Acts 8:1 Saul was one of the witnesses and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. 2 (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.)
The early was church full of power, full of zeal, full of the Holy Spirit and revival had broken out with the lost coming to the truth daily. It’s wonderful except for the fact that revival brings persecution. Friends, we think we are persecuted for our beliefs but there are so many overseas that die daily for their faith. Persecution is more than someone making fun of us or not agreeing with us and calling us names. Real persecution is when a machine gun is stuck to your head and you are told to renounce Christ or die. This is what was happening in this passage.
3 But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.
In the next chapter Saul meets Jesus and is radically changed but right now he is becoming the greatest persecutor of the early Christians, throwing men and women believers in jail and many believe he was even murdering some believers.
4 But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.
When persecution hits a believer that is Holy Ghost filled it doesn’t stop them, it empowers them the more to spread the good news. I’m thankful the early church loved Jesus so much that they were even willing to lay down their lives (dying to self and sometimes dying physical deaths).
5 Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. 6 Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. 7 Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
Philip, one of the original twelve disciples, not apostles, went to Samaria and a revival broke out. People are still eager to hear a message if it’s demonstrated with power. Read these verses slowly and meditate on them:
1 Cor 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
1 Thess 1:5 For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. 1 Cor 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
This is where we, as the church, have got to get back to; the word demonstrated with signs, miracles and wonders after the word is preached or taught. Social clubs will bring a crowd, programs will build a congregation but the church (the bride of Christ) has got to be a living organism full of the Word and Power.
It’s not the power that we seek, it’s the power giver, and it’s the presence of Jehovah God that we must seek out of relationship. I don’t want to be used by God and Him not know me.
Matt 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
As I ministered last Sunday about the difference between the Anointing and the Glory, we were reminded the Anointing is the power to accomplish certain acts in God’s Kingdom (casting out devils, healing the sick, etc.) but the Glory is simply God’s presence (relationship). In the Garden of Eden the Glory of God covered Adam and Eve until sin broke the fellowship and lifted. (Sin Destroys) So God, still wanting to be close to mankind, confined Himself to the place called the Holy of Holies which was in a tent and later in a temple. It was only when Jesus restored relationship back between God and man, when Jesus cried it is finished on the cross and the veil was rent, that God once again resides with mankind. Now we are the temple, we carry God’s Presence; what an awesome honor and responsibility! To carry God’s presence you must know Father God in the secret place of prayer, you must spend time with Him on a consistent basis, you must shun evil knowing it will offend His Presence because He is still a Holy God.
Over and over we read this about the early church; they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with power. Simply put they were walking in God’s Glory. They spent time in the word, in prayer and in seeking after knowing Father God.
Prayer Point: Father God I ask you to show me areas in my life where I’ve grown cold and complacent so I can repent and return to my first love for you. Let me carry your Glory!