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Acts Reading Plan | Week 6 | Day 5
Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Take a moment to calm your mind and body and then pray, thanking Him that He is with you, that He is a Mighty Warrior who saves you.
Bible Reading: Acts 7:54 – 8:3
Read these verses three times slowly.
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.
Reflection & Questions
In yesterday’s reading, Stephen called the religious leaders “stiff necked”, Holy-Spirit-resistant, murderous, law-breakers. They weren’t too happy about this. In fact, today we read that like three year olds, they covered their ears and yelled at the top of their voices. It would be funny, except that then they dragged Stephen into the street and stoned him. Significantly, a man named Saul is there, watching in approval. After this stoning, widespread persecution of Christians broke out, of which Saul was a key player. This persecution scattered the believers out of Jerusalem (and so the gospel spread). Amazingly, this same Saul would later become Paul, who would write a large part of the New Testament.
Stephen was the first martyr of the early church. He followed in the footsteps of his Savior, Jesus, giving up his very life. As evil as his killing is, we see that while Stephen is surrounded by his murderers, God is completely surrounding him. Luke tells us that “full of the Holy Spirit, [he] looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” The Spirit was in him and Jesus and the Father were looking down upon him. The whole Trinity is there with him. For believers, the same thing can be said. There’s no trial, no persecution, and no situation we face, that God does not have us completely surrounded by Himself. There is nothing that can separate us from Him.
- Can you think of a time when God has shown himself to be surrounding you in the midst of a heavy trial?
Talk to God in response to the reading today.
You might use this song today to worship Jesus today:
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