June 18

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“About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword” (Acts 12:1-2 NLT).

From: June 18, 2018

A FALSE KING PERSECUTES THE TRUE KING
Herod Agrippa was the grandson of Herod the Great, who tried to kill the infant Jesus by murdering all of the baby boys age two and under in Bethlehem. His uncle, Herod Antipas, beheaded John the Baptist and ridiculed Jesus, sending Him back to Pilate for judgment. Herod Agrippa, who was more Roman than Jewish, took up the family habit of persecuting Christians. He had James the elder killed with the sword, which indicated execution by beheading.
 
The mother of James and his brother, John, had asked that her sons be seated on either side of Jesus when He came into His kingdom. Jesus replied that they didn’t know what they were asking. He asked, “Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” (Matt.20:22). They replied that that were able. To which Jesus responded that they would indeed drink from the bitter cup of suffering. James, son of Zebedee, and brother of John, was the first apostle martyred.
 
And what of the false king, Herod Agrippa? His reign was short lived. He died of worms after accepting the glory that belonged to God.

“So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant” (1 Kings 19:21 NKJV).

From: June 18, 2017

God directed Elijah to anoint a prophet from behind a plow. He didn’t send him to a school for prophets, but to a farm where Elisha was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him. His father must’ve been wealthy to have so many servants plowing with twelve teams. Yet, when Elijah came by and threw his mantle upon him, he left everything to follow. Elisha even made a barbecue of his own oxen team, using the wooden plow for fuel, and fed his father’s house before leaving. This showed not only his joy at answering God’s call, but also the total relinquishment of his former life, as he left behind plow and primogeniture to follow as Elijah’s servant.
 
The calling of Elisha is similar to the calling of Jesus’ disciples. They too left everything to follow Jesus and to become His servants. Have you butchered the oxen and burned the plow of your former life, so that you are free to fully follow Christ as His devoted servant?

“Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there” (1 Kings 19:3 ESV)

From: June 18, 2016

Elijah, in the power of the Spirit, called fire down from heaven and defeated the 450 prophets of Baal. He called on God to break a 3-year drought and the rains came pouring down. He pulled up his robe and outran King Ahab’s chariot in sandaled feet. But then, Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, threatened him and he lost heart. He was struck with fear and ran into the wilderness alone and asked God to take his life. He was exhausted, depressed and isolated. He literally went from a mountain top experience to the deepest valley in a day. But God sent an angel to care for him. We must take care after a great success or spiritual experience. Ironically, we are often most vulnerable after a “mountain top” win. And Satan often sends a “Jezebel” to attack us right as we come down from the heights and enter the valley.

‘While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”’ (Acts 13:2 ESV)

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Imagine attending a worship service that ends not with an invitation to go have lunch, but with a commissioning service that puts you on the next boat going out to sea. That’s what happened to Barnabas and Saul (“Paul”). Oh, to have worship services so Spirit-filled that people immediately surrender to do what God has called them to do. May churches around the world begin to experience an Antioch revival, a church known not for its seating capacity, but its sending capacity. Antioch, also called the “Cradle of Christianity,” where the Spirit called, and the people obeyed and went.

“But the word of God continued to increase and spread” (Acts 12:24)

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Ch.12 began with the execution of James, brother of John, and the imprisonment of Peter. But it ended with the death of Herod and this statement. Persecution did not stop the gospel. It served to spread it further. Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”