SAUL PERSECUTES THE CHURCH
Devoted Christian men took Stephen's dead body and buried it. However, the death of Stephen was only the beginning of the great persecution against those who believed in Jesus in Jerusalem. As a result, many believers, except the apostles, left Jerusalem and were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. There was a Pharisee named Saul who approved of the death of Stephen. He was a devoted Jew, and he believed that those who believed in Jesus were a threat to his religion, and by persecuting the Christians, he believed that he was serving God. Saul began to destroy the church by dragging off both men and women from house to house and putting them in prison (Acts 8:1-3). Saul was filled with hatred against the believers of Jesus that he hounded some of them to death. (Acts 22:4).
Have we ever wondered what to do when we become hunted down because of our faith in the Lord Jesus? Would we continue to say in public that we believe in Jesus? Would we be willing to lose everything for Him? Our natural reaction would be to flee as far as we can and hide or deny Jesus, just like what Peter and the disciples did during Jesus' crucifixion. The truth of the matter is that we have brothers and sisters in the Lord today that counted the cost of believing in Jesus. Many of them lost their property and freedom, and some were tortured and died. It is easy to believe in Jesus in America because there is still freedom of religion, but it is not so in other countries (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Sy18SsUPlA.)
So what should we do as believers? We need to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Lord who are suffering because of their faith in God. Pray that God would protect and strengthen them. We also need to pray for those who persecute them that they would come to know the Lord and be saved. Lastly, we need to devote ourselves to God. If we are not pursuing God right now and neglecting God, we will never be able to stand in our faith when opposition or persecution comes our way.
Ask yourself these questions for application: (Think through these questions carefully and meditate on them while answering them, and let the Spirit of God speaks to you). Where is my heart towards God right now? Am I willing to stand for my Lord Jesus at home, school, or work? How can I minister to my brothers and sisters in the Lord who are currently being persecuted?
Father in Heaven, please give me the courage to stand for my faith in my Lord Jesus. Please forgive me if I haven't pursued you as I should. Please draw my heart towards you so I may stand for my faith again. You are my God, and I pray for my brothers and sisters in the Lord who are being persecuted right now that you would give them the strength and courage to persevere in their faith. I also pray for those who persecute them that they would come to know you and be saved. In your name Jesus, I pray. Amen.