Monday, April 1, 2013

April 1 - Acts 12

Today's reading in our daily plan is Acts 12. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • The followers of Jesus who lived immediately after Jesus' death dealt with persecution and the reality of being killed for their faith.  Herod has James arrested and put to death.  Now he seeks to do the same with Peter.
  • The way the church dealt with this daily pressure was through prayer.  They depended on their faith in God to continue spreading the good news about Jesus.
  • Herod was addicted to his public persona.  He arrested Peter because putting James to death "met with approval among the Jews."  He had his guards executed because Peter's escape made him look bad.  He traveled to Tyre and Sidon to gain public support -- even if it was disingenuous (they depended on Herod for food).  

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Both intervention and nonintervention are a part of God's actions.  Sometimes God uses intervention (as in the case of Peter) to spread His message.   Other times, God does not intervene (in the case of James) and still the message spreads.  The hard truth is we may never know why God doesn't intervene at times.  But either way, our faith can still deepen.   This is why Romans 5:3-4 says, "...but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."  And hope is what led the early believers to still pray for Paul even though God had not intervened in James' life.  
  • Arrogant pride destroys relationships, both our relationships with others and our relationship with God.   Herod being struck down demonstrates in living color this truth:  "God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble" (James 4:6).

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Even though your life may not be at risk, what are some ways you are "persecuted" for your faith in Jesus?  In your family?  At your office?  How does it make you feel?  How do you handle it?  Do you pray regularly like the early followers of Jesus?  Do you trust God to intervene?  And do you trust Him even when He does not?  
  • Who gets the credit for the good things that take place in your life?  Do you take the praise or do you give it to God?  Take time each day to thank God for His work in your life.  And give credit to God verbally with those closest to you.