the Jewish authorities approved of this, he arrested Peter also.


This led the church to pray earnestly for Peter. And the Lord surely had more work for Peter to do, because on the night before Peter’s trial, God sent an angel to break Peter out of prison. Amazing!


Sometimes people have a question about this. Why did God allow James to be killed, but then God sent an angel to save Peter? Was God showing favoritism? No.


God has a plan for each of us in our lives, and he calls us to serve him until he is ready to take us to be with him. And while we continue to live in this world of suffering, God will provide what we need.


Our eternal destiny is safe with God, and nothing can take us out of his hands (John 10:28-30).


Holy God, let us fulfill the calling you have given us to spread the gospel and build up the church, even in the midst of suffering and persecution in this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

J

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