Acts 8:1 – ... And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Stephen was a man of God who taught the history of the Jewish nations and how it all pointed to Jesus Christ as the Righteous One. This, of course, angered the leaders of the synagogue so they persuaded some men to slander Stephen by spreading lies about what he was saying: blaspheming God and Moses. He was seized and brought before the Sanhedrin for questioning. It was evident to them that Stephen's countenance was "like that of an angel." Stephen's speech to them points out that God reveals Himself beyond the Holy Land. They discovered that they could not stand up to his wisdom or the Spirit from which he spoke. The false witnesses stirred up the crowd, and immediately Stephen was taken outside the gate and they stoned him to death.
Though the church had been growing daily, they now were hunted down and put in prison for not renouncing Christ. Stephen was the first Christian martyr. His message exposed the leaders and the people for their false idols, their close adherence to Old Testament laws and customs, their own rejection of the land promised to them by God, and the reminder that they had crucified Jesus, the promised one spoken of by the prophets. The believers were then scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. This persecution of the church led to a strengthening of the mission God had called them to: preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to people everywhere.
Does our church, Antelope Springs, have idols? Maybe we don't see them, but are we here to serve or be served? Are we here to feel good and be entertained? Do we find things we dislike in the service, or do we have relationship troubles at times? Think about the idols you may have never considered; for example, I (Jill, today's blog writer) spend way too much time playing iPhone games, when I could spend a LOT of hours serving God in my community or church in a variety of ways. (e.g., setting up chairs, praying, teaching, gardening, cleaning, meeting the needs of people).
Think about what God may be calling you to do for church unity, and the influence you have in your family and community. Consider your God-given gifts and use them now for His glory.
- Read through and study Acts 6:8 to 8:3.
- Listen again to the sermon on SoundCloud.
- Join us at Antelope Springs next Sunday at 9 or 10:45 a.m.