BIBLE READING: ACTS 8
2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
These were tough days. The disciples were trying to carry out the instructions that Jesus had left them. They were trying to get the gospel to every creature, and they were trying to make disciples for Christ. One of the greatest Christians that ever lived, Stephen, had just been killed and they had just buried him and had the funeral. Then, there was this man named Saul, who watched Stephen die, that the Bible says was creating “havock” in the church. This Saul was relentless. Saul left no stone unturned and no door unopened. It says that he literally went to every house.
(Just a little observation, Satan goes to every house also. Satan is searching your house today. Satan is relentless. Satan leaves no stone unturned. Satan will exploit every weakness and will not stop, no matter what.)
This passage teaches us that Saul was not only relentless, but that he was no respecter of persons. He literally persecuted men and women and put them in jail.
(Just another observation, Satan is no respecter of persons either. He fights men, women, teenagers, and even children. He is attacking every member of your family. He has raged war on every home that names the name of Christ.)
Saul had instilled fear in many people. He was good at what he did and he was committed to what he believed. He was sold out, but so wrong. So, these were tough days. The disciples and followers of Christ were working, but Satan was fighting. That always has and always will be the case. What I find amazing is verse four. I could think of so many scenarios that could have been stated in verse four. The verse says:
* “ Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.”
For most of us the verse would have to say, “therefore they that were scattered abroad, quit”. Or, “they that were scattered abroad felt it was too dangerous to continue to preach God’s word”. Maybe, “they that were scattered abroad became discouraged with the ministry”. It is amazing to me that because of the persecution and difficulty that the church was facing, many had been scattered to different areas, and yet they preached and witnessed in all the areas that they were scattered to. Most of us, if we had been scattered because of persecution, wherever we would have ended up, we would probably have complained that we had ended up there and felt sorry for ourselves for all that we had been put through. Not the early church. To them, it was an honor to go through suffering for Jesus Christ. In all honesty, most of us do not suffer, and most of us do not go through persecution. Yet it seems to take so little to discourage us to silence our witness. Just a thought today. What has silenced your witness, or discouraged your motivation to minister? It is difficult to make a case for how bad we have it, when we look back to the individuals that founded the early church and see what they endured with a sweet attitude and total commitment. Here’s the key: verse two begins with the phrase, “devout men”. May you and I be totally devoted to Christ. Not devoted to people, and not devoted to ministry, because many things will discourage that motivation. We must be devoted only to Christ.