God is often behind the scenes, allowing events and circumstances to fulfill His purpose in the most unlikely places. This was especially true in the Early Church. About seven years after the Spirit came at Pentecost, and as the church in Jerusalem was seeing exponential growth, persecution hit them in unexpected ways. Stephen, a man “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 7:3), preached a powerful, convicting message that resulted in his stoning. His convicting words inflamed “a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles” (8:1).
Unless you keep reading, you might think that this turn of events stopped the preaching of the gospel. Were the apostles the only ones who could faithfully and powerfully preach the gospel? Stephen was not one of the original apostles and he was killed for preaching. The natural reaction is that no one would dare risk their life after these events in chapter seven for fear of meeting the same end. But keep reading!
“Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word” (8:4). No formal education on how to evangelize or preach, no human appointments, and no directive from the church in Jerusalem. JUST GOD WORKING THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THEM! IT WAS SPONTANEOUS! I fear that, even in myself, we interpret difficult circumstances as a reason to stop or divert the work of God. Hearts that are yielded to the Holy Spirit will let His work continue spontaneously even in the most trying times. The result? “There was much joy in that city” (in Samaria) (8:8).
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