Tag: James beheaded

Peter’s at the door!

Scripture reading for May 21st:  Acts 12

Have you ever prayed for hard for something that seemed impossible?  Were you ever shocked when the answer came, knocking at your door?  This scenario happened as the early church experienced a wave of persecution that brought about the execution of one of the original disciples, James, and the imprisonment of Peter by King Herod.

King Herod arrested and executed James immediately.  He saw that this was pleasing to the Jews, so he then rounded up Peter and intended to execute him too.  Peter was imprisoned and guarded by four squads of soldiers.   This motivated the church to pray earnestly for Peter.  ( Acts 12:5)

“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.  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.”  (Acts 12:6-7)

The angel had Peter get dressed and led him through the previously locked gates and the final gate opened by itself! This was so amazing that Peter though he was seeing a vision!  The angel left him safely outside the gate and Peter made his way to Mary’s house, the mother of John Mark.  The church was meeting there and praying as Peter knocked on the door.  A girl named Rhoda answered the door, heard Peter’s voice and ran back to tell the others, “Peter’s at the door!”  They thought she was crazy!  As Peter knocked, they finally opened to find him and hear his story!  Meanwhile, Herod grilled the guards about what happened and had them all executed!

When the church prays, God can do miracles!  Let’s press in!

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Persecution spreads the Church!

Scripture reading for June 18th: Acts 12:1-23

The church experienced times of peace, but also went through times of conflict.  The church could grow in times of peace but did not stop growing because of conflict!  God is able to use even the wickedness and wrath of man to bring Him praise and nothing will stop Him from accomplishing His program of winning the lost from the whole world!

King Herod began to persecute the church and arrested James, the brother of John and had him put to death.  He also seized Peter during the Jewish celebration of unleavened bread following Passover.  He wanted to gain some political capital with the Jews.  The church began fervent prayer for Peter, who was imprisoned by being chained to guards in a locked cell.

In the night, Peter was awakened by an angel.  He was told to get up and dress.  As he obeyed, the chains fell off his wrists and he followed the angel out of the prison past the sleeping guards and having locked doors swing open before them.  (Acts 12:9-10)  Peter went to Mary’s house and knocked on the door.  The disciples were there praying and a slave girl answered the door.  When she heard Peter’s voice, she ran and told everyone but they thought she was crazy!  Peter kept knocking and they finally let him in to tell his amazing story!

Why James died at the hands of Herod and why Peter was spared is not answered by God’s word.  We do know that after James’ death, when Peter was seized, the church began to pray fervently. (Acts 12:5)  God heard and answered!   Prayer moves the hand of God and can open closed doors.

Herod seemed oblivious to what God was doing.  He questioned the soldiers guarding Peter and then had them  put to death for allowing Peter to escape.  God was not mocked, however.  Herod was sitting on his throne sometime later giving an address and the people were worshiping him as a god.  Herod was soaking in the worship instead of giving praise to God.  An angel of the Lord struck him down and he was eaten by worms.  (Acts 12:21-23)

Through all of this persecution and spiritual conflict, the word of God increased and continued to spread.  (Acts 12:24)  Conflict purifies and unites the true church for prayer and ministry.  Be prepared for the battles that are coming!

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