Saturday, 17 October 2015

Daily reading: Acts 9v31-43 'Persecution and purpose'

"31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralysed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas.[a] She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner."
With Saul the driving force behind the persecution now as passionate about Christ as he was about destroying the church the time of persecution is over.  The church in Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoys a time of peace.  That is staggering statement, whereas in chapter 7 of Acts there is only a church in Jerusalem, by chapter 9v31 there are churches in Judea, Galilee and Samaria.  Persecution has been God's means of spreading the gospel carrying disciples and birthing church after church after church.

Don't rush past this and miss it.  Persecution has led to growth, because the believers have carried on boldly proclaiming the gospel, they refuse to be silenced.  That is often not the way we think, we assume that persecution will damage the gospel when Acts, and history, often tells the opposite story.  Maybe this should make us think carefully about what we pray for when persecution comes?

God is sovereign and the gospel is great news.  We must pray that we hold firmly to those convictions when we face opposition or persecution.  We must pray the same for our brothers and sisters who live daily under the threat of persecution.  And when persecution comes not panic as if it threatens God's purpose and his kingdom.

Why not pray now for those in persecution and for yourself that these convictions would so grip your heart that you can stand.

No comments: