PERSECUTION IN JERUSALEM CONTINUED
Herod, appointed by the Romans to be the king of the Jews, arrested James, one of the apostles, and put him to death. James was the brother of John, and he was one of the apostles mentioned often in the gospels. James left his family business as a fisherman and followed Jesus (Mark 1:16-20). When Jesus raised Jairus' daughter from the dead, Jesus took Peter, James, and John (Luke 8:40-56). James was also with Peter and John during the transfiguration. Only three of them saw Jesus transformed into His glorified state (Matthew 17:1-13). When Herod saw that it pleased the religious leaders to put James to death, he also arrested Peter. While Peter was imprisoned on the night of his arrest, the church prayed for him fervently. Herod made sure that Peter could never escape by chaining him with two guards on his side inside the prison cell in addition to the guards standing outside the prison cell. However, an angel of God miraculously freed him without the guards knowing. The next day, the guards were wondering what had happened to Peter. When Peter was rescued from the prison, he immediately went to the disciples, and they were amazed that he was out of prison (Acts 12:1-19).
Why did God rescue Peter and not James? Why did God allow Peter to live and not James? Is there favoritism in God? The answer to this question is that God has a different plan and purpose for both of them. Whether both of them die or live, they both belong to God. In God's sovereign plan, James had finished his course in this world and had to go home with the Lord, while Peter still had things that God wanted to accomplish through him. Living and death depend on God's plan for our lives. There is no escaping this in our lives. Paul said these words in Philippians 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
As believers, death to us is the beginning of a wonderful life in our God's presence forever. Our salvation is secure because of our genuine faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. When we die, we should not worry if we will make it to Heaven because our salvation is not based on our good works but only on our faith in our Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). As long as God allows us to live in this world, let us live for Him, for we do not know when He will require us to go home to be with Him.
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through carefully and meditate on the questions while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speak to you) Have I put my genuine faith in the Lord Jesus? Do I believe that I will go to Heaven when I die because I put my faith in my Lord Jesus? How should I live my life while God allows me to live on this earth?
Write down all the worries you face today and lift them up to God.
Father in Heaven, I praise and glorify you because I am completely secure in you through my faith in my Lord Jesus. Would you please help me to live for you while you allow me to live on this earth? I know I am just passing through this earth, and my eternal home is to be with you in Heaven. I pray for the families and friends I have that have not put their faith in you that they will believe in Jesus so that they will receive forgiveness and eternal life. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.