"Better reasons to go house to house."
Today’s reading: Acts 8:1-3 (NIV)
1And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.
Stephen’s death was peace-filled and is an example to us of how we can face our own mortality, desiring to make ourselves ready to see Jesus at the right hand of God. However, for those around him war was breaking out and the Jewish people were executing their prisoner. Over the past 3 – 4 decades there have been many prisoners of war in these modern times. We have heard their stories of capture, torture, death, trial and for some, return. Not much has changed.
What has changed as a result of Stephen’s ministry and his willingness to claim Jesus as the savior is the fulfillment of the Christ’s message in Acts 1:8 ‘you will receive the power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ Stephen declared Jesus as Lord and revealed him as worthy of worship and praise. Luke the writer, shares this message because he desperately wants people to see Jesus to believe in His divine nature.
I found it interesting how Luke introduces Saul by name, saying Saul was there and approved of the stoning. The writer makes mention of him by name to draw attention to him as a man of influence. God has another plan in mind about Saul and he wanted everyone to remember his name and what he had done, thus it was spoken and written.
As I open my heart to allow the presence of the Holy Spirit in, He gives me strength and He gives me peace. When you recognize what a strong man of God Stephen was, we take that with us, we must remember why he endured to the end. When we need to endure the challenges we face, remember the face of Stephen and draw upon his example.
Many left the area; many stayed to be sent to prison and killed. I want to follow in Stephen’s steps and share the gospel message, not scattered or kept from sharing the gospel. As believers we must be in prayer and we must start at home. Our pastor Dennis prays weekly with 5 other pastors of other denominations here in Nixa and they pray for each other in ministry, their congregations, the community and how together we can reach the un-churched, to serve them and introduce them to Christ. They do this because it is the right thing to do. Christians are scattered over our land and have the common thread of the Holy Spirit. Introducing someone to have an opportunity to meet Christ is what God commanded us to do. We must care for the orphans and widows and go and make disciples.
Every opportunity you have, look up into the sky, whether it is cloudy, sunny or filled with dull gray storm clouds, know that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God and is directing your life every moment of every day. Go house to house as Saul did, only go in the name of the Lord God Almighty.
Aldersgate UMC, Nixa, MO.