Wednesday, July 5, 2023
About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church.
The number of Jesus' disciples had multiplied rapidly since the beginning of the church.* On that Pentecost after Jesus' resurrection, three thousand people believed in Jesus as Lord and Christ, submitted to baptism, and received the Holy Spirit as Jesus' gift. Believers shared their faith in Jerusalem, then moved on to all Judea and Samaria. With the conversion of Cornelius and his household in Caesarea, along with Gentiles and Jews in Antioch, the Christian movement spread farther and farther into the Roman Empire. King Herod Agrippa, always the sly politician looking for an advantage with both Rome and the Jewish people, began persecuting believers in Jerusalem and Judea. Satan was not going to let the church grow without serious opposition, and Herod Agrippa was his tool. He was, however, no match for the faith of these early disciples or the Holy Spirit who empowered them! (See, for example, Acts 12:6-12.)
* Jesus promised this growth, empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit inspired the birth of the church on Pentecost with 3,000 believers (Acts 2:1-41). Soon, there were over five thousand believers (Acts 4:4). Luke helps us track their growth in summaries throughout the book (Acts 5:14, 6:1, 7, 9:31, 35, 42, 11:21, 24, 14:1, 21, 16:5, 17:12). See the references to the conversions of Cornelius and in Antioch in the Related Scripture Readings, below.
Father, you are God Almighty! You are the Creator of the universe. You are the great I AM, who is and was and is to come. Nothing is too hard for you. You can change history. You can reorient evil powers, pandemics, and political tyrants to do your will to bring redemption to our world. So, dear Father, we ask that you step into our time in history. Heal the hostility in our hearts that separates us from each other. Drive out the viruses that wreak havoc on both the vulnerable and the strong. Deliver us in our time of great need because Satan has found a foothold here and is inflicting our world with hatred, division, pain, and death. We need you to act in a powerful way, O God, and we are asking you to do that now. In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! 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.
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