February 22, 2009

Striking Grace

Acts 12:1-23

An angel of the Lord appeared and … struck Peter on the side and woke him up.
Acts 12:7


I occasionally wrestle with my grandson. It’s a good way to steal some hugs. He likes to “pin” Grandpa with his under-forty pound body straddling my chest or shoulders. He also likes to throw the occasional punch to my midsection.

Acts 12 tells about angels of the Lord who were busy distributing direct hits to two very different people. In the first round, Peter was in prison awaiting trial before Herod. The church was praying, and an angel came to wake Peter and escort him out to freedom. Peter and the others praised God for his miraculous rescue.

In the second round, an angel came to visit King Herod. He was sitting on his royal throne, addressing his flattering subjects, who shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” But Herod, in contrast to Peter, did not give praise to God, and immediately the angel of the Lord struck him down, and he died.

Two strikes. One was a grace tap, freeing a faithful, prayed-for believer who credited the Lord for his miraculous escape. The other was a death-blow destroying an arrogant ruler who claimed glory for himself among his deceitful admirers. A very sobering story.

Let’s praise God together that Jesus Christ was willingly struck down for our sin to lead us into the freedom of grace (Isaiah 53:8).

God of all grace, strike us today with enough force to awaken us to the wonder of your forgiving and freeing grace. May we praise your name faithfully in all we do. Amen.

About the author — Dale Vander Veen

Dale Vander Veen is a retired Christian Reformed pastor who with his wife, Edith, has ministered in California, Washington, and Michigan. They have three married children and six grandchildren. He currently writes a daily e-mail series of devotions.

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