Highs and Lows
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Thank God for that!
Read Acts 7:54-8:8
 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.  But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”  At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him,  dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.  While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.  And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.  Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.  But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.  Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.  Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.  When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said.  For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.  So there was great joy in that city. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat things did Stephen's and Jesus' death have in common?
As far as we know, Stephen was the first to die for preaching the Gospel. With the ensuing persecution, the believers were understandably terrified, but they didn’t abandon their new faith or even try to hide it. Far from it; they shared the good news wherever they went (8:4). In contrast to the fear caused by persecution, the believers also experienced great excitement and joy as the Lord continued to perform miracles through them. Philip’s activities in Samaria (8:5-8) sound very much like those of Stephen back in Acts 6:8-10. It must have been a very emotional time. Having once experienced persecution, they never knew when these jubilant crowds might suddenly turn against them. They must have been excited by the miracles, the healings, the conversions; yet at the same time apprehensive about what might happen. I wonder how many times I have missed out on the excitement of seeing God at work in people’s lives because I have given in to the fear that they might turn against me. Stephen and Philip, on the other hand, seem to have considered that it was a risk worth taking.
How might the Lord use you to affect the lives of others for his glory in the days right ahead?
Lord Jesus, I want to overcome any fear and experience the wonder of seeing You at work in other’s lives.
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