Judges 18:1–15; Acts 8:1–13; John 5:30–47
Following the martyrdom of Stephen, Scripture tells us persecution arose against the Church. A great number of Christians were thrown into prison for their alleged blasphemy, while others, including Saul the Pharisee, stood by in approval. He too went from house to house and dragged believers away because of their faith.
In the far reaches of our present world, brutal persecutions against Christians still exist in terms that are all too real. Across the globe, Christians are imprisoned, tortured, and even killed because they confess Christ crucified and risen. Yet, just as it was in for the earliest Christians, the gospel of Christ Jesus has the power to overcome the powers of evil and the Church continues to grow.
Wherever the gospel travels, there are challenges to faith which give rise to unexpected joy. Following the stoning of Stephen, many Christians escaped similar fates by fleeing to neighboring lands. Those who fled did not remain silent. Philip traveled to Samaria, preaching the gospel with boldness and passion, leading a great number of people to be baptized. And lest we forget, along the Damascus Road, the power of the risen Christ overcame the greatest persecutor of all.
Prayer: Almighty God, by the power of your Holy Spirit, let us speak your Word boldly so that all may come to know your grace. Amen.
Today’s devotion was written by David Nuottila, Pastor of Union Lutheran Church in Salisbury, NC.