Mighty God, I thank You today that You are always with me and I can count on Your loving care.
Read Acts 12:1-19
 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.  He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.  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.  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.  So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.  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.  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.  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.  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.  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.”  When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.  Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door.  When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”  “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”  But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.  Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.  In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter.  After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed. Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
ReflectHow did the Christians react to Peter's arrest (5,12)?
Just when things were going well a vital leader of the church, one of the apostles, is murdered. Other Christians are imprisoned and await their fate. The believers must have wondered what God was up to. With the benefit of hindsight we know that worse was to come for the early church. Perhaps God had to toughen them up so they would be ready to stand firm in their faith and support each other (12). Also, persecution in one place forced the believers to flee, taking the gospel to new places. Remember how God had to jolt Saul’s faith in Acts 9? For some people, setbacks and trials just give them more determination, a chance to prove what their faith means. For others, the evidence of God’s blessing inspires them, though sometimes they allow the wonder to distract them from obvious actions they need to take, like Rhoda in v. 13! (But fear can do that, too.) James and Peter were both safe in God’s hands. Peter knew that, so was fast asleep in prison. However you may feel, God has promised that you are safe, too (Rom. 8:38,39).
Is your faith being tested in some way? If so, pray for God’s courage and protection so you can stand firm.
Lord God, I want to have a strong, confident faith. Help it to grow in me a little more each day.
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