In today’s reading we see many ‘Firsts’ for the Christian church. The first time the Holy Spirit falls upon the Gentiles (Chapter 10), the believers in Antioch were the first to be called Christians (Chapter 11)the first commissioned missionary team is sent out from Antioch (Chapter 13), and the first official church council (Chapter 15). It is clear that God is growing his church in radical ways.
As you read, did you notice how God does this work? It’s bitter sweet. There is advancement and joy working through persecution and pain:
- 11:19-20 “Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen… But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus.”
- 12:2 “[Herod] killed James the brother of John with the sword… “12:24, “But the word of God increased and multiplied.”
- 13:45 “But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.’ 13:48-49, “And as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.”
- 14:19 “…they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead… 14:21-22, “…They returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples…”
Yesterday, Ken reminded us that God is the one who grows his church. Today we see glimpse of the way God does it. By the preaching of the Gospel in the face of persecution. Do you desire to advance God’s kingdom? If so, are you ready to face opposition? Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).
Additional Resource: Stay informed and pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world through Voice of the Martyrs