Before Saul became Paul the Apostle that we know of in scripture, he was very much against God’s church and His saints. He wanted to find and punish every one of God’s people. But what the people of Christ did in response may amaze you. For often when great persecution rises people scatter and hide or even give up their faith, but did the people of God do this? Not at all. It is often hard to believe that people now are even God’s people at all. For so many are just churchgoers and don’t do anything else for God during the week. This is important to think about, in order to know if you are for God or against Him. Now, as for the times of the early saints and Stephen’s death by stoning, “Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” (Acts 8:1-4) Many people’s houses were being ransacked as people were put in prison. But did their faith fail them? As I said, their trust in God superseded what happened to them.
It was during this time of great persecution that “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:5-8) So it didn’t matter that people were coming after them, for their trust in God gave them the strength to not only endure the persecution but to find great joy in their situation at hand. Even so much that people continued to congregate together often. It wasn’t just a single day of the week but a daily living out their faith one with another. And because these people were so faithful, there continued to be mighty miracles and healings on display. So much so that the Holy Spirit had fallen upon them, and they were being led by God and no longer by their own selves. These people were baptized and also “when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 8:15) “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 8:17) Wow! This was a time when the Holy Spirit was prevalent upon the land, but where has it gone now? It is with me and many others, but what about you? Is God leading your life? If not, then let him in today by being baptized and receiving the Spirit.
Let us pray:
Oh Lord, I pray that we will rise up as Christians and not just say we are because it sounds good. It needs to not only roll off our tongue in a nice way but also cause people to see a mighty difference in our lives. Yes, God, being a Christian is more than words, but actions. This I wish every person would understand. How being led by You is the true way of life for any person who says they are in the faith now. For this reason, do I follow You, Jesus. Wherever the Holy Spirit will lead me, I will go. I am so grateful to no longer be led by the passions of the flesh, which only got me into trouble. Truly, the Spirit has led me from sin and into great joy in Your presence. I love it when my life is in line with Your perfect will, for I am able to walk this life with You by my side and not have to worry about stumbling. So Lord, continue to shine Your light upon me and others in the faith. Lead us to people who we can do service towards, supply their needs, witness to, pray with, talk with, and even give a shoulder to cry on. You are the one that makes us more of a caring, compassionate, patient, loving, kind, forgiving, and thoughtful person. We can strive to do all this on our own, but we will never finish the race well. Other things will continue to take our appetite away before Your characteristics can enter our lives. As for me, I want no more than to be like You, Jesus. You are my greatest example, and I will follow in Your footsteps to the end of time. I love You, Lord. I praise Your Holy Name. Amen.