Saturday, March 3, 2012

Acts 8:1-3

Summary retelling of Acts 8: 1-3:

We are told that Saul approved of Stephen’s execution.  Stephen was buried.  Furthermore, we are told that Stephen’s death leads to an all-out persecution against those who believed in Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.  Nobody except for the original apostles was able to continue to stand living in Jerusalem.  Saul learned from Stephen’s death and discovered his desire to continue and persecute the followers of Jesus wherever they ran.

Thoughts for Today:
First Thought:
This passage tells us a very simple truth about humanity: evil has a great chance of inspiring greater acts of evil.  Stephen’s death was tragic, but through the act the followers of Jesus found themselves under greater persecution by an emboldened Jewish leadership.  It wasn’t enough for Stephen to die anymore.  The whole group of followers needed to suffer.  It became time for the Jewish leaders to try and snuff out the growing fellowship of believers.

Does it surprise you to hear that evil inspires greater evil?  If this is true, what does it have to say to us about the little “innocent” sins that we let ourselves get away with every day?  What will become of ourselves if we allow even the most seemingly innocent sin to have shelter within us?

Second Thought:
This story seems like a dark moment in the life of the church.  The followers in Jerusalem are scattered.  They cannot endure the persecution of the Jewish leaders.  But in the midst of the dark times, God scatters the church to the ends of the earth.  As the followers of His Son flee, they actually take Christianity with them wherever they go.  They don’t forsake their faith; they actually forsake the place they are living in favor of keeping their faith!

How does this story speak to you about God’s ability to work in the midst of trials and persecutions?

Third Thought:
In spite of God being able to use the persecution to take Christianity to other places besides Jerusalem, people are still being arrested and thrown into jail because of their beliefs.  This should teach us that while running may occasionally be necessary, running does not mean that persecution will end.  Running away does not cause the problems to stop.  It may occasionally be a necessary tactic, but running away doesn’t solve any problems.

When might it be smart to run away?  How important is it to remember that even when we do run away that it is important to continue to game plan an approach to faith and life?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 8:4-8
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