Reading For Wednesday Acts 8:1-8
A deplorable action against Stephen also led to a violent attack on the church in Jerusalem. The goodwill that had been experienced is laid aside by cruel persecution. A man named Saul is at the center of this crusade to stamp out the followers of Christ. In spite of the persecution that arises, the Apostles stay in Jerusalem. However, as the believers flee, the gospel is spreading to other places including Samaria and North Africa. Stephen was mourned and given a proper burial. Saul was ravaging the church. He traveled from house to house seeking those belonging to the way. He wanted to eradicate all those who claimed the name of Christ. No place was safe and believers were being carried to prison daily as Saul scoured the area for anyone belonging to Christ.
Suffering and persecution may seem like an unlikely place to look for the sovereign God, but this was precisely the agency that he used to spread the gospel. The believers that were scattered were preaching the word as they sought to find safer areas to live. Philip went to Samaria and proclaimed Christ. The scripture makes clear that Jews and Samaritans hated one another. There was a bitter ethnic rivalry that had existed for generations. Crowds gathered and listened to Philip. They saw the signs that accompanied his proclamation including deliverance from unclean spirits and the many people that were healed. These signs authenticated the message of Philip. The city was filled with joy because of the gospel and the many signs they observed. God's activity brought joy to an entire city. The gospel was on the move, and the witness was spreading.
Things To Consider:
- How long has the church been persecuted?
- How should this affect the way we see the world today?
- What cost are you willing to pay to follow Jesus?
- How have stories of modern day martyrs affected you?
- Do you regularly pray for the persecuted church? Why or why not?
- Do you see the world around you as your mission field? If so, how are you strategizing your mission and can people see the evidence of grace around you?
- Do you bring joy to your city?