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June 11

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“On that day a severe persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1 HCSB).

From: June 11, 2021


After Stephen was stoned to death in Jerusalem for preaching the risen Christ, a “severe persecution broke out against the church.” As a result, all but the apostles fled Jerusalem and were “scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria.” Surely, the enemies of the church meant this for harm, but the Lord used it for good.
Remember the last instruction that the Lord Jesus gave to His disciples before His ascension? He told them not to leave Jerusalem until they received the “Father’s promise” (Acts 1:4), which was the Holy Spirit. Then He said to them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Thus giving them the strategy for spreading the gospel to the whole world.
He had told them to carry the gospel out of Jerusalem, but it wasn’t until the church experienced persecution that the saints began to move out to “Judea and Samaria” as the Lord had commanded. Perhaps they had grown too comfortable in Jerusalem and had forgotten the Lord’s command. It must have been wonderful having all the apostles together in one place and experiencing the explosive growth of the early church, which began with 3,000 being saved on Pentecost. Yet, Christ is the Head of the church and it was time for the saints to scatter.
“Scatter.” That’s an unusual word to describe how they fled. It’s a word usually used to describe how one sows seed. And that’s exactly how the early Christian author Tertullian saw it. In his work, “Apologeticus,” written in 197 AD, he said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
Jesus has commanded us to carry the gospel to the nations. What will it take for us to forget our comfort and begin to “scatter” as He commanded?
PRAYER: Dear Father, forgive us our love of comfort and safety. We have made them idols in our time. Yet we know that You have called us to scatter the gospel seed to the whole world. Strengthen us with Your power and encourage us with Your zeal to get moving. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen” (Acts 8:1 NLT).

From: June 11, 2018

I wonder how often Saul thought of Stephen. Certainly, Saul, who was called Paul after his conversion, often mentioned Stephen in his testimony (See Acts 22:20). Perhaps Stephen’s final words of forgiveness haunted Saul, but later inspired Paul. Stephen’s ministry may have been short-lived, but it no doubt motivated Paul and other believers to be bold about preaching the gospel no matter the consequence.

“Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; Yet they have not prevailed against me” (Psalm 129:2 NKJV).

From: June 11, 2017

Repeated twice for effect, the psalmist called those ascending the Temple Mount to reflect on the many times that Israel was “afflicted” from the time of its “youth,” even to their present day. Yet, Israel still stood. The Egyptians, the wilderness, the Amorites and Philistines —none had “prevailed” against them.
Christ took up that word, “prevailed,” in His response to Peter’s confession, saying, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not ‘prevail’ against it” (Matt. 16:18). Certainly, through the centuries many have thought to prevail against the Church, and even in that time, they thought to prevail against Christ, yet He arose, and the Church has not only survived, it continues to thrive.
All who would follow Christ will know affliction. From the time of their new birth until the time of being called home to heaven, there will be trouble. But the promise of Jesus sustains us, for He has said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

‘Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness”‘ (1 Kings 8:12 ESV)

From: June 11, 2016

When the priests placed the Ark in the newly completed Temple, it was filled with a cloud so dense that they could not remain inside. King Solomon recognized the cloud as the glory of the Lord and reminded his people that God had promised to dwell with them in such a way. For the Lord had told Moses, “…I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat” (Lev.16:2). Just as the Lord’s glory inhabited the Tabernacle in the wilderness, so He showed forth His glory in Solomon’s Temple, representing His approval. It must have been quite a sight. The rejoicing crowd that joyfully watched the priests enter the Temple with the Ark, now stood dumbstruck with awe as those same priests came scurrying out with fearful faces. The previously cacophonous crowd fell silent as a dark cloud rolled out of the Temple doors behind the retreating priests. And then, in the sudden silence, Solomon’s trembling voice was heard, “The Lord said he would dwell in thick darkness.”

“Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4 NKJV)

From: June 11, 2015

When persecution caused the church in Jerusalem to scatter, the gospel was spread to other nations. What was intended to stop the message, instead spurred its growth. Jesus had commanded his disciples to “be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), but they apparently needed a little help leaving home. Will God have to allow our discomfort to get us to move out for Him?

“Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting—and conflict” (Proverbs 17:1)

From: June 11, 2012

Peace is better than prosperity. If there is discord at your house, money won’t fix it. Couples think financial problems are the source of their marital woes, but poor communication and lack of forgiveness are nearly always at the root. Start talking and forgiving one another, then sharing a PB&J sandwich will feel like a sumptuous feast.

“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4)

From: June 11, 2011

When persecution caused the church in Jerusalem to scatter, the gospel was spread to other nations. What was intended to stop the message, instead spurred its growth. God has commanded us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Will it take persecution for us to obey?