Daily Devotional: Saturday 14th March

by William Moody

Acts 8:1–8

Saul Ravages the Church

8:1 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. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Philip Proclaims Christ in Samaria

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city1 of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 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. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.

Footnotes

[1] 8:5 Some manuscripts a city

(ESV)

The introduction of Saul of Tarsus (v1), who approved of Stephen’s death, marks the beginning of very difficult days for the young church in Jerusalem. Godly men bury and mourn for Stephen (v2), but most of the believers were scattered (v1b) because of the persecution viciously led by Saul.

We need to remember that following Jesus will mean persecution. Today it may mean being frozen out of social circles, it can include unkind comments, and may mean difficulty in the work place. But in this, we need to remember the suffering of Jesus (Heb. 12 v2-4) and the control of Christ (Eph. 1 v22).

Christ’s rule is seen in that this persecution in Jerusalem, led to the Gospel now spreading across Judea and Samaria (v1b, 4). The apostles had not been scattered (v1), so these preaching believers were very ordinary Christians. Are you active in sharing the Gospel?

When the door closed in Jerusalem, Philip shares the Gospel in Samaria (v5-8) which would have been very unexpected, when we remember the hostility between Jews and Samaritans. The persecution of Saul resulted in God’s grace breaking into new people’s lives. Praise God for His amazing plans.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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