By Tyson Thorne

January 29, 2014

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Before delving into today’s writing, read Acts 7.54-8.8.

"Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit! And do not hold this sin against them." When Stephen had said this, he died, and Saul was there, giving approval to his death.

Earlier in chapter seven, Stephen gave a provocative speech to an audience of Jewish leadership. In that speech, he informed them they were unworthy of salvation, due to the way they treated the prophets of old (Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah and many others) and most recently the savior Jesus. He ridiculed their worship in the temple and not in their hearts, after all, "God does not live in houses made by men" (7.48). He concluded his message by calling them traitorous murderers. Shortly after his speech the Jewish leadership proved him right, and stoned him to death.

On that day, we are told in chapter eight, a great persecution broke out against the church. The Jews followed their leader’s example, and began to excommunicate, and sometimes execute, their Christian relatives. But the story does not end on this bleak note. Godly men buried Stephen, and the other apostles continued to preach boldly and in great power the message of the resurrected Messiah. Israel would never be the same.

And neither are we the same as we were before Christ entered our lives. Consider Philip's time in Samaria. I doubt you have had demons screeching in your presence and coming out of people, nor healed any simply by your touch, but it is likely you have experienced the power of God in your life. When is the last time God's presence and assistance were powerfully evident in your life? Think back to the last time you were persecuted for being a Christian; how did the Holy Spirit assist and empower you? How long has it been since you last experienced the worlds hatred?

Today, consider anew your relationship to Christ. How evident is He in your life, to your co-workers? your friends? your family? What can you do to make Him more apparent in your life?

“Lord, I have heard the report of what you did;

I am awed, Lord, by what you accomplished.

In our time repeat those deeds;

in our time reveal them again.

The sovereign Lord is my source of strength.

He gives me the agility of a deer;

he enables me to negotiate the rugged terrain.”

— Habakkuk 3.2 & .19a

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