MONDAY: RELISTEN TO SUNDAY'S SERMON
TUESDAY: SCRIPTURE TO PROCESS
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:54-60).
WEDNESDAY: MIDWEEK DEVOTION
John Stott, a well-known and respected Bible scholar from Britain, has said that persecution is merely the clash between two irreconcilable value systems. Have you ever felt that? You see it when someone who is waiting on sex until marriage gets ridiculed. You see it when someone is “unfriended” because they stood up for their faith. As our culture becomes more and more “post-Christian,” various forms of rejection and opposition will continue to happen more and more to those who follow Christ.
The question is, how do you respond to persecution, rejection, or opposition? Do you get angry and fight back? Do you give in to the cultural pressure and just follow the crowd? The Bible’s overwhelming advice to those being opposed is to “stand firm.” Standing firm means that you don’t fall into the trap of anger and vengeance or the trap of conceding to the culture and going with the flow.
Stephen is a good picture of one who stood firm. While people were concocting slanderous lies about him, he didn’t fire back in hate or seek to fit in. He remained focused on Jesus. In fact, because Stephen focused on Jesus at the height of the persecution, he was able to forgive his murderers, just like his Lord did. How are you standing firm this week?
THURSDAY: ADDITIONAL BIBLE STUDY
Read 1 Peter 1:3-9. Though persecution and opposition are far from God’s ideal, God still uses them. In view of this passage from 1 Peter, how can God use opposition and persecution to build your spiritual maturity?