54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
8 And Saul approved of his execution.
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. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- V54-60 Stephen’s last moments resembled those of Jesus’. The Holy Spirit is stirring up believers to be true follower of Jesus. Stephen followed Jesus all the way to the end, suffering for Jesus’ sake, but also joyously entering into His glory.
- V58 Luke first introduced Saul here (later known as Paul) into his record. Whether Saul has initiated or was just being a witness of Stephen’s death, his later actions confirmed that he played a big part in resisting the Gospel being spread. We later learn that he actually became one of the greatest apostles that God had used. This period of resistance will mark a major part of Saul’s life that he will reflect back on and appreciate the grace, power and wisdom of God.
- 8v4 The believers that were scattered out actually sparked a wider spread of evangelism. Believers did not stop sharing Christ just because they were fleeing. From man’s perspective, even to this day, Christianity is dying, but in God’s eyes He knows that everything is under His control and His grace is sufficient for those that trust in Him. He gave the apostles and even us, more courage to witness for Jesus.
- V5-8 No matter where it is, there are still people with needs that desperately cry out for hope. God understands our physical, emotional and spiritual needs. The Holy Spirit worked through Philip to fulfil those needs, through sharing the hope of Christ and healing the sick.
submitted by Abel Leung
PRAYING IN FAITH
Have we been like Saul, having a period where we resist God’s voice and block Him out of our hearts completely? Take some time to honestly confess to God about this heart of resistance. Come back to Him and think about how good it tasted to be walking with Him again, and willingly accept the grace of God that He gives so freely.
For Your Five
Think about the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of your five. Pray for the Holy Spirit to meet those needs and also ask how the Holy Spirit is leading you to be part of meeting the needs of your five.
For Our Church
Pray that our church will grow to be a community of believers who follow Jesus right to the very end. Pray for the congregation to be united in one vision: Christ being proclaimed. Though we may be ‘scattered’ through different opinions and ways of doing things, let us not lose sight and continue to ask God to show us a bigger picture of what He is doing.