King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.) Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each.
Imagine the Saint James mayor turning against us for our faith, killing some of us, and throwing some of us in jail. Imagine this happening over the Christmas holidays, when we planned to enjoy time with our families. And imagine this pleasing some of our friends and family members who attend church but choose not to follow Jesus.
Is no place sacred? Is there no safe shelter on earth for those who follow Jesus? We don’t know how long we in this country will have freedom to openly live for God.
Tough times can deplete our inner strength and bring out the worst in us. We withdraw in fear and turn against each other. We need to fill our souls with so much of God that when the time comes, we will be strong inside. The onlooking world won’t understand the peace and calm that radiates from us. They will wonder how we can continue loving each other and our enemies.
A healthy tree might suffer damage and lose some limbs when lightning strikes. But it most likely will survive. When lightning strikes a tree that’s rotten inside, the tree will either explode or burn from the inside out. Become so strong and healthy inside that when lightning bolts of hatred hit you, you remain strong and healthy.