Week 41 Persecution for Faith in Jesus

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 41

Scripture Readings: Acts 5-6

Key Scripture Verses: Acts 5:17-21 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. ‘Go, stand in the temple courts,’ he said, ‘and tell the people all about this new life.’ At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.”

The Apostles were arrested because of jealousy by those in power who observed them healing people of illness and performing signs and miracles in the name of Jesus. They were being persecuted for their faith.

And when they heeded the angel’s instructions to teach the people, they ended up being flogged and told they were not to speak in the name of Jesus (Acts 5:40).

As we read further, Chapter 6 of Acts depicts the stoning of Stephen, a wise and devout disciple of Jesus who was falsely accused of speaking against the teachings of Moses. But, in actuality, his response to the Jewish Council was to remind them of the historical basis for his testimony, including the history of Moses and the Law. They stoned him because of their fear and because of his testimony of Jesus.

Jesus never said that following him would be easy. Those who took a strong stance for Jesus and his teachings were often maligned, ridiculed, or harmed for doing so, even though many others acknowledged all the wondrous acts they performed in his name.

The Apostles considered it an honor to be persecuted for Jesus—they knew that they were doing his will. Their rewards awaited them in heaven, regardless of what happened on this earth.

If we are mocked or ridiculed for our beliefs, it’s not because we are doing something wrong. It might be that we are standing on faith and that we are serving the living God as we are called to do. What are we willing to risk in his name?

May we have the faith we need to do his will. May we take up our own crosses and follow him. To him be the honor and the glory. Amen.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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