By Charles Harris
Today's Scripture: Acts 7:51-8:13
Central Thought: Witnessing for Christ must be life's major purpose for every believer.
Someone has said that the first missions 'board” in the Church was the 'plank” of persecution. The believers in Jerusalem appeared to be of the mind of Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration. Witnessing the glory of the experience there, he exclaimed, 'This is so enjoyable. Let us just stay here!” However, God's plan for His Church was never that it be simply a 'happy club” were Christians meet to celebrate their contentment in the blessings of their fellowship.
The outcome of Stephen's trial before the Sanhedrin was execution by stoning for the man of God. A noted Jewish rabbi, one Saul of Tarsus, consented to it by casting his vote in favor of the guilty verdict and the punishment of death. The martyrdom frightened the believers so much that they fled the Holy City. However, good came out of it all in that they spread the gospel wherever they went. It was their going and spreading the Word that Jesus had in mind for them from the beginning.
Among those scattered was Philip, another of the original seven deacons that carried the gospel to Samaria. Apparently the Lord had freed him from the prejudice of fellow Jews against the people of that land. Many believed and were baptized in water. Among them was a man named Simon. Though he was a sorcerer, a servant of Satan, he had passed himself off as a great man of God. He bewitched the citizens of the area with his occult practices. However, he professed salvation, was baptized, and was especially attracted to the miracles and signs that accompanied the ministry of Philip.
As in Samaria, joy and peace are among the greatest of blessings which fill the life of a
believer in Jesus. However, they do not flood his heart simply for the sake of emotional bliss. Rather, they provide the foundation upon which a life of witnessing for the Lord must be built. Then it is better to obey the Great Commission of Christ from a platform of personal contentment than to wait for unpleasant circumstances, including persecution, to thrust one forth in sharing the gospel with others.
Devotional Prayer: God, help me to share my faith with those in my sphere of influence when all is well rather than wait for adverse conditions to prompt me to do so.
Today's Bible Reading: 1 Kings 8:1-66; Acts 7:51-8:13; Psalm 129:1-8; Proverbs 17:1