We started the reading today where we left off the last time we were in Acts. Stephen had been stoned to death because of his plain truth speaking to the religious leaders.
Present at that stoning was Saul, and we’re told that he approved of Stephen’s punishment. Isn’t amazing how Jesus can change a person who is willing? In chapter 9, Jesus appeared to Saul in a vision and you know the rest of the story.
What I would like to focus on for a moment is what happened after Stephen’s execution. The scripture says that “On that day widespread persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem and most believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.”
And then a couple of verses later it says that “The believers who were scattered went from place to place, where they spread the word.” They didn’t cower in place. They didn’t shut up. Having seen what happened to Stephen, they knew what could happen. But they spread out and spread the word.
Now, I know that I might be starting to sound like a broken record, but I never know when someone new might be listening, and I don’t know what will be happening in the news when you hear this podcast. Christians are facing this kind of persecution today, as I record this. Most of us have heard reports and seen videos of the Islamic terrorist group ISIS killing Christians. Here in America, it’s nowhere near that bad…right now…but it is not outside the realm of possibility that it will happen here.
Be encouraged by what the early church did, beloved. Be encouraged and know that what looks like defeat and disaster to the world is far from it in the eyes of Almighty God. Jesus has already won the war. What we are seeing today are the death throes of satan and his demons.
He knows that his time is running out. He wants to frighten people and keep them from following Jesus. Don’t fall for his lies. Don’t accept the defeat of denying Jesus. Kick the devil in the teeth and remain strong in your faith in Jesus Christ. Because there will come a day when EVERY knee will bow, and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, including the master of lies himself.