Written by Julie Tsoukalas.
Based on Acts 12 reading.
This is seemingly not a great time for the friends of Peter. He was preaching and leading people to faith in Christ, he’s just been given the privilege of bringing the Gospel to the gentiles, the people who questioned him about that rejoiced and glorified God when they heard his story, but now- those who are enemies of the gospel try to prevent it from spreading.
He wanted to vex the church. This word means to injure or exasperate. He took one of the disciples, James, and killed him. I’d say that’s pretty vexing.
When the Jews seemed pleased with that, he also took Peter and put him in prison, surrounded by sixteen soldiers. Kind of overkill if you ask me, but hey- he seems like a guy who lives in excess, as we’ll see again later.
Yet we see God at work. Notice the ‘but’ in verse 5.
Act 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
Verses 6-10 give more details of what is happening in the story. Go ahead and read them. I’ll wait.
There’s so much God is doing amid this persecution!
– The church is praying for Peter without ceasing. This is developing their trust in God and showing their dependence on Him. Their focus is praying for Peter, not against their enemy or about their trials.
– Even though Peter has been thrown in prison, bound with chains, surrounded by soldiers, and will soon be brought before the people, he is sleeping so soundly that God’s messenger has to whack him on the side to wake him up! That is peace only God can give!
– God shows His supernatural power by providing an angelic escort, removing Peter’s chains, opening the outer gate, and leading Peter back to safety without interference.
– God delivered Peter directly to the people who were praying. None of them knew what was happening. Even Peter was out of it for a while and thought he was dreaming!
What a time of faith-building to see their prayers answered in a mighty way!
After it is discovered that Peter is missing, we see Herod’s excess again. He kills all the soldiers who were on duty. Then he gets dressed up, sits on his throne, and makes a big speech to people who give him false praise. When they call him a god and he doesn’t correct them, the one true God smites him with worms, and he dies.
I love what it says right after that in verse 24: “But the word of God grew and multiplied.”
Though Herod tried to stop the gospel by killing and imprisoning Christians, God used it to strengthen them and spread the gospel instead!
Church, when we pray without ceasing, God can and will do mighty things in and through any circumstance! He is working even when we can’t see it.
“Cultivate the holy habit of seeing the hand of God in everything that happens to you.”
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