THE CHURCH INVINCIBLE
My King, I don’t always find it easy to be a Christian, teach me how to rejoice in following You; give me Your strength.
Read Acts 12:19b–25
19 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. 20 He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. After securing the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply.
21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
24 But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.
Barnabas and Saul Sent Off
25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from[a] Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.
- Acts 12:25 Some manuscripts to
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIn what ways is it difficult to be a Christian today?
When we hear reports of falling church attendance, it’s easy to feel disheartened. Will Christianity fizzle out? Will the Church survive? The early church probably struggled with such fears too, for they faced serious problems. We’ve already learnt how King Herod Agrippa persecuted church leaders: he’d killed James, and Peter had to flee Jerusalem because of him (17). With their leadership depleted and a powerful enemy opposing them, things must have seemed pretty hopeless for these first Christians.
However, Herod was to meet his match. His gruesome end is described not only in the Bible but by a Jewish historian of the time, Josephus. He said Herod addressed the crowd in stunning silver robes that sparkled in the sun. This is why the awestruck people called him a god (22). But Herod was no god, despite his inflated ego, and the Lord struck him down (23). This persecutor who had once seemed so powerful was suddenly no more, whereas the Church, despite all it had suffered, continued to grow (24). Let this offer us hope for the Church and encourage us not to give up on it, or on sharing the Christian message. Things may, at times, seem bleak, but God is at work and He will overcome.
Do you have any friends who are struggling with their faith? Commit to pray for them regularly – and send them a note of encouragement if you can.
Thank You, God, for any signs of hope and growth I see in my church and in my own life. Keep me strong in faith.