Saturday 2 July, 2016

ACTS 8:1b -8

1b On that day the church in Jerusalem began to be attacked and treated badly. All except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly Jews buried Stephen. They mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. He went from house to house. He dragged away men and women and put them in prison. 4 The believers who had been scattered preached the word everywhere they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria. There he preached about the Messiah. 6 The crowds listened to Philip and saw the signs he did. All of them paid close attention to what he said. 7 Evil spirits screamed and came out of many people. Many people who were disabled or who couldn’t walk were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

The severity of the persecution meant that most new Christians had to leave their homes, and were “scattered throughout Judea and Samaria”. Their faith was fresh, but new, and yet they were willing to relocate because of this new found faith. For those that stayed, the tyrant Saul would have them arrested and thrown into prison. This was a very difficult time for the new Church.

I cannot imagine this hardship. The uprooting from their hometown, the persecution, the separation from families, being imprisoned, the ridicule from non believers.

But now read verse 4 again. Within this torrid time, those who had been scattered “preached the Word wherever they went”.

They did not become silent, they did not go into hiding, they did not show fear. It was like they became stronger under the persecution, and in fact, they did.

The Word could not be contained or halted. God had a plan for the rapid growth of His church, and the faith and empowerment of the people, enabled to this to happen. But, the people made the choice to be strong and resist the persecution with the power of the gospel.

What a challenge to me to. How often am I silent when I should speak up? When have I been face to face with a small fraction of this level of persecution, and still remained silent?

Lord, I pray that I will grow in courage to speak more of your gospel message, even when there may be the slightest chance of ridicule in response. This I ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Written by Steve Fell

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