Praying through the bible: Pentecost and Acts

Here’s the pages covering the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost empowering the church. Often called the birthday of the church. It was certainly the time that the breath of God came upon the disciples. The men and women who had been faithfully meeting to pray, fearful of perhaps being brought before the authorities, stayed faithful to Jesus. The church had begun.

The early church spread outwards from Jerusalem, as Jesus said it would. A certain Jew, Saul, who was zealous for God, stood watching as the first martyr was stoned. Stephen had explained to the Jewish council all about Jesus and ended his speech by saying:

You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him — you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:51-60, NIV)

Saul, however, was stopped in his tracks by Jesus. From that point on, Saul changed. I wonder how the church would have developed had he not repented.

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