Happy Friday! We spent several weeks going through Acts chapter seven. We read about God’s faithfulness throughout the centuries and a few chapters before that in Acts chapters 1-6 we saw God’s faithfulness to his followers at that time. This morning we are beginning in chapter 8, and within the chapter we will see heart ache and terror, but as always…there is a but God moment that changes the script forever. Join me as we journey through chapter 8.
Bible Verse – Acts 8:1-3 NLT
“ 1 Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. 2 (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.) 3 But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.”
You might be asking yourself, why did I limit today’s verses to the painful persecution of Christians and not include additional verses that point to a better outcome. My response: as I read the verses for today’s devotion, I felt it was important for us to understand the depths of persecution toward Christians and know that even today in countries like China, Nigeria and more Christians are being tormented because of their faith.
So let us point out some key things:
- Saul’s name is mentioned again, but this time as a lead persecutor of Christian believers.
- In previous chapters we read of the apostles or certain followers being persecuted, this time it was the entire Christian church in Jerusalem.
- All believers scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
- The apostles did not scatter.
- Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church, so it implies he didn’t stay in the area where Stephen was killed…but Saul sought out believers wherever they existed in the regions.
Here again we read in Acts that the Christian believers were doing what God called them to do – worship, pray, love one another, and share the Gospel Message to the ends of the earth. The believers were on fire and filled with the Holy Spirit, yet the enemy (Satan) was working amongst/in Jewish leaders and tried to destroy God’s plan. While many Christian believers were scattered and imprisoned the apostles remained. The apostles stayed in the town.
Sisters and brothers, we will come up against the enemy (Satan) all the time – the thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy.But Christ came to give us a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10 NLT). I know it may not always fill rich or satisfying, but even in the midst of trials, persecution, injustice, financial constraints, pandemics, racism and plots against believers of all walks of life (including you and I), we are called to stand firm.
- 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 reminds us to: Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
- Ephesians 6:10-11 reminds us to: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
If you are going through trials, depression, streams of anxiety or disappointment, hold on your but God moment is coming. When it does, make sure you give God all the glory and praise He deserves. Keep standing in faith.
Father God we thank you for another glorious day. Lord, you know the number of stars that are in the sky – none of them fall or dim without your knowledge or consent. You named us and formed us in the womb – each detail was intricately constructed, shaped and designed. You have gifted us with life, blessed us with new life in Christ Jesus – and Jesus came so that we may live it abundantly. Lord God, we thank you. Thank you for your provision over our lives. Thank you for never leaving our side. Lord forgive us for the times when we allowed fear to over rule what your word says about any situation in our lives. Forgive us for believing the enemies lies about us, but we praise and thank you for getting our attention to remind us of who we are in You. Lord, we rebuke the lies of the enemy today – in Jesus name. We declare your victory over our situations – in the name of Jesus. We praise you because You are worthy to be praised. Lord, we pray for each reader, each believer, each pastor, missionary, church leader today and ask that you strengthen them and help us all to stand firm in You, Your word and Your promises. Lord, open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf (physically and spiritually), and help us to believe and follow you. Help us to pursue love for others in our hearts, help us to heal what is dividing us, help us to unite in purpose as believers, and live a life worthy of the call on our lives. In the name of Jesus we pray all these things, amen!
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