Ac 8:1 -4 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Ac 9:1 6 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
I must confess that when I see a person on the news that I believe holds and espouses a position that I believe is contrary to a Biblical worldview on a particular issue I at first get angry. To be honest I really have limited myself to how much news that I watch and I am trying not to read things on social media that stir a wrong spirit in me.
Once again being honest the Holy Spirit reminds me that Jesus died on the cross to save that person from their sins the same as He did for me. The Apostle Paul tell us in Ro 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NKJV) According to John 3:16-18 we are told that Jesus came to die for the sins of all humanity. However, it is only those who believe in Him that will be forgiven and saved Joh 3:16 -18 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The early church was facing persecution from the religious. They would later face it from the Romans We certainly in the United States have not faced persecution like our brothers and sisters in Africa, China, Iran, Iraq and in some other parts of the world. On the other hand, it has become very acceptable for some corporations, some people in government, others on many of our college campuses, and other groups to openly oppose and belittle people that have a Biblical worldview.
When I read the above passages, they really inspire me and give me great hope. Saul of Tarsus was a persecutor of the church. I am sure that when some of them saw some of their relatives being put to death for their faith some anger perhaps arose in them. In the Book of Ephesians, we are told not to have unrighteous anger Eph 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”
I believe that God desires for us to allow that energy to be used in prayer. Look what happened when the early church did that. I hope that you read our opening passages. If you didn’t make sure that you go back and read them. Here was a man that was dedicated to stopping this new sect that believed that Jesus was the Messiah risen from the dead. He had been there when Stephen the first recorded martyr of the church was put to death. He had dragged some of their mothers and fathers out of their homes to have them imprisoned and some put to death.
But the early church was a praying church. I believe that they rather than walking around town since they didn’t have Facebook and ranting prayed for the salvation of this man that was persecuting the church. Some of them had probably been there the day that Jesus had this to say about praying for your enemies: Mt 5:43,44 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
Look what happened! Saul of Tarsus gets saved! He would also get filled with the Holy Spirit Now as a result of a praying church a persecutor of the church is turned into a purveyor of the Gospel. Might not God do it again in our day if we really get serious about praying like the early church did? Imagine people that are funding groups and organizations that are opposed to the Gospel beginning to be used to support the Gospel and to heed the call to take the Gospel to all nations! Might not some of those who speak so boldly against a Biblical worldview become bold preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? You and I if we had lived back then would have had a hard time loving Saul of Tarsus who would become the Apostle Paul before he got saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Can I be honest with you here? I really don’t want to put this down, but I believe that the Holy Spirit of God is impressing upon me to do it. In the countries that I have visited and the countries that I have read about where there is persecution those churches are growing. This the part I didn’t want to say. Their main concern on the weekends isn’t how their favorite football team is going to come out. I am not trying to be legalistic here. But what I am saying is I believe that God is calling His people back to our first love. I believe that God is calling us to commit to prayer.
On the last night that Jesus was on the earth and He needed prayer more than He ever had before He found the disciples sleeping. How about us? Are we sleeping at a time that He is calling every Christian to sacrifice time in prayer? By the way it is a blessing a whole lot more than it is a sacrifice! This is what He told the disciples when He found them sleeping.: Mt 26:40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Would you be willing to commit to pray one hour a day at this critical juncture not only in our nation’s future, but concerning the Kingdom of God and His church worldwide? Should the Lord tarry our children, and grandchildren’s future could depend on it. And also, where millions worldwide spend eternity could depend upon it as well. He is asking. What is your answer?
Let Us Pray
Lord Jesus we thank you that the Word of God says in Jer 33:3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ (NKJV) We are calling out today for a mighty move of God in our nation and throughout the world! Today we ask You to raise up mighty men and women of prayer. We come today and pray for those who so vehemently oppose the Gospel of Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit would draw them to the cross of Christ. Lord we believe that You can make Pauls’ out of Sauls’ and turn the Jezebels into Deborah’s . Forgive us for sleeping on our watch posts. Give us a greater passion for you than for athletic teams, hobbies, or anything else. Help us to enjoy those blessings in a way that they are not idolatrous in our lives. Forgive us for when they have been. Raise up prayer groups! We pray that your congregations be Houses of Prayer. We pray that this virus leave! We pray today that the freedom to worship You in public and in our congregations where we meet will not be prohibited in this nation. We pray that where that it is in other nations that You will change the hearts of those who oppose the Gospel in those countries. We cry out to You today! We believe that what You have told us to do that You will answer and show us great and mighty things!
In Jesus Name
We love you all! By the way if you have a brother, or sister that has a different skin color than you give them a call, or pay them a visit and tell them that you love them. Celebrate the blessings that you have experienced with them in your lives. If you don’t have one ask God to give you one. He will!