Together in Christ: 'Saddened and Scattered' — Acts 8:1-5

Wednesday, August 28, 2024

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Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.) But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison. But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.
— Acts 8:1-5 NLT

Key Thought

The early disciples were grieved by the martyrdom of Stephen and saddened by the vicious persecution launched against them in Jerusalem. Still, they didn't allow their grief or sadness to derail their mission. Jesus had called them to reach people throughout the world. [1] They had largely stalled in fulfilling this mission. Persecution intending to stamp out their movement drove them out of Jerusalem. Rather than backing down under opposition or backing off in their mission, they carried the message wherever they went. They used these hardships and their persecution as an opportunity to spread Jesus' message worldwide.

We need to learn from their example. Rather than seeing hardships and suffering as a sign of God's disapproval, they used them as an opportunity to take the Good News of Jesus to the world's lost people. [2] Shouldn't we? Trials, suffering, persecution, and difficulties are not necessarily because we are outside God's will but actually living for God in a world hostile to faith. When we are faithful, God uses us to do more than we can ask or imagine because His power, the Holy Spirit, is at work in us. [3]

[1] Jesus gave them this mission of here, near, and far in Acts 1:8. He also demonstrated that grief doesn't deter God's mission. After the death of his cousin and forerunner, John the Baptizer, Jesus ministered to the crowd of 5,000 and his disciples — Matthew 14:1-23.
[2] Acts 5:40-42; James 1:1-2.
[3] Ephesians 3:20-21.

Today's Prayer

Father, thank you for the example of these brave and committed early disciples. Stir my heart to feel Your burden for lost people and use every opportunity I have to share Jesus. I want my heart to resonate with Jesus' passion for reaching the lost and broken of my world. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Matthew 14:1-36
  • 1 Timothy 1:13-17

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Illustration

Illustration of Acts 8:1-5 NLT — Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.) But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison. But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.