Check out all the previous Acts readings here.
Acts Reading Plan | Week 9 | Day 5
Take a deep breath in and then slowly let it out. Do this three times, noticing each time how your body and mind is relaxing a little bit more and you feel more present. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” As you come to spend time with Jesus today, ask Him to help you to trust Him more, and leave at His feet the ways you feel discontent.
Bible Reading: Acts 12:1-11
Read these verses three times slowly.
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.”
Reflection & Questions
In today’s reading, two followers of Jesus have two completely different outcomes. James is executed and Peter is miraculously rescued. By putting these stories side by side, Luke allows us to see that there are hard to understand differences in the paths that God has for His followers. Why didn’t God rescue them both? Certainly that was possible. Luke doesn’t explain the reason why Peter is rescued and James is not. Certainly James wasn’t less faithful than Peter or less useful for the Kingdom. Only God knows His reasoning.
It can be easy for us to get stuck in comparison thinking as children of God. To think that God treats others better than us, or loves others more than us. We see Him rescue others miraculously, while we (or our loved ones) might have to endure. Why God? Why don’t you rescue us like you did for them? These can be very deep painful questions in our hearts. It is good to wrestle this out with God. If these are questions that you’ve struggled with for a long time, it is good to talk them out with a Christian counselor or mature Chrisitan friend. At their root, this line of thinking gets at our trust in our Father. Do we trust that He loves us? Do we trust that if He gave His beloved son for us, that He is for us? Do we trust that He is with us and for us through every step and every struggle of our lives? Through wrestling with these questions (in prayer, in His word and with other mature Christians) we will grow in our faith. We will develop a deeper trust in the heart of our Father, knowing that He loves us fully, equally, even as He takes us through different experiences.
- Do you struggle with comparison thinking, feeling God has given you a raw deal? Talk to God about that.
Talk to God in response to the reading today.
You might use this song today to worship Jesus today:
Check out more Bible Reading Plans here.