Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – July 21, 2020
Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison” Acts 8:3.
While I was growing up, my mom had a little sign in her kitchen that said, “Women are like tea bags. You never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.” This sentiment reminds me of a few verses I recently read in the book of Acts.
Acts 4:3 tells that Peter and John were placed in jail for teaching about Jesus. Then, in Acts 5:18, all the apostles were placed in prison. But (hallelujah!) that didn’t stop God’s plan.
“But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. ‘Go, stand in the temple courts,’ he said, ‘and tell the people all about this new life.’”
It would seem that as opposition increased against the disciples and as their very lives were in danger, they could have been pressed into silence—but that’s not what happened. When they faced persecution, their belief and trust in the Lord became even more evident. What was in their hearts became obvious, just as it’s obvious what is in a tea bag when it’s placed in hot water.
Acts 5:27-29 tells more about the persecution that they experienced. “The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,’ he said. ‘Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.’” Filled with courage, Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”
But because their belief in Jesus and his love for them was so strong in their hearts, Acts 5:42 says, “After their release, ‘Day after day . . . they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.’”
When we are persecuted or mistreated, whatever is in our hearts is brought to the surface. If we are generally unforgiving, even more unforgiveness will define us. But if God’s love lives in our hearts and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit, then love will flow even more abundantly through us. If we are spiteful and bitter, then those ungodly qualities will come to the surface when we’re pressed. But if we have the habit of choosing forgiveness, that will be evident too when trials come.
This is why when Stephen was being unjustly stoned, he fell on his knees and cried out. “Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”” (Acts 7:60). What came from his lips when he was being unjustly treated by hateful people revealed what was already in him.
At times it may seem that persecution and trouble can bring nothing good. But this is untrue. In Scripture, persecution led to a fervency to share the truth. In our own lives, persecution can make us aware of our own motives, our own heart condition, our love for Christ, and it can cause us to want to share God’s truth with greater zeal. Pretty awesome, right?
“The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21).
Lord, please help me so that when I am mistreated, or when others around me are mistreated I don’t allow evil to win. Instead, please help me so that I glorify you in an even greater way, not in spite of what happens, but because of what happens. Amen.
Has the persecution or mistreatment you have experienced caused you to become more convinced of your faith, or has it caused you to shrink back? Talk with the Lord about it today.
Matthew 5:13-16; Luke 22:66-67; Romans 8:17
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Persecution can lead to a fervency to share the truth. #WisdomHunters #boldness #truth #Jesus
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