And Saul approved of his execution. There arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did.
We’ve all had things happen in our lives that we are not proud about, whether it’s actions that we wish we could undo, words we wish we could unsay, or something else. No one is perfect outside of Jesus. Looking at the story of Saul (who later became Paul), it is certain he had regrets. This passage highlights the fact that the people who Jesus used didn’t have it all together.
It was a very dark time for those who followed Jesus, and at first glance this passage may seem bleak. It is full of rage, murder, and sadness. Saul, Phillip, and the church had no idea, but God was using it all for His good. As Saul scattered the church, they continued to tell others about Christ. They brought the gospel to places it had never been before. The church grew like wildfire. God used the pressure Saul applied to build His church.
Not only were the Christians of the day telling others of Christ, but they were relying on the Holy Spirit more than ever. They were no longer in the comforts of the church in Jerusalem. They were apart from those who helped them meet Jesus. Saul’s persecution of the church resulted in more people meeting Jesus, while those who knew Jesus had to depend on God more.
It is still like that in our lives today. We often go through circumstances we may not understand. We go through hardships and experience the reality that life is not fair. The good news is that God will use these experiences for His glory and our benefit if we let Him.
Thought of the Day: What are some experiences or pressures in your life, past or present, that God wants to use to help you or others meet, know, and follow Jesus? Are there any experiences you still need healing from before God can use them for good?
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for using everything in my life to bring me closer to You and help others know You too. Help me remember that even when things seem out of control, you are working in and through me. Guide me to not just wait for the outcome, but to listen to what you are teaching me on the journey.